Communication Studies

512 Main Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Dr. Brown, Chairperson
Dr. Polk, Graduate Coordinator

Professors [top]

Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D., Ohio University
Kevin W. Dean, Ph.D., University of Maryland
Anita K. Foeman, Ph.D., Temple University
Elaine B. Jenks, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
David G. Levasseur, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Edward Lordan, Ph.D., Syracuse University
Martin S. Remland, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University
Philip A. Thompsen, Ph.D., University of Utah

Associate Professors

Michael Boyle, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Mary Braz, Ph.D., Michigan State University
Bessie Lawton, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Lisa Millhous, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Michael V. Pearson, Ph.D., Temple University
Denise M. Polk, Ph.D., Kent State University

Assistant Professors

Gina Castle Bell, Ph.D., George Mason University
Theon E. Hill, Ph.D., Purdue University
Maria Kopacz, Ph.D., University of Arizona
L. Meghan Mahoney, Ph.D., Ohio University
Kanan Sawyer, Ph.D., University of Texas


Mark Hickman, M.A., Miami University of Ohio

Programs of Study [top]

The master of arts in communication studies is a comprehensive program that focuses on communication and leadership. Specifically, the program develops students’ knowledge and skills in these areas; all program courses explore some connection between communication and effective leadership. While focusing on leadership, the program also offers students a comprehensive overview of communication contexts. Since leaders must be able to communicate effectively in many different settings, the program seeks to build students’ understanding and abilities across a broad array of communication contexts (including organizational, interpersonal, small group, mass media, and public relations).

The M.A. in communication studies also is designed as both an academic and a professional development degree. All courses, taught by University professors, are built on communication theory and research. With this firm academic foundation, many students complete the program and pursue additional graduate work at the Ph.D. level. The program also offers a thesis option for students interested in pursuing a large-scale research project in preparation for future Ph.D. work. In terms of professional development, all courses explore pragmatic issues of communication. With an emphasis on enhancing their abilities as communicators and leaders, students can further their chosen career goals, and perhaps future success, by exploring up to 15 credits outside the Department of Communication Studies. For example, students interested in administrative work can take elective courses in the master of public administration program (M.P.A.). The department faculty also are ideally suited to help with students' professional development goals because they serve as communication consultants to groups and organizations outside the University.

Since the program is designed to enhance students' communication skills, courses within the program require extensive speaking and writing. Courses are generally taught as small discussion-oriented seminars, and most course grading centers on students' presentations and papers.

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Admission Requirements

Admission to the program is contingent on satisfactory review of the following data. No single deficit will preclude a student from gaining admission. Analysis and consideration of all the material to document the following will be evaluated:

  • The cumulative undergraduate GPA should be a 3.0 or above.
  • The Graduate Record Exam should show a verbal score ranking in the 50th percentile or above. No test scores are required for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above. Test scores may also be waived (by discretion of the graduate coordinator) for students who have successfully completed graduate-level courses.
  • Undergraduate major preparation. Students in majors other than communication or its related areas (e.g., English, psychology, sociology, political science) may need to complete remedial undergraduate course work prior to starting in the program.
  • Writing sample of work submitted by the student in response to past assignments, job activity, or creative endeavor
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A goals statement written on the topic, "How Does Communication Knowledge Bridge My Past Experience With My Future Plans?"

Three additional items may be used to support an application for admission:

  1. Work experience that indicates communication skill
  2. Extra or co-curricular activities
  3. Interview with the graduate coordinator and/or the graduate committee

Maintenance in Good Standing

To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a minimum, overall graduate GPA of 3.0 or above.

Admission to Degree Candidacy

At the completion of 12 semester hours (at least nine of which are within the department), a minimum graduate GPA of 3.0 or better must be earned for candidacy to be achieved. At candidacy, a major adviser is selected.

