University of Minnesota
Communication Studies
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Communications Studies' Home Page

Graduate Program

M.A. and Ph.D.

A graduate degree requires a great deal of work, as well as the deferring of income. We strongly urge potential applicants to consider carefully their academic and long range career goals before applying for M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. You are also urged to consult the most recent Graduate School Catalog. Please check the Graduate School Bulletin for residency requirements for all degrees. Also, keep in mind the important deadlines for the Fall 2013 academic year.

Graduate Concentrations

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Rhetorical Studies
  • Critical Media Studies

Although many of our faculty and students specialize in one area, the faculty view communication studies as an integrated and coherent discipline, and work together developing research projects, and assisting in graduate research and instruction. The faculty require that all graduate students take course work in both concentrations.

The department offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The main objective of the graduate program is to prepare students to become researchers and teachers in universities and colleges. Through formal course work, independent study, directed research projects, and participation in team research supervised by faculty, students have many opportunities for training and experience in research. Those with teaching assistantships acquire extensive teaching experience under the supervision of senior faculty.

Interpersonal Communication

Coursework in interpersonal communication has a social scientific orientation. Students pursue research and advanced studies in interpersonal communication while gaining experience using research methodologies appropriate for generating new knowledge. They may do this either in the field or the laboratory, or may evaluate communication in a variety of "real world" social settings (e.g., government or business organizations, across cultures, within mass media agencies).

Communication is studied primarily using quantitative methods and inferential statistics, but students may also employ different methodologies, including historical and philosophical perspectives, observation and description of communication events in natural settings, controlled experimentation on communication variables in the laboratory, and humanistic studies of individual participants in social situations.

Coursework outside the department is usually concentrated in one or more of the behavioral sciences, determined by the student's particular interests. All students are expected to develop a command of research techniques appropriate to their particular area of interest and a thorough knowledge of statistics. Interdisciplinary programs are encouraged.

Graduate Studies in Interpersonal Communication

Rhetorical Studies

Courses in rhetoric and public address approach communication studies as a humane study. Course work includes argumentation and persuasion, media studies, ethics, rhetorical theory and criticism, and American public address. Students may also pursue special interests in rhetorical philosophies, movements and campaigns, popular culture, or historical and contemporary political speaking. The study of rhetoric and public address is to be supplemented by course work outside of the department. An understanding of history, political science, sociology, or other social sciences may be useful to the student describing and evaluating either historical or contemporary public discourse.

Critical Media Studies

Critical Media Studies approaches mediated communication as a cultural form that is socially influential, economically powerful, and politically significant. Coursework in Critical Media Studies emphasizes qualitative, historical, and critical approaches to the study of media texts, audiences, institutions, policies, and economics. Topics covered in the Critical Media Studies curriculum include feminist media studies, media, race, and identity; political economy of media, audience reception and effects, popular culture, and media regulation and industries. Coursework outside the department is usually in the fields of American studies, cultural studies, political science, sociology, or women's studies.

Important Deadlines

For Admission

Available space in our graduate program fills quickly each year. Prospective students should apply using the on-line Apply Yourself system through the Graduate Admissions Office, no later than December 2, 2013 for admission in fall 2014.

It is also important for you to know that admission decisions are not made until we have three letters of recommendation on file. Those letters should be submitted as part of your application that you upload to the Apply Yourself system.

When using the ApplyYourself system, be sure to choose Communication Studies on the drop-down menu that lists graduate programs at the University of Minnesota.

Please Note: All applicants must take the GRE.

All students for whom English is not their first language are required to take the TOEFL. All applicants whose native language is not English or who have not previously completed a degree in English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and must score at least 550 (paper version) or 213 (computer version). They should also provide a short example of their academic writing in English authored solely by themselves.

For Graduate Assistantships

We recommend highly that your applications are complete before the end of December. The application form should be mailed to the department and not to the Graduate School. If you are applying for admission online be sure to contact the department office and ask that a financial aid application be mailed to you.

For Fellowships

These are highly desirable and competitive. We may nominate a few outstanding persons. We must have transcripts of all college work, Graduate Record Examination Scores, and three strong letters of recommendation no later than December 2, 2013. See Financial Opportunities for full description of available Fellowships.

Step-by-step guide to applying for admission