The master of arts (M.A.) in communication and rhetorical studies 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.

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Our 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.

Areas of Specialty

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:

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.

Meet the students

Faculty and Alumni Accomplishments

The relatively small communication and rhetorical studies faculty has produced numerous books, articles in refereed academic journals, and book chapters. They have national and international reputations as scholars, teachers, and mentors, and our M.A. program is considered by most in the discipline to be the best in the nation.

CRS faculty and graduate students have earned a notably high number of research awards and competitive grants, commensurate in quantity and quality with the most prestigious doctoral-level faculty and graduate students in our field. Faculty honors and awards have been received in the following categories:

  • Scholarly recognition from the National Communication Association (NCA), our leading professional organization, in the form of multiple book and article awards; multiple former Wallace Memorial and New Investigator Award winners, recognizing early-career scholars teaching and mentorship awards; and distinguished scholar/ship awards. Faculty have also received multiple scholarship and teaching awards at the regional and state level.
  • Fulbright, NEH, and Humanities Fellowships at University of Malaysia, Punjab University, Syracuse University, Massey University, and Vanderbilt University, and visiting faculty appointments.
  • Competitive internal and external research grants.
  • Other distinctions include a Meredith Teaching Professorship; multiple faculty, service, or teaching awards from VPA and