Masters Degree Requirements

Specific Requirements for Communication Science

Students must complete the required coursework and an MA thesis. In rare exceptions, students admitted to the graduate program may decide to leave with only an MA. In that case, they may complete the non-thesis option.

Required coursework for all MA students in Communication Science:

  • CA 760: Advances in Communication Theory
  • CA 762: Communication Research Methods
  • Four additional Communication Science courses numbered 500 or above. Only one of these courses may be thesis credits (CA 990). Colloquium does not count towards this requirement.
  • At least one course in statistics
  • Two additional courses

A recommended set of courses would include:

  • CA 760
  • CA 762
  • Four or five Communication Science courses at the 500-level or above (which may include CA 990)
  • Two courses related to one’s area of specialization
  • Three or four statistics courses (including ANOVA and regression)
  • One colloquium credit per semester

Thesis requirement: The thesis must involve an original study on a research topic determined in consultation with the student’s advisor. In order to complete the project, students may take a maximum of three thesis credits at the 900 level. The student will form a committee that includes the advisor and two additional faculty members (at least one from Communication Science), and defend the thesis before that committee. The defense should ideally take place at the end of the fourth semester of study and must occur by the end of the fifth semester. At the conclusion of this defense, the student’s committee will decide whether the student should pass, revise the thesis, or fail the thesis. In addition, the committee will decide whether the student should be admitted to the PhD program. The latter decision is based on the entirety of the student’s record and not solely on his or her thesis.

Non-thesis, terminal option: Students must complete the 30-hour credit requirement including the coursework above and an elective course. In lieu of the thesis and oral defense, two of the courses in Communication Science must be at the 800 level or above, and students must pass a four-hour written comprehensive examination, which covers communication theory, research methodology, and a topic area of the student’s specialization.

Specific Requirements for Film

The Film program requires 40 credits of coursework for the MA. The MA degree track normally requires four semesters of coursework, with three courses per semester. Students admitted to the program are expected to complete the following master’s curriculum:

  • CA 355: Introduction to Media Production (If an equivalent course has been completed at a different institution, then the student must complete CA 465: Editing and Postproduction for Video and Film; or CA 467: Cinematography and Sound Recording.)
  • CA 454: Critical Film Analysis
  • CA 455: French Cinema; CA 456: Russian and Soviet Film; or CA 613: Japanese Film
  • CA 556: American Film Industry: Studio System
  • CA 609: Essential Digital Media Production for Graduate Students
  • CA 669: Film Theory
  • Two 900-level seminars

Some required courses may be waived if the student already has taken equivalent courses. A determination about waiving courses is made by the relevant course instructor after reviewing syllabi and other pertinent materials. Students who enter the program without an undergraduate degree in film may be required to take additional coursework.

The MA Comprehensive Exam consists of six hours of writing that cover the areas of film theory, film history, and film analysis and criticism. The completion of the written portion of the exam is followed by an oral defense. There is no option to write a thesis in lieu of the comprehensive exam.

Specific Requirements for Media and Cultural Studies

The Media and Cultural Studies program requires 40 credits of coursework for the MA. Students admitted to the MA program are expected to complete the following master’s curriculum:

  • CA 355: Introduction to Media Production; or CA 609: Essential Digital Media Production for Graduate Students
  • At least 24 credits at the 600 level and above
  • At least three 900-level MCS seminars

Students who enter the program without an undergraduate degree in media studies may be required to take additional coursework.

The MA Comprehensive Exam, a closed-book exam, consists of six hours of writing, normally distributed across four questions, followed by an oral defense. Exam areas are drawn from the coursework the examinee has taken in media and cultural studies. Reading lists are determined in consultation with the student’s advisor and core faculty members. There is no option to write a thesis in lieu of the comprehensive exam.

Specific Requirements for Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture

Students admitted to the MA program in Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture are required to complete 4 semesters of academic credit hours including the following master’s curriculum:

  • CA 570: Classical Rhetorical Theory
  • CA 571: Modern Rhetorical Theory; or CA 969: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
  • CA 976: Rhetorical Criticism
  • Two Communication Arts courses at the 300 level or above

Some of the preceding courses may be waived if a student has taken the equivalent elsewhere. All other courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. Of the remaining courses, at least two courses must be at the 700 level or above.

Students who plan to continue in the PhD program are required to write a master’s thesis, the subject of which is chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and master’s committee.

Completion of the master’s thesis is followed by an oral defense of the thesis. At the conclusion of this defense, the student’s committee decides whether the student should be admitted to the PhD program. This decision is based on the entirety of the student’s record and not solely on his or her thesis.

Students who do not wish to advance to the doctoral program may take a comprehensive MA exam consisting of three one-hour written exams addressing theory, critical method, and public discourse.

MA Comprehensive Examinations and Theses

MA comprehensive examinations (Comps) or theses are generally done in the student’s fourth semester of study. Prior to the fourth semester, students should confer with their advisor to see if they are ready to take this step. Early in the semester in which students intend to take exams or write a thesis, they should notify the Graduate Coordinator of the makeup of the MA committee (see below). With the thesis option, students should approach their committee members towards the middle of the semester and, in consultation with their advisor, schedule a time for their MA defense, which is generally held during finals week. In the case of comprehensive exams, students should confer with the Graduate Coordinator regarding exam dates. Students typically complete these exams before the end of the final examination period. In the case of Film, exams typically occur during a weekend near the end of the semester.

Early in the semester in which the exam/thesis will be completed, in consultation with their advisor, students will form an MA committee consisting of 3 or 4 faculty members. In the case of comprehensive examinations, the committee will write exam questions, read the answers, and sit on an MA defense committee. Students will work with the committee to develop a reading list for the comprehensive exams. In the case of a thesis, the committee will review the manuscript and sit on an MA defense committee.

To take comprehensive exams or complete a thesis, a student must be in good standing (see VI. SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS) and must have completed the basic and specific area course requirements. An outstanding grade of incomplete will bar a student from taking exams or having theses evaluated.

Comprehensive exam defenses may not be recorded, unless an exception has been approved in writing at an earlier date by each committee member.

Sample exam questions are available upon request from the Graduate coordinator.