Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level





Jan LeBlanc Wicks

Committee Member

Rob Wells

Second Committee Member

Ignatius Fosu


Advertising, Faculty Involvement, Higher Education, Organizational Theory, Public Relations, Student-Run, Student-Run Agencies


The purpose of this paper is to study 110 student-run agencies (including advertising, public relations, integrated/digital marketing, communications, and graphics and/or design) in the U.S. by analyzing how they currently operate, what practices exist in the agencies for learning, growth, and continuation and how leadership roles of students and advisors influence the agency. This project built upon past studies of student-run agencies and expanded on the topic using the evolutionary theory of a firm by analyzing factors that determine whether it appears that a student-run agency might dissolve or last. This was determined by measuring the faculty advisor involvement level, the transfer of agency knowledge between old and new student directors and the structure and characteristics that can allow the firm to survive over time. The study also looks at leadership styles of both the faculty advisors and the student leaders. The end results help establish characteristics of a student-run agency that can survive over time even as students come and go.

Overall, the study found that agency characteristics have changed since they were first studied in 2009. Faculty advisors are spending more time with the agency with 18.3% working 0 up to 3 hours per week compared to the 26.1% of advisors who spent less than 3 hours per week with their agency in a 2011 study. Agencies have also been physically documenting more agency related material, such as an employee manual/handbook, with 73.3% now having manuals compared to 50% of agencies having employee manuals in 2011. Though more agency information is now documented, more than half of the agencies (55%) run the risk of dissolving since they do not train a new student manager using agency manuals. However, student managers are taking full and/or partial authority over their agency team (65%), including the training of new student managers (95%) and financial decisions involving the agency (31.7%).