Academic Programs Catalog

College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Department of Communication

James W. Dearing, Chairperson

Learning to understand and use concepts and strategies from communication science in everyday life is inherently interdisciplinary. Psychology, sociology, political science, and management and marketing have all contributed to a unique fusion that is communication science.


Undergraduate Program


Communication

The goal of the major in communication is to prepare students to synthesize, analyze, and criticize major functions, structures, and processes of communication within interpersonal, organizational, and mediated communication contexts. The major is designed to equip its graduates:  (a) to understand the processes involved in human interaction especially as these processes relate to a variety of cultural perspectives, (b) to assess the role and function of new and social media, (c) to identify and critically analyze the major theoretical perspectives in the field of communication, (d) to write and speak clearly using communication concepts, and (e) to develop transferable skills in problem solving in interpersonal interactions, in small group settings, and with diverse populations.

Undergraduate work in communication creates greater awareness of the intricate networks that shape human interaction.  Communication study is designed to prepare students to become human relations specialists in industry, the media, and government as well as for graduate study and further professional education.  Majors most commonly pursue careers in sales, corporate project management, fund raising, corporate recruiting and training, customer relations, public relations, and government.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in  Communication
  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of the catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Communication major is met by completing any one of the following courses:  Communication 401, 425, 440, 475.  Those courses are referenced in item 3. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. Complete a minimum of 30 credits in Communication courses with a grade-point average of 2.0 or higher achieved across COM 100, COM 225, COM 240, COM 275, and COM 300:
    (1) All of the following courses (17 credits):
    COM 100 Human Communication 3
    COM 225 An Introduction to Interpersonal Communication 3
    COM 240 Introduction to Organizational Communication 4
    COM 275 Effects of Mass Communication 3
    COM 300 Methods of Communication Inquiry 4
    (2) One of the following capstone courses (4 credits):
    COM 401 Advanced Topics in Communication (W) 4
    COM 425 Communication in Close Relationships (W) 4
    COM 440 Organizational Communication Structure (W) 4
    COM 475 Communication Campaign Design and Analysis (W) 4
    (3) Complete a minimum of 9 elective credits:
    COM 301 Special Topics in Communication Sciences, Analytics and Research Methods 3
    COM 302 Special Topics in Health Communication 3
    COM 303 Special Topics in Intercultural Communication 3
    COM 304 Special Topics in Interpersonal Communication 3
    COM 305 Special Topics in Mediated Communication 3
    COM 306 Special Topics in Organizational Communication 3
    COM 307 Special Topics in Social Influence 3
    COM 310 Intercultural Communication 3
    COM 320 Diversity and Communication 3
    COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
    COM 330 Health Communication 3
    COM 340 Leadership and Group Communication 3
    COM 360 Advanced Sales Communication 3
    COM 375 Audience Response to Media Entertainment 3
    COM 399 Special Topics in Communication 1 to 3
    COM 402 Public Relations Topics in Communication 1
    COM 490 Independent Study 1 to 3
    COM 493 Internship 1 to 12
    COM 494 Practicum in Communication Research and Instruction 1 to 4
    A maximum of 3 credits across any combination of COM 490, 493, and 494 may be used to satisfy this requirement.
    (4) Complete one of the following options:
    (a) A cognate in the behavioral/social sciences that is comprised of six courses outside the Department of Communication chosen from at least three of the following departments: Anthropology, Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Economics, Human Development and Family Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. The courses must be chosen in consultation with the student’s academic advisor. (18 to 24 credits)
    (b) A concentration from the following that focuses on a specific application area in the discipline. Courses used to satisfy requirements for the major may also be used to satisfy the requirements of a concentration. The concentration will be noted on the student’s transcript. (minimum of 18 credits)
    Communication Science, Analytics and Research Methods
    1. Both of the following courses (7 credits):
    COM 401 Advanced Topics in Communication (W) 4
    COM 494 Practicum in Communication Research and Instruction 3
    2. Four courses from the following (12 to 15 credits):
    MI 220 Methods for Understanding Users 3
    MI 355 Media and Information Research 3
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 295 Data Analysis in Psychological Research 3
    SOC 281 Social Research Methods 4
    SOC 282 Quantitative Analysis for Social Research 4
    STT 201 Statistical Methods 4
    WRA 202 Introduction to Professional Writing 3
    WRA 330 Writing Research in Communities and Cultures 3
    WS 203 Introduction to Methods for Women’s and Gender Studies Research 3
    Health Communication
    1. All of the following courses (10 credits):
    COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
    COM 330 Health Communication 3
    COM 475 Communication Campaign Design and Analysis (W) 4
    2. Three courses from the following (9 to 11 credits):
    ANP 201 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 3
    Or
    ANP 204 Introduction to Medical Anthropology 3
    ANP 370 Culture, Health, and Illness 3
