Academic Programs Catalog

College of Communication Arts and Sciences

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.

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