Current Students

A Personalized Program of Graduate Study

In consultation with graduate faculty, graduate students develop a personalized program of study to foster their own learning objectives and career goals. They are required to complete a set of core courses; and electives are recommended for the Professional (Organizational) Communication or Media Studies foci. Thesis and Non-Thesis options are available.

  • Plan I is with Thesis. This plan requires a minimum of 33 hours of course work, of which 12 hours are four of the core courses (does not include COMM 6050 - Communication Graduate Capstone Experience) and six hours are Thesis credit.
  • Plan II is without Thesis and requires a minimum of 33 hours of course work, of which 15 hours are the core courses. With both plans, no more than six hours of graduate course work may be transferred from other universities to fulfill the degree requirements for the M.A. in Communication. With both plans, only three credits of COMM 9500 - Independent Study in Communication - Graduate and three credits of COMM 6020 Communication Research Practicum may be applied to the degree requirements as electives

Coursework Requirements

Plan I (THESIS - minimum of 33 hours credit) Note: Students accepted by graduate faculty for Plan I are not required to complete a Comprehensive Examination.

  • Four Core Required Courses (12 Credits)
  • Minimum of Four Graduate Elective Courses in Communication (12 Credits)
  • One Graduate Level Course From Outside the Department (3 Credits)
  • Six Hours of Thesis Credit (6 Credits)

Plan II (NON-THESIS - minimum of 33 hours credit) Note: Students in Plan II complete a Comprehensive Examination in COMM 6050 - Communication Graduate Capstone Experience course on three content areas chosen by the student.

  • Five Core Required Courses (15 Credits)
  • Five Graduate Elective Courses in Communication (15 Credits)
  • One Graduate Level Course From Outside the Department (3 Credits)

Core Course Requirements (Offered once each year as indicated)

  • COMM 5010: Introduction to Graduate Studies: the Communication Discipline and Theories (Fall)
  • COMM 5020: Graduate Communication Research Methods (Fall)
  • COMM 6030: Research Methods: Statistical Data Analysis (Fall)
  • COMM 6040: Qualitative Research Methods: A Practicum and Analysis (Spring, Online)
  • COMM 6050: Communication Graduate Capstone Experience (Spring)
  • NOTE: COMM 6050 is not required with Plan I Thesis Option

General Elective Course Offerings

  • COMM 5050: Public Relations and Social Media
  • COMM 5100: Advanced Public Speaking
  • COMM 5150: Communication, Teaching, and Learning
  • COMM 5240: Seminar in Organizational Communication
  • COMM 5290: Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • COMM 5330: Gender and Leadership
  • COMM 5690: Problems in Radio-TV and Film
  • COMM 5950: Seminar in Leadership and Organizational Change
  • COMM 5990: Diversity and Global Issues in Contemporary Organizations
  • COMM 6010: Privilege and Oppression in Popular Culture
  • COMM 6020: Communication Research Practicum (Instructor approval required)
  • COMM 6090: Emerging Communication Technologies
  • COMM 6100: Communication Competency: Theory, Assessment and Pedagogy
  • COMM 6140: Media Effects
  • COMM 6160: Communication, Training and Development
  • COMM 6250: Problems in Communication (Topics vary by semester)
  • COMM 6350: Critical Analysis of Popular Culture
  • COMM 9500: Independent Study in Communication - Graduate Level (Instructor approval required)

Recommended Electives for Media Studies

  • COMM 6350: Critical Analysis of Popular Culture (Recommended In First Year of Program)
  • COMM 6010: Privilege and Oppression in Popular Culture
  • COMM 6090: Emerging Communication Technologies
  • COMM 6140: Media Effects
  • COMM 6250: Problems in Communication (Creative Media Focus)

Recommended Electives for Professional (Organizational) Communication

  • COMM 5100: Advanced Public Speaking
  • COMM 5240: Seminar in Organizational Communication
  • COMM 5990: Multicultural Diversity and Workplace Communication
  • COMM 5950: Seminar in Leadership and Organizational Change
  • COMM 6090: Emerging Communication Technologies

Recommended Two Year Schedule of Courses - Non-Thesis Option

Fall

  • COMM 5010: Introduction to Graduate Studies: the Communication Discipline and Theories
  • COMM 5020: Graduate Communication Research Methods

Spring

  • COMM 6040 Qualitative Research Methods: A Practicum and Analysis (Online)
  • (1) Elective

Interim

  • (1) Elective

Summer

  • Out of Department Course
  • (1) Elective

Fall

  • COMM 6030: Research Methods: Statistical Data Analysis
  • (1) Elective

Spring

  • COMM 6050: Communication Graduate Capstone Experience
  • (1) Elective

Degree Project Checklist

Degree Project Checklist

Independent Study Guidelines

COMM 6020 Communication Research Practicum

COMM 9500 - Independent Study in Communication

With both the thesis and the non-thesis degree plans, three credits of COMM 9500 Independent Study and three credits of COMM 6020 Communication Research Practicum may be applied to the degree requirements as electives. With the approval of the Graduate Director, a graduate student also may choose to take two 9500 courses OR two 6020 courses, rather than one of each.

The primary purpose of these two courses is to support graduate students, as they develop a personalized program of study to foster their own learning objectives and career goals for the M.A. degree. To accomplish the graduate students' goals, one or two of these courses may prove useful as their electives.

