Today's media-driven world only encourages greater interest in media careers, and therefore, courses in media studies. Media studies is a newer branch of the Social Sciences, and as such, most universities with established social science departments offer courses in media studies.

While many of the lecturers in this field may have a background in media, many will come from other disciplines like sociology or psychology. Many media studies programs require the student to take courses in related fields like political science, sociology, and history. In addition, while some courses may focus on the practical aspects of media work, many are theoretical - teaching the student to think analytically about the media's effects on society, taking into account cultural and historical climates. Many departments refer to media studies as media and communication studies, communication studies, or mass communications. Programs often contain similar content but always check the curriculum before enrolling or even applying.

Huge choice

A great number of media studies and related programs around the world are available to international students and are taught in English. The University of Melbourne's Media and Communications BA program combines 'industry-focused trainin' with academic work and is part of the university's Social Sciences department, which ranks 10th in the world, according to the ' Guide to the Worldâ's Top Universities'. Students of this course are encouraged to undertake internships in media-related businesses to gain practical experience. Advertising, marketing, new media, publishing, journalism, and television are a few of the industries graduates of this program and similar programs join. In comparison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Comparative Media Studies undergraduate program aims to prepare students for jobs that don't yet exist. This broad program focuses on the past, present, and future of media, taking global communications and the new media geography into account.

New media

New media courses are also multiplying. For those passionate about new and future technology and all things internet, new media is the field to join. The University of Leeds, in the UK, for example, offers a BA program which teaches the student to design, build or manage the interactive products of the future. Joint programs like the University of Toronto offers, enable the student to study new media and another area of their choice.

When it comes to admissions, competition varies depending on the institution. Highly rated departments like the Mass Communications department at UC Berkeley and the Communication Studies department at UCLA are very competitive and only students with top grades will stand a chance at admission. The good news is that a degree in media studies or a related field opens the doors to a world of opportunity - from becoming a journalist to graphic designer to publicist.