2021-2022 Academic Catalog


Joseph Valenzano III, Department Chairperson
Alan Abitbol, Director of Graduate Studies

The graduate program in Communication leads to a Master of Arts degree.

Course work within the Department of Communication focuses upon symbolic processes in human communication in a variety of contexts including health communication, organizational communication, and mass communication. The program will provide a solid grounding in research, theory, message development, and analysis to prepare graduates for careers in education, business, mass media, and/or government.

The master's student should begin study in the Department of Communication with the standard undergraduate competencies. If the student lacks such competencies, they should be developed prior to attempting the master's program. Students receiving the master's degree from the Department of Communication must:

  1. Have a thorough grounding in theories relevant to a particular area of interest, and have the ability to apply this knowledge to the solution of a variety of communication-related problems;
  2. Have been exposed to a variety of research and analytical or critical methods, have a basic understanding of these, and have demonstrated a working command of at least one methodology; and
  3. Have a basic knowledge of and appreciation for approaches to the study of communication from a variety of perspectives.


A small number of graduate teaching assistantships are available annually. The assistantships carry a stipend and tuition remission for courses required for the degree. The assistantships are for one year with possible renewal for one additional year. No student can receive an assistantship for more than two academic years. Assistantships are only offered for the Fall term.  The deadline for applying for an assistantship is March 9th.
The minimum requirements for assistantship in the department are:

  1. The equivalent of an academic minor in communication and related areas or a demonstrated successful professional background in a communication-oriented occupation for a minimum of three years.
  2. A 3.0 undergraduate cumulative point average (or the equivalent) and a 3.0 in the academic major or minor (communication).
  3. Admission to the master's degree program in communication on regular status.


The advisor serves the student in planning the program of study, supervising the administration of comprehensive examinations, and (when appropriate) directing the student's thesis project.

The graduate program director serves as a temporary advisor to assist the student with initial enrollment and program planning. The student should choose a permanent advisor from among available communication faculty before the middle of the second semester (or completion of nine semester hours). The student must gain approval from the faculty member and the program director before the faculty member will be appointed as permanent advisor. Subsequent changes of advisor require approval of the program director.

After consultation with the permanent advisor, the student should submit a proposed program plan (on the forms provided by the program director) no later than the end of 12 semester hours. A copy of the proposed program should be on file in the program director's office.

Master of Arts in Communication (CMM)

General Requirements

All students enrolled in the program are subject to the following general requirements.

COM 501Communication Research & Methods3
COM 536Theories & Models of Communication3
COM 502Rhetorical Criticism3
or COM 503 Communication Research Seminar
COM 517Organizational Communication3
or COM 571 Mass Communication Processes & Effects
Total Hours12
  1. All students must complete the core requirements.
  2. Demonstration of satisfactory progress toward the degree which includes the requirement that students maintain a minimum average of B (3.0) in coursework. Students who fail to meet this requirement will be dismissed from the program.
  3. Students are permitted no more than six semester hours with grades of C or lower. Students who fail to meet this requirement will be dismissed from the program.
  4. It is the student's responsibility to know and to meet the requirements of the University and of the Department of Communication graduate program.

NOTE: It is expected that each master's students will enroll in the required core courses as early as possible.

Program A - Communication Non-Thesis Track

Program A consists of 36 semester hours of coursework, of which 24 semester hours must be from the Department of Communication. Students who choose Program A are required to successfully complete the core requirements as early as possible in the academic program.

Program B - Communication Thesis Track

Program B consists of 36 semester hours, which includes 30~33 hours of coursework and three to six credit hours of COM 598 Thesis and/or COM 599 Thesis.  Students may take up to 6 semester hours outside the department.

The student will select a thesis committee consisting of the advisor and at least two other faculty members (one of the faculty members may be from outside the Department of Communication.) Students may register for three semester hours of COM 598 Thesis during the term that the prospectus will be presented to the thesis committee for approval. 

The thesis should report original research on some important question relevant to the study of communication. The prospectus should also include a detailed description of the research methods to be used as well as suggested analytic techniques. 

The prospectus will be developed in consultation with the thesis advisor, although the student must have the methodological competence necessary to complete the proposed project. Once the prospectus is approved by the advisor, it must be presented to the thesis committee for approval. The completed prospectus will constitute the first half of the thesis and serves, essentially, as a contract between the student and the committee. 

