Communication MS

Communication, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Communication Theories
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).
Strategic Communication
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).
Communication Electives
Professional Core
Choose one of the following:
   Communication Thesis/Project
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 chose 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.

Communication electives

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 (Spring).
Digital Storytelling
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).
Digital Advertising
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).
Visual Communication
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).