Equipment

Check the following lists of required and recommended equipment, as well as software, for students in our M.S. in mass communications and certificate in media and leadership programs. 

Required Equipment

Personal Computer

All incoming master’s and graduate certificate students are required to own a personal computer. Please note the following important requirements:

  • Computers must meet the Adobe Premiere Pro system requirements as well as VCU’s requirements. Note that if you plan to do a lot of video editing, you should opt for more than 8GB of RAM.
  • Given that courses are taught online, a reasonable internet service is very important. Check the internet for the recommended speed for your living environment based on the number of people and devices.
  • Good quality speakers and microphones are critical. If your laptop speakers are not providing good audio, purchase a headset with headphones and a built-in microphone.
  • A working camera on your laptop is important, to fully participate in online classes, small group discussions, and meetings with your instructors or teaching assistants.
  • If purchasing a new computer, a laptop is recommended over a desktop. You may purchase computers at a discount through VCU RAMTech

Additional Equipment

The following equipment is required for M.S. in mass communications students, and recommended for students in the graduate certificate in media and leadership program.

Smartphone or a DSLR camera

  • Your phone or camera must be able to shoot 4K video.

Lavalier Microphone

  • Choose one that is compatible with your smartphone or DSLR camera.
  • We have been successful with the PoP voice lavalier microphone for phones. 
  • The Azden WLX-PRO+i VHF Camera-Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier is an option for DSLR cameras.

Tripod

Software

The following software is required for M.S. in mass communications students, and recommended for students in the graduate certificate in media and leadership program.

Microsoft Office

The software should include Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Publish, is free for VCU students and can be accessed on the Technology Services site.

Adobe Creative Cloud Suite

The suite includes Indesign, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro and other programs, and is available for VCU students at a discount ($60 per year, $30 for six months or $15 for three months). Subscriptions can be purchased through Academic Technologies.

Recommended Equipment

The following items are recommended for M.S. in mass communications and graduate certificate in media and leadership students.

We provide these recommendations to provide an example of equipment, but there are many options that would work; having comparable equipment is not a problem. Please think about your interests and the compatibility of your devices with one another.

Headphones

(Adapted from UC Berkeley’s Advanced Media Institute)

Although you may choose to use your smartphone earbuds throughout the program, we suggest good quality stereo headphones that connect directly to your laptop and the audio recorder or smartphone, especially if you plan to pursue a career involving audio editing. Audio editors typically use over-the-ear headphones as opposed to earbuds. You’ll find many options available — we like the Sony MDR7506, or the less expensive, but equally as popular Senal SMH-1000.

Audio Recorder

(Adapted from UC Berkeley’s Advanced Media Institute)

While you may use a smartphone to record audio in this program, several valid options are available for semi-professional to professional use. For the purposes of this program, we recommend the Zoom H1n — it’s a powerhouse for a reasonable price (while the Zoom H5 costs more and offers many advanced features.) The Zoom H1n uses a Micro SD Card of 32 GB. It’s a great recorder for those starting out in audio, and if used correctly, can get really good sound. Depending on your career goals, you may want to invest in a higher-quality recorder down the line.

USB Microphone

The portable microphone allows you to record audio for podcasts, video and audio packages. We recommend the Blue yeti microphone or the Elgato Wave 3 brand. 

Halo/Ring Light 

This will help improve the lighting in your photography and videos. It’s available on Amazon, Walmart and B&H.

Gimbal Stabilizer

This tool will help keep your camera steady while you’re moving and allow you to film steady video. Check out the article "The 12 Best DSLR & Mirrorless Camera Stabilizers in 2022" outlining some options. Note that this requires a wireless mic.

MicroSD Card

If using a DSLR, you will need a MicroSD card (San Disk) with a minimum of 32GB and, if needed, a MicroSD card reader.