Degree Requirements

xGRAD CURRIC

The program requires 36 semester hours of graduate-level course work. All MS students are required to take four core courses in Research Methods, Legal Issues, Organizational Communication, and Leadership. Electives both within the MS program and outside the department are selected by students in consultation with their academic advisors.

Each student must conclude the program by carrying out a capstone thesis or project– an in-depth study about a professional issue of their choice, either at their current place of employment or derived from public sources such as the media.

MS Electives

Each semester the MS program offers several elective courses. Many are chosen from the list below, which rotate so that most are offered during the student’s course of study. The program also offers numerous Special Topics courses, ranging from one to three credits, that allow visiting instructors to teach in their area of expertise, or MS faculty to introduce a new course. In addition, students may pursue Directed Readings or Directed Projects in an area of particular interest to them, supervised by a full-time faculty member.

9001 Crisis Communication and Issue Management (3 s.h.)
This course examines a wide range of issues and crises, including natural and non-natural disasters. It focuses on managing issues before they become crises, identifying publics, creating a crisis plan, addressing long-term effects of crises, and evaluating crisis planning actions.


9002 Financial Communication (3 s.h.)

Designed to cover nonprofits, private companies and government entities, this course examines the structure of the capital markets, the legal and regulatory climate, and the tactics of financial communications, including annual reports, shareholder meetings, and investor relations web sites.


9004 Government Relations and Lobbying (3 s.h.)

This course provides a framework for understanding of the government relations/lobbying function within organizations; both not-for-profit and publicly-traded. Students have the opportunity to develop their own unique perspective on the political process of lobbying and effectively building relationships with elected officials and their staff and other intergovernmental agencies and organizations.


9005 International Communication Management (3 s.h.)

This multidisciplinary course examines how communication is practiced in different nations and regions of the world, and how best to reach culturally and politically diverse publics. It uses a case study approach and draws from international public relations, integrated marketing communication, social marketing, development and participatory communication, public diplomacy, and international crisis response. Students specialize in a particular nation, culture, or region of their choice.


9006 Reaching Diverse Audiences (3 s.h.)

Communication professionals must respect and communicate with audiences characterized by social identity dimensions of age, culture, (dis)ability, ethnicity/race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and more. Students will explore the multi-faceted components of facilitating organizational dynamics shaped by social identities and their intersectionalities, critique mass media representations of these social identities, and discover how they shape organizational culture.


9007 Speech Writing (3 s.h.)

This seminar/practicum is designed to improve personal public speaking skills and writing for a client, including extemporaneous and manuscript speeches. It covers basic concepts in rhetorical theory, speech criticism, and public speaking. Students will analyze and critique a variety of speeches (business/corporate, political, and ceremonial); they will write and deliver speeches as individuals and as members of a speechwriting team.


9009 Reputation-Image-Identity (3 s.h.)

This course examines elements of organizational (corporate and non-corporate) reputation; how to build, support, and maintain it through strategic communications; the value of reputation; threats to organizational reputation and how to respond to them. Through readings, speakers, and case studies, students will be able to plan, manage, and evaluate reputation and image programs across a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.


9011 Grant and Proposal Writing (3 s.h.)

This course covers funding for both academic and non-profit projects, from both government and private sources. It teaches students how to research funding sources, target a proposal to funders’ interests, budget a project, and write a proposal. During the course, each student will develop a complete proposal for submission to a specific funder.


9020 Special Topics in Communications Management (1 to 3 s.h.)

Content and credit hours variable. Arranged each semester, please consult with the instructor.


9044 Directed Readings in Communication Management (1 to 3 s.h.)

A specific faculty member must agree to serve as supervisor before the student registers. Special form needed. Signature is needed from faculty supervisor before delivering the completed form to Ms. Caitlin Gamble. Click here for pdf document. 

Directed Independent Study (DIS): Faculty supervisors will require periodic meetings with DIS students throughout the semester, as well as filing of weekly time logs (detailing tasks worked on and time spent). The amount of hours required weekly will depend on the number of credit hours for which a student has registered. (A general rule of thumb is three times the number of credit hours, so that a three-credit DIS means the student should plan to invest nine hours per week working on the DIS project). Faculty supervisors will provide a detailed syllabus with all requirements and timeline for DIS students at the beginning of the semester.


9045 Directed Projects in Communication Management (1 to 3 s.h.)

A specific faculty member must agree to serve as supervisor before the student registers. A special form is needed and a signature on the form is needed from the faculty supervisor before the completed form is delivered to Ms. Caitlin Gamble. Click here for pdf document. 

Directed Independent Study (DIS):  Faculty supervisors will require periodic meetings with DIS students throughout the semester, as well as filing of weekly time logs (detailing tasks worked on and time spent). The amount of hours required weekly will depend on the number of credit hours for which a student has registered. (A general rule of thumb is three times the number of credit hours, so that a three-credit DIS means the student should plan to invest nine hours per week working on the DIS project). Faculty supervisors will provide a detailed syllabus with all requirements and timeline for DIS students at the beginning of the semester.

Internship:  MS Master’s students may register for Directed Projects in order to do an internship only after they have completed 21 credits in the program. Students may register for this only after they have secured the approval of both the MS faculty internship advisor and the MS Director. Students may earn a maximum of 4 credits for internship(s).

The internship experience is intended to give students academic credit for industry work. Internship experience products should not be combined with other course work to the extent that a student is receiving credit more than once for the same work or performance.

Click here for the MS Internship Manual (including instructions and forms for students and faculty supervisors.)


MS Capstone Project

9101 Capstone Project in Communication Management (3 s.h.)

In-depth, original analysis of a professional issue in communication management. Required of all MS students in their final semester.

All MS students are required to complete a capstone project during their last semester in the program. Essentially, the capstone is a required independent study whose purpose is to allow students to develop substantial expertise in an area related to their career goals. Some students who want to go on for further graduate study may approach their capstone like a master’s thesis, a scholarly research project. Other students may treat their capstone as an opportunity to cultivate credentials and expertise directly relevant to their job. The capstone may take a variety of forms—for example, an original research paper, a critical case study, a survey of ‘best practices’ or in-depth analysis of a topic supported by existing literature. No matter what its form, a capstone must always demonstrate thorough understanding of relevant theories, sources, research methods, and literature.