School of Communication Graduate Program

Graduate program overview

In 2012, The School of Communication introduced a new curriculum plan of study. The graduate faculty spent several years developing a plan to provide our graduate students a more focused graduate experience.

The plan of study is an overarching picture of what all students must take. All graduate students will take all or most of the same classes. At the end of their program each student will choose a track that is less about courses taken and more about focusing those courses toward their goal post graduate school.

The tracks:

  1. Portfolio option means Professional Track | This track is geared for students who wish to have a career in Professional Communication. Essentially students who wish to leave graduate school with a Master’s degree and work in the professional realm, in a variety of industries, should choose this track. This program is not about preparation for a specific profession, but rather the student in the professional track will find ways to focus what they are learning into marketable skills and a portfolio that will help articulate all that has been gained.
  2. Thesis option means Communication Studies Track | This track is geared for students who wish to have a career in research or academic communication studies. This track is for students who wish to work in research or plan to go onto a doctoral program for a career in academe within the area of communication study. Students in this track will create a thesis that will be an example of the theory and research understandings gained through the program.

Since the thesis or portfolio options will take several semesters of work, it is in a student’s best interest to decide this track very early in their MA program. For the portfolio option, students will need to keep track of all assignments created throughout their MA program and start doing so from the very first semester. For the thesis option, students will need to decide on the topic by the end of their first year.

Graduate students are expected to work closely with their advisors to make course choices that will help them to build a foundation toward the thesis or portfolio they will eventually complete. Courses should not be chosen just out of convenience or arbitrarily, but rather with forethought for the entire graduate education picture. The School of Communication offers a limited number of courses each semester and, due to enrollment numbers, reserves the right to cancel classes that do not fill. As a result, there may be semesters where there will be very little choice. Classes will be offered with the intent of making sure all students can make sufficient progress toward their degree. However, it should be noted that students will get a variety of courses in Communication Studies, Media Studies and Public Relations. Students DO NOT pick a focus in any one of these areas, but can use their portfolio or thesis to define an area of focus after taking classes from all the areas. All students should be aware that context area offerings are dependent on the current faculty members available to teach courses

Graduate advisors are the full-time tenure-track graduate faculty members that teach our graduate courses and advise the MA thesis or project. Only tenure-track graduate faculty members can teach the required 500 or 600 level MA courses, and only tenure-track graduate faculty members can act as a committee chair for your thesis or project committee.

Admissions information and requirements

Our academic program begins each fall. If you are seeking a graduate assistantship, the deadline to apply for admission and assistantship is March 1. For admission only, the deadline for application is May 1.

A Master of Arts in Communication requires successful completion of 36 graduate credit hours. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA while enrolled in the graduate program. To view our entire course offerings listing see the Graduate Bulletin

Apply to Graduate School

Prospective students must first meet the general University of Akron admission requirements for Graduate School and apply online.


The School of Communication seeks well-rounded individuals with an interest in advancing their understanding of communication study and communication industries. All applicants must have a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies and have some communication background. Candidates coming from other disciplines may be asked to take foundational undergraduate coursework in communication before being accepted for admission into the program. International students must also meet the requirements of the Graduate School for the TOEFL

Application materials

Every applicant is required to write an essay of no more than 500 words outlining why you want to attend the master's program in the School of Communication, and what areas of interest you would like to pursue. Applicants are asked to have college transcripts and letters of recommendation included in their online Graduate School application. Letters of recommendation can be sent directly to the Graduate School or to the School of Communication.

Admission acceptance

An applicant eligible for consideration under the above guidelines is NOT guaranteed an offer of admission. Staff, facilities, and resources are limited. As a result, offers of admission may be limited to only the most qualified of the eligible applicants as determined by the School of Communication Admissions Committee.

In rare cases, applicants who do not meet the above minimums may be considered for admission, and those who have been denied admission may request reconsideration. To apply for either consideration, applicants must petition the School of Communication Admissions Committee in writing, stating those reasons relevant to his or her situation that demonstrate the likelihood of success in the program.

Graduate assistantships

The School of Communication has a competitive Graduate Assistantship program. A graduate assistant (GA) is a full-time master's student who is hired to teach a class, support the faculty, and aid in labs. GAs receive tuition remission and a small stipend in exchange for 20 hours of time each week in the classroom and/or labs. GAs are not permitted to work outside of the program more than eight (8) additional hours per week. Most of our full-time students are aided by graduate assistantships, scholarships, and financial aid packages. Along with the application for admission, an assistantship application must be completed. 

  1. Complete the application for graduate assistantship/tuition scholarship forms. 
  2. Attach an essay about your qualifications pertaining to this type of financial aid.
  3. Submit an essay of no more than 500 words explaining your interest in graduate study in Communication at The University of Akron.
  4. Forward three letters of reference.
  5. Provide a professional resume. 

See also:

All materials must be submitted directly to the Graduate School along with your graduate school application. For additional information contact the School of Communication at 330-972-7600, or the graduate coordinator.

Graduate plan of study

Plan of studySpecifics
7600:600 Introduction to Graduate Studies This class, offered only in the fall, is the first class students must take to learn the skills for success in a communication graduate program.
7600:670 Com Criticism Choose two of the three methods classes. Preference for the two chosen will depend on student’s focus and/or interests. The third methods class may be used as part of the communication coursework and electives below.
7600:602 Qualitative
7600:603 Quantitative
7600:624 Survey of Communication Theory Students must take at least one of these theory classes, but are encouraged to take both.
7600: 625 Theories of Mass Communication
7600: 590 Workshop

This one-credit colloquium should be taken three times, once each semester. It is a great way to meet visiting scholars, learn about current faculty research and keep up to date on current communication topics.

Students should take a total of six courses and electives in the School of Communication to comprise their coursework. Courses will depend on faculty available to teach.
Six credits Thesis/Project/Production Choice of the Thesis or Portfolio should be made early in a student’s program. Those wishing to focus their MA degree towards research, academics or a specific topic area should use the thesis option to define their expertise. Those wishing to show the application aspects of their program should choose the portfolio option.