Apr 18, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Professional Communication, M.A.

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General Program Information

Web Page: http://www.etsu.edu/cas/comm_perform/academics/graduate.php

Graduate School Contact:

Rickie Carter; carterrh@etsu.edu; 423-439-6165

Amber Kinser, Ph.D., Communication Studies, Graduate Coordinator for Communication Studies and Storytelling; Communication and Performance Department Chair

218 Campus Center Building
Box 70667
(423) 439-7577
e-mail: kinsera@etsu.edu


Wesley Buerkle; Pat Cronin; Kelly Dorgan; Bobby Funk; Andrew Herrmann; Amber Kinser; Delanna Reed; Joseph Sobol.

The Professional Communication master’s degree, with a concentration in Storytelling/Theatre or Communication Studies, is an advanced platform for understanding and practicing the powers of communication, story, and narrative. It is an edgy, emerging, and practical program that focuses on three interrelated areas.  First, students hone their craft as professional communicators and storytellers. Second, students examine how communication and story works culturally, within and across diverse populations, and toward social change.  Third, students develop workplace-ready communication skills to build careers as professionals in a variety of fields, businesses, and nonprofits. Our graduates pursue an array of career options, including positions in health communication, live stage performance, client relations, college or university teaching, small business ownership, and management or administration. Several of our graduates pursue doctoral degrees from nationally ranked institutions. We offer small class sizes and close one-on-one mentoring relationships with faculty

The concentration in Communication Studies explores human interaction, discourse, and narrative and how they function in society.  It pulls together the study of leadership, culture, communication skills and competencies, relationships, team building, and the study of how messages work-verbal, textual, mediated, digital, nonverbal-and how they can be crafted to meet workforce needs, to respond to social concerns, and to accomplish professional and personal goals.  Communication Studies training prepares students for corporate, nonprofit, or academic careers in a variety of arenas, including those related to health care communication; organizational consulting; intercultural communication; and critical media and pop culture studies; as well as public communication, advocacy, and activism.

The concentration in Storytelling & Theatre trains students to use performance across a variety of professional, entertainment, and artistic contexts and venues.  It prepares performance-focused students for employment in a contemporary workforce that increasingly recognizes the value of performance, narrative, and story in understanding organizational members, clients, and consumers.

Graduate Admission Criteria

Applicants may begin the Master of Professional Communication in fall or spring semesters, though a fall semester entry is preferable. Completed applications must be received in the School of Graduate Studies by March 1 for preferred consideration for admission in the next fall term.

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

  • At least a 3.0 overall undergraduate grade point average.
  • Graduate Record Examination test scores predictive of success in the program.
  • Three letters that recommend admission to graduate study and that sufficiently evidence the applicant’s potential for success in the Professional Communication program. 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). Optimally, applicants should supply 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).
  • 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 she or he desires a Masters in Professional Communication, referencing possible topics of interest identified in the PCOM program. The essay also is an opportunity for the applicant to highlight or address strengths and explain 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.

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.


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 their concentration area at that time. At least 75 percent of the total course hours must be taken within the Department of Communication.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 36 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

Strategic Communication Concentration: 12 Credit Hours

Guided Electives: 9-15 Credit Hours

Non-thesis: 15 credit hours
Thesis: 9 credit hours



Communication Studies Concentration: 12 Credit Hours

Guided Electives: 9-15 Credit Hours

Non-thesis: 15 credit hours
Thesis: 9 credit hours



Other: Culminating Experience 6 Credit Hours

Comprehensive Examinations

Students in the thesis option defend the thesis orally before a Department of Communication and Performance 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.

Total Required for program: 36 Credit Hours

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