Graduate Portfolio Program in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy

Degree:  Master’s degree title

Major: Home graduate program

With certification in the Master’s Portfolio Program in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy

Degree:  Doctoral degree title

Major: Home graduate program       

With certification in the Doctoral Portfolio Program in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy

Administrative units responsible for the program

Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy Committee

Updated program information for Fall 2020

Person to be contacted for further information about proposed program:

Name: Sharon Strover

Title:   Professor, School of Journalism and Media

Campus address: BMC 3.368


Phone: (512) 471-6652

Rationale and Description

Communication and information policy and the means by which it is crafted, analyzed and evaluated have become increasingly important, and these areas contribute highly sought skills for students pursuing advanced degrees.  As a general category, policy matters have been a consistent area of interest for graduate students at the University of Texas, and developments associated with information technologies have only increased the urgency of developing policies to adjudicate how these systems are deployed and allowed to operate.   

Policy discussions around issues of communication, information, and culture have become especially prominent in public discourse in recent years.  Rapid changes wrought by digitalization, corporate conglomeration, the Internet, AI, and other trends in the technological and economic spheres are judged by many to be a significant factor in reshaping systems of law and regulation.  Resulting legislation and policies, such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and the USA Patriot Act (2001) engendered broad debates on many subjects of critical interest to scholars and policymakers, from structures of ownership and control in media content and distribution to the role of intellectual property and the public domain, from the future of access and privacy in telecommunications, to new forms of media literacy and the impact of social media on democracy. The Federal Trade Commission’s deliberations around privacy, and the European Union’s adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

A diverse array of organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Research Service, The Federal Trade Commission, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation have supported discussions around these topics by commissioning research and hiring policy analysts, and major universities are already offering programs to address this need for trained policy thinkers, including the Quello Center at Michigan State University, The Digital Equity Laboratory at New York University, and the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford, among others. 

Similarly, concerns regarding national and international cultural policy prompted the creation of cultural policy and arts programs at various schools, including the Harris Public Policy School at the University of Chicago. Internationally, many countries support policies that influence and support national culture, extending from the local artist to national cultural identities, from art in public places to national or international programs to support cinema, from traditional media to cyberspace.  Several universities have established programs or centers to explore cultural policy (e.g., the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton, the Research Center for Arts & Culture at Columbia University).

The Graduate Portfolios in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy offer students at the University of Texas a means to enter this vital field of study by focusing on the theory, history, and comparative aspects of policies.   The program supports students’ preparation for careers in academic research or practical careers in policy-making arenas, including through opportunities to undertake internships in Washington DC through a university consortium program called COMPASS.  Study in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy is well-suited to a portfolio certificate program because it is a multi-disciplinary subject that can find students drawing on public policy, economics, communications, art, community planning, and information science.  This program invites students to integrate these disciplines into their particular course of study and provides an institutional home for scholars with these shared interests.

Admission Requirements and Process

Students pursuing a graduate degree in any UT-Austin participating school or college are eligible to apply for admission at any time after entering their graduate program.  For more information, students should speak to the participating faculty in their department or contact Sharon Strover at the School of Journalism, Moody College of Communication.  Students should have the consent of their home department graduate advisor to participate.  Students who wish to apply should submit an application that includes a brief (1-2 pages) statement of purpose outlining their interests and intention in completing the portfolio. 

The Graduate Portfolios in Communication, Information and Cultural Policy will include a Master’s Portfolio for students for whom the Master’s degree is a terminal professional degree, and the Doctoral Portfolio, which will include a more rigorous research and writing component.  The portfolio requires that students in both MA and the Ph.D. programs present their work in either a professional conference setting or a public venue at the University of Texas.  Alternatively, extra-curricular work in a policy setting related to communications or cultural policy can satisfy this requirement. 

The program requires the completion of nine credit hours (for Master’s Portfolio) or twelve credit hours (for Doctoral Portfolio) in approved graduate level courses and the preparation of a scholarly or practitioner-oriented research paper, submitted and approved by the Portfolio Committee.  At least two of the student’s completed courses shall be from departments outside the student’s home department.  Of the completed courses, no more than one may be taken as an independent study or conference course without approval of the Portfolio Committee. 

While courses change each semester and as faculty leave or join UT-Austin, the following represent typical courses that might be used for the portfolio. 



Course Number




Information in Social and Cultural Context



Perspectives on Information



Special topics, including Information Ethics



History of information and society



Information and Cultural



Gender, technology and information



Information Policy



Copyright:  Legal and cultural perspectives



Topics in privacy



Global Media



Technology & Culture



Topics in Global Communication



Seminar in Media Law (topics)



Topics in Journalism, including Ethics, Media Law, Framing Public Issues, Online Incivility



Political Discourse, including Politics, Media and Society; Campaign Communication



Topics in Public Policy and Law, including Cybersecurity law and policy; Technology of Cybersecurity;



Advanced Topics in Public Policy, including US Promotion of Democracy Abroad



Cultural policy and participation

Students seeking portfolio certificates will be encouraged to propose a dissertation or MA thesis or report related to policy studies and encouraged, but not required, to include at least one Communication, Information and Cultural Policy faculty on their dissertation committee. The portfolio certificate will be awarded contemporaneously with the student’s graduate degree.

Program Administration

The Graduate Portfolio in Communication, Information and Cultural Policy will be administered initially by the College of Communication’s School of Journalism.  A Portfolio Committee comprised of faculty representatives from each participating academic unit will meet twice a year in order to go over courses and student work.  The Moody College of Communication, the School of Public Affairs, and the School of Information are the lead institutions, but other faculty (and courses) from various departments would be welcome to participate.

The faculty administering the program will be responsible for admission to the portfolio, for advising students who wish to complete it, and for certifying that students have completed the work necessary to qualify for the portfolio certificate.


We believe this portfolio program remains an important addition to our departments and schools as a tool for recruitment and for graduate students as a tool for shaping their courses of study and career planning.  We have a steady stream of inquiries, and new commitment of administrative support from the School of Journalism.  Going forward, we would like to rotate administrative support among Journalism, the School of Information, and the LBJ School.

Affiliated Faculty/Portfolio Committee

LBJ School of Public Affairs

Kenneth Flamm    

Sherri Greenberg

School of Information

Andrew Dillon

Philip Doty

Tony Grubesic

School of Journalism and Media, Moody College of Communication

Sharon Strover                       

Joe Straubhaar                        

Amy Kristen Sanders