Graduate Catalog 2010-12




Serafin Mendez-Mendez (Chair, Robert

C. Vance Academic Center 317), Jose Carlos Del Ama, Robert Fischbach, Glynis Fitzgerald, Yanan Ju, Andrew Moemeka, Christopher Pudlinski, Karen Ritzenhoff, Benjamin Sevitch, Jeffrey B. Teitler, Cornelius Benjamin Tyson, Cindy White (Dept. phone: 860-832-2690)


Department Overview

Organizations are defined by their ability to communicate and learn. Their identities are shaped by the relationships that are developed among employees, the public, and other key stakeholders. Their services, products, and expertise have value only when they are communicated successfully to the right audience. And these achievements are a direct consequence of how effectively they know their audience. Our graduates understand these principles and the processes necessary for mastering them.

Graduate students in communication receive special attention in a close knit community of thoughtful colleagues. The program is personalized-only about 15-20 new students enter the program each year. Working closely with faculty, each student develops a program that builds on his/her specific interests and skills.

Through coursework, students gain expertise in using traditional and contemporary media technology to communicate with various stakeholders (publics) inside and outside an organization. They study theories of communication and learn to apply these theories in both an internal (organizational) and external (public relations) context.

Students graduate with a solid theoretical background and specific technical skills that are immediately applicable to the job market or continuing with postgraduate education.



The Master of Science in Communication

Program Rationale:

Graduate study in communication is designed to provide students with academic experiences that enable them to evaluate, develop, shape, and change the communication environment within organizations (organizational communication), as well as between organizations and their target audiences (public relations), using traditional and contemporary media technologies.


Program Learning Outcomes:

Students will be expected to:

  • understand communication processes, internal and external, of an organization;

  • demonstrate the ability to write appropriately in both academic and professional settings;

  • employ research methods in the diagnosis of communication problems within organizations and between organizations and their target audiences, including those resulting from intercultural differences;

  • apply problem-solving, decision-making, and negotiation strategies in complex relational situations within organizations;

  • examine the use and impact of information, communication, and new media technologies in the design and evaluation of public relations, strategic communication campaigns, and other organizational applications; and

  • develop and practice sound and ethical reasoning.


Course and Capstone Requirements

(33 credits):

The program comprises two sections, a 15-credit core of foundational courses and 18 credits of advisor-approved directed electives. A capstone experience consisting of Plan A (6-credit Thesis) or Plan B (Comprehensive Examination) or Plan C (Special Project) is required for graduation.


Core Courses (15 credits):

COMM 500 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication 3

COMM 501 Theories of Human Communication within an Organizational Context 3

COMM 503 Research Methods in Communication 3

COMM 505 Persuasive Communication 3

COMM 504 Organizational Communication Audits 3


COMM 507 Campaign Planning and Evaluation 3


Directed Electives (12-18 credits):

Students will select from the following courses approved by the faculty advisor. A planned program of study should be completed no later than 6 credits into the student's program. The student may specialize in either track or may select courses from both tracks. To specialize in a particular track, at least 3 courses must be selected from that particular track.


Organizational Communication Track

COMM 450 Communication Skills for Training and Development 3

COMM 504 Organizational Communication Audits 3

COMM 522 Corporate Communication 3

COMM 551 Policy Issues in Organizational Communication 3

COMM 562 Communication and High-Speed Management 3


Public Relations Track

COMM 451 Environmental Communication 3

COMM 454 Communication and Social Change 3

COMM 506 Case Studies in Public Relations 3

COMM 507 Campaign Planning and Evaluation 3

COMM 508 Public Relations Writing Strategies 3


General Electives

COMM 543 Intercultural Communication 3

COMM 544 Strategies in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution 3

COMM 585 Special Topics 3

COMM 590 Independent Study 1-3


Outside Courses

TM 464 Six Sigma Quality 3

TM 500 Product Life Cycle Management 3

TM 502 Human Relations and Behavior in Complex Organizations 3

TM 564 Quality Systems Management 3

STAT 453 Applied Statistical Inference 3


Capstone (0-6 credits):

Plan A: COMM 590 Independent Study (3 credits)

and COMM 599 Thesis (3 credits)


Plan B: Comprehensive Examination


Plan C: COMM 597 Special Project (3 credits)


To complete degree requirements, students have the option of a thesis (Plan A) or a comprehensive examination (Plan B) comprised of a written exam followed by an oral exam or a Special Project (Plan C). Programs will be designed jointly by the departmental advisors and the students to provide the greatest educational and career opportunities.


Official Certificate Program: Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Relations/Promotions

This non-degree certificate program, offered by the Department of Communication, is designed for college graduates wishing to expand or update their knowledge of public relations/promotions, but who are not ready to commit to graduate programs leading to a master's degree. The program provides students with a formal option for post-baccalaureate studies. Courses completed as part of this certificate program may later be applied to the department's master program if admission requirements for that program are successfully met and if courses meet the School of Graduate Studies policy for a six-year time limit.


Program Requirements

The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Public Relations/Promotions will require the student to complete a four-course, 12-credit sequence consisting of COMM 505 Persuasive Communication, COMM 506 Principles and Processes of Communication Campaigns, COMM 507 Campaign Planning and Evaluation, and COMM 508 Public Relations Writing Strategies. One other course from the department's master's degree program in communication can be substituted for one of the four courses listed above with permission of the student's academic advisor. More information about these courses can be found at The student must achieve a 3.00 (B) GPA in order to receive the post-baccalaureate certificate. Up to 12 credits may be applied to the M.S. in Communication degree; admissions to the M.S. is required.



Students seeking admission to the M.S. in Communication program must present an undergraduate average of B (3.00). Students with an undergraduate GPA of 2.70 through 2.99, or who have been out of school for five years and possess significant professional experience, may apply to be considered for conditional acceptance.

Students who meet the above requirements should submit an Application for Graduate Admission, official copies of transcripts, and their application fee directly to the School of Graduate Studies Office. A current resume, a writing sample comprised of 500 to 1,000 words which expresses their goals for graduate study and future professional aspirations, and names and contact information (including email addresses) of three references should be sent directly to the chair of the Department of Communication. No action will be taken until all of the above materials have been received.


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