Department of Communication faculty believe that introducing graduate students to diverse theories and methods helps them develop a research focus that will enrich the field of communication, as well as the larger world. Upon graduation, Ph.D. students will have developed a broad foundation of knowledge in communication, begun to create a coherent program of research, and made connections beyond the university by attending academic conferences and contributing to public life in meaningful ways.
Completion of the M.A. signals that a student understands a range of communication theories, can formulate fruitful research questions, and has the ability to design and conduct significant scholarship.
The foundation of graduate study in the Department is comprised of two core courses that embody the Department’s philosophy and that are taught consecutively across the students’ first terms. These courses align closely with the Department’s core principles. In these initial courses, students learn the interplay of theory and method and enhance their ability to make informed choices about their program of study. These courses also underscore the importance of building relationships within and between disciplines as well as between the academy and other communities and institutions.
COM 500 Communication Theory Development (offered annually in autumn quarter)
A primary goal of scholarship in communication is to provide underlying explanations for why, how, and with what implications communication occurs. This course covers the philosophy behind theory development, discusses the basic components of theories, and reviews significant theoretical contributions in communication from social scientific and humanistic traditions. It also makes clear to students the different forms that theory can take within distinct epistemologies. In sum, this course introduces students to the process of conceptualization and theory design through reading and discussion of relevant bodies of communication scholarship. (5 Credits)
COM 501 Methods of Inquiry (offered annually in winter quarter)
Communication processes and implications can be investigated with a range of research methodologies. This course is designed to overview some of the most important methods of inquiry used to investigate communication phenomena. Methods reviewed include textual criticism, content analysis, ethnography, experimentation, survey research and historical approaches. The breadth of coverage in this course reflects a commitment to pluralism in methodologies within the discipline. In this course, students explore the utility of different methods for investigating different research topics, defining and measuring concepts, reading texts, and investigating theories (5 Credits).
Other Foundational Courses
If students wish to take additional courses exploring these themes, they may choose to enroll in other foundational courses that the Department offers:
COM 507 Interdisciplinary Theorizing and Communication
This course introduces students to the challenges, benefits, and process of interdisciplinary research and practice. This course explores the formation of disciplinary boundaries and the ways in which scholars reach across or redefine them through their work. Students study significant examples of interdisciplinary scholarship, and they explore how their own areas of interest have been studied by different disciplines. In addition, practical concerns are considered, including how to search across divergent literatures, develop synthetic theoretical arguments, and integrate work from fields with different epistemologies. (5 Credits)
COM 509 Collaboration and Scholarship
This course engages students in a group project, supervised by the faculty member, in which students identify a topic, conceptualize a project, carry it out, and make a public presentation of their findings. The specific focus of this seminar will vary depending on the instructor and the students’ own research interests, but regardless of the research topic, students will read and discuss essays on collaborative research and relate these to their own experiences in the seminar. This course reflects the Department’s commitment to encouraging and supporting collaborative research. (5 Credits)
Professional Development for a Variety of Career Paths
In addition to these foundational courses, the Department of Communication offers a series of one-credit proseminars and an internship course to help students develop a range of professional competencies. Ph.D. students are required to take three of these courses as part of their program of study. M.A. students also may enroll. In these proseminars, faculty share their experiences as teachers, researchers, and public intellectuals. One proseminar is offered each quarter on a rotating basis. There are five different proseminars that will be taught. The “Writing for Academic Publication” proseminar is offered every spring; the other four are offered once every two years.
COM 594 Graduate School and Career Choices
A graduate degree in communication can prove useful in a wide range of professions. This course introduces a variety of career options, so that students might be able to find appropriate jobs at colleges and universities, research firms, non-profit foundations, community organizations, government agencies, or private companies. (1 Credit)
COM 594 Ethics, Research, and Teaching
Many ethical questions arise when one is studying and teaching communication. This course explores ethical concerns related to research and teaching, and it reviews potential solutions to these problems. Topics include but are not limited to the determination of authorship, research on human subjects, financial conflicts of interest, and academic misconduct. (1 Credit)
COM 594 Research Funding: Identification and Proposal
Many graduate students and faculty remain unaware of significant financial resources that are available to support research, and those who learn of such opportunities often fail to apply because the application process appears daunting. This course reviews major funding sources, helps students find other opportunities, and teaches students how to write grant and fellowship applications. (1 Credit)
COM 594 Public Scholarship
This proseminar is an introduction to the idea of “public scholarship.” We will explore public scholarship through a series of discussions about our department’s notion of public scholarship, your notion(s) of public scholarship, and our colleagues’ notion(s) of public scholarship. By the end of the quarter, you should be able to articulate and promote a nuanced understanding of the nature of public scholarship that differentiates it from other forms of civic engagement. (1 Credit)
COM 594 Writing for Academic Publication
The possibility of publishing one’s research and teaching ideas can be intimidating. In reality, writing for academic publication is a fairly straightforward process. This course provides an introduction to academic writing styles, submission guidelines, and review procedures. Students should enter the course with a completed paper or study that they would like to submit to a conference or journal. (1 Credit)
Proseminars on Pedagogy
In addition, graduate students who serve as Instructors or Teaching Assistants are required to enroll in a series of three one-credit proseminars on pedagogy. These proseminars will be coordinated by a faculty member in conjunction with the Department’s Lead Teaching Assistant. In some cases, the proseminars will be specific to a particular undergraduate course. The general proseminar is described as follows:
COM 596 Communication Pedagogy
This is a three-course series designed to provide students with the pedagogical foundation they need to develop their own teaching philosophy and style. This series introduces students to curriculum goals and challenges, and it teaches how to prepare and deliver lectures, stimulate meaningful class discussion, and design appropriate assignments. (1 Credit)
In the Department of Communication, students also can receive credit for participation in community outreach programs and other practical projects. Students are encouraged to undertake projects that use communication theory to address community, social, or political problems. These activities may entail a professional internship or formal membership in a volunteer organization. Such experiences can be particularly valuable for students who choose to pursue non-academic careers. With an approved plan of work, students receive credit while enrolled in the following course:
COM 593 Communication Internship
This course provides students an opportunity to connect their scholarship with communities outside academia. Projects may include working part-time at a government agency to organize public meetings, helping a community to resolve a dispute, assisting a school that is evaluating its student mentoring program, or any other activity that uses communication theory to inform practical work. At the completion of the project, students write papers that are tailored to academic and/or non-academic audiences. (1-5 Credits)