Areas of Concentration/Study

Areas of Concentration in the MA in Communication Studies

The graduate program in communication studies is designed to prepare the serious student for teaching, research, publishing, and professional media-related production activities.  In consultation with the Graduate Program Director and other faculty advisors and mentors, each student chooses an area of specialization for his or her coursework pursuits that will ultimately lead to the creation of a high quality thesis or professional paper or media project.


A.      Rhetorical Studies:


This concentration includes courses that investigate the socio-political implications of discourse and argument. The working assumption of this area is that public communication influences decision making processes as well as the creation and formation of identity within cultural systems. Research centers on the production and reception of texts in historical contexts. The production of mediated and non-mediated texts and the effects upon larger social institutions are examined as well. Coursework involves the textual, cultural, and social analysis of oral, written, and visual texts. Theoretical frameworks include generic criticism, deconstruction, argumentation theory, semiotic analysis, feminist criticism, and ideological criticism.


                B.  Media Studies:


We view the media as a cultural product; as such, this concentration includes courses that focus on the production, reception, and influence of mass media texts. Areas of interest include the impact of digital media, the business of media, the historiography of mass media institutions, textual analyses of films, videos, and television, effects of mass media texts, the uses and gratifications of mass media texts, and mass communication law. Production issues in this emphasis revolve around the creation and production of film, audio, video, and interactive texts, while coursework focuses on the use of new technologies in the production of film, television, and video games.


                C.  Interpersonal/Organizational Studies:


Because relationships, groups, teams, and organizations are constituted in human communication, this concentration investigates the relationship between communication and the creation and maintenance of our social relationships in personal, group, and organizational contexts. This area focuses on issues such as how communication creates and sustains friendship, romantic relationships, and family.  It also focuses on the influence of organizational structures and networks, how communication creates and maintains unique relational or organizational cultures, how communication affects the adoption of innovations, leadership as constituted by communication, crisis communication, communication and cohesiveness in groups and teams, and how communication gives voice to organizational members.