An innovative communication MS degree that combines the latest research technology with essential communication expertise to prepare you for careers in the communication industry and for pursuing graduate work at the doctoral level.
Use of Artificial Intelligence in Journalism, Social Media, Visual Communication, Health Communication, Civic Engagement
Overview for Communication MS
Engage in timely research in key areas–Use of Artificial Intelligence in Journalism, Social Media, Visual Communication, Health Communication, Civic Engagement–that are significantly impacting the communication industry right now.
Develop an expertise in social media analytics, storytelling with data, and data visualization.
Acquire advanced visual, written, and verbal communication skills.
Scholarships of up to 30 percent of tuition are awarded to qualified applicants. Research assistantships also available.
Communication in all its forms is at the center of our personal lives and professional careers. Whether it’s interpersonal or mediated communication, professional communicators need to know how to develop creative and impactful messaging to successfully engage their audiences.
Technology has changed everything about the field of communication. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are the first places people go to get breaking news. Retargeting ads, geofencing, and native advertising are influencing how to reach and connect with audiences. Add in the proliferation of big data and marketing coordinators, brand managers, and marketing executives now have access to information that impacts real-time decision-making around creative messaging, audience tracking, and the impact of an organization’s marketing investment.
The best communication master's will prepare you to leverage the latest in tech in the dynamic and ever-changing field of communication.
RIT's communication master's degree hosts an innovative curriculum that is grounded in today’s social sciences and humanities concepts and applications. You’ll engage with our diverse and dynamic faculty of accomplished communication researchers and practitioners, who will teach you how to research a communication challenge, create compelling messages, and analyze media content and audience engagement.
RIT’s Communication MS
With communication courses spanning artificial intelligence, digital storytelling, digital advertising, social media analytics, and strategic communication, RIT’s communication master’s prepares you to excel in the ever-changing fields of communication, public relations, marketing, and branding. You’ll learn how to leverage technology to reach and engage audiences, craft compelling messages that stand out, analyze media content, and understand how analytics and big data drive smart decision-making. You’ll become an effective content, brand, or marketing manager; social media strategist; or PR/communication officer who can deliver the results an organization is looking for. If pursuing a doctoral degree is a future career aspiration, RIT’s program will help you grow into an accomplished researcher as you develop an in-depth understanding of the communication field.
Why Get Your Communication MS from RIT?
RIT is known for creativity and innovation. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked RIT 50th on the list of “Most Innovative Schools” for 2021. What does this mean for you as a communication professional?
It means unprecedented access to vast resources in technology and innovation that can only be found at RIT. Diverse and dynamic faculty, comprised of accomplished communication researchers and practitioners, adds depth and real-world insight to your courses. Access to classes from across the university allows you to differentiate yourself by pairing your communication master’s degree with elective courses in marketing, analytics, information technology, new media, management, design thinking, data analytics, and more. Smart classrooms, makerspaces, and an entrepreneurial ecosystem are designed for you to connect, share, and develop your ideas. All of this is designed for you to have an outstanding academic experience through hands-on learning and real-world application of knowledge. You’ll graduate with a degree and the experience needed to stand out in a competitive job market.
Jobs in Communications
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in communication fields are expected to grow by seven percent over the next ten years. Communications professionals with graduate degrees earn an average salary of $86,433.
Types of jobs in communication vary depending on what kind of work interests you most. Graduates of RIT’s communication master’s degree hold positions as:
Digital Marketing and Communication Analyst
Social Media Manager
Digital Marketing Specialist
Customer Sales Director
Relevant, Future-Focused Research
The communication MS offers research opportunities in timely, urgent areas affecting today’s communication and marketing professionals, including the use of artificial intelligence in journalism, social media, visual communication, health communication, and civic engagement.
What makes an RIT education exceptional? It’s the ability to complete relevant, hands-on career experience. At the graduate level, and paired with an advanced degree, cooperative education and internships give you the unparalleled credentials that truly set you apart. Learn more about graduate co-op and how it provides you with the career experience employers look for in their next top hires.
Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. A liberal arts co-op provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your knowledge in professional settings while you make valuable connections between course work and real-world applications.
Cooperative education is strongly encouraged for graduate students in the communication master’s degree.
Jess Francis '12
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan – Institute for Social Research
Over the course of this term we will cover mass communication theory from its inception as a field of study, to major trends, followed by current applications of previous paradigms, and finally into the development of new theoretical frameworks. While the main focus of this course is the integration of current mass communication theory with an individual and organizational online presence, we will also focus on how digital platforms can inform the future of theoretical research and vice versa. From a practical perspective, students will be able to apply these theories to their integrative approaches in creative digital communication and design. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 3 (Fall).
