Programs Begin in Fall 2023


Emerson College announces two new majors that will be offered beginning in Fall of 2023: Media Psychology and Health and Social Change. Both new programs will require capstones that put theory into practice through community partnerships, and will offer courses from across various departments and disciplines. Emerson is among a select group of institutions with majors in these fields of higher education study; the social change emphasis within a health program and media psychology at the undergraduate level set the College apart.

“These two majors take Emerson in a slightly different direction,” School of Communication Dean Raul Reis said. “They are informed by the liberal arts, but they are very much informed by the expertise that we find among the faculty in these growing fields.”

Although both majors will live within the School of Communication (SOC), they were created with the input of faculty from SOC, School of the Arts, and the Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, and will include courses from all areas of the College in their curricula, Reis said.

Stories dominating recent headlines are often rooted in social inequities at the nexus of public health, environmental health, media, and culture. The Bachelor of Arts in Health and Social Change gives students interested in these topics a foundational understanding of the systems and structures of modern-day health, policy, and healthcare issues, along with the tools to identify and implement cultural, policy, and social change at local, national and global levels.

Students will learn how our current medical and public health systems work, and be grounded in the scientific method, as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods (majors will take more science classes than the typical Emerson student). Health will be defined broadly, and take into consideration issues like climate change, not just individual disease, and will look at health locally, nationally, and globally.

Distinct from traditional health sciences, health management, or public health programs, the focus of this major is an innovative and interdisciplinary examination of how to create a new culture of health that engages social justice, communication, and the arts. The interdisciplinary nature of the major balances scientific inquiry, quantitative and qualitative skills, understanding of human behavior, and integration of messaging via communication and the arts, all through the context of a civically-engaged, local and global health lens.

The Bachelor of Science in Media Psychology applies psychological science—the study of behavior and the mind—to understand media design, production, and consumption, as well as the complex and reciprocal relationship between people and the media they create and consume. Over the course of the program, students will apply theories of learning, motivation, persuasion, and personal and social identity to analyze a variety of media platforms, including traditional formats of radio, television, film, and news media, along with new and rapidly emerging digital technologies and media spaces.

Students will learn to apply theories of psychology to various aspects of media, including storytelling, marketing, and user experience; demonstrate media and digital literacy and understand how to use media sensitively and inclusively to engage audiences, and learn quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

The major’s combination of foundational psychological theory, diverse disciplinary modes of inquiry, and emphasis on a critical and creative mindset will prepare students to engage with—and contribute to—a range of fields of study and practice, including education; design (game and other); public policy; marketing; media production and entertainment; technology development; and healthcare. The program also will produce educated media consumers and creators who understand the social and civic implications of modern media and can transform that understanding into action for effective and inclusive social engagement.

About the College

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic as well as its new Global Portals, with the first opening last fall in Paris. The College has an active network of 51,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit