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Department of Communication and Mass Media

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Graduate students: Kandice Harris, Jennifer Urbach, & Amanda Cline presenting at the 2012 Texas Speech Communication Association Convention in San Antonio

Graduate Study in Communication


   Program Overview

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in communication program fosters a graduate experience with applied scholarship and community engagement. We are dedicated to providing a high quality experience for our students that will help them grow as communication scholars, critical theorists, citizens and professionals. We offer a comprehensive program with course work in research methods, media and culture studies, interpersonal, performance studies and Radio/Television and Film. We prepare students interested in continuing into a Ph.D. Program or who want to advance their career. 

Whether you choose to continue in an educational setting or to move into the corporate world, this degree will prepare you to plan and manage the communication structure of your organization. The department also offers courses that may be used as electives in other graduate programs.

The M.A. in communication program trains students to excel in these areas:

  • Critical Communication Studies in – Interpersonal, Intercultural, Gender, Organizational, Nonverbal and Small Group, Advertising and PR Campaigns etc. 
  • Radio/Television/Film – Film, Broadcast, Editing, etc. 

   Program Requirements

Application Information
Applications are processed on a continual basis. To avoid delays in processing your application, all required materials (i.e., $40 application fee, official transcripts, essay and GRE test scores) should be submitted at least six weeks before the first day of the semester in which you plan to enroll. You may electronically submit the graduate application at the College of Graduate Studies website.

Admission Requirements

  • A four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum of 24 semester credit hours (SCH) of undergraduate work in communication/mass media, including at least 12 credit hours in advanced course work (other majors will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
  • An application essay of no more than 500 words
  • An overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 (including all grades on repeated courses) or a GPA of at least 3.0 in the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work (including all grades on repeated courses) or a GPA of 3.0 or better in six or more graduate-level semester credit hours taken in a graduate degree program in a discipline relevant to the graduate program in communication

   General Degree Requirements

All students enter the program with a non-thesis degree plan. After completing nine semester credit hours (SCH) of communication graduate coursework, students who wish to do so may petition the communication graduate faculty through the graduate advisor to change to a thesis degree plan.

The total number of hours required for the program leading to the Master of Arts in communication is 36 for both the thesis and non-thesis options. Students in the program may take only 6000-level course work for their degree plans.

All non-thesis degree candidates are required to pass a comprehensive examination. The exam will include all the communication core courses required on the student’s degree plan (COMM 6302, 6303, 6304 and 6312, 6313) in addition to any graduate communication electives completed prior to the semester in which the comprehensive examination is administered. The exam should be administered when the student is in the last semester of his/her program.

Thesis option students will complete an oral thesis defense that may include questions regarding their course work.

All degree candidates must take a prescribed core requirement of 15 graduate hours in communication consisting of:

  • COMM 6302 Quantitative Research Methods
  • COMM 6303 Communication Theory
  • COMM 6304 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication
  • COMM 6312 Qualitative Research Methods
  • COMM 6313 Rhetorical Analysis 

Thesis students are required to enroll in six hours of thesis work (COMM 6399 Thesis twice, or COMM 6699 Thesis).

9 Hour Review: Students will complete a review with department graduate faculty after completing 9 hours of graduate course work.


       Finishing the Degree

There are two options to consider for finishing the M.A. in communication depending on your goals and interests. Students either take a comprehensive examination, or, if approved by Graduate Faculty, a research intensive thesis project. 

Thesis

  • A student electing to write a master’s thesis must register for COMM 6399/6699 when beginning thesis research. The student must then register for COMM 6399/6699 every consecutive semester until the thesis is completed and accepted by the University, including the semester in which they degree is conferred. 
  • If the student fails to enroll, a reinstatement fee will be assessed.
  • If a degree is to be awarded at the end of summer sessions, the student must enroll in a thesis course in one summer session. (Please note, thesis defense will not be scheduled during the summer sessions.) 
  • The student may not enroll in 6399/6699 in the same semester.