Research Methods in Communication
This course is designed to introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods in communication and guide them in choosing the appropriate method for their thesis research project. Topics may include research perspectives, ethics and IRB, variables, sampling methods, reliability and validity, survey, experiments, content analysis, in-depth interview, focus group, observations/ethnography, and mixed methods. (Prerequisites: COMM-702 or equivalent course.) Seminar 3 (Spring).
This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of strategic communication in advertising, public relations, health communication, crisis/risk communication, and/or political communication. This course will cover problem identification, audience research, message creation, and execution of strategic communication activities. It will also cover ethics and strategic communication through digital media. By the end of the course, students should be able to analyze and execute various components to help solve problems or achieve an organization’s goals and objectives. Seminar 3 (Fall).
Thesis Preparation Seminar
An introduction to graduate study and research in communication including the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological parameters of communication and its sub-disciplines. Participants will interact with the faculty teaching required and elective communication courses. Attention will be drawn to scholarly writing and research design. When possible, the course is organized in conjunction with the department’s colloquium series. (This course is restricted to COMMTCH-MS Major students.) Seminar 1 (Spring).
Choose one of the following:
A guided research project that focuses on designing, conducting, and completing a research project. The project culminates in a public presentation and defense. Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Comprehensive Exam, plus two additional courses*
Total Semester Credit Hours
* Courses may be professional core courses, communication electives, or a combination of both.
Professional Core courses are chosen by students based on their professional interests. In consultation with their academic advisor, students will choose from graduate courses offered across the university to round out their coursework.
Social Media Analytics and Research
This course focuses on social media research and ethics of applying various methodological approaches to study public data, users and messages. Students will be introduced to a variety of techniques and concepts used to obtain, monitor and evaluate social media content with a focus on how the analytics could inform communication strategies. During the course, students will also learn how to design and evaluate social media-based research studies. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall or Spring).
This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of digital storytelling through an analysis of current trends as well as by utilizing hands-on workshop experiences. Students will develop skills such as content strategy, digital storytelling best practices, content production, and audience analysis. Students in the course will develop critical skills to conceptualize, develop and execute an effective digital storytelling project. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
This course aims to help students understand the strategic use of digital media from both scholarly and professional perspectives, considering both brand and audience viewpoints. This course will cover the types and practices of digital advertising, including search engine optimization, paid search advertising, display advertising, email marketing, social media marketing, and reputation management. Seminar 3 (Spring).
This course explores visual communication, the process through which individuals -- in relationships, organizations, and societies -- create and interpret visual messages. A variety of theories from the disciplines of art history, psychology, communication theory, and graphic design will be discussed to develop methods for analyzing mediated messages. Students analyze visual messages from the following media: print photography, video, film, and the internet. (This course is restricted to COMMTCH-MS Major students.) Seminar (Fall).
Communication Design Principles
An introduction to design theory, history, and design for communication. In a practical, project-oriented setting, students will learn design theory and practice image analysis. Students will apply research, theory, and methodology to create visual communication artifacts using graphic design software. Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Communication and Identity
This course engages students in an analytical and applied exploration of the connection between self, identity, communication, media, and society. Drawing from classical and contemporary readings, as well as current events, the course will address topics such as identity and discourse, performance, intersectionality, and representation. Communication has been central to the development of ideas about collective and individual identities. Therefore, the course encourages students to critically examine the political implications of identity construction in our social world. Finally, the course examines how popular notions of identity function in media texts, corporate settings, and digital environments. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Artificial Intelligence and Communication
Communication has been impacted by automation and advances in information technology, and now artificial intelligence is changing how we interact with socio-technical systems. In this course, we will explore historical, ethical, computational, and cultural perspectives to understand the implications of algorithmic processes on communication and society. During the course, students will learn how to analyze various digital products and identify the potential consequences of algorithmic systems on various demographics. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Admissions and Financial Aid
This program is available on-campus only.
Fall or Spring
Fall - February 15 priority deadline, rolling thereafter; Spring - rolling
Fall or Spring
Full-time study is 9+ semester credit hours.
Part-time study is 1‑8 semester credit hours.
International students requiring a visa to study at the RIT Rochester campus must study full‑time.
To be considered for admission to the Communication MS program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.
International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.
Professor Rudy Pugliese will adopt the title of professor emeritus on July 1 when he officially retires. Pugliese taught in the College of Liberal Arts’ School of Communication for 37 years. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he also spent 24 years advising students working for Reporter Magazine.