In completing their M.A. degrees in the Department of Communication, students may choose either a thesis option, or a non-thesis option. The former requires 30 credit hours, including a master's thesis. The latter requires 36 credit hours and a comprehensive examination.
All M.A. candidates are required to take two foundational courses plus one research methods course. The foundational courses are designed to provide the student with an overview of the field of communication. Rhetorical Theory (COMM 640) reflects the humanities tradition in rhetorical studies and examines the nature, scope, and functions of rhetorical theory in both its historical and contemporary manifestations. Human Communication Theory (COMM 620) reflects the social science tradition in communication studies and focuses on the nature and role of theory in the understanding of human communication.
Students are also required to take one research methods course from among three options. Although only one of these courses is required, students may elect to take more than one methods course if their plan of study would be strengthened. Social Science Methods in Communication Research (COMM 610) focuses on quantitative research methods, including issues of design, measurement, and analysis of data. Interpretive Methods in Communication Research (COMM 615) focuses on qualitative research methods, including participant observation, interviewing, and field research. Rhetorical and Textual Methods in Communication Research (COMM 645) focuses on the description, interpretation, and evaluation of public discourse and in mediated texts.
Additionally, the thesis track includes 6-12 credits of departmental electives, up to 6 credits of non-departmental electives, and 6 credits of thesis research. The non-thesis track includes 15-18 credits of departmental electives, 6-9 credits of non-departmental electives. Students may use non-departmental credits to earn certificates in a complementary area of concentration such as business administration, international studies, or women’s studies.