    EPI 390 Disease in Society: Introduction to Epidemiology and Public  Health 4
    GEO 435 Geography of Health and Disease  3
    HM 101 Introduction to Public Health 3
    HNF 150 Introduction to Human Nutrition 3
    HNF 406 Global Foods and Culture 3
    HST 425 American and European Health Care since 1800 4
    PHL 344 Ethical Issues in Health Care 4
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 320 Health Psychology 3
    SOC 475 Health and Society 3
    Intercultural Communication
    1. All of the following courses (10 credits):
    COM 310 Intercultural Communication 3
    COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
    COM 475 Communication Campaign Design and Analysis (W) 4
    2. Three courses from the following (8 to 11 credits):
    ANP 200 Navigating Another Culture 2
    CSUS 200 Introduction to Sustainability 3
    CSUS 250 Global Issues in Agriculture and Natural Resources  3
    ENG 478B Literature and Visual Culture 3
    JRN 475 International News and Government Dynamics 3
    MC 230 Cultures and Politics in Comparative Perspective 4
    MI 480 Information and Communication Technologies and Development 3
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 342 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 3
    SOC 161 International Development and Change 3
    SOC 215 Race and Ethnicity 3
    SOC 310 Global Migration 3
    SOC 362 Developing Societies 3
    TE 352 Immigrant Language and Culture 3
    Up to 6 credits of a foreign language or educational study abroad program may also serve as an elective in this concentration with advisor approval.
    Interpersonal Communication
    1. All of the following courses (10 credits):
    COM 304 Special Topics in Interpersonal Communication 3
    COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
    COM 425 Communication in Close Relationships (W) 4
    For COM 304, students must select from the following topics: conflict, family communication, computer-mediated communication.
    2. Three courses from the following (9 or 10 credits):
    ATD 430 Dress, Culture and Human Behavior 3
    HDFS 145 The Individual, Couples and Families 3
    HDFS 225 Lifespan Human Development in the Family 3
    HDFS 414 Parenting 3
    HDFS 442 Ethnic Families in America 3
    HDFS 444 Interpersonal Relationships in the Family 3
    HDFS 445 Human Sexuality 3
    HST 313 Women in the United States to 1869 3
    HST 314 Women in the United States since 1869 3
    HST 413 Families in Historical Perspective 3
    LIN 335 Language and Gender 3
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 235 Social Psychology 3
    PSY 236 Personality 3
    PSY 339 Psychology of Women 3
    PSY 342 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 3
    WS 201 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies 3
    WS 304 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and Sexuality Studies 3
    WS 403 Women and Change in Developing Countries 3
    Mediated Communication
    1. Both of the following courses (7 credits):
    COM 375 Audience Response to Media Entertainment 3
    COM 475 Communication Campaign Design and Analysis (W)  4
    2. Four of the following courses (12 to 14 credits):
    ADV 375 Consumer Behavior 3
    ADV 420 New Media Driver’s License 3
    ENG 142 Introduction to Popular Literary Genres 4
    FLM 230 Introduction to Film 4
    FLM 380 Classical Film and Media Theory 3
    FLM 381 Contemporary Film and Media Theory 3
    JRN 108 The World of Media 3
    JRN 213 Animation, Comics, Culture and Graphic Novels in Media 3
    JRN 218 Sports in Contemporary Media 3
    MI 201 Media and Information Technologies and Industries 3
    MI 239 Digital Footprints: Privacy and Online Behavior  3
    MI 301 Bringing Media to Market 3
    MI 302 Networks, Markets and Society 3
    MI 480 Information and Communication Technologies and Development 3
    WRA 202 Introduction to Professional Writing 3
    WRA 225 Introduction to Multimedia Writing 3
    WRA 425 Advanced Multimedia Writing 3
    Organizational Communication
    1. All of the following courses (10 credits):
    COM 340 Leadership and Group Communication 3
    COM 440 Organizational Communication Structure (W) 4
    COM 493 Internship 3
    2. Three of the following courses (9 or 10 credits):
    ACC 230 Survey of Accounting Concepts 3
    ADV 325 Public Relations Techniques and Ethics 3
    ANP 321 Anthropology of Social Movements 3
    GBL 323 Introduction to Business Law 3
    HST 213 U.S. Business and Economic History 3
    MGT 325 Management Skills and Processes 3
    MKT 327 Introduction to Marketing 3
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 255 Industrial and Organizational Psychology 3
    SOC 481 Social Movements and Collective Identities 3
    Social Influence
    1. Both of the following courses (7 courses):
    COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
    COM 475 Communication Campaign Design and Analysis (W) 4
    2. Four of the following courses (12 to 15 credits):
    ANP 321 Anthropology of Social Movements  3
    HST 316 United States Intellectual History since 1860 3
    IBIO 446 Environmental Issues and Public Policy 3
    PHL 330 Formal Reasoning 4
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    PSY 270 Community Psychology 3
    SOC 241 Social Psychology 3
    SOC 368 Science, Technology and Society 4
    SOC 481 Social Movements and Collective Identities 3
    SOC 499 Social Issues and Change in Contemporary Society (W) 3
    Students should meet with their academic advisors concerning the minimum and maximum numbers of elective credits available to them at various stages in their programs.
    Students are strongly encouraged to complete an internship or experiential learning experience approved by the Department of Communication whether for university credit based on academic eligibility standards or on a voluntary, non–credit basis.  The department will make every effort to assist communication majors in finding appropriate internship placements.