After the prospectus has been approved, the student may register for an additional three hours of thesis credit while completing COM 599 Thesis. The student will then collect and analyze the data required to answer the questions raised in the prospectus. Once this has been completed, the prospectus will become the first half of the thesis, followed by a chapter reporting the results of the study and a chapter discussing the implications of those results. The thesis will be revised until the advisor considers it satisfactory, at which time it will be presented to the members of the thesis committee by the student, who will orally defend the thesis in an examination conducted by the thesis committee. The master's degree is not completed until the thesis has been approved by the committee.

Should a student fail the final oral defense, the thesis may be defended again, provided the student's thesis committee recommends a second attempt. The second attempt to defend the thesis will be final. Failure of the second oral defense will require a majority vote of the student's thesis committee.  

Program C - Communication/Interdisciplinary Track

Courses in business administration, English, psychology, and political science have been designated for Communication/Interdisciplinary study leading to the Master of Arts.

Students take 36 semester hours of coursework; 24 of those hours must be in communication and 12 in one of the interdisciplinary areas. Students who choose the Communication/Interdisciplinary Track are required to successfully complete the core requirements.

The Bachelor’s-Plus-Master’s (BPM) Program
The Department of Communication offers a five-year BPM program in communication where students can earn both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at an accelerated pace.  This is achieved part through careful program coordination and, in many cases, by allowing BPM undergraduates to take up to 6 credit hours of graduate coursework to simultaneously satisfy both undergraduate and graduate program requirements. Communication undergraduate majors maintaining a 3.2 overall GPA are invited to apply during their junior year. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies at 937-229-2053 for further information about the program.

Certificate in Health Communication (HCM)

Effective communication is fundamental to health care delivery and to the functioning of health care organizations.  The certificate program targets health communication in two ways:  1) coursework designed to facilitate the improvement of communication skills and the awareness of the role of communication in health care delivery; and 2) coursework that allows an increased awareness of communication processes in health care organizations among communication professionals functioning in such health care organizations.
The certificate program consists of 12 semester hours of courses. This certificate is offered online exclusively.

Foundational Courses

Two of the following:6
Health Campaigns
Seminar in Health Communications
Communication for Health Professionals


Two of the following:6
Theories of Persuasion
Organizational Communication
Interpersonal Health Communication
Communication Training & Development
Theories and Research in Public Relations
Sport Science Research & Design Processes

Certificate in Strategic Public Relations (SPR)

This certificate program is designed to provide fundamental theories and knowledge that explore ways to effectively manage mutually beneficial relationships for any organization.  The roles of values are introduced and discussed in every aspect of public relations practices as values are important factors in affecting the publics’ attitudes and behaviors. The elective courses give specific yet advanced skills and abilities that public relations practitioners can use to manage and address the stakeholders with well-crafted messages via suitable communication channels.

The certificate program consists of 12 semester hours of courses. This certificate is offered exclusively online.

Foundational Courses

Two required:6
Theories and Research in Public Relations
Corporate Public Relations


Two of the following:6
Theories of Persuasion
Organizational Communication
Health Campaigns
Online & Digital Public Relations
Public Relations in International Contexts
MBA 634Consumer Behavior3


COM 501. Communication Research & Methods. 3 Hours

Introduction to the study of communication research and methods. Required course for all communication graduate students.

COM 502. Rhetorical Criticism. 3 Hours

Critical survey and application of traditional to contemporary methods of rhetorical criticism.

COM 503. Communication Research Seminar. 3 Hours

Focused study on the methods and process of conducting communication-related research. Builds upon fundamentals covered in COM 501. Prerequisite(s): COM 501.

COM 504. Principles of Communication Education. 3 Hours

No description available.

COM 506. Ethics of Communication. 3 Hours

Investigation and application of the general ethical principles of persuasion and the special problems related to professional areas: platform and business communication, electronic and print journalism, public relations, classroom communication, and forensic behavior.

COM 508. Interpersonal Communication. 3 Hours

Focus on the theories, concepts, constructs, and research related to the process of interpersonal communication.

COM 511. Theories of Persuasion. 3 Hours

An examination of the major approaches to the study of persuasion from classical rhetorical to contemporary behavioral theorists.

