Graduate Studies in Communication

 

About the program

The School of Communication offers a Master of Arts degree to qualified candidates.  The graduate program in the School of Communication at The University of Akron provides a multifaceted academic experience that stresses research, theory-making, and professional development. The School offers an M.A. in Communication with three areas: Communication studies, media studies, and public relations. The school aims to prepare students to prosper in the integrated communication landscape of the 21st century. The emphasis is to apply theory to practical problem-solving through rigorous methodological training. Students will become acquainted with both quantitative, qualitative, and rhetoric criticism methods, and will be able to explore their scholarly and professional interests in topics coursework such as, organizational communication, public relations, media business, interpersonal communication, social media, and media convergence. The MA program prepares students for a variety of career options in media management, training development, public relations, and human relations. Many of our graduates matriculate to doctoral studies at nationally recognized Ph.D. programs.

The School usually has 35 students at the graduate level and maintains quality through selective admissions. Each year the School awards a limited number of graduate assistantships to qualified candidates with strong professional, academic records and clear-cut goals.

For additional information, please contact the School of Communication at 330-972-7600, or the Graduate Coordinator  tangt@uakron.edu


Admission and Assistantship

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.

Admission Requirements

  • Meet the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School at The University of Akron.
  • Essay of no more than 500 words outlining reasons for choosing graduate program in Communication at The University of Akron.
  • Complete the GRE.
  • Have a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies.
  • Possess an undergraduate major in communication, journalism or a related field, or complete at least 15 semester credits of undergraduate communication course-work approved by the School.
  • International students must meet the requirements of the Graduate School for the TOEFL requirement.

*Note: Even though an applicant is eligible for consideration, an offer of admission is not guaranteed.

All materials must be submitted directly to Graduate School Graduate School Information. For additional information, please contact the School of Communication at 330-972-7600 or the Graduate Coordinator at tangt@ukron.edu.

Graduate assistantships

Each year the School of Communication awards a limited number of graduate assistantships to qualified candidates with strong professional, academic records and clear-cut goals. Graduate assistants (GAs) receive tuition remission and a small stipend in exchange for 20 hours each week dedicated to the classroom and/or labs. GAs are not permitted to work outside of the program more than eight additional hours per week.

In addition to the admission, an assistantship application must be completed.

  • Complete the application for graduate assistantship/tuition scholarship forms.
  • An essay of no more than 500 words demonstrating your qualification to obtain the graduate assistantship.
  • Three letters of reference
  • A professional resume

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

Related Links


Courses

Program Requirement

A Master of Arts in Communication requires successful completion of 36 graduate credit hours. Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the program and to graduate.

Currently, the School of Communication embraces a cohort system in our graduate program. A cohort is defined as a group of students who begin a program of study together, proceed together through a series of developmental experiences in the context of that program of study, and end the program at approximately the same time (Saltiel & Russo, 2001). First year classes are foundational and preparatory for subsequent courses in students' primary area of study. Cohorts offer a stimulating and intellectually challenging environment, while promoting a sense of community. Research shows that students who participate in a cohort-based program have higher graduation rates, a greater understanding of their academic domain, and the ability to better plan their degrees, due to the structured order of courses.

Core Courses: 12 credits

  • 7600:600 Introduction to Graduate Study in Communication (3 credits)
  • Two Methods Courses (6 credits – select 2)
    • 7600:602 Qualitative Methods in Communication
    • 7600:603 Quantitative Methods in Communication
    • 7600:670 Communication Criticism
  • One Theory Course (3 credits – select 1)
    • 7600:624 Survey of Communication Theory
    • 7600:625 Theories of Mass Communication

Elective Courses: 18-24 credits

Graduation Options: 0 or 6 credits

  • Thesis (6 credits)
  • Comprehensive Exam (0 credit)
Recent Elective Offering
  • Communication & Conflict
  • Communication Pedagogy
  • Contemporary Public Relations
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Journalism and Media Management
  • Organizational Communication
  • Social Media Theories and Practice
  • Strategic Social Media Marketing
  • Training Methods in Communication

Suggested Guideline for Master Program of Study

2-Year Thesis Option

Suggested Guideline for Masters Program of Study
2-Year Plan – Thesis Option (36 Credits)

