The Master of Arts in Communication Studies is a comprehensive program that focuses on the broad field of communication. Given the breadth of the field of communication, the program seeks to build students' understanding and abilities across a broad array of communication contexts (including organizational, interpersonal, small group, mass media, and public relations). The program is designed to provide a theory-based approach to a variety of communicative phenomena while simultaneously stressing the value of research. Together, theory and research provide students with the proper foundation for making solid persuasive arguments in their professional and academic pursuits. By acquiring theoretical knowledge and research skills, students and graduates can best apply their education in their chosen fields.
The M.A. in Communication Studies is designed as both an academic and a professional development degree with thesis and non-thesis track options. Many students complete the program and pursue additional graduate work at the Ph.D. level. The program offers a thesis option for students interested in pursuing a large-scale research project in preparation for future Ph.D. work. In terms of professional development, all courses explore pragmatic issues of communication. The program offers tremendous flexibility enabling students to further their chosen career goals, and perhaps future success, by exploring up to 15 credits outside the Department of Communication and Media. For example, students interested in administrative work can take elective courses in the Master of Public Administration program (M.P.A.). The department faculty also are ideally suited to help with students' professional development goals because they serve as communication consultants to groups and organizations outside of the University.
Since the program is designed to enhance students' communication skills, courses within the program require extensive speaking and writing. Courses are generally taught as small discussion-oriented seminars, and most course grading centers on students' papers and presentations.