Jul 17, 2024  
2011-2012 Graduate Catalog 
2011-2012 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Professional Communication, M.A.

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General Program Information

Web Page: http://www.etsu.edu/cas/comm/programs/graduate.jsp

Graduate School Contact:

Gail Powers; powers@etsu.edu; 423-439-4703

Dan Brown, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator

518 Warf-Pickel Hall
Box 70667
(423) 439-4171
e-mail: brownd@etsu.edu

Amber Kinser, Ph.D., Department Chair

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


Karen Brewster; Dan Brown; Wesley Buerkle; Pat Cronin; Kelly Dorgan; Andrew Dunn; Bobby Funk; Delbert Hall; John King; Amber Kinser; Shara Lange; Stephen Marshall; Jack Mooney; Carrie Oliveira; Herb Parker; Melissa Shafer.

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 areas of study: Speech, Theatre, and Mass Communication (Advertising, Journalism, Public Relations, and Radio-TV-Film). Our graduates have gone on to a variety of fulfilling careers including positions in advertising, health communication, broadcasting, journalism, public relations, client relations, theatrical performance, professional stagecraft, college education, and administration. Others have gone on to earn doctoral degrees from 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, radio-tv-film, journalism, and public relations. The 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. Speech graduates become specialists in human interaction and the study of relationships. The Theatre emphasis provides you with opportunities for studying theatre as an art form and a career as well as developing your creative skills for use in other professions. 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

Applicants may begin the Master of Professional Communication only in fall semesters. Completed applications must be received in the School of Graduate Studies by March 1 for preferred consideration for admission in the next following fall term.

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 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).
  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 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. 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.

Students must enroll in the first course in the program, SPCH 5100 , Foundations of Communication Studies, during their first semester. SPCH 5100  is offered each fall semester. The next course in the program is SPCH 5330 , Applied Communication Theory, in which students are advised to enroll in their first semester as well. 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


Total Communication Core: 15 Credit Hours

Communication Emphasis

Courses in a single area within the Department of Communication (ADVR, JOUR, PUBR, RTVF, SPCH or THEA)

Total Communication Emphasis: minimum of 9 Credit Hours

Guided Electives

Nine (9) to fifteen (15) hours of related courses chosen in consultation with advisor and approved by the graduate coordinator. These courses are selected and structured by the advisor and student based upon the student’s experiences, interests, and abilities. Hours can be taken outside the department but can total no more than nine (9). Those writing a thesis must take MCOM, SPCH, or THEA 5960 (in accordance with their emphasis area) for 3 or 6 of their elective hours.

Total Guided Electives: 9-15 Credit Hours

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

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.

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