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, health communication or 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 by 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.

Students complete two program core courses, two methods courses, two theory courses, one practicum course, two specialization and at least two elective courses (or 6 credits), of which 3 credits may be thesis.

Students must choose from one area of specialization (strategic communication/public relations, health communication, science communication, or individualized communication studies). Specific requirements are described below. 

Core Courses 

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 four 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.

Available Specializations

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
Directed Readings and Research
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
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
Directed Readings and Research
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
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.

Science Communication Specialization

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

Two Specialization Courses
Select two specialization courses from the following:6
Risk Communication
Science Communication
Controversies in Science Communication
Advanced Communication Skills for STEM
Science and the Public
Analysis and Criticism of Science Journalism
Climate Change and Sustainability Communication Campaigns
Directed Readings and Research
Optional Thesis 1
Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Electives 2
Three to six credits chosen from:3-6
Additional courses from the list above
Up to 6 credits of coursework from other departments with prior written approval of the program director.
Total Credits12
1

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.

2

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
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.

Communication, BA/Communication, Accelerated MA

Overview

Highly qualified Mason students may apply to the accelerated master's degree program. If accepted, students will be able to earn a Bachelor's and a MA in communication after satisfactory completion of as few as 147 credits, sometimes within five years. For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees.  

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

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 accelerated MA in communication, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete COMM 600 Introduction to Graduate Studies and one of the following theory courses: COMM 602 Theories and Research of Mass Communication, COMM 605 Intercultural Communication, COMM 620 Health Communication, COMM 632 Persuasion Theory, COMM 634 Theories of Interpersonal Communication, COMM 635 Organizational Communication, or COMM 639 Science Communication. Accelerated master's students must earn a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all course work. Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition From and are admitted to graduate status. 
As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements, except the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits at the 600 level, excluding COMM 650. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department.  Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.