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M.A. in Communication

The M.A. in Communication is designed to offer a convenient, high-quality graduate education to students with a variety of interests and professional goals.

For individuals who are interested in pursuing a doctorate in communication, we provide first-class preparation that can make students competitive at even the most prestigious institutions. Our graduate faculty come from top-ranked universities, and are closely involved with mainstream scholarship and innovative research.

For students who intend to apply communication knowledge and skills in the workplace, the practical and theoretical knowledge woven throughout the curriculum can facilitate the achievement of a broad range of personal and professional goals. We offer the opportunity to tailor students' programs of study to meet their interests and objectives. In addition, our graduate program offers workforce development to major corporations and organizations in the greater St. Louis area, providing an effective and economic alternative to an internal training and development infrastructure.

Students who complete the M.A. in Communication will be critical consumers of information. They will have developed important skills for properly generating and interpreting data, as well as evaluating communication related theories and research. They will have learned how to apply that knowledge to their own research or professional settings. The will also have a detailed understanding of the academic discipline and be prepared to be literate, participatory citizens of the 21st century. 

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts in Communication emphasizes contemporary scientific approaches to the study of communication. Most students can 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 a single session per week evening format. This allows students to spend just 1 to 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 courses. Each course is three credit hours. It includes three required courses focusing on the fundamental theories and basic research methods within the field:

COMM 6500: Seminar in Communication Theory

COMM 6510: Advanced Communication Research Methods I

COMM 6515: Advanced Communication Research Methods II

Students also select two of three "applications" courses, which address communication within particular contexts:

COMM 6600: Seminar in Strategic Communication in Organizations

COMM 6700: Seminar in Mass Communication

COMM 6800: Seminar in Health Communication

If students choose to take all three applications courses, the third course applies to the program as an elective.

In addition, Students select one of three exit options after consultation with the Graduate Program Director and input from prospective committee members: (1) a graduate internship (2) a Master's thesis, or (3) all coursework.

Thesis Option

Students pursuing the thesis option are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including the 15 credit hour core listed above. 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 reflective of 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.

Internship Option

Students pursuing the internship option are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including the 15 credit hour core listed above. 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 of the student's interests and areas of specialization within the degree.

Graduate internships are not guaranteed in that the student needs to be accepted as an intern by an appropriate organization with enough oversight for the internship to fuction as a learning or training experience. 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 M.A. 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 mentor or supervisor at the internship location who will be accountable for verifying the student’s compliance; (5) develops the guidelines and rationale for the final project to complete the internship (e.g., paper, portfolio, 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, identifies 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 36 credit hours, including the 15 credit-hour core listed above. 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. Students who choose this option may be eligible to waive up to 6 credit hours if justified by prior coursework or professional experience. Contact the Graduate Program Director for more information.

Admission Requirements

Applications are considered for admission in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Generally speaking, the Department will consider complete applications for regular admission as late as July for 1 for the Fall semester and December 1 for the Spring semester. However, it is strongly recommended that potential graduate students submit their application materials as early as possible to avoid last minute difficulties that could delay admission for a semester or more. This is particularly true for international applicants. Potential international students are encouraged to apply by May 1 for fall admission and October 1 for spring admission in order to allow time for transcripts and other documents to be processed and to provide enough lead time for visas and travel arrangements to be made.

Successful applicants must have a baccalaureate in communication or a related discipline by the end of the semester in which they apply. In addition, the minimum cumulative GPA for regular admission to the graduate program in communication is 3.25 on a 4-point scale. International students must score at least 600 on the paper-based version of the TOEFL exam, or the equivalent on other versions of the test, in order to be considered for admission. In addition to these requirements, each applicant must submit three letters of recommendation, at least two of which specifically address the applicant's potential to succeed in graduate studies in communication (letters that address academic potential must be provided by individuals who can accurately assess it, such as previous instructors, professors, etc.). Applicants with GPAs that do not meet the admission criterion may elect to submit additional materials, such as results from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), as alternative means of establishing their ability to succeed in the program. Contact the Graduate Program Director for more information.

For More Information

Graduate Program Director: Amber Reinhart, reinhartam@umsl.edu or (314) 516-5489

Graduate Admissions: gradadm@umsl.edu or (314) 516-5458

International Student and Scholars Services: iss@umsl.edu or (314 516-5229