Comprehensive Exams

  • Students electing to take comprehensive exams must apply to the graduate director before the first 2 weeks of classes in the semester they will take the exam.
  • Comprehensive exams will only be administered during long semesters.
  • Exams must be taken at least 3 weeks before the final deadline set by the Graduate School.
  • Students test in the Angelo State University Testing Center located in the Vincent-Nursing Physical Science Building, RM 291. (as available)
  • Students will be assigned test dates once application for comprehensive exam is submitted and arrangements are made with testing center. 
  • Students will have 12 hours to complete the exam. The exam will be broken up into 2 sessions.  These sessions cannot be on the same day.
  • Once the exam is complete, they will be distributed to graduate faculty. Appropriate paper work will be filed with the Graduate School and students will be notified.
  • Comprehensive exams will be graded on a Pass, Pass with Distinction, Oral Defense Required, Re-write Required, Fail.
  • If a student is asked to complete an oral defense, arrangements will be made.
  • If a student is asked to re-write, the exam will take place in the following long semester. No rewrites will take place during the summer sessions.
  • After you have completed 18 hours of the 36 required, you will create a committee of 3 faculty members (only after consulting with each member) from the department. This committee will serve as your comprehensive exam or thesis committee. Depending on which track you have chosen, you will designate one of the three faculty members as the chair.
  • In consultation with your committee, you will designate a focus area within communication that you wish to consider a specialization. Although, as a department, we do not specify these designations per se, you will tailor your experience in a way that is most beneficial to you.
  • You will no longer receive questions based solely on the courses you are taking. Rather, you will, in addition to theory and methods questions, receive questions based on the focus area you have chosen.  
  • Exams will be taken no later than 6 weeks prior to graduation to allow faculty time for comprehensive assessment, and to allow for an oral defense if committee deems additional explanation necessary. 
  • Students who do not pass one or more exam questions will not be allowed to re-take the exam until the following semester. 

   Thesis Option

Students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of graduate work, including:

  • The 15-hour communication core
  •  9 additional graduate hours in communication
  • 6 graduate elective hours taken from communication or other approved departments
  • 6 hours of thesis (COMM 6399 twice, or COMM 6699)
  • Finishing a thesis or any major project or paper in Graduate School can be difficult. The following are some tips to help you get through. 

Tips for Thesis Writing:

  • Daily Work
  • Expect lots of revisions
  • Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)
  • Build your own work style/habits
  • Internal motivation is necessary
  • Pick a topic that you love
  • Topic should be familiar/research practicum
  • Don’t delay the writing process
  • Don’t let other things distract you, make the thesis a priority
  • Reward yourself for accomplishments
  • Use peer groups for support and to provide an outside source of accountability
  • Find a place to work
  • Get to a place where you know what is going to come next before you stop writing
  • Organize the work before you sit down to write
  • Back up all files
  • Use software to make life easier (e.g. Endnote)
  • Read thesis examples
  • Write to finish not to write a masterpiece
  • Communicate with your advisor and turn in sections; communicate with committee members if there are changes or if they have a particular expertise
  • Get the prospectus done
  • Learn to say no to other opportunities
  • Don’t let obstacles grind you down
  • Maintain health, family, spiritual life
  • Topic should be of interest to your advisor
  • Do preliminary work, pilot test, observations
  • Ask for help if you get stuck
  • Look into financial support (e.g. grants)

   Non-Thesis Option

Students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of graduate work, including:

  • The 15-hour communication core
  • 15 additional graduate hours in communication
  • 6 graduate elective hours taken from communication or other approved departments

   Electives

Students may take up to six hours of electives outside the department after consulting with the communication graduate advisor.


   Transfer Credits

Transfer students will be admitted to the program, but no more than six hours of 6000-level graduate credit work toward the graduate degree may be transferred from another institution. All transferred work must be equivalent to either the communication graduate classes or approved elective classes for this program. Students may apply for transfer credit through the program advisor and graduate dean.

Communication
Graduate Program

Degree Plan

Bring this graduate degree plan with you when you meet with an academic advisor.

  • Graduate Student Advising

    For more information about the M.A. program in communication, contact:

    Dr. Derek M. Bolen

    Assistant Professor of Communication and
    Graduate Program Advisor

    Office: LIB B321
    Phone: 325-486-6086
    E-mail: comm.graduate@angelo.edu