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About the Graduate Program

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies degree program is a 30-hour, theory-based field of study designed to promote understanding of the functions of human communication in its various forms and venues.  Students in the program learn to analyze, manage, and assess communication in oral, written, and visual forms. The program emphasizes these substantive research areas:  interpersonal communication, rhetoric and political discourse, communication and culture, and organizational leadership.

Degree Options

Students can pursue one of three different options:

  • Academic – Comprehensive Exam Option: for students who wish to fulfill teaching requirements in communication studies or who want to pursue advanced degree work. It requires a comprehensive written examination to demonstrate proficient knowledge in their selected area of study.
  • Research – Thesis Option: for students who plan to continue their graduate education.  It requires an original thesis project in a specific research area of interest.
  • Professional – Capstone Portfolio Optionfor students who plan to pursue professional careers.  It requires an internship or professional project and submission of a final capstone portfolio that provides a comprehensive overview of the work completed.

Doctoral Program

The C&IS doctoral program overseen by the Office for Graduate Studies provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of communication and information sciences. M.A. candidates in Communication Studies may choose to apply for admission into the program, either on an expedited track through the master’s program or as a subsequent program after completing the M.A. For more information about the C&IS doctoral program, click here.

Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) in Communication Studies

Available for undergraduates only, AMP offers majors in Communication Studies the opportunity to earn both a BAC and an MA, at the University of Alabama, within five years. For more information, see  Accelerated Masters Program.


Funding Opportunities

Offered by the Graduate School

The Graduate School offers various forms of financial support, which all students are encouraged to consider.  The coveted Graduate Council Fellowships are awarded competitively from nominations submitted by degree programs campus-wide.  The Department of Communication Studies makes nominations for Graduate Council Fellowships from its pool of top candidates each year. Priority consideration for fellowship nomination will be given to applicants whose academic credentials indicate that they will significantly benefit the program and research initiatives of the department and have submitted an application for admissions by 1 December, but no later than 1 February.

Offered by the Department

The Department of Communication Studies has graduate Teaching Assistantships (TAs) available for highly qualified applicants whose experience and academic credentials indicate that they will significantly benefit the program. Assistantships are limited and priority consideration is given to applicants who submit by 1 February, if not earlier. Once admitted, students will be invited to submit an assistantship interest form in which they articulate their experiences and interests that position them for a teaching assistantship as well as specifying their preferences for the type of TA position. Applicants interested in teaching COM 123: Public Speaking will be asked to submit a link to a video-recording (e.g., URL to digital file) of their speaking ability — a 5-7 minute speech or other formal oral presentation.

TAs are generally awarded for a single academic year, and the stipend is paid over a period of nine months. TAs include a waiver of both in-state and out-of-state tuition.  All students holding TAs with the department must be working toward their M.A. degree, taking 6-9 credit hours per semester, and maintaining at least a B average in their course work. Applicants may apply for a TA position in one of three areas:

  • Assisting in the Alabama Forensic Program —
    • with the Alabama Forensic Council, a nationally competitive individual events team
    • with the Alabama Debate Society
    • with the Campus Forensics outreach program
  • Serving as a performance lab assistant for COM 123 Public Speaking
  • Assisting in the instruction of the department’s core curriculum courses:
    • COM 100 Rhetoric and Society
    • COM 101 Principles of Human Communication
    • COM 122 Critical Decision Making
    • COM 220 Interpersonal Communication

Advising and the Plan of Study

Graduate students in Communication Studies are responsible for knowing all guidelines and procedures pertinent to the successful completion of their degree. However, they are assigned academic advisors to provide guidance for their progress through the program, beginning with the initial development of their plans of study.

Academic advisors use the Departmental Advisory Form to supervise the development of the Plan of Study, around the four components of the 30-hour degree program:

  1. 12 hours of core theory courses — a theory course from each of the four areas of scholarly research, to provide a broad basis for understanding the study of human communication
  2. 12-15 hours of electives in a focused area of study chosen by the student with the approval of the faculty advisor
  3.  3-6 hours of method courses and/or applied research
  4.  Completion of a capstone experience—a comprehensive exam, a thesis, or a capstone portfolio

When approved, the Plan of Study must be filed with the department and serves as the student’s official contract of requirements for completing the degree program.  Any changes in the plan must be filed as an official amendment to the original contract.

The academic advisor serves as the person responsible for approving changes in a student’s contractual plan, for authorizing course registration, and for supervising the formation of the required faculty committee for the M.A. thesis.


M.A. Program Inquiries and Faculty Contacts

For questions or inquiries about applying to the degree program, please submit this formC&IS Graduate Studies Inquiry Form.


Faculty Contacts in the Communication Studies Department:

For questions regarding the Communication Studies M. A. degree program, contact The Office for Graduate Studies, or the department chair, Dr. Margaret D’Silva.  Distance learning students specializing in Organizational Leadership should contact Dr. Nikita Harris, who coordinates the on-line emphasis for BamaByDistance.