Communication Studies

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Graduate Degree Introduction


The Master of Arts program in Communication Studies provides advanced study of human communication in its various and diverse forms, contexts, and processes. The program prepares students to pursue academic and professional career paths such as a Ph.D. in the field, Community College instruction, or a career in the communication industry. The Master of Arts program in Communication Studies includes coursework in the following areas:

  • Performance, Language, and Cultural Studies (including seminars in Performance Studies, Textual Studies, Communication and Language, Feminist Perspectives on Communication, and Intercultural Communication)
  • Rhetorical Studies (including seminars in Classical Rhetoric, Contemporary Rhetoric, and Postmodern Rhetoric)
  • Communication Theory (including seminars in Communication Theory, Interpersonal Communication, Group Communication, Organizational Communication Research, and Communication and Technology)

The department’s graduate program is governed by the principle that the student should have the opportunity to study and to conduct original research in areas of the student¹s primary interests. Thus, the department seeks to balance two concerns: (a) to permit each student to tailor the Program of Study to individual interests and abilities; and (b) to insure that all students acquire a coherent perspective within the field of communication. The ultimate objective is to prepare students to assume socially responsible and productive roles within their chosen professions.

The program comprises thirty-three units of coursework in Communication Studies selected in consultation with advisors. For the culminating experience, students will choose from directed comprehensive studies, a thesis, or an applied scholarly project. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master's degree from the Communication Studies Department will be able to:

  1. Critically examine how communication affects the social construction of reality.
  2. Define and discuss some basic tenets or theories of human communication from the perspective of one or more specific areas of the field (Rhetoric, Communication Theory, and Performance, Language and Cultural Studies).
  3. Critically assess and analyze scholarly writing in the field.
  4. Analyze and critically interpret/evaluate communication practices and research.
  5. Analyze and critically evaluate the relationship between communication and culture.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree

University standards for admission to graduate study will normally be a determining factor in granting a student classified status in the program. Department admission requirements are typically higher than university criteria. Students with limited background in communication studies may be admitted on a Conditionally Classified basis until preparatory undergraduate coursework (to be determined in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator) has been completed. Any student who is admitted to the graduate program on a Conditionally Classified basis is required to meet ALL conditions for fully Classified status by the time s/he has completed 12 units of coursework in the graduate program.

University standards for admission to graduate study will normally be a determining factor in granting a student classified status in the program. Department admission requirements are typically higher than university criteria: For example, the University minimum GPA is 2.5; the Department minimum GPA is 3.0. The university waives the GRE for applicants with GPAs of 3.0 or better; the department requires the GRE of all applicants.

Undergraduate Preparatory Courses

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies provides advanced study of human communication. Graduate students are expected to have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of communication studies before beginning the program. Students who come to the program with an undergraduate degree in communication are generally assumed to have received a basic understanding of these fundamentals from their undergraduate program.

Students entering the program with an undergraduate degree in a different field may be encouraged to take undergraduate preparatory coursework in order to demonstrate competence in the basic fundamentals of Communication Studies. In some cases, students with a communication degree may also be encouraged to take one or more of these courses. The advisability of undergraduate preparatory work will be determined in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, but in general, students without a degree in Communication Studies will find that they can be far more successful in our graduate seminars if they are able to take one or more of the following undergraduate courses: 

Study of the complex relationships among culture, language, and performance in communication. Examination of theory, behavior, practice and criticism from aesthetic and sociocultural perspectives, with emphasis on contemporary research in language, culture, and performance studies.

Theories of rhetoric from classical Greece and Rome to the present. Critical methodologies inherent in rhetorical theories of each period are applied to typical examples of public discourse of that period.

Survey of multiple theoretical perspectives on the study of human communication. Examination of the relationships among communication theory and other areas of study within the field of Communication Studies.

In addition, students who enter the program without adequate preparation for graduate-level writing demands can expect to be required to complete the following course:

Study of the language and principles of human communication through the production, analysis, and evaluation of rhetorical messages. 

Undergraduate preparatory coursework must be completed before a student is eligible to enroll in graduate seminars or be fully classified as a graduate student. Students may apply to the program before finishing these requirements, but they must be finished in order to qualify for full classification