The First Year

Fall Semester: (9 credits)
  • 7600: 600 Introduction to Graduate Study
  • 7600: 624 Survey of Communication Theory
  • 7600: 625 Theories of Mass Communication

Complete the program of study; select the thesis committee chair; and decide the thesis topic

 Spring Semester: (9 credits)

  • 7600: 602 Qualitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 603 Quantitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

Complete and defend the thesis prospectus

The Second Year

Fall Semester: (9 credits)

  • 7600: 670 Communication Criticism
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 699 Thesis (3 credits)

Submit a completed draft to the thesis committee chair

 Spring Semester: (9 credits)

  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 699 Thesis (3 credits)

Complete and defend the thesis

2-Year Comprehensive Exam Option

Suggested Guideline for Masters Program of Study
2-Year Plan – Comprehensive Exam Option (36 Credits)

The First Year

Fall Semester: (9 Credits)

  • 7600: 600 Introduction to Graduate Study
  • 7600: 624 Survey of Communication Theory
  • 7600: 625 Theories of Mass Communication

Complete the program of study

Spring Semester: (9 Credits)

  • 7600: 602 Qualitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 603 Quantitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

The Second Year

Fall Semester: (9 Credits)
  • 7600: 670 Communication Criticism
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

Spring Semester: (9 Credits)

  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

Complete the comprehensive exam

3-Year Part Time Option 

The First Year

Fall Semester: (6 credits)

  • 7600: 600 Introduction to Graduate Study
  • 7600: 624 Survey of Communication Theory

Complete the program of study

Spring Semester: (6 credits)

  • 7600: 602 Qualitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

The Second Year

Fall Semester: (6 credits)
  • 7600: 625 Theories of Mass Communication
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

 Spring Semester: (6 credits)

  • 7600: 603 Quantitative Methods in Communication
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

The Third Year

Fall Semester: (6 credits)

  • 7600: 670 Communication Criticism
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

Spring Semester: (6 credits)

  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)
  • 7600: 6XX Context Course (Comm/Media/PR)

Complete the comprehensive exam


Theses and Comprehensive Exam

In 2014, The School of Communication introduced a new curriculum plan of study.

All graduate students will take 36 credits in order to receive their M.A. degree in Communication.  At the end of their program each student will choose a thesis option or a comprehensive exam option. The options are described below:

Comprehensive Exam option: This option 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 option.

Thesis option: This option is geared 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. Students choosing this option will complete a thesis that will reflect the theory and research understandings gained through the program.

Comprehensive Exam

  • The comprehensive exam is administered in both Fall and Spring.  The exam is administered on Friday of the 12th week of the semester.
  • Students will complete the comprehensive exam during their last semester of study.
  • Students will complete a six-hour closed-book exam, consisting of three questions with two hours each. There will be a one-hour-break between exams (so, two breaks in total). The three questions will cover three areas respectively, including: theory, method, and the student’s topic area (i.e., communication studies, media studies, or public relations).
  • Each committee member will evaluate the exam independently (following the blind review process), and will give the question either a “pass” or a “fail”. If two out of the three members give a “pass”, students will receive a “pass” for the question. If two of the three members give a “fail”, students will receive a “temporary fail” for the question.
  • Students who receive a “temporary fail” for a question have one chance to rewrite a question in the area in order to receive a “pass” for the question. The “rewrite” will be administered on Friday of the 15th week of the semester. If students “fail” the “rewrite”, they will receive a “fail” for the question.
  • Students need to “pass” all three questions in order to “pass” the comprehensive exam. The Graduate Coordinator will notify students the final results by email by the end of the 16th week of the semester.
  • If a student fails the exam, she or he has one chance to retake the exam in the following semester. No matter how many questions a student “failed” in the previous exam, she or he must retake the entire exam (i.e., all three questions.).
  • The copies of the comprehensive exam will be kept on file for a year.
  • Students who plan to take the exam are required to submit a written request identifying their topic area to the Graduate Coordinator by Friday of the 3rd week of the semester. The Graduate Coordinator is required to send reading materials to students by Friday of the 5th week of the semester.
  • Three committees administer the comprehensive exams: theory committee, method committee, and topic area committee. Each committee is responsible to provide and evaluate theory questions, method questions, and topic area questions, respectively. Each committee consists of three faculty members with the appropriate credentials and expertise.