Minor in Sales Leadership

The Minor in Sales Leadership provides students with the set of educational experiences, courses, and training they need to become successful sales agents and leaders in a sales-intensive corporate setting.  The minor prepares students to be successful in any sales setting and provides the management skills necessary to expand their careers in a manner consistent with their goals.

The Minor in Sales Leadership is administered by the Department of Communication in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the Department of Marketing in the Eli Broad College of Business and is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at Michigan State University. Preference will be given to students in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences  and The Eli Broad College of Business. As space permits, students from other colleges desiring the minor will be considered on an individual basis. Students who are interested in the minor must contact the Department of Communication in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. With the approval of the department or school and college that administers the student’s degree program, courses that are used to satisfy the requirements for the minor may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the bachelor’s degree. The student’s program of study must be approved by the student’s academic advisor for the minor.

Admission

To be considered for admission, a student must have been formally admitted to a bachelor’s degree program at Michigan State University. Admission is competitive. Students must be enrolled in or have completed Marketing  313, Personal Selling and Buying Processes, and have demonstrated mastery of course content. Other admission criteria include performance on a sales aptitude test, work experience, and a statement of purpose. Each applicant will be interviewed by a faculty program administrator and each student’s application will be rank ordered. Students may be admitted provisionally contingent on their performance in MKT 313.

To apply to the program, students should complete an application after the midterm in Marketing 313 and submit it to the sales  communication specialization coordinator in the Department of Communication.

Students must:

  1. provide their final or midterm grade in Marketing 313;
  2. provide their overall grade-point average in their major;
  3. provide a statement of purpose indicating why they want to enter the minor;
  4. provide their score on a sales aptitude test that measures values, behaviors, and skills;
  5. participate in a personal interview to determine their interest in and readiness for the minor in which performance in the interview will be assessed and used as a criterion for admission.
Requirements for the Minor in Sales Leadership

Students must complete 19 credits from the following courses:
                       
1.     All of the following courses (10 credits):      
      COM 360 Advanced Sales Communication 3
      COM 483 Practicum in Sales Communication 1
      MKT 313 Personal Selling and Buying Processes 3
      MKT 383 Sales Management       3
2.     Three of the following courses (9 credits):    
      ADV 375 Consumer Behavior       3
      ADV 481 Retail Strategy Analysis     3
      CAS 492 Special Topics         3
      COM 315 Information Gathering and Interviewing Theories 3
      COM 325 Interpersonal Influence and Conflict 3
      COM 340 Leadership and Group Communication 3
      COM 399 Special Topics in Communication 3
      MGT 475 Negotiation and Conflict Management 3
      MKT 302 Consumer and Organizational Buyer Behavior 3
      MKT 412 Marketing Technology and Analytics 3
      MKT 430 Key Account and Customer Relationship Management 3
      MKT 490 Independent Study       3
      MKT 491 Special Topics in Marketing     3
      SCM 371 Procurement and Supply Management 3
      Special Topics courses must be related to sales and preapproved by the instructor and program administrator in the respective colleges.  
3.     Completion of a minimum of 500 hours of experiential learning outside of course work, including a professional sales internship and any combination of the following activities and experiences: participation in collegiate level sales presentation competition, active member of the Global Sales Leadership Society, service as an executive officer of a professional student organization, participation in a commercial sales training program, shadow salesperson or manager for a day, interaction with a sales mentor for one semester, or other preapproved sales-related activity. Students should see the managing director for the minor to have their selected activities or experience preapproved.  

