The Department of Communication is committed to achieving and maintaining diversity in its graduate student population. We firmly believe a welcoming climate improves and enriches the academic environment for all students. Our commitment to diversity includes improving recruitment and retention of minority and underrepresented students as well as encouraging intellectual and cultural pluralism.

Our graduate program rests on four core principles, beginning with the principle of pluralism. The principle of pluralism manifests itself in the variety of intellectual and cultural traditions housed within the Department of Communication. Faculty and student interests encompass diverse domains, such as rhetorical theory, intercultural and international communication, face-to-face interaction, and the relationship of both old and new communication media technologies to sociopolitical change. Faculty and students also reflect diverse cultural traditions. To provide expertise in both humanistic and social scientific approaches, the Department offers seminars focusing on diverse methods, ranging from ethnography to experimentation and survey research to textual analysis and criticism. We believe that such intellectual pluralism within a graduate program is a tremendous strength.

In our graduate admission process, we look for applicants who will not only share a new perspective with our department, but who can articulate their life experiences intellectually. Toward that end, we encourage applicants to submit a Supplemental Essay with their application materials. This essay asks applicants to describe how their experiences and/or academic interests could contribute to a diverse community of communication scholars.

See our departmental achievements toward creating a respectful and inclusive environment >>

Areas of study

Within our M.A. and Ph.D. programs, our research and teaching focus on seven interrelated areas of study. Of those areas, the ones listed below have particular relevance to creating a diverse environment.

Communication and Culture

Courses in this area concentration look at the ways people communicate within and across different cultures. Communication is at the heart of cultural identity and expression, and it is through communication that cultures emerge, sustain themselves, and change.

Global Communication

This area concentration examines national and transnational media as part of a global system of news flow, political interaction, and cultural exchange. Courses compare media and interaction patterns within and across nations and cultures, as well as examine how the globalization of communication systems and content affects peoples’ lives around the world.

Rhetoric and Critical/Cultural Studies

The communication discipline began as the study of rhetoric, and some of the courses in this area explore rhetorical theory. Other courses in this concentration include both rhetorical criticism and modern critical theories of communication.

Sample courses of interest:

Theses and Dissertations

Below is a brief list of recent master’s theses and doctoral dissertations encompassing diversity. For a complete list of Communication theses, click here. For a complete list of Communication dissertations, click here.


Gilbert, Valerie Claire. Imitation of Dorothy Dandridge: Halle Berry and mulatto stardom. (2009)

Edgerly, Louisa S. “We ain’t refugees”: Hurricane Katrina and media (meta)discourses of race. (2006)

Barnett, Tamara Exploring sisterhood: An ethnographic analysis of racial identification in student minority club. (2007)

Ernest, Marcella The Indian Child Welfare Act: Native children and the state child welfare systems. (2007)

Miller, Clark History Lessons. (2007)

Smith, Stephanie.  Agents, Minority Communications Access, and the Impact of FCC Policies. (2006)

De Vadder, Kristina.  Learning the Language of Zapatismo: Language/Education, Tourism/Activism and the Discursivity of a Transnational Social Movement. (2005)

Bagley, Meredith.  The Beauty of Basketball: The WNBA, Lesbians, and Discourses of Deflection. (2005)

Gorgura, Heather.  Queering the Gaze: Altporn’s Discursive (Re)Construction of Gender and Sexuality. (2005)

Dunsmore, Katherine.  Career and Education: Voices of African American Youth. (2004)

Garland, Philip Anthony, Jr.  Mainstream Wrapping Paper: An Examination of Press Coverage of Rap Music. (2003)


Tomhave, Jonathan S. Cameras and Indians: Acts of Performative Resistance by First Nations Actors in Mainstream and Alternative Films. (2010)

Sprain, Leah M. Cultivating cooperativismo: An ethnography of communication in Nicaraguan fair trade cooperative meetings. (2009)

Hickerson, Andrea. Communication and participation in transnational communities: An analysis of Mexican Americans. (2009)

Docan-Morgan, Sara. Boundaries and bridges: Exploring Korean adoptees’ reports of adoptive family communication during and after intrusive interactions and racial communication. (2008)

Pasch, Timothy. Inukitut online in Nunavik: Mixed methods web-based strategies for preserving aboriginal and minority languages. (2008)

McCoy, Kelley Race: Journalists and news coverage of a fatal police shooting in Seattle. (2007)

Van Leuven, Nancy. Hard news, soft news, and tough issues: The symbiotic relationship of media and NGOs in communication about development. (2007)

Garrido, Maria I. The Importance of Social Movements’ Networks in Development Communication: Lessons from the Zapatista Movement in the Quest for Building Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization in Latin America. (2006)

Witteborn, Saskia. Collective Identities of People of Arab Descent: An Analysis of the Situated Expression of Ethnic, Panethnic, National, and Religious Identifications. (2005)

Delwiche, Aaron A. Frog under the Well: The Relationship of Global Media Use and Cosmopolitan Orientation among Hong Kong Youth. (2001)

Carrillo Rowe, Aimee M. Troubling Alliances under the Sign of Feminism: Whiteness, Institutionality and Relationality in the Postcolonial Academy. (2000)

Moran, Kristin Clare. Mexican Telenovelas and Latina Teenagers’ Understanding of Romantic Relationships: A Reception Analysis. (2000)

Schmid, Jill D. White Backlash Revisited: Consumer Response to Model’s Race in Print Advertisements. (2000)

Native Voices M.C. Program

Native Voices, the premier Native American media training center in the United States, in cooperation with the Department of Communication and the Department of American Indian Studies, offers an M.C. degree program in Native American documentary production.

Native Voices students explore the documentary tradition from an Indigenous perspective and produce documentary programs that speak to critical personal, social, and political issues in their lives. For Indigenous people, the creation of their own stories is an issue of survival. Making media about their experiences has become a significant project for the colonized world. Indigenous peoples of the world have had to create a shared language to understand colonialism. Their film and television work has centered upon issues that link Indigenous communities around the world — while retaining homeland, language, family, and social institutions. This work can be seen as an ongoing struggle to claim humanity, intellects, imaginations, and emotions.