Oct 23, 2021  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    
2021-2022 Academic Catalog

Communication Studies, MA


The Master of Arts in Communication Studies, offered by the Department of Communication Studies , is a comprehensive 35-unit program that provides advanced study in the theoretical and ethical underpinnings of communication studies, the methodologies used in the study of communication, and practice in applying these concepts and methods in professional and scholarly contexts. It combines study in the areas of Intercultural Communication, Organizational Communication, Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, Rhetoric, Interpersonal and Small Group Communication, and Crisis and Conflict Resolution. By gaining a deeper understanding of the social process that is communication, our students prepare for professional careers in non-profit and corporate environments and for further graduate study. Many experience teaching at the college level through the Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) program. Our alumni continue on to doctoral programs, teaching at colleges and universities, and careers in a wide range of professions in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Information about the MA in Communication Studies and important dates can be obtained on the Department of Communication Studies website: www.sjsu.edu/comm/degrees/ma_comm.

Admissions Requirements

University Admission

Candidates must apply through the CSU admissions portal, Cal State Apply, and meet all university admission requirements . Applicants will need to apply separately to the university to obtain approval for university-level admission and to the department to obtain admission into the MA in Communication Studies.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirements webpage at GAPE. The program does not currently require the GRE for admission.

Admission to the Program

Minimum requirements for admission to the MA, Communication Studies are a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies or a related field, usually in the social sciences, humanities, or arts. A 3.0 grade point average (B or better) is desired. Depending on their level of preparation, applicants can be admitted in either classified or conditionally classified standing.

To apply for the MA in Communication Studies, follow the steps on this page: www.sjsu.edu/comm/degrees/ma_comm/apply.

Program Requirements for Admission to Classified Standing

Students can be admitted in either classified or conditionally classified standing. To be admitted to the Master of Arts in Communication Studies program in classified status, an applicant must have a grade point average of 3.0 or better in their last 60 units, and possess a baccalaureate degree in Communication Studies, or related field in the social sciences, humanities, or arts from an accredited U.S. or international university.

Program Requirements for Admission to Conditionally Classified Standing

If an applicant’s preparation for advanced graduate work is considered inadequate to meet the course prerequisites or other departmental requirements, the conditions of admission will include additional BA or MA level coursework in Communication Studies, depending on the nature of the applicant’s case. The program admissions letter will explain the terms and requirements.

Requirements for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy

Students must meet the university requirements for advancement to graduate candidacy. General university requirements for advancement to candidacy  for the MA degree are detailed in the Graduate Policies and Procedures  section. Candidacy includes the successful completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) . For Communication Studies, candidates meet the GWAR requirement by taking COMM 200R , a required course that most students take in their first semester.

Further requirements of the department for advancement to candidacy include completion of 18 units in the graduate program and submission of a culminating experience planto the department’s Graduate Coordinator. If the plan is satisfactory and the student is considered to be a potentially competent and mature practitioner, he or she will be advanced to candidacy. Students who fail to meet the expected standards will be terminated from the program.

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements  section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures .

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) 

This requirement is satisfied by passing COMM 200R .

Culminating Experience

Students in the MA, Communication Studies complete the program with a 6-unit Culminating Experience selected from three options: a master’s thesis, graduate project, or comprehensive exam.

Plan A (Thesis)

Students opting to complete a master’s thesis will take 3 units of COMM 299  in two consecutive semesters for a total of 6 units. The student is responsible for securing the commitment of a full-time tenured or tenure-track Communinations faculty member who agrees to serve as thesis committee chair. The student must also secure the commitments of two additional university faculty members, one of whom must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member, to serve as the student’s thesis committee. The student must write a thesis proposal and have it approved by the thesis committee and pass the first COMM 299  course before enrolling in the second. The thesis must meet university requirements as stipulated in this catalog and in the SJSU Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Guidelines. It will be written under the guidance of the candidate’s thesis committee chair with the assistance of the thesis committee. The candidate for the MA, Communication Studies degree must successfully pass a final oral defense of the thesis.

Plan B (Project)

Students opting to complete a graduate project will take 3 units of COMM 298  in two consecutive semesters for a total of 6 units. The student is responsible for securing the commitment of a full-time tenured or tenure-track Communicationsfaculty member who agrees to serve as a project committee chair. The student must also secure the commitments of two additional university faculty members, one of whom must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member, to serve as the student’s project committee. The student must write a project proposal and have it approved by the project committee before work on the project can begin. The student must successfully pass a final oral defense of the project.

Plan B (Comprehensive Exam)

Students opting for the courses-only option must pass the Comprehensive Exam to earn the MA, Communication Studies degree. This option requires an additional 6 units of electives selected in consultation with the graduate advisor. The exam consists of three three-hour, closed-book essay questions: one question on communication theory, one question on communication methodology, and one question on a topic of the student’s choice.

Master’s Requirements (35 units)


Electives (10 units)


10 units of 200-level courses in Communication Studies; students may take up to 6 units of 200-level courses from outside departments in consultation with graduate advisor.

Culminating Experience (6 units)


Complete One Option (Plan A Thesis, Plan B Project, Or Plan B Comp Exam)

Plan A (Thesis)


Plan B (Project)


Plan B (Comprehensive Exam)


Students selecting this option complete the Comprehensive Exam in their final year.

  • Additional 6 units of electives selected in consultation with graduate advisor 6 unit(s)

Total Units Required (35 units)


Students may take up to 6 units of graduate-level courses in programs other than Communication Studies selected in consultation with the graduate advisor and apply those units toward the MA, Communication Studies degree.

Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master’s degree is 6. Upper-division units must be linked to study abroad.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 in order to graduate.