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Program | Faculty | Courses


The Department of Communication offers programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The M.A. degree requires 30 credits of coursework and a six-credit thesis, for a total of 36 credits. The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 60 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree plus a research tool (minimum six credits, for a total of 66 credits) plus credits for the dissertation. Plans of study conforming to specific program requirements are prepared individually in consultation with faculty advisers.

Applicants to the graduate program should meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School and should have a good undergraduate background in communication or expect to take additional coursework without graduate credit or, in some cases, with credit. Applicants are encouraged to submit writing samples directly to the department.

The graduate programs in Communication deal with communicative processes at the levels of culture, media, and represention; individuals, professionals, and groups; and institutions and social structures. Much of the faculty’s work takes place at the intersections of these levels of analysis. As committed teachers and active researchers, their perspectives and methods encompass social science, cultural, and professional orientations. The faculty develop connections between theory and practice in order to advance knowledge in the field, to promote informed public debate, and to teach students how to think critically as citizens in a democratic society. They are dedicted to making their teaching and research accessible beyond the academy, as a force for sustainable social change.

The central goals of the curriculum are: to develop competence in observing, describing, and criticizing communication practices; to develop understanding of the history of communication and its policies, institutions, and culture; and to develop knowledge of communication theory, philosophy, and research. These goals are incorporated into studies of face-to-face and mediated communication, from dyads to large social groups.

Some foci of work being done in the department include: technologies of communication and the nature of social institutions; social interaction and the construction of personal identities and interpersonal relationships; communication and the production of cultural politics; media effects; the reproduction of cultural identities in conversation; teaching and learning as communication processes; the history of ideas concerning communication; globalization and media policy; and legal and institutional regulation of communication processes.

Graduate students in Communication may focus their programs on varied areas of the discipline. The elements of a candidate’s course of study will vary with individual circumstances. Some traditional specializations include, but are not limited to, Social Interaction, Intercultural Communication, Mass Communication, Rhetoric and Public Discourse, Communication Theory, Critical Cultural Studies, International Media, Communication Policy, and Technology Studies.

The department requires a research tool for the Ph.D. degree. It is up to the student’s guidance committee to require the specific competencies deemed appropriate to the candidate’s research.

Courses: The department’s course offerings implement a three-level curriculum. The base of the curriculum is a three-course core consisting of a survey of concepts and theories of communication and both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. At least one additional foundations course in the student’s primary area is also required. The center of the curriculum consists of 600- and 700-level courses; and at the apex are 800-level topical seminars which study particular subjects in great depth. The purpose of this curriculum is to educate students who will be expert in their area of concentration, can locate their field of study in the context of alternative theoretical options and research procedures, and can account for their theoretical and methodological decisions.

Consistent with our understanding of graduate study, many of the most important courses are topical seminars (offered at the 600, 700, and 800 levels), the content of which varies from semester to semester. Recent offerings include: Class Cultures; Communication and Culture; Communication and Moral Orders; Issues in Information Technology; Coordinated Management of Meaning Theory; Critical Pedagogy; Information Society; Cultural Theory of Stuart Hall; Phenomenology and Communication; Cultural Industries in Latin America; Documentary Film; Ethnographic Approaches in Communication; Experience, Identity and Interaction; Feminist Film Theory; Gender and Communication; Global Culture and Communication; Intercultural Communication; Media Effects; Media Historiography; Mediation; Music, Culture and Communication; Political Economy of Media Industries; Politics of Popular Culture; Politics of Sexual Representation; Postmodernism and Media; Film Theory; Cultural Discourse; Political Economy of Media Industries; Media Literacy; Introduction to Semiotics; Asian Popular Cinema; Field Research in Cultural Studies, American Rhetorical Theory. For a more complete description of available courses, please consult the current semester schedule or the departmental Graduate Handbook.

Note: The Department of Communication does not offer graduate degrees in Journalism.