For Students, By Students

Need help finding a topic idea, learning how to register or wondering how to get around Philadelphia? Current Media Studies and Production master’s students and recent graduates offer tips on everything from comprehensive exams to transportation and innovative suggestions for generating paper or project topics.

General Advice

  • Ask Nicole McKenna for the graduation registration deadline.
  • Get to know your classmates; it makes it easier to get through the program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Get to know the graduate faculty; their experience and guidance will help you get through your classes, your comps and even a job search or a PhD application.

Financial Aid

  • Apply!
  • Be aware of FAFSA deadlines, but don’t freak out if you miss it. The deadline is mostly for undergraduates.
  • The office is in Conwell Hall—don’t be afraid to go in and asks lots of questions, repeatedly.
  • Graduate students are eligible for summer work study.
  • You can apply for additional loans aside from the federal ones. Ask Student Financial Services about student signature loans and other options.
  • Consider taking out an outside loan to live on if you’re in school full time and your loans cover your tuition with little left over.
  • Ask staff and faculty about research and teaching positions.


  • Don’t worry about registering immediately—many courses are often added later.
  • Do a search for all grad courses across the university to find other classes that interest you.
  • Consult your advisor if you get closed out of a course.
  • Refer to the handbook for course requirements and limitations.
  • For your first semester, register for MSP 9845, MSP 5011 and MSP 5114.
  • The remaining core classes are MSP 5021 or MSP 5041.


  • Familiarize yourself with the library’s online databases.
  • Research ahead of time in case you need to order books from another Temple campus or another university. Complete an online borrow request to order such books.
  • Ask professors for good leads and places to start with researching topics.
  • Find articles similar to what you envision your paper to be like, to help you get started and give you some ideas.
  • Learn APA style.

Getting to Know Campus

  • Don’t be afraid of the lunch trucks. The crêpe truck near Annenberg Hall at 13th and Norris is phenomenal and affordable!
  • If you want a beer, go to Maxi’s (on Liacouras Walk), the Draught Horse on Cecil B. Moore (near Broad St.), or Masters (N. Carlisle St., south of Cecil B. Moore and between Broad and 15th).
  • You have $50 of printing each semester on your Temple ID.
  • Student Financial Services and the Bursar’s office are both located in Conwell Hall on Broad St. (FYI: Conwell, Carnell and Wachman Halls are connected).
  • Always have your ID card with you.
  • The Bagel Hut has good bagels and salads, but get there early—they sometimes sell out of salads.
  • Book-buying alternatives include and
  • Be alert when on campus, especially at night, and if you’re parked on street far from campus.
  • The Liacouras Center on Broad St. hosts sports and entertainment events.


  • Look for something in the field you would like work in.
  • Be proactive and start early.
  • Make a list of potential organizations and contact them for information.
  • Betsy Leebron Tutelman is the intern program coordinator; you will work with her to develop the specific requirements for your internship.
  • Your internship does not have to be in Philadelphia.
  • Interning is a good option for the production track.
  • Refer to your handbook for requirements.
  • Coordinate your internship a semester in advance.

Comprehensive Exams

  • Make annotated bibliographies of everything you read—it will help when writing your comps.
  • Schedule them for a time when you can focus, either early in the semester or during a break.
  • Refer to your handbook for timelines, procedures and forms.
  • While taking other courses, think about which professors you’d like on your committee.
  • Remember to take exams in time to graduate.
  • Choose topics you have already studied, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • Comps aren’t meant to confuse you—they’re meant for you to showcase what you’ve learned.
  • Meet with your advisor or a professor you’re close with if you’re having trouble deciding what areas to be tested on.

Thesis or Project

  • A thesis is a good choice if you’re interested in pursuing a PhD, or if you want to conduct a full, scholarly study.
  • It’s a complicated and time-consuming process—try to free up your last semester to make time for it.
  • Try to build on your previous work (start your literature review and write a proposal as final papers for other classes).
  • If you need approval from the institutional review board, submit your paperwork as soon as possible—it’s a long process.
  • Refer to the Dissertation and Master’s Degree Handbook for all the requirements for final submission and deadline requirements. Follow the directions carefully.
  • Select your committee based on their research interests and how they align with your paper.
  • In addition to the time you spend researching and writing your thesis, you’ll also need time to complete the administrative tasks associated with it.