Thesis

Students who choose the thesis option must complete 6 hours of Thesis credit and, at the end, defend a completed thesis.  A thesis is a research paper that shows a mastery of a sub-area in your communication field of study. Students will not be finished with their graduate program until the Thesis Committee, The School Director, The College Dean, and The Graduate School Dean all agree that the thesis is a sufficient representation of mastery of the topic.  Further, a bound copy of the thesis must be submitted to the School of Communication before final grades will be released. (See the main office for a list of local printing and binding outlets.)

The first year of the MA program should be spent learning the foundations of communication study and forging a relationship with a faculty member with whom the student wants to have as an advisor for the Thesis.  The student should choose this Thesis Advisor based on the area of specialty of the faculty member and the compatibility for the student to work well with that advisor.   Thesis Advisors do not assign thesis topics, graduate students will need to narrow down the scope and nature of their thesis based on their coursework, their interests, external reading, and conversations with their advisor.

The thesis process is highly routinized.  Below are the steps to completion.

Create a prospectus - The prospectus must include an Introduction, Literature Review, and a Methods section (written in future tense) that will explain what you are proposing to do.   The content of each section depends upon the area of study and the advisor will guide this along.  Students should expect to write several drafts of this document before the advisor will see it fit to send it to defense.  It is important for a student to plan for the rewrite process and recognize that if a rewrite takes 6 weeks to give back to a faculty member, the faculty member cannot turn around the editing in 48 hours.   Any time a student gives a version to the advisor, the student should expect the editing to take at least a week.

Assemble an appropriate thesis committee - The thesis committee is comprised of one advisor and two readers.   The advisor should help to decide which additional faculty members should serve on the committee.   The graduate student should then explain their intended research study and ask the other faculty members to serve on their committee.  The committee should be assembled before the prospectus is complete.  The committee should be given at least a week to read the prospectus before a defense date is expected to take place.

Oral defense of the prospectus - The thesis committee will meet formally with the graduate student at an oral prospectus defense.  The advisor will prepare the graduate student with a clear idea of how the defense will be structured.  The student should come prepared to discuss the background and theory for their proposed ideas, as well as to share the particulars for the study itself.   If the prospectus is successfully defended, the committee will sign the Prospectus Defense Signature Form (see the link to forms).

Collection of data - Once the prospectus has been successfully defended, the student may begin to actually carry out the study they have proposed.   If this collection requires the use of human subjects, the graduate student must submit the proper paperwork for IRB approval.   IRB submission materials can be found at IRB submission materials

Thesis - The final thesis document will include 5 chapters (introduction, literature review, methods, results, & discussions).   This document should also include:  a cover page, signature page, table of contents, abstract, references and appropriate appendices.  It is also customary to include an acknowledgements page where students should thank their advisor and committee members, and make any personal acknowledgements as well. Graduate students should make sure their documents are in the appropriate format for both the Advisor and The Graduate School.  Information about The Graduate School’s expectations for the finished thesis appear here: Graduate School’s expectations for the finished thesis

Oral defense of the thesis - Once the thesis has successfully met the quality requirements set forth by the advisor and the committee, the student will be able to set a defense date.   This defense will be similar to the defense of the prospectus.   Once successfully defended in a way for which the committee requires no additional changes, the signature page will be signed and the document will need to be read, approved, and signed by The School Director, The College Dean, and The Dean of the Graduate School.   Students must leave sufficient time for all of these steps along the way.   To facilitate enough time for all involved, students graduating in May must have a defended thesis to the School Director’s office two weeks before the final thesis deadline to the Graduate School.

Have the thesis bound - Once all signatures have been obtained, a bound copy of the thesis should be submitted to the School of Communication office and a second bound copy should be presented to the advisor.  Guidance with the binding specifics can be obtained in the main office.   Grades for the thesis credits will be released only after the bound copy is handed into the office.

Recent Thesis

2010

 2011

 2012

 2013

 2014

Graduate Faculty


Student Success


Forms and Useful Links

Forms

  • Change Admission Status Form
  • Course Substitution Form
  • Graduate Course Enrollment Form
  • Masters Program of Study Form
  • Portfolio Guidelines
  • Thesis/Project/Graduate Research Enrollment Form
  • Thesis/Project/Portfolio Form
  • Thesis/Project Prospectus Form

Useful Links


Important Dates and News

Important Dates

TBD