Specialization in Public Relations

Students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts degree program with a major in communication may apply for admission to the Minor in Public Relations. For additional information, refer to the Minor in Public Relations statement.


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Communication

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication

Master of Arts Degree in Communication

The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Communication undergraduate students with at least 86 credits. Admission applications must be made prior to the final semester as a Communication undergraduate. Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.00 with higher grade-point averages being more competitive. Admission also requires a statement of goals for the master’s degree, Graduate Record Examination scores, at least two letters of recommendation from faculty in the Department of Communication, and an approved program of study for the master’s degree at the time of admission. The number of Communication majors admitted into the linked degree program will be limited by availability. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or another postsecondary accredited institution of comparable academic quality. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. No 400-level courses with a grade lower than 3.0 will count toward the master’s degree. Credit obtained from 400-level pass-fail courses and internships will not count toward the degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.
 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Health and Risk Communication

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication
Master of Arts Degree in Health and Risk Communication

The department welcomes applications from Michigan State University undergraduate Communication majors with at least 86 credits.  Admission applications must be made prior to the final semester as a Communication undergraduate.  The number of students admitted to this linked program will be limited by availability. Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50, a statement of goals for the master’s degree, Graduate Record Examination scores, at least two letters of recommendation from faculty in the Department of Communication or Health and Risk Communication faculty, a resume, and an approved program of study for the master’s degree at the time of admission.  It is recommended that students complete a special topic in the area of health and risk communication through COM 399 Special Topics. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution.  The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree.  No 400-level courses with a grade lower than 3.0 will count toward the master’s degree.  Credit obtained from 400-level pass-fail courses and internships will not count toward the degree.  Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.

 


Graduate Study

The graduate programs in communication take an intensive scholarly approach to the creation, transmission, and reception of messages. Students are admitted from heterogeneous education backgrounds. Therefore the first learning experiences in the program consist of acquiring basic knowledge about communication theory and research, message analysis, and methods of inquiry.

The Department of Communication offers programs leading to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Students who want to earn a master's degree in communication pursue one of two programs of study:  a predoctoral program that emphasizes knowledge generation (thesis) or a program that emphasizes knowledge utilization (final examination). The Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Communication is for students who intend to become research scholars, consultants or teachers.

A Graduate Specialization in Nonprofit Fundraising is also available.

Academic standards for admission and retention; degree requirements; and residence, transfer credit, and time limit requirements are in accordance with the regulations of the university and the college.

A more comprehensive description of the graduate programs, including standards and requirements for admission and retention, and information about financial assistance, may be obtained by visiting www.comm.msu.edu or by writing to the Office of Graduate Studies, Department of Communication, Communication Arts Building, 404 Wilson Road, Room 472, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824–1212.

Students who are enrolled in Master of Arts degree programs in the Department of Communication may elect a Specialization in Food Safety.  For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization in the College of Veterinary Medicine section of this catalog. 


Communication - Master of Arts

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Admission is determined by the Master’s Affairs Committee from the Department of Communication. Applicants are ranked among all that apply for a given year. Selection criteria place emphasis on grade-point average and course work, Graduate Record Examination General Test scores, Test of English as a Foreign Language scores for international students, letters of recommendation, the student’s resume, and the student’s academic interests.

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts degree in Communication, an applicant must submit:

(1)    Graduate School Application
(2)    One official copy of all transcripts.
(3)    Three letters of recommendation.
(4)    A statement of purpose outlining academic and professional goals.
(5)    Graduate Record Examination Scores (GRE) for the General Test.
(6)    Test of English as a Foreign Language Scores (TOEFL), if applicable.
(7)    A resume.