Independent Study

  • Independent study is a good way to research something specific if a class doesn’t cover it.
  • It’s also a good option if you have an uneven number of credits you need to fill, or if you’re working and need to work on your own time.
  • You must have a solid idea of what you’d like to focus on before approaching a professor about it.
  • Think about which professors you’d like to work with when developing your ideas.
  • Refer to your handbook for how many credits you may take as independent study.

Tips For the Academic Track

  • Take Communication Content and Behavior.
  • Build relationships with faculty, both for recommendations and figuring out if you want to pursue a PhD. 
  • Look for opportunities to teach, either as a teaching assistant or an adjunct.
  • Submit papers to conferences.

Tips For the Production Track

  • Take  Media Institutions.
  • Look for opportunities to work with faculty on projects.
  • Intern in the industry.
  • Take the intensive Television Production Workshop summer course.
  • Volunteer for Temple Update.
  • Seek out ways to learn new technologies and software.

Tips For Generating Ideas

Need a topic? Here are some suggestions for how to begin formulating ideas for papers or projects.

  • Abilities: Do you have production skills? How can you use those skills to explore a topic? What kind of project can you create that will build on your interests and talents that fits into the scope of the assignment?
  • Association inspiration: Visit communication association websites and look at their calls for papers. Often, these sites have specific categories that can serve as starting points for paper topics.
  • Communication genres: Think about the different areas of communication: interpersonal, institutions, media effects, new media, organizational, popular culture, visual communication, etc. If you pick a general topic, it is easier to narrow your focus later.
  • Media content: Browse the internet; listen to the radio; read newspapers, magazines and books; and watch TV. Your favorite show might become the focus of a paper.
  • Content availability: Think about the media content at your disposal. Does your DVD collection have a theme? Is there a certain genre of music that appeals to you? Why? Have you read a book that influenced you? Do you regularly watch a specific TV program? What communication theories can you apply to such content?
  • Course work: Do the other classes you are taking have overlapping ideas? Can you advance research you have started in another course?
  • Faculty resources: Ask Media Studies and Production graduate faculty about their areas of interest or projects they are currently working on. You might be able to supplement their research or identify a similar area of interest.
  • Personal experience: Think about social context. What is happening in your life that could be explored on a broader scale? For example, how has emerging communication changed the way you communicate?
  • Perspectives: Think about media from different standpoints, such as audience, context,  institution and text. Which area interests you most? Why? How can you explore that interest further?
  • Quick search: If you are trying to hone your topic, try typing in general search terms in databases like Academic Search Premier. This will reveal articles that can help you decipher what areas have already been covered and where there are gaps in research.
  • Student resources: Talk with other graduate students about their areas of interest.


  • Parking can be difficult, and you may pay for a spot in a lot. Parking Services is located on the first floor of the Montgomery Garage.
  • SEPTA (Philadelphia’s public transit system) is a good alternative to parking.
  • FLIGHT is Temple’s free, on-demand shuttle service.

Things to do in Philadelphia

  • See live music at the First Unitarian Church, the Kimmel Center, The Mann Center, TLA, Trocadero, Union Transfer, the  Wells Fargo Center and other venues.
  • Visit Philadelphia's sports centers: Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center. 
  • Check out First Friday. Every first Friday in Philly, the art galleries stay open late for the general public (and a lot of them have free wine!).
  • Philadelphia offers a lot of BYOBs; you can find them on Yelp.
  • Philadelphia is brimming with great, affordable restaurants, like Continental, Cuba Libre, El Vez, Good Dog, Maggiano’s and many, many others.
  • Cultural activities abound, from Ritz movie theaters and the Philadelphia Orchestra, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (student membership is cheap) and the Franklin Institute, to the Fringe Festival and the Shakespeare festival.