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 from the following list:
    • C&E Soc 360, 361
    • Curric 803
    • Ed Psych 760, 761, 762, 763, 773, 803, 871, 960, 964, 965
    • ELPA 964
    • LIS 803
    • Poli Sci 812, 813, 818
    • Psych 610, 710
    • Soc 360, 361, 362, 952
  • Two additional courses
  • One credit of Communication Science Colloquium (CA 904) every semester

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 their 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 M.A. program in Film requires 40 credits of coursework, normally completed in four consecutive semesters, with three courses and a weekly Film Colloquium every semester.  Unless specified otherwise, each course earns 3 credits and Colloquium earns 1 credit per semester. 

Students in the M.A. program are expected to complete the following core curriculum: 

  • One production course: either CA 355: Introduction to Media Production; or CA 609: Essential Digital Media Production for Graduate Students
  • CA 454: Critical Film Analysis
  • Two National Cinema courses from the following list:
    • CA 455: French Film
    • CA 556: The American Film Industry in the Era of the Studio System
    • CA 613: Special Topics in Film (Japanese Cinema)
    • CA 613: Special Topics in Film (South Asian Cinema),
  • Two Modes and Practices courses from the following list:
    • CA 358: History of Documentary Film
    • CA 461: Global Art Cinema
    • CA 463: Avante-Garde Film
    • CA 552: Contemporary Hollywood Cinema
    • CA 613: Special Topics in Film (Gender and Film)
  • CA 669: Film Theory
  • One 900-level graduate seminar offered by program faculty or as approved by the student’s advisor 
  • One credit of CA 902: Film Colloquium every semester

Along with this 28-credit core, students select four additional courses (electives totaling 12 credits) with the approval of their faculty advisor to yield the 40-credit total. 

Some core courses may be replaced by other offerings if the student already has taken close equivalentelsewhere (to be determined by the relevant course instructor after reviewing syllabi and other pertinent materials)

Students entering the program without a conventional undergraduate-level background in film and media studies will be expected to take electives providing such a foundation early in their course of study, as directed by their advisor. 

The M.A. Comprehensive Exam consists of six hours of writing and an oral defense.  The writing portion is divided into three two-hour sittings concentrating respectively on the areas of film theory, film history, and film analysis and criticism.  The oral defense – affording students an opportunity to correct, inflect, or expand upon their written answers – takes place a week or two later and typically runs about an hour.  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 (3-4 credits)
  • At least three 900-level MCS seminars (9 credits)
  • At least 24 credits at the 400 level and above, 9 of which should be in MCS, the other 15 in consultation with advisor
  • One credit of CA 903 (MCS colloquium) every semester (4 credits)
  • From the above courses, a minimum of 24 credits must be at the 600 level or above, not including those from CA 903

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 credits including the following master’s curriculum:

  • CA 570: Classical Rhetorical Theory (3 credits)
  • CA 571: Modern Rhetorical Theory; or CA 969: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory (3 credits)
  • CA 976: Rhetorical Criticism (3 credits)
  • One credit of CA 905 (RPC colloquium) every semester (4 credits)
  • 21 credits of electives. These must include:
    • At least 2 courses in Communication Arts above the 300 level
    • At least 2 courses, either within or outside the department, above the 700 level
    • At least 1 course with primary content focused on issues of race and ethnicity

All courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

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 their 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.