Jun 24, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2017-2018 
Graduate Catalog | 2017-2018 Previous Edition

Communication Studies, M.A.

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies is designed to provide advanced study in the communication discipline, particularly in the areas of organizational communication, critical media and rhetorical studies, health communication, and public relations.  All studies emphasize the ability to understand and analyze communication practices in different environments in the 21st Century.  The curriculum is broad-based and is a balance of theory and application to practice.

Additional Admission Requirements

At minimum, students must meet all of the Graduate School requirements, including earning an acceptable score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and submit three letters of recommendation and a strong personal essay outlining their reasons for pursuing a master’s degree.  Students must also submit an academic writing sample.

The GRE score requirement is waived for UNC Charlotte Department of Communication Studies undergraduate students applying to the program (and applicants who previously graduated from the undergraduate program) who have a faculty sponsor who is a full-time member of the Communication Studies graduate faculty and who is able and willing to provide a recommendation for the applicant in lieu of GRE scores.

Early Entry Program

Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements.  Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies  section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts degree program requires the completion of thirty (30) credit hours of graduate work.  All students, regardless of orientation and area of study, must complete four (4) core courses.  All students writing a thesis or a directed project earn their final six (6) credit hours with research-based activities.


No more than six (6) credit hours may be taken at 5000 level. Successful completion of the degree requires a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Interest Areas

The graduate program is a generalist program, in that students don’t specialize in any one area but instead take courses through many of the interest areas. Faculty teach and conduct research across the following interest areas:

Organizational Communication

Organizational communication focuses on the various ways individuals influence and are influenced by organizations and their members. Work in organizational communication is concerned with organizational culture and symbolism, interpersonal and group communication, change communication, globalization, mediated communication, leader communication, structural concerns of organizational communication, and critical analysis of organizational communication.

Rhetoric/Media Studies/Popular Culture

Graduate study of the mass media at UNC Charlotte concentrates on applied and critical research on the organization and effects of media industries and new media technologies. Areas of study include persuasion and popular culture, computer-mediated persuasion, computer-mediated communication, and the rhetoric of spectator sport.

Health Communication

Health communication is a field of study offering students a better understanding of the communication within a health context. This includes, but is not limited to, provider-patient interaction; the creation, promotion, and influence of health information; social and community health issues; healthcare organizations; media messages about health; and interpersonal health communication.

Public Relations/International Public Relations

The focus of public relations is on building and maintaining internal and external relationships with entities essential to an organization’s success, including entities such as media, activist groups, community groups, and regulators. The focus of UNC Charlotte’s program is on public relations management, especially in the areas of issues tracking, corporate communication, crisis communication, not-for-profit communication, and international public relations efforts.

Post-Baccalaureate Study

The department does allow students to take up to six (6) credit hours as a post-baccalaureate student; students must follow the Graduate School guidelines for application for this status. Students are encouraged to meet with the Graduate Program Director as soon as possible after registering as a post-baccalaureate student to discuss application procedures and program options.


The Department has regular research/teaching assistantships available on a competitive basis to qualified students. Students will automatically be considered for an assistantship as part of the regular application process.


Upon formal acceptance, all graduate students must meet with the Graduate Program Director to file a proposed plan of study in the department and become familiar with the department’s expectations.  As students progress through their program of study, the Graduate Program Director will assist them in selecting a suitable advisor and committee members for the thesis, directed project, or comprehensive examination options.

Capstone Experiences

Students choose among three (3) options for their capstone experience: writing a thesis (6 credit hours); designing and conducting a directed project (6 credit hours); or taking the comprehensive examination (0 credit hours).


A thesis is a written research document incorporating original research in a student’s area of interest. Students select a thesis committee chair and two committee members and submit a proposal to them. The written thesis is defended before the thesis chair and committee members in the semester the student graduates. A thesis must be written and defended within six (6) calendar years after admission into the Communication Studies master’s program.

Directed Project

A directed project is an applied research document involving research and application to a real world problem or opportunity. Students select a directed project chair and two committee members and submit a project to them. The completed project is presented to the directed project chair and committee members in the semester the student graduates. A directed project must be successfully completed and presented within six (6) calendar years after admission into the Communication Studies master’s program.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is a nine-hour, written examination and oral defense covering communication theory, communication research methods, and a third comprehensive area each student designates as his/her specialty area of study in communication.  Students opting to take the comprehensive examination should indicate their intention to the Graduate Program Director in the semester previous to the one in which they plan to sit for the examination.  The examination itself carries no credit hours; students selecting this option must take six (6) additional credit hours to reach the thirty (30) hour credit requirement.  The comprehensive examination must be successfully completed within the six (6) year master’s time limit for degree completion.

Application for Degree

Each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.