Graduate Program Requirements


What do we want our M.A. graduates to know and do after they have successfully completed their program of study?

  • Students will be able to identify, explain, and critique the major paradigms, theories, and conceptual frameworks for understanding communication, and demonstrate an appreciation of the significance of ethics and social responsibility as they engage in communication. (Conceptual Foundations)
  • Students will be able to analyze and evaluate published research, and design and conduct communication research studies using quantitative social scientific, interpretive, critical, rhetorical, and/or performative methods. (Inquiry and Research)
  • Students will be able to demonstrate advanced competency in scholarly writing, oral communication, and the application of conceptual foundations and research methods in professional contexts by designing and conducting applied communication activities. (Professional Practice)

All graduate curriculum offerings (outlined below) are designed to integrate and provide meaningful connections between three areas: (1) Conceptual Foundations (paradigmatic, theoretical, and ethical underpinnings of the discipline), (2) Inquiry and Research (methodologies used in the study of communication), and (3) Professional Practice (advanced application of communication foundations and methods in professionally applied contexts). 

M.A. in Communication Studies


Graduate study in communication (theories and foundations): COMM 200R - 4 units

Introduction to communication research methods (inquiry and research): COMM 201 -  3 units 

Advanced Writing Workshop: COMM 297 - 2 units 

Graduate comprehensive exam: COMM 297 (repeated with exams) - 2 units (can be completed as early as the end of your second semester in the program)

Subtotal - 11 units


Graduate seminars - 4 units each

Teaching practicum (COMM 285A and B) - 2 units each (must be enrolled in the Graduate Teaching Associate program)

Completion of a thesis (COMM 299) - 6 units (see program website for information about the thesis process and requirements)

Completion of a project (COMM 298) - 4 units (see program website for information about the project process and requirements)

Independent study (COMM 280) - up to 3 units (reserved for research that cannot be undertaken in a class and that is separate from work on a thesis or project)

Up to 9 C/NC units can be counted toward your degree. Additional C/NC units must be approved by the graduate coordinator.

Up to 6 units of graduate courses outside the department that relate to the study of communication and to your area of interest  can also count toward your degree. As of fall 2013, no undergraduate courses will count toward the M.A. degree, except those units taken in the context of a study abroad program, in which case, up to 6 units may count, at the approval of the graduate coordinator.

Subtotal - 24 units




Student Success in the M.A. Program

Our M.A. program addresses graduate student success on two key factors, as indicated in research about graduate education:  a) mentorship activities with faculty members and b) educational activities that foster the development of graduate students as independent scholars. The proposed curricular structure foregrounds both of these key factors through four-unit seminars with integrated instruction in research methods,  a two-unit comprehensive exam, and a two-unit writing workshop.

These requirements help us achieve streamlined and coordinated M.A. experience, one that helps enhance not only a sense of program identity, but also of students’ and faculty members’ scholarly community and engagement.

Through four-unit courses, graduate students who benefit from financial aid will have a less stressful and more productive experience in the program as they will be able to worry less about their unit load for a particular semester and more about the content of their seminars.  Given the diversity of our enrollees, students in our M.A. program will take various amounts of time to complete their degree. However, with effective enrollment management, including revised admission processes, we hope to facilitate cohesion among students by creating more opportunities to build a cohort among student that enter the program together.