COM 515. Language & Meaning. 3 Hours

Focuses on the origin and development of language and meaning. Comprehensive exploration of the many perspectives and theories of language and meaning.

COM 517. Organizational Communication. 3 Hours

A study of communication activities within organizations: theories and systems of organizational communication, internal communication systems, research methods, and the interface of management and communication.

COM 519. Interpersonal Health Communication. 3 Hours

This course examines multiple approaches to understanding the ways in which interpersonal and health communication intersect.

COM 520. Public Communication Campaigns. 3 Hours

Investigation of noncommercial public communication campaigns concentrating on social change or public information. Analysis and development of campaigns through mass media, organizational, group and interpersonal communication.

COM 525. Communication Training & Development. 3 Hours

No description available.

COM 526. Communication Consulting. 3 Hours

No description available.

COM 530. Development of Mass Media. 3 Hours

History and analysis of the development and interdependence of mass media, print and electronic. Emphasis on its role and responsibility in political and economic progress of the U.S.

COM 531. Directed Study of Communication. 1-3 Hours

An intensive study of a specialized area of communication selected through consultation with the instructor. Permission. May be repeated for up to six semester hours.

COM 536. Theories & Models of Communication. 3 Hours

Survey and analysis of current theories and models of communication. Required course for all communication graduate students.

COM 537. Conflict Management. 3 Hours

An analysis of the role of communication in the process of conflict, with special emphasis on communication strategies for managing conflict. Special focus on types of conflict, conflict contexts, power, and communication style.

COM 543. Health Campaigns. 3 Hours

A focus on how to design and implement campaigns to prevent and discourage unhealthy behaviors in message receivers. Prerequisite(s): Graduate status.

COM 546. Online & Digital Public Relations. 3 Hours

This course provides a comprehensive examination of the strategic use of online, mobile and social media tools in public relations practice.

COM 547. Seminar in Health Communications. 3 Hours

An examination of communication theory and research related to health care. Issues include reassurance, the role of the patient, interviews, health organizations, the media and health, compliance, providing explanations, and health care professions frequently neglected.

COM 555. Public Relations. 3 Hours

Focuses on the theoretical principles behind the current-day practice of public relations. Special emphasis on public opinion, diffusion, persuasion, problem analysis, and audience assessment within the PR context.

COM 561. Corporate Public Relations. 3 Hours

This course provides a comprehensive foundation on corporate public relations – a management function that offers a framework for the effective coordination of all internal and external relations with employees and stakeholders for the overall purpose of establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.

COM 562. Topics in Communication. 3 Hours

Selected topics in communication, for example: argumentation, listening, law and the news media, historical and contemporary public address and criticism. Repeated when topic and instructor change.

COM 564. Public Relations in International Contexts. 3 Hours

Examination of effective public relations practices in international contexts. Analysis and evaluation of real cases to investigate effective strategies for different countries and organizational settings.

COM 571. Mass Communication Processes & Effects. 3 Hours

An examination of the historical and current research as it relates to our understanding of the processes and effects of mass communication.

COM 572. Communication for Health Professionals. 3 Hours

This course integrates communication theory, research and practice with fundamental principles of health care delivery to facilitate the development of communication skills for future care providers and communication professionals.

COM 597. Communication Practicum. 3 Hours

This course provides a comprehensive review of theoretical, methodological, conceptual and pragmatic material addressed throughout the communication master of arts program. Prerequisites: COM 501; COM 502 OR 503; COM 536.

COM 598. Thesis. 3 Hours


COM 599. Thesis. 3 Hours


COM 617. Organizational Rhetoric & Symbolism. 3 Hours

No description available.

COM 620. Election Campaign Communication. 3 Hours

Survey of communication research and theories concerning election campaign communication including candidates, voters and the media. Analysis of campaign communication including development of appropriate research methodologies.

COM 622. Propaganda Analysis. 3 Hours

An examination of the foundations of modern propaganda analysis. Topics include classical rhetorical contributions to argumentative analysis; historical development of propaganda; points of propaganda analysis. Special emphasis on modern mediated propaganda from World War I to the present.

COM 630. International Communication. 3 Hours

Discussion of current issues in international communication. Possible topics include international news flow, globalization of mass media, communication and development, comparative mass media, mass media in political revolutions, democracy and terrorism.