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Amidst the stress and technicalities of college, it can be hard to find time to pursue your creative interests. However, you no longer need to choose between your passion and your studies — you can have both. 

The humanities’ newest major, cinema and media studies (CMS), allows students to explore different modes of expression and their effects on a world increasingly dominated by mass media. “This new major should be especially relevant to incoming students,” department chair Eric Ames said. 

Students in CMS take special interest in understanding audiovisual practices and the digitally saturated world we interact with every day. The material studied by CMS majors is more relevant in the workforce today than ever before because, as Ames points out, “There is a moving-image component to almost everything now.” 

Due to its versatility, graduates have gone on to pursue a range of careers in anything from film production and teaching to marketing and business. 

In the nine years since graduating, cinema studies alumnus Casey Moore has worked at Criterion Collection in New York City, managed a film marketing firm in Seattle, and most recently opened a new cinema in Columbia City. Another alumna, Megan Bernovich, works as a marketing representative for Paramount.

Since the skills learned from this program can be applied to many fields, CMS also combines well with another degree. Many double majors come from computer science and marketing, but with a manageable number of credits and flexible course options to fulfill the requirements, it’s a good fit with almost any program. 

The degree consists of 30 core credits, a capstone course, and an additional 30 elective credits chosen either from the CMS department or an approved course list. The freedom of choice for electives allows students to have agency over what they learn, unlike a lot of majors at the UW that have a strict required class plan. 

Even if students are undecided about joining the major, these types of classes are among the most popular in the humanities because they count toward your general education VLPA requirements. 

Students also have access to the robust internship program offered by the CMS major. People with skills in multimedia communication are in high demand in almost every professional field. Students in CMS can earn up to five credits that count toward their general electives requirement while participating in the internship program. 

Another reason to take classes in CMS is the amazing faculty. Ames describes his professors as “dynamic and effective teachers, with student involvement in their cutting-edge research.” Two professors, Mal Ahern and Jennifer Bean, are perfect examples of this. 

Ahern is the newest hire in the department. She’s an assistant professor specializing in media history and technology. Her energy and enthusiasm engage students as she highlights the importance of media studies in today’s world.

Bean is editor of the “Feminist Media Histories” journal. She invites graduate students to join her in this process, training them in editing, copy reading, and other publishing skills that are essential to many careers. 

In addition, CMS supports on-campus student organizations such as the UW Film Club and the LUX Video Production Club. While these RSOs are independent and not officially affiliated with the academic program, Ames said they “create a community that goes beyond the classroom” to make film accessible and engaging to a broad diversity of students. 

This major is for “creative people who see possibilities in combining CMS with their other pursuits and passions,” Ames said. If you are looking for a major that will become increasingly relevant as society integrates with creative media forms, CMS is a great choice. 

If you are interested in trying out some classes in the major, some upcoming course offerings for winter quarter are CMS 270: Classical Hollywood Cinema, CMS 274: Perspectives on Media, CMS 370: Basic Screenwriting. For more information click here

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