Master of Arts in Communication (MA) Curriculum
The Master's program in Communication is a professional degree program designed to relate theory and practice. While this is a professional program, the foundations in research and theory offered also equip graduates to pursue doctoral studies in the Communication-related field. This accelerated 30 credit Master's is a hybrid program, blending on-ground courses with select online offerings for increased flexibility. A required core of classes provides foundations in communication research, theory, and ethics.
Students may select one of three tracks to pursue a specialization in: Health Communication, Environmental Communication, or Strategic Communication. These unique tracks provide depth in defined content areas to cultivate expertise and provide necessary skills and knowledge relevant to the specialization.
Curriculum and Courses:
The Masters of Arts in Communication program consists of a core of five courses (15 credits), one specific concentration, and six credits of electives.
(5 required courses - 15 credit hours) - required in all three concentrations:
COM525 Communications Research and Theory
Course provides an overview of the major theoretical and research developments in the communications discipline. The emphasis will be on the application of theory to practice and on applied research. Topics include quantitative and qualitative research methods, research ethics, and the history of development of communication theories.
3 COM528 Risk and Crisis Communications
Students acquire an understanding of crisis management and risk communication. Course topics include public opinion research, data collection and analysis, crisis and risk management theory, and communication tactics and strategies. Students develop case studies relating to their areas of professional interest.
3 COM625 Communications Campaigns
Students explore the use of communication campaigns to reduce health risks and promote public health and awareness. Course prepares students to develop, implement, and assess health campaigns. Drawing on health behavior theory and communication research and theory, students work on case studies and develop original campaigns employing multiple commuication channels.
3 COM675 Communication Law & Ethics
Course provides an examination of the legal and ethical dimensions of communications. The historical development of media law is covered, altheough emphasis is placed on contemporary legal issues. Students explore complex ethical challenges facing media practitioners through case studies, exercises and class discussions.
3 COM685 Communications Project
This is the capstone project for all students in the Master's in Communications program. This applied learning experience bulids upon previous coursework. Students develop a major project designed to meet their professional interests. The project will demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills gained throughout the program.
COM515 Environmental Communications
Course offers an overview of environmental communications providing an analysis of how individuals, institutions and corporations describe and portray our interactions with the environment. Discussion topics include environmental discourse, environmental conflicts, risk communication, environmental disasters, environmental social movements, and the nature-society relationship.
3 SUS580 Sustainable Behavior Change
This hybrid course combines classroom and online instruction with real-world application. Students learn the latest science concerning sources of environmental degradation. In teams, students apply motivational theory, collect secondary and primary data, and develop an action plan for increasing pro-environmental behaviors (PEB) in a specific context.
3 And one of the following: SUS502 Sustainability and Systems
In this course, students will develop skills necessary to understand, describe, and communicate complex systems. Working from examples, exercise and interactive discussions, students will learn to identify key drivers and leverage points for change. Students will learn to solicit useful information, model, and enact change using a various systems-based tools.
3 SUS504 Foundations of Sustainability
This course provides students the skills to understand, communicate, and critique the fundamentals of sustainability at multiple scales and across disciplines and cultures. It explores sustainability's origins and foundations, application, and assessment. We evaluate the inter-relationships among environmental, societal, and economic well-being and the implications on individual and social decision-making.
3 SUS590 Careers in Sustainability
This is a graduate level course that will contribute to the mission of SSE in training students in the theories, applications, and assessment of sustainability in a broad range of contexts.
3 SUS603 Sustainability: Ethics, Equity, Justice
This course focuses on the role of the "social" as one of the three pillars of sustainability. It explores historic and contemporary notions of ethics, social equity and social justice. It examines how these concepts can be applied to sustainability by studying local and global case studies.
3 SUS611 Decision Making Under Uncertainty
The application of design principles to data provides a bridge between the increasing volume of information that we encounter everyday to evidence-based, decision-making toward sustainable systems. This course provides a hands-on introduction to data analysis, data visualization techniques, and software for translating complexity and uncertainty into useful products.
3 SUS624 New Media, Science, & Society
Digital photography, the world wide web, and social media have changed the options for communicating scientific knowledge to, and co-creating knowledge with, broader audiences. Taking a Rachel Carson 2.0 approach focused on photojournalism and multimedia, students will develop skills to visually communicate evidence-based connections between the environment and health.
3 SUS640 Sustainable Community Development
This course explores how people can engage in creating more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities at multiple scales, from the local to the regional. The reading and assignments emphasize sustainable planning theory and practice as well as sustainable food systems perspectives. Students will engage in practice-based research and community projects.
COM510 Health Communications
Course provides an introduction to the essential concepts and theories of health communication. Students study how individuals understand health issues and how communication processes help shape and influcence our acceptance of health-related messages. Topics include health literacy, media coverage of health issues, and health risk communications.
3 BUS511 Health Policy & Advocacy
Analyze and synthesize innovative approaches to issues in health care delivery at all levels. Politics, policy, market forces, and advocacy are used to assess how system approaches affect health care delivery. Transformational leadership for political and policy activism are emphasized, while exploring regional, national, and global health issues and trends.
3 OR BUS551 Informatics in Healthcare
This course is designed to assist the student in understanding the various database systems used within a healthcare setting. Key to this course is understanding how healthcare professionals can collect and extract data from database systems to assess the organizations performance and impact on patient outcomes.
3 PWR632 Science and Environmental Writing
This course focuses on the practice of writing about science, environment, medicine, and technology for audiences ranging from the general public to scientists and engineers. It starts with basic science writing for lay audiences, emphasizing organization and clear writing techniques and also explores problems of conveying highly complex technical information to multiple audiences, factors that influence science communication to the public, and interactions between scientists and journalists.
COM550 Organizational Communications
Course covers current theory and research in the area of organizational communications. Includes formal and informal organizations and public and private organizations. Topics include organizational culture, employee information needs, decision making, leadership and power. Emphasis will be placed on developing the analytical tools to analyze and improve organizational communications.
3 COM518 Strategic Communications
Course provides an overview of concepts, tactics and skills employed in strategic internal and external communications. Students learn how to determine the communications objective(s), define the target audience(s) and stakeholders, and develop key messages to improve strategic communications.
3 COM610 Media and Social Change
Course focus is on the relationship between media and social change. It examines the way various entities have employed mass media, the Internet, mobile media, and social networks to prompt social change. Topics include social marketing, persuation and influence, community engagement, strategic philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility.
3 OR PWR621 Use of New and Social Media
This course seeks to give students the skills and confidence to create interesting and informative digital presentations based on simple presentation design and delivery options.
All students will round out their program of study with 6 credits of electives.