May 26, 2018  
2010-2011 Graduate Catalog 
2010-2011 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Professional Communication, M.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Discipline

General Program Information

Web Page:

Graduate School Contact:

Gail Powers;; 423-439-4703

Jack Mooney, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator

518 Warf-Pickel Hall
Box 70667
(423) 439-4168

Amber Kinser, Ph.D., Department Chair

519A Warf-Pickel Hall
Box 70667
(423) 439-7577


Karen Brewster; Dan Brown; Wesley Buerkle; Patricia Cutspec; Pat Cronin; Kelly Dorgan; Bobby Funk; Delbert Hall; Tom Headley; John King; Amber Kinser; William Kirkwood; Steve Marshall; Jack Mooney; Carrie Oliveria; Herbert Parker; Melissa Shafer; Norma Wilson.

In addition to its ACEJMC undergraduate accredited program in mass communication and its baccalaureate programs in speech and theatre, the department offers a Master of Arts in Professional Communication.

In seeking your master’s in Professional Communication, you may select from an array of courses in the department’s three concentrations, Mass Communication (Advertising, Journalism, and Public Relations), Speech, and Theatre. Our graduates have gone on to a variety of fulfilling careers including positions in advertising, broadcasting, journalism, public relations, client relations, theatrical performance, professional stagecraft, and college education. Others have gone to doctoral work at nationally ranked institutions.

The Mass Communication emphasis offers you an interdisciplinary foundation in theory and application. You will work and learn with avid researchers and professionals in the areas of advertising, broadcasting, journalism, and public relations. Following a Speech emphasis prepares you for work in a broad range of fields that require the ability to work with diverse populations, lead others, articulate ideas and arguments effectively, and critically analyze messages. A Theatre focus provides you with the opportunities for studying theatre as a discipline as well as developing your creative skills. We encourage those focusing on Theatre to complete a creative thesis such as performing a one-person show, directing a show, producing a script, or completing a design project.

Graduate Admission Criteria

Each applicant is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. At least a 3.0 overall undergraduate grade point average.
  2. Graduate Record Examination test scores predictive of success in the program.
  3. Three letters that recommend admission to graduate study. When selecting persons to write recommendation letters, please choose people who can address your academic/intellectual abilities in the discipline (e.g., professors and/or professionals). Strongly consider supplying at least two (2) letters from former or current professors, especially from those within the discipline. Letters from professionals should address the applicant’s work ethic, ability to work autonomously, potential for intellectual growth, and applicable academic skills (e.g., research and writing abilities).
  4. A brief application essay of approximately 150-300 words (required by Graduate School).

In the application essay, the applicant should be certain to express why the applicant desires a Master in Professional Communication, referencing possible topics of interest identified in the PCOM program. The essay is also an opportunity for the applicant to highlight or address strengths and/ or weaknesses in the application materials (e.g., GRE and GPA scores).

Applicants who are weak in one area may still be admitted if they have high credentials in other areas. Those who have not completed an undergraduate major or minor in communications may be required to undertake preparatory coursework. Such coursework will be specified by the graduate advisor, dependent upon the applicant’s background and designated emphasis area. Those applicants not meeting the admissions requirements as listed above may be conditionally admitted for 9 hours of graduate study at the discretion of the graduate committee.

During the period before candidacy, graduate students are advised by the departmental graduate coordinator. In consultation with the graduate advisor, the student devises an individualized Professional Communication program of study consisting of a core of common communication courses that all students are required to take, an emphasis in one of the six disciplines represented within the department, and a series of cognate courses from the department and from other units within the university.


A student must apply for admission to candidacy after completion of the core semester hours in professional communications. A program grade point average of 3.0 or higher and the removal of all conditions imposed at the time of admission to the School of Graduate Studies is required. Students admitted to candidacy will declare two areas of emphases with one area being within the Department of Communication (6-9 hours) and one in a cognate area (9 hours). The student also must indicate pursuit of the thesis or non-thesis option at that time, with approval by graduate faculty of the department. At least 75 percent of the total course hours must be taken within the Department of Communication.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 39 hours of coursework is required for both the thesis and non-thesis options. No more than 30 percent of all courses taken in the program may come from 5xx7 series.

Summary of Course Requirements for the M.A. in Professional Communication

Communication Core 18
Emphasis* 6-9
Cognate 9
Thesis* 3-6
Approved Communication Elective 3
Total Hours Required: 39

* Students opting for a 3-credit-hours thesis must choose 9 credits in the communication emphasis, while those choosing a six (6) credit-hour thesis must select 6 credits for the communication emphasis.

Communication Core

Total Communication Core: 18 Credit Hours

Communication Emphasis

Courses in a single area within the Department of Communication (Speech Communication, Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism, Broadcasting, or Theatre)

Total Communication Emphasis: 6-9 Credit Hours

Cognate Areas of Emphasis

Nine (9) hours of related courses must be taken in one department with approval of the respective department chair. These courses are selected and structured by the advisor and student based upon the  student’s experiences, interests, and abilities. Some participating departments/concentrations are: Art and Design/Design of Publications; Computer Science/Communication Technology; Curriculum and Instruction/Media Services; English/Professional Writing and Editing; Foreign Languages; History; Public Health; Psychology/Organizational Communication; Technology/ Professional Writing and Editing; Communication Technology. Others will be considered on a case by case basis.

Total Cognate Area of Emphasis: 9 Credit Hours

Communication Thesis or Approved Communication Elective Courses in a single area within the Department of Communication

Total: Thesis/Approved Elective: 3-6 Credit Hours

Comprehensive Examinations

Students in the thesis option defend the thesis orally before a Department of Communication faculty committee. Students in the non-thesis option take a written comprehensive examination, after the completion of 36 hours. Students failing either the oral or the written examination will be permitted to reschedule the examination no sooner than one semester later. Examinations are not offered during the summer.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Discipline