Application materials should be received by April 1. Students will be admitted only for the fall semester. For additional information please visit our Web site at: http://comartsci.msu.edu/academics/academic-departments/communication/graduate/masters-arts-communication.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Communication

The student must complete the requirements for either the predoctoral concentration or the knowledge utilization concentration as specified below:

Predoctoral (30 credits)
Only Plan A (with thesis) is available to students in the master's degree program in communication who elect the predoctoral concentration. The student must complete at least 30 credits for the degree including:
 1. All of the following courses (13 credits):
COM 803 Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods 3
COM 820 Communication Theory and Process 3
COM 830 Applied Communication Research II 3
COM 899 Master's Thesis Research 4
 2. Nine to eleven additional credits in Communication courses approved by the student's academic advisor. 
 3. Six to eight credits in courses outside the Department of Communication approved by the student's academic advisor.
Knowledge Utilization (30 credits)
Only Plan B (without thesis) is available to students in the master's degree program in communication who elect the knowledge utilization concentration.  The student must complete at least 30 credits for the degree  including:
 1. Both of the following courses (6 credits):
 COM 803 Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods 3
 COM 820 Communication Theory and Process 3
 2. Nine to 17 additional credits in Communication courses approved by the student's academic advisor.
 3. Seven to 15 credits in courses outside the Department of Communication approved by the student's academic advisor.
 The final certifying examination is a written and oral examination that focuses on the student's course work.


Communication - Doctor of Philosophy

Communication is a social process by which human beings are linked through the creation, transmission, and reception of messages. The focus of this program is the scholarly analysis of that linkage, with an emphasis on the characteristics of the messages and channels through which linkage occurs.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

February 1 is the deadline for applications for admission and for financial assistance for the succeeding fall semester.  Late applications may be considered.

Students are admitted from heterogeneous educational backgrounds.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Communication

The student's program is organized around a set of experiences that simulate an interdependent community of communication scholars.  These experiences are intended to maximize creative growth and development, and to provide the student with the skills needed to manage an intellectual community.

There are two basic tasks of a community of communication scholars, in each of which the student must demonstrate competence:

  1. Teaching.  The entering student receives training in instructional models and teaching methods in communication education.  Each student serves as an apprentice in supervised teaching situations, leading to a demonstration of independent competence in teaching.
  2. Research.  The student is assigned to a task group that explores research questions to which the Department has assigned priority.  Each student participates in various phases of on–going research projects.  Responsibility for the design and conduct of research is increased as competence develops.  Each student must present at least one major report of original research which has been conducted independently.

The first learning experiences in the program consist of the absorption of basic knowledge about communication theory and research, message analysis, and methods of inquiry. During the first year, the new student takes core course work in communication theory and research methods. Much of this work is team–taught by the faculty and engages the full–time curricular energies of the students. Students without background in communication or social science research may be advised to take some preparatory course work.

When the student has mastered this core material, usually by the end of two semesters of residence, the program's focus is directed toward specialization in one or more areas of communication activity. These include, but are not limited to, interpersonal communication, multicultural communication, organizational communication, and persuasion. For such specialization, the student is exposed to lecture courses and doctoral seminars within the department, and to work in other departments which will supplement the mastery of these content areas.

From this point, the student moves to the final stages of the doctoral program—additional advanced seminars, comprehensive examinations, and/or a preliminary paper, and the ultimate goal of developing and defending a doctoral dissertation.



Graduate Specialization in Nonprofit Fundraising

The Graduate Specialization in Nonprofit Fundraising, which is administered by the Department of Communication in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, is designed for students with interests in fundraising and development work in nonprofit organizations.

The graduate specialization is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in master’s degree programs in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University.  With the approval of the department and college that administer the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the master’s degree.

The Specialization in Nonprofit Fundraising provides students with: (1) an understanding of a variety of fundraising strategies, the role of fundraising within nonprofit organizations, and the role and responsibilities of the development professional in the fundraising process; (2) an understanding of theory and research on social influence and how to employ this knowledge to promote the fundraising activities of a nonprofit organization; and (3) practice in assisting the fundraising activities of a nonprofit organization.

Students who plan to complete the requirements for the graduate specialization must consult the graduate advisor for the specialization in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Requirements for the Graduate Specialization in Nonprofit Fundraising

Students must complete the following courses (9 credits):
1. Complete the following course (3 credits): 3
ADV 816 Fundraising and Philanthropy in Nonprofit Organizations
2. One of the following courses (3 credits):
ADV 823 Consumer Behavior Theories 3
COM 860 Persuasion 3
3. One of the following courses (3 credits):
ADV 893 Practicum 3
COM 893 Practicum 3