University of Southern Indiana

Course Descriptions

Master of Arts in Communication Course Descriptions

COMM 502 Gender, Communication, and Culture (Co-offered as CMST 502) (3) This course provides cognitive and experiential approaches to gender and communication.  Students will read and discuss a number of theoretical principles, then explore how those principles “transfer” to real world contexts.  This class examines gender identity and the relationship gender has to our institutions—media, business & industry, government agencies, and healthcare and educational organizations.

COMM 601 Foundations of Communication Theory (3) The course examines the philosophical bases and nature of theory construction in human and mediated communication through an intensive study of theoretical paradigms and models. The course examines contemporary theories and explores the bases of those theories.

COMM 602 Qualitative Research Methods in Communication (3) This course is designed to provide a reasonably comprehensive overview of qualitative inquiry within the communication discipline. We will examine some of the theoretical underpinnings of doing research, but more importantly, students will become equipped with pragmatic tools essential to conducting human communication research.

COMM 603 Quantitative Research Methods in Communication (3) Students will be introduced to basic issues of research design, methodology, and statistical analyses. This course will emphasize the scientific approach to understanding how research methods apply to areas of communication research. The course is designed to develop the tools a student will utilize in one's career as a communication practitioner or a researcher. Students will find that many of these tools will also apply to their daily lives.

COMM 604 Contemporary Rhetorical Criticism (3) This course is a graduate seminar in the practice of rhetorical criticism. Rhetorical criticism examines the process of how we communicate with symbols and the various techniques used by rhetors. Students analyze how symbolic artifacts (films, speeches, images, words, performances, and "discourse" in general) act on people. that is, how does a text inform, entertain, arouse, or persuade an audience? Students explore various rhetorical theories and methods, including new-Aristotelian, ideological, narrative, generic, metaphoric, and feminist approaches.

COMM 610 Seminar in Interpersonal Communication (3) Introduction to the many ways that we, as human beings, communicate in and about interpersonal relationships. This seminar has been designed to integrate numerous theoretical and methodological perspectives on interpersonal communication in order to give students a broader scope of how interpersonal messages and interpersonal communication processes are enacted, mediated, conceptualized, and studied. Students will read and analyze how messages are communicated and interpreted in interpersonal contexts. Through studying these diverse interpersonal communication processes, students should become more aware of how these processes influence and impact each other. Repeatable with topic changes.

COMM 611 Communication and Personal Relationships (3) Introduction to the contemporary research, topics, theories, and methodologies of communication and personal relationships. In this course, students will explore interpersonal communication in a variety of contexts including, but not limited to: (a) marital communication and relational satisfaction, (b) dialogic communication in romantic relationships, (c) family communication systems, (d) friend and social network systems, (e) disclosure of private information, (f) relational dialectics, and (g) problematic/abusive behavior within interpersonal communication. This course will focus on current research trends in the area, paradigmatic shifts in the field of personal relationships over the past decade, and how interpersonal communication scholarship lends itself to improving social interactions and communication competence in a number of venues.

COMM 612 Health Communication (3) Introduction to the many ways that we, as human beings, communicate about our health. This seminar has been designed to integrate numerous theoretical and methodological perspectives on health communication in order to give students a broader scope of how health messages and health communication processes are enacted, mediated, conceptualized, and studied. Students will read and analyze how health messages are communicated interpersonally, organizationally, rhetorically, and through the mass media. Through studying these diverse health communication processes, students should become more aware of how these processes influence and impact each other (e.g., television messages about smoking impact how people discuss tobacco use interpersonally).

COMM 613 Political Communication (3) Political communication incorporates the creation, distribution, control, use, and effects of information as a political resource. Students will explore such topics as the role of journalists and news organizations in the political system, the development and effectiveness of communication strategies in political campaigns, communication patterns and issues in international relations, and the function of communication in the politics of modern societies.  Special attention will be given to the relationship between political communication and civic discourse.

COMM 614 Interpersonal Communication in Organizations (See also PA 614) (3) This course offers a review of the research and applied approaches to organizational communication.  This course includes an examination of organizational structures, human resources, and conflict and how communication can alleviate typical interpersonal problems within organizations. Specific topics explored in this course are: emotional labor, supervisor/employee relationships, workplace bullying, workplace cliques, and organizational consulting.

COMM 615 Communication and Culture (3) This course explores the intersection between rhetoric and public culture. Traditionally, rhetoric scholarship has focused on the conception, composition, presentation and reception of messages that tend to be persuasive in nature. Scholarship in cultural studies, on the the other hand, has tended to analyze the production of meanings and how they relate to social practices. Drawing from the two fields, we will explore how different cultural texts and their meanings are produced, interpreted, and circulate. Specifically, we will investigate such issues as: ideology, hegemony, polysemy, discourse, text/context, rhetor/audience, publics, place/space, collective memory, narrative, and power. In addition, we will learn about the different research practices of rhetorical criticism and cultural ideas.

COMM 616 Performance in Social Contexts (3) This course examines the intersections between community and performance. After examining scholarly perspectives of performance and of community, we will explore the ways performance appears in our daily lives and in our community. When possible we will go into our community to observe and participate in these performances. By understanding the social and cultural contexts of performances, we become more attuned to our daily experiences and to the world that provides the social and cultural context for those experiences.

COMM 617 Instructional Communication (3) This seminar will focus on research related to communication practices in educational settings. Students will engage in research practices to understand communication concepts related to teacher and student behaviors, learning, instructional processes, instructional technology, and instructional communication theory building.

COMM 620 Special Topics in Organizational Communication (3) This seminar will center on practical concepts related to communication in organizations. Course topics include Training and Development, Assimilation, Instructional Communication, Innovation, or other topics related specifically to communication organizations. Repeatable with topic changes.

COMM 621 Advanced Public Relations (3) A capstone seminar involving case studies and problems regarding the principles and application of effective two-way communications in a variety of situations affecting the practice of public relations. This course will focus on how contemporary organizations use public relations in everyday functioning and how public relations firms or departments deal with potential or actual crises within organizations.

COMM 622 Emerging Issues in Computer-mediated Communication (3) A case-based approach in which students learn to solve problems of media-related organizations as they adapt to changes in technologies and production. Topics in this course will deal with social-networking technologies, technological power structures inherent in organizations, blogging, electronic reporting, and technology as a mechanism for international organizational functioning.

COMM 623 Telecommunications Operations: A Leadership Approach (3) This course covers two areas: 1) management of broadcast stations and cable systems, both commercial and non-commercial and 2) leadership theory and practice. Cases and topics specific to the telecommunications industry will be stressed. Topics will include management theories, functions and roles. Principles of leadership will be applied to personnel management, sales management, promotion and marketing, and program management. Different leadership approaches will be examined including, but not limited to skills approach, style approach, situational approach, and contingency theory. Culture and leadership, leadership ethics, and women and leadership will be addressed.

COMM 624 Nonprofit Advancement (3) This course explores principles of nonprofit institutional advancement (PR) and development (fund-raising). Topics covered include marketing, public relations, publications, alumni relations, annual appeal, planned giving, corporate and foundation relations, major gifts, and capital campaigns. This course examines ethical issues involved.

COMM 625 History of Mass Media (3) This course surveys the history of mass media including the evolution of media technologies, uses and practices of media dissemination, and historical effects of media on society.

COMM 626 Semiotics (3) Introduction to the use of signs, symbols and signals in communication. A systematic and systemic analysis of the meta-theory relationship between expression and perception in verbal and nonverbal communication systems. The course emphasizes the relationship of semiotics to theories such as structuralism, semantics, hermeneutics and general systems theory.

COMM 630 Advanced Mass communication Seminar (3) An advanced course dealing with a specialized topic within Mass Communication. Topics will vary on the basis of the instructor’s area of expertise and student demand. Repeatable with topic changes.

COMM 631 Organizational Rhetoric (3) This graduate seminar examines organizational communication from a rhetorical perspective. Students will investigate the communicative processes through which formal organizations influence public attitudes. Additionally, students will examine how members within organizations use persuasive methods to reinforce particular organizational values and goals, to generate collective identities, and to motivate others to work in particular ways. Students will attempt to answer questions such as: How do organizations persuade customers to purchase their products? How do they communicate with their stakeholders? How do they manage organizational crises? This course will allow students to understand how organizational members use various forms of communication, such as public relations, to accomplish their goals.

COMM 640 Independent Study in Communication (3) The Independent Study in Communication course provides students in the Master of Arts in Communication program the opportunity to conduct basic or applied research or scholarly engagement on a topic or problem in communication that is not otherwise covered in the curriculum.  Prerequisite: All topics and plans of study must be approved by the program director in conjunction with a designated instructor of record.  Repeatable with topic changes.

Download the Independent Study in Communication Form

COMM 690 Graduate Capstone Project in Communication (3-6) The capstone project requires students to collect data on an applied organizational and/or community-based issue. Students will collect and analyze their data in the same manner as they would if they were conducting thesis research, but, instead of composing an academically-oriented manuscript, the student will compose a document laying out the issue at hand, the evidence, the analysis of data, and the proposed data-based solution or outcome.

Download the Capstone Project in Communication Form

COMM 699 Master’s Thesis (3-6) Students who select the thesis option will conduct academically-oriented research in a chosen area of communication. The thesis option will enable students to grasp important theoretical, methodological, and content principles and concepts and to author a manuscript of convention and/or journal publication quality.  

Download the Master's Thesis Form

Contact Dr. Leigh Anne Howard


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