Curriculum (36 semester hours) [top]


  1. Required core (21 semester hours)
    COM 501 and 502
    15 semester hours selected from departmental offerings
  2. Elective courses (15 semester hours)
    These courses are to be selected from other departments or from communication studies courses. A six-credit graduate internship (COM 598) may be elected upon successful completion of the required core.


  1. Required core (36 semester hours)
    COM 501, 502, 601, and 602
    15 semester hours selected from departmental offerings
  2. Elective courses (9 semester hours)
    These courses are to be selected from other departments or from communication studies courses.

Comprehensive Examination

After the completion of all course work, nonthesis and thesis students will take a comprehensive written examination. Thesis students will defend their theses orally.

Course Descriptions [top]

Communication Studies
Symbol: COM

500 Communication and Leadership (3) Exploration of the interconnections between communication principles and the theory and practice of leadership.

501 Theoretical Perspectives on Human Communication (3) A comprehensive examination of major theoretical perspectives on human communication ranging from classical to contemporary.

502 Communication Research Methods (3) An examination of the major issues pertaining to inquiry in human communication, including the nature of inquiry; qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches to communication research; moral and ethical standards for human research; the role of the researcher; and comparisons of academic research. Students will be required to design and execute a research project.

503 Communication and Persuasive Influence (3) An analysis of major conceptual approaches to persuasion and their implications for understanding influence contexts and designing pragmatic strategies.

505 Rhetoric and Leadership (3) The criticism and history of influence will be explored to focus on examples of persuasion through public discourse.

506 Communication in Small Groups (3) An examination of traditional and contemporary research which pertains to various dimensions of small group communication including, but not limited to, the following topics: structure, size, tasks, goals, roles, systems, and leadership.

508 Special Topic Seminar (3) An intensive examination of a selected area within communication study. Topics will vary and will be announced in advance of each semester.

509 Communication and Conflict Resolution (3) Using both theoretical and activity-centered learning, the student will explore the options available to resolve conflict through communication.

510 Culture, Media, and Representation (3) Course examines how the media constructs ideologies and images of various cultural groups for mass consumption.

511 Understanding Close Relationships (3) This course is designed to introduce and discuss basic theories, themes, concepts, and controversies in relationships from a communication standpoint. Students will be better equipped to apply theoretical knowledge to repair, maintain, and enhance their own personal relationships.

520 Political Communication (3) Examines the role communication plays in the political system with a specific focus on campaign communication, political advertising, and media coverage of politics.

525 American Public Address (3) Critical and theoretical examination of significant speeches in American history (from early American history to contemporary times).

530 Advances in Nonverbal Communication (3) This course investigates recent advances and controversies in nonverbal communication theory and research.

535 Communication Competence (3) This course examines what it means to be a highly competent communicator. Communication competence will be explored across a multitude of communication contexts including interpersonal, organizational, intercultural, and leadership contexts.

551 Public Relations Research and Writing (3) Familiarizes students with the skills needed to work as a public relations writer and editor. Explores applicable media theories as well as ethical and legal issues.

570 Conceptual Foundations for Communication, Training, and Development (3) This course examines major schools of thought in organizational training and development. Each viewpoint is explored for its diagnostic guidance, learning implications, and training technologies.

571 Practicum in Communication, Training, and Development (3) Participants will review and practice the leading training technologies in communication and organizational development. Each participant will design and deliver a training workshop.

575 Seminar on Speech Pedagogy (3) An examination of pedagogical research on the development of effective public speakers. Provides opportunities for both training speakers and critiquing public presentations.

598 Graduate Internship in Communication Studies (3-6) Supervised professional training in approved communication placements. PREREQ: Approval of department chairperson.

599 Directed Graduate Studies (3) Research projects, reports, readings in speech communication. PREREQ: Approval of department chairperson.

601 Communication Studies Thesis I (3) Original research, supervised through topic selection, investigation, and oral defense. PREREQ: Approval of department chair.

602 Communication Studies Thesis II (3) Original research, supervised through IRB approval (if necessary), data collection, analysis, writing results, writing thesis chapters, and defense. PREREQ: COM 601.