Graduate Bulletin


The department provides opportunities for advanced study in communication, both theory and applied. Work in the department can lead to the Master of Arts degree in communication. In addition, doctoral studies in communication theory are offered in partial fulfillment of the special field requirement for the Ph.D. degree in Sociology.

Programs Leading to the Master of Arts Degree in Communication

The Master of Arts in Communication provides broad exposure to the field of communication, while at the same time allowing students to emphasize either interpersonal interaction/cultural practices communication, political communication, or organizational communication. Students are expected to concentrate in one of those areas and to organize their studies toward the final requirement of a thesis or the final requirement of a practicum/seminar. An orientation toward the completion of a thesis leads most naturally toward doctoral studies, while an orientation toward a practicum/seminar leads most naturally to the application of communication theory in business or government.

Interpersonal communication involves the processes and effects of communication in personal relationships and between persons in groups and organizations. Political communication involves the methods of stating and defending policy, solving problems, assessing and responding to public opinion, and decision making that are essential in political organizations. Organizational communication involves processes of coordination within organizations and interactions between organizations and their social and economic environments. Communication research methods involve procedures for obtaining and analyzing data about conditions preceding communicative events, the impact of communicative events on beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, and the structure of communication interactions.

M.A. in Communication (33 credits, minimum)

  1. Core requirements (9 credits): Com 502, 503 and Com 525. All students must receive a grade of B- or better
    in these required courses. Students must enroll in Com 502 or Com 503 when first offered following matriculation,
    and must complete the three core courses within their first 15 credits.
  2. Area of concentration (12 credits): Political Communication: Com 520 and 9 additional credits as advised in
    political communication; Organizational Communication: Com 551 and 9 additional credits as advised in
    organizational communication; Interpersonal interaction/cultural practices: Com 575 and 577 and 6 additional
    credits as advised in interpersonal interaction/cultural practices.
  3. Supporting electives (6 credits): Courses in Communication or in other departments that have been approved
    as relevant to student’s course of study may count as supporting electives. <
  4. Practicum or Thesis (6 credits): Com 698 or Com 699 as advised.
  5. Satisfactory completion of a written comprehensive examination in Communication.

Combined B.A.-M.A. Program

Qualified undergraduates may apply for admission to the M.A. program and, if accepted, simultaneously work toward completion of the requirements for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. See Combined Baccalaureate- Master's Degree Programs for details.

Doctoral Study in Communication Theory in the Ph.D. Program in Sociology

The Department of Communication, in cooperation with the Department of Sociology, offers doctoral studies in interpersonal, organizational, and intercultural communication. Students in the Ph.D. program in sociology can elect a special field in communication theory. The research specializations of the faculty involved in the two departments include social structure and mobility; social networks, social psychology, particularly in theory and research concerning interpersonal interaction/cultural practices communication; social support; stress and health-related factors; general theory, including structural rules, causal systems and mathematical approaches; language and social interaction. The Sociology faculty offers wide-ranging experience in all aspects of quantitative research methodology, including measurement and scaling, sampling, survey and experimental design, field methods, extensive multivariate, mathematical and statistical analyses. In addition, several Communication faculty have expertise in qualitative methodology, including ethnography and discourse analysis.

Program of Study

The Ph.D. in Sociology with a Communication specialization area includes, as a minimum:

  1. 30 credits in sociology, including Soc 509, Soc 510, Soc 511, Soc 522, Soc 590A, and Soc 590B and Soc 609;
  2. 24 credits in Communication, including Com 502, Com 503 and 18 credits in one of the three Communication concentrations: interpersonal interaction/cultural practices communication, organizational communication, or political communication;
  3. 6 additional credits as advised by the Communication faculty;
  4. fulfillment of the residence, teaching, and research tool requirements, as approved by the Sociology graduate committee; and,
  5. the dissertation.
Comprehensive Examination

Students in the Sociology program with a specialization area in Communication must take the comprehensive examination in methods (unless it is waived by virtue of an A- average in Soc 509, Soc 522, and Soc 609). Students will also take two specialization examination administered by the Sociology Department. One of these exams will be in one of the three Communication concentration areas.