The Master of Arts in Communication emphasizes contemporary scientific approaches to the study of communication. Students ordinarily specialize in either organizational communication or mass communication. Most students can generally expect to complete all degree requirements in two years, although a less intensive approach may extend this time frame. Courses are either taught online or in single-session evening format. This allows students to spend just 1-2 nights a week on campus, permitting working professionals to begin progressing toward a graduate degree without interfering with existing responsibilities.
The overall degree requirements are as follows:
All students must complete a core of five required core courses. Each is three credit hours. The tentative scheduling plan for these courses is available here.
COMM 6500: Seminar in Communication Theory
COMM 6510: Advanced Communication Research Methods I
COMM 6515: Advanced Communication Research Methods II
COMM 6600: Seminar in Organizational Communication
COMM 6700: Seminar in Mass Communication
Students select from one of three exit options after consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and input from prospective committee members: (1) a graduate internship (2) a Master's thesis, or (3) all coursework.
Students pursuing in the thesis option are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including the 15 credit hour core. Of this coursework, 6 to 9 credit hours must be COMM 6960: Thesis Research and Preparation. A thesis is a substantive piece of original research. Theses must be supervised and approved by a committee of at least three graduate faculty members. The remaining credit hours will consist of graduate-level electives that are reflective the student's interests and areas of specialization within the degree.
Students who are interested in pursuing a thesis are encouraged to seek out a thesis advisor, who will serve as the chairperson of their thesis committee, during the latter part of their first year in the program. Theses are generally developed and completed over the course of at least two semesters. The student first develops the thesis proposal and completes any necessary pilot tests or preliminary research under the supervision of the thesis advisor. Provided that the thesis proposal is approved by the student's three-person committee, the student carries out the research and writes up the findings the following semester.
Students pursuing in the internship option are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including the 15 credit hour core. Of this coursework, 3 to 6 credit hours must be COMM 6590: Graduate Internship. Internship projects must be supervised and approved by a committee of at least three graduate faculty members. The remaining credit hours will consist of graduate-level electives that are reflective the student's interests and areas of specialization within the degree.
Graduate internships are not guaranteed. In order to be considered for credit, internships must have a documented relationship with the core courses required in the MA program as well as responsibilities commensurate with individuals holding a graduate degree.
As the department does not have a comprehensive list of providers for graduate level internships, students are responsible for networking and developing internship opportunities. Once the student has identified an internship possibility, s/he must develop a proposal which (1) explains the relationship between the internship, the career goals of the student, and the content of the MA program; (2) clearly establishes the appropriateness of the internship at a graduate level, (3) delineates the specific tasks and requirements of the internship (hours, assignments, etc.); (4) identifies a contact at the internship location who will be accountable for verifying your compliance; (5) develops the guidelines and rationale for the final project to complete the internship (e.g., paper, portfolio, presentation, etc.); (6) identifies a faculty member whose knowledge and expertise is amenable to the internship, and who is willing to serve as Chairperson of the student's committee; (7) once the proposal has been approved by the Chairperson of the student's committee, the student will need to identify two other graduate faculty who are appropriate (given the nature of the internship) and are willing to serve on the student's committee.
All Coursework Option
Finally, students who elect to take additional coursework in lieu of either a thesis or internship must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours, including the 15 credit-hour core. The remaining credit hours will consist of graduate-level electives that are reflective of the student's interests and areas of specialization within the degree.