  • COMM 6020, Communication Research Practicum, is a project-based graduate course designed to involve students in communication research and/or creative work from the proposal stage through conference presentation, publication/production. Prerequisites: COMM 5010 and 5020 and/or instructor consent.
  • COMM 9500, Independent Study in Communication, is an individually developed and implemented project in communication. A student desiring independent study credit must present to the faculty a well-defined topic for the project. Prerequisites: Graduate status.

These two courses differ from one another in that COMM 6020 is primarily research-driven, including a major research component or a research study of the graduate student's choosing or developed in collaboration with a graduate faculty member. COMM 9500 typically focuses on teaching and pedagogy, or service, though it may involve some research. Topics for 6020 or 9500 may be initiated by a faculty member or by the graduate student.

COMM 6020 and 9500 both allow students an opportunity to explore educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom environment. They are not available as a substitute for core course requirements. Students may enroll for a research practicum or an independent study only after permission has been obtained from a Communication faculty member. The sponsoring faculty member provides the student with a permission number in order to register for either of the two courses. Learning objectives for 6020 or 9500 and a plan for their accomplishment are developed and agreed upon by the graduate student and supervising faculty member; the grade is determined by the faculty member.

Comprehensive Exams

The Communication Comprehensive Examination Academic Year 2016-2017

In the Spring semester before graduation – and after a student has completed (or is in the process of completing) all core course requirements – each M.A. student in Communication taking the Non-Thesis Option is required to complete the Comprehensive Examination. Registration for at least one credit hour is required during the Comprehensive Examination semester and students are encouraged to take COMM 6050 – Communication Graduate Capstone Experience in the same semester, as full support for completing the Comprehensive Examination is provided. The examination focuses on the content of two graduate courses chosen by the student and one general question encompassing the entirety of the student's program; two questions are answered during a five-hour on-site written examination and one question is considered a Take-Home Exam. Students may bring one page of notes and one page of references for each of the two on-site questions.

Initiating and Preparing for the Examination

To initiate the Examination, an M.A. student must contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Christopher Bell, by no later than February 10, 2017, for the Spring 2017 Examination. Each student will select and invite two Communication Graduate faculty members with whom he or she has had graduate coursework to serve on their Examination Committee. A third Graduate faculty member with whom the students has had no classes will be assigned by the Graduate Director. The student will invite one of these graduate faculty members to serve as Chair of the Examination Committee. The student will inform the Director of Graduate Studies of the faculty members willing to serve on the Examination Committee, including the Course Number, Course Title and indicating who is Chair. Prior to the written examination, it is appropriate to seek advice and guidance about the examination question from the professor who provides that particular question. At the discretion of the professor, the advice will relate to clarifying the nature of research to answer the question. The specific examination question is not provided prior to the examination.

The Written Examination

The Spring 2017 written examination will be given on Friday, March 31, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the day of the Written Examination, the student reports to the examination location, by no later than 9:50 a.m. The student is allowed to bring in resources for writing his/her answers, to include one list of references for each question and one page of notes for each question. Both the one page of references and one page of notes should be presented in APA style, that is: Times New Roman, 12 point font; .75 inch margins, double spaced and printed only on one side of the page. The reference list is not an annotated bibliography; it is only a list of references presented that can inform writing, it will be turned in at the end of the examination session. The Student’s Name, Instructor’s Name, Course Number and Course Title should be at the top of the reference list. Students will be provided with access to a computer during the examination; however, Internet access on the computer will be disabled. At the start of the on-site writing, one of the two on-site questions is chosen by the student who writes the answer until she or he is satisfied with the answer. Then the student receives the second question, may take up to 15-20 minutes break, and then she or he answers the second on-site question. The take-home question, which has been identified by the Examination Committee as such prior to the on-site writing, is given to the student at the end of the written examination. This question is answered in an open-book format. The take-home question is due no later than 12:00 p.m. on the Monday (April 3, 2017) following the Written Examination.

Oral Defense of the Answers

One to two weeks after the Written Examination is completed, a one and one half -hour oral defense will be conducted. The Oral Defense for Spring 2017 will be scheduled April 10-14, 2017. In the Oral Defense, students have the opportunity to expand on their written responses and answer questions from the Examination Committee. Students may bring extensive notes to assist in discussing and defending their answers, a completely rewritten answer is not accepted. The Graduate Director will coordinate scheduling the Oral Defense with the student and other faculty members on the Committee. The Department Program Assistant assists with this scheduling and secures the location of the Oral Defense. At the conclusion of the Oral Defense, the student will be informed of the outcome of the Comprehensive Examination. A student who has provided acceptable written and oral responses will pass the examination. Students who do not provide adequate responses will be asked to revise the answer for the particular professor or retake the exam for that question. If a retake of any answer is required by any professor, the student will be asked to answer a NEW question. The retake will take place in the same on-site examination format of two hours. The retake examination will be given on Friday, April 21, 2017 from 12noon to 2 p.m. Failure to provide an adequate answer in the second examination will result in the denial of the M.A. degree.

Guidelines for MA Thesis Preparation

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Communication Graduate Student Activities Committee

A committee of Communication graduate students plans several social activities every academic year. The Communication Department hosts an on-campus “Welcome Reception and Convocation” to kick off the academic year in September. The Director of Graduate Studies hosts a “holiday treat exchange” in December. In May, all graduate students are invited to a Poster Conference at which graduating students present their capstone or thesis research projects, with refreshments provided by the Communication Department.

Throughout the academic year, a senior-level graduate student serves as a peer mentor for all Communication Graduate Students. The mentor conducts weekly office hours and is available by appointment to help any graduate student with any project, assignment, or challenging task in any graduate course.

Related Links

Graduate School Association