As the environment for public and private communication becomes increasingly complex, organizations rely more and more heavily on thoughtful and effective communication professionals. To this end, communication MA students may choose to specialize in strategic communication, public relations, or health communication; or pursue a concentration in science communication. They may also choose an individualized specialization in communication studies according to their interests. Across all specializations, students receive a strong foundation in communication theory and learn to design, execute, and interpret rigorous communication research. Students are challenged to apply communication knowledge to help solve problems and to address important social issues.

Admissions

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the MA in communication, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Admission to the graduate program in communication is competitive.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

Transfer of Credit/Reduction of Credit

Students may request transfer of up to 15 hours of graduate coursework from graduate non-degree status or from graduate study at another institution, or request a reduction of credit up to 6 hours based on a previously conferred graduate degree. Students should carefully review AP.6.5 and the policies governing graduate transfer of credit and reduction of credit. Transfer and reduction of credit is subject to the approval of the program director and graduate dean.

Banner Code: LA-MA-COM

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 33

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

All students pursuing the MA in communication follow the same general program structure whether completing the degree with a concentration or specialization. Students complete two program core courses, two methods courses, two theory courses, one practicum course, two specialization or concentration courses, and three elective courses (or 9 credits), of which 3 credits may be thesis.

Students must choose from one area of specialization (strategic communication/public relations, health communication, or individualized communication studies) or the Concentration in Science Communication. Specific requirements are described below. Because it is a narrow specialized area, science communication is subject to the stricter requirements of a concentration.

Core Courses for MA with Specialization

Two Core Courses
COMM 600Introduction to Graduate Studies3
COMM 798Communication Studies Project3
Two Methods Courses
COMM 650Research Methodologies in Communication (required course)3
Select one course from the following:3
Qualitative Methods
Research Methods II
Media Content Analysis
Other graduate level methods course, taken in COMM or elsewhere, as approved by graduate director.
Two Theory Courses
Select two theory courses from the following:6
Theories and Research of Mass Communication
Intercultural Communication
Health Communication
Theories of Public Relations
Persuasion Theory
Theories of Interpersonal Communication
Organizational Communication
Science Communication
Science and the Public
Strategic Communication
One Practicum Course 1
Select one practicum course from the following:3
Communication Research Practicum
Communication Consulting
Advanced Communication Skills for STEM
Graduate Seminar in Instructional Communication
Theory and Practice of Digital Communication
Climate Change and Sustainability Communication Campaigns
Social Marketing
Communication Internship
Independent Production
E-Health Communication
Health Communication Campaigns
Total Credits21
1

Other courses, including special topics (COMM 590 Seminar in Communication or COMM 690 Special Topics in Communication) and independent study, can be used to fulfill this requirement with prior written approval of the program director.

Specializations

Students complete the degree by completing 6 credits of coursework in one of the three specializations and an additional 6 elective credits in any graduate coursework, to include an optional thesis. Courses outside the department require the prior written approval of the program director.

Strategic Communications/Public Relations Specialization

The specialization in strategic communication/public relations requires a minimum of two courses from the list below. A course taken as a part of the general program cannot be duplicated in credits, but it can count as a course required for the specialization. Additional credits may be met through electives.

Two Specialization Courses
Select two specialization courses from the following:6
Seminar in Communication 1
Theories and Research of Mass Communication
Political Communication
Theories of Public Relations
Persuasion Theory
Communication Consulting
Risk Communication
Climate Change and Sustainability Communication Campaigns
Social Marketing
Special Topics in Communication 1
Strategic Communication
International Public Relations
Crisis Communication
Health Communication Campaigns
Special Topics in Communication 1
Optional Thesis 2
Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Electives 3
Three to six additional credits chosen from:3-6
Courses from the list above
Any other graduate COMM courses
Up to 6 credits of coursework from other departments with prior written approval of the program director.
Total Credits12
1

When topic is strategic communication, as approved by program director.

2

Students who do not choose to complete a thesis will take additional credits of elective. Students who choose to write a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses as stated in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis. If a thesis is chosen, students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and, once enrolled in COMM 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment.

3

Students choosing to write a thesis take 3 credits of electives. Those opting out of a thesis take 6 credits.

Health Communication Specialization

The specialization in health communication requires a minimum of two courses from the list below. A course taken as a part of the general program cannot be duplicated in credits, but it can count as a course required for the specialization. Additional credits may be met through electives.

Two Specialization Courses
Select two specialization courses from the following:6
Seminar in Communication 1
Health Communication
Persuasion Theory
Special Topics in Communication 1
Intercultural Health and Risk Communication
Consumer-Provider Health Communication
E-Health Communication
Health Communication Campaigns
Special Topics in Communication 1
Optional Thesis 2
Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Electives 3
Three to six credits chosen from:3-6
Additional courses from the list above
Any other graduate COMM course
Up to 6 credits of coursework from other departments with prior written approval of the program director.
Total Credits12
1

When topic is health communication as approved by program director.

2

Students who do not choose to complete a thesis will take additional credits of elective courses. Students who choose to write a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses as stated in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis. If a thesis is chosen, students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and, once enrolled in COMM 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment.

3

Students choosing to write a thesis take 3 credits of electives. Those opting out of the thesis take 6 credits.

Individualized Communication Studies specialization

Students pursuing a specialization in individualized communication studies design a program of courses to reflect their interests.

Two Specialization Courses
Select from the following: 16
Seminar in Communication
Special Topics in Communication
Special Topics in Communication
Optional Thesis 2
Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Electives
Three to six credits chosen from: 33-6
Additional courses from the list above
Any other graduate COMM course
Up to 6 credits of coursework from other departments with prior written approval of the program director.
Total Credits12
1

Two courses in a field of specialization are chosen in consultation with an advisor or the program director. These courses may include select special topics courses shown above as approved by the program director.

2

Students who do not choose to complete a thesis will take additional credits of elective courses. Students who choose to write a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses as stated in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis. If a thesis is chosen, students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and, once enrolled in COMM 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment.

3

Students choosing to write a thesis take 3 credits of electives. Those opting out of the thesis take 6 credits.

MA with Concentration in Science Communication (SCMN)

Students who wish to focus their graduate study in science communication complete the following requirements.

Two Core Courses
COMM 600Introduction to Graduate Studies3
COMM 798Communication Studies Project3
Two Methods Courses
COMM 650Research Methodologies in Communication3
Select one course from the following:3
Qualitative Methods
Research Methods II
Media Content Analysis
Graduate research methods course in science, social science or science policy for which the student is qualified and which has been approved by the program director 1
Two Theory Courses
COMM 639Science Communication3
COMM 642Science and the Public3
One Practicum Course
COMM 641Advanced Communication Skills for STEM3
One Required Course
COMM 640Controversies in Science Communication3
or COMM 644 Analysis and Criticism of Science Journalism
Optional Thesis 2
Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Electives 3
Select 6-9 credits of electives6-9
Total Credits33
1

Students should select from 500- or 600- level courses offered by CHSS, COS, CHHS, SPGIA, or CEHD.

2

Students who do not choose to complete a thesis will take additional credits of elective courses. Students who choose to write a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses as stated in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis. If a thesis is chosen, students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and, once enrolled in COMM 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment.

3

At least one science-related course (3 credits) outside the department is required. A maximum of three outside courses (9 credits) is allowed for the concentration.

Outside course(s) must be chosen from graduate courses in science, social science or science policy for which students are qualified and which have been approved by the program director. Students should select from 500- or 600-level courses offered by CHSS, COS, CHHS, SPGIA, or CEHD.

The remaining elective courses in the concentration must be other graduate-level COMM courses, to include the optional thesis.