New Rowan M.A. in television studies may be first of its kind in U.S.

Rowan University created a new Master of Arts program, which will begin accepting students for its first class next fall, in response to the burgeoning television industry. The program, which may be the first of its kind in the U.S., was established for the late Diana King, whose King Family Foundation donated $1 million to support student scholarships.

King, who passed away in 2019, established the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation in 1988 to honor her parents, the late founders of King World, a legendary TV distributor of such popular programs as “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Dr. Phil,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “Rachael Ray.”

The Diana King Master of Arts in Television Studies will prepare students for one of three career tracks in the expanding TV industry — screenwriting, critical writing about television and an academic pathway towards terminal degrees in television studies.

In addition, the master’s degree will be attractive to those teaching television and media studies at the K-12 or college level.

“At this time, ours is the only Television Studies master’s degree program in the United States,” said Kim Akass, a professor in Rowan’s Radio, Television & Film program through the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. “It is possible to study television at other institutions, but it’s usually as part of a film or media MFA.”

Akass said there has long been demand for a master’s level television studies program at Rowan, and the new M.A. has been in development for several years. She said a tremendous spike in TV watching during the ongoing pandemic, particularly while tens of millions of Americans were in lockdown or quarantined at home, made the need for such a program clearer.

The admissions committee will consider applications beginning Feb. 15.