Jul 21, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Communication & Storytelling Studies, M.A.

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General Program Information

Graduate School Contact:
Rickie Carter; carterrh@etsu.edu; (423) 439-6165

Amber Kinser, Ph.D., Department Chair
Graduate Coordinator

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

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

Faculty: Wesley Buerkle; Kelly Dorgan; Andrew Herrmann; Amber Kinser; and Delanna Reed.

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Communication & Storytelling Studies is an advanced platform for understanding and practicing the powers of communication, story, and narrative. Our program seizes upon changes in workforce needs that have increasingly moved toward the integration of traditional professional communication with the creative, performance, and social advocacy-ready components associated with Storytelling.

Through our communication focus, we examine how story, narrative, and discourse shape social meaning and facilitate social change, as well as how the study of story, narrative, and discourse can used to better understand diverse populations, to facilitate stronger connections and manage conflict within and across those populations, and to foster creative civil dialogue.

We offer a two-year program with option for longer spans for part-time students. Students have opportunities to learn from practicing professionals and have the option to create a capstone project, write comprehensive exams, or write a thesis. Our faculty bring diverse talents, experiences, and credentials to our teaching environments to bridge theoretical and applied knowledge. As mentors, we work individually with every student to craft a program of study that helps each one meet their personal, professional, and intellectual goals.

Graduate Admission Criteria

Applicants may begin the Communication & Storytelling, M.A. in fall or spring semesters, though a fall semester entry is strongly recommended. Completed applications must be received in the School of Graduate Studies by March 1 for preferred consideration for admission in the next fall term and optimal funding consideration. Applicants are strongly encouraged to talk with the Graduate Coordinator prior to submitting application materials. Each applicant is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • At least a 3.0 overall undergraduate grade point average.
  • Three letters that recommend admission to graduate study and that sufficiently evidence the applicant’s potential for success in the Communication and Storytelling Studies program in particular.
    • When selecting persons to write recommendation letters, please choose people who can address your academic/intellectual abilities in the discipline. Optimally, applicants should supply at least two letters from former or current professors, especially from those within the discipline, if possible. Letters from professionals should address the applicant’s applicable academic skills (e.g., research, writing, presentation and/or performance abilities), potential for intellectual growth, ability to work on multiple projects under pressure and autonomously, and overall work ethic.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores predictive of success in the program.
    • Applicants wishing to request waiver of the GRE requirement must contact the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Program Specialist. Such students would participate in a formal telephone, or in-person interview with the Graduate Coordinator and faculty, and also submit an extended writing sample, 1500-2000 words in length, to the Graduate Coordinator. The writing sample is submitted separately from and is quite different from the application essay. The writing sample is to be an essay on the uses of storytelling and communication in a particular domain of contemporary professional or community practice (performance, education, health and well-being, law, ministry, social justice, business, non-profit organizations, community advocacy, peace promotion, etc.). This would involve some necessary background reading, research, and synthesizing thinking. Applicants may include first-person experience and reflection in support of their research. The language of myth and fantasy should be utilized only if the essay is an analysis of those subjects. In any case, the goal should be to employ language and thought appropriate to graduate-level study. Applicants must consult with the Graduate Coordinator prior to submitting the writing sample. Essays submitted without invitation from the Graduate Coordinator will not be accepted.
  • The strength of an application essay that discusses both interest and fit.
    • The graduate school requires 150-300 words; the Communication and Storytelling Studies M.A. program strongly encourages applicants to write in the high end of that range. The application essay should explain why the applicant is interested in our particular graduate program. Additionally, the application essay should discuss why the applicant is a good fit for our program, the courses we require, and the research or creative activity of our faculty. Applicants should consult the program website while crafting the application essay. If there are weaknesses in the applicant’s materials (e.g., low grades or GRE scores), these should be addressed in the essay as well.
  • Applicants who are weak in one area may still be admitted if they have high credentials in other areas.


A student must apply for admission to candidacy after completion of the core semester hours in communication and storytelling studies. 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. At least 75 percent of the total course hours must be taken within the Department of Communication and Performance.

Communication & Storytelling Studies, M.A. Degree Requirements: 36 credits

Core Requirements 15 credits
Advisor Approved Electives 15 credits
Culminating Experience 6 credits
TOTAL 36 credits

Advisor Approved Electives: 15 credits

Discourse and Meaning: 3 credits

Choose 3 credits from the following:

Professional Applications: 3 credits

Choose 3 credits from the following:

General Electives: 9 credits

  • Electives from within or outside of the department (9 credits)

Culminating Experience: 6 credits

Thesis Option 

Non-Thesis Option 1

Non-Thesis Option 2

  • Comprehensive Exams and
  • One additional course from Discourse and Meaning (3 credits) and
  • One additional course from Professional Applications (3 credits)

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