The graduate program in communication and rhetorical studies (CRS) provides a vibrant and dynamic environment for students hoping to pursue further study in communication studies. Our program has a strong academic research focus and is ideal if you plan to go on to pursue doctoral-level education.
Our master of arts (M.A.) degree program features nationally and internationally prominent, award-winning faculty who balance deep roots in the discipline with interdisciplinary innovations. Its curriculum stresses theoretical and methodological diversity, close guidance and advising by faculty instructors, and high academic standards. We specialize in training M.A. candidates to thrive as teachers and scholars and to succeed at the most renowned doctoral programs in the country.
Graduate seminars and research in the CRS department offer training in the following areas, which we invite students to approach in a spirit of academic exploration and collaboration:
- Language and Social Interaction: Courses and research in this area feature work in discourse or conversation analysis that seeks to explain communication processes in many facets of human communication and interaction. Common topics include identity, family interaction, cultural or intercultural discourse, health communication, environmental deliberation, multimodality, and digital media. Other topics that our faculty and students in this area increasingly examine include environmental and health communication.
- Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies: This area uses a variety of critical, feminist, postmodern, and postcolonial perspectives to examine the relationship between communication and questions of power, equality, and social advocacy. Courses and research projects examine such specific topics as disparities in political representation, personal identity and difference, non-hierarchical organizing processes, alternative forms of public dialogue, community activism and organizing, and other social justice issues.
- Rhetorical Theory and Criticism: Coursework and research in rhetoric encompasses the history of public address, the rhetoric of political or social movements, and contemporary rhetorical theories. Work in this area focuses on the role of persuasive influence or symbolic action in public affairs across a variety of texts, sites, and modes of communication. Faculty-guided research in rhetoric includes studies of presidential address, public memory, visual rhetoric and media culture, queer theory or criticism, and continental theory.
Our M.A. program is designed to allow students to either specialize in one of these areas of research or combine them to develop their own distinctive scholarly profile. Common efforts to demonstrate the importance of communication and rhetoric to vital questions of political power, social influence, and personal identity unify instruction in all of the aforementioned topics. The M.A. degree in communication and rhetorical studies is a national leader in graduate education because it combines disciplinary traditions with interdisciplinary innovations to consistently produce student excellence.
Application deadline: February 1 for fall admission (January 1 if you are applying for a McNair Graduate Fellowship or a University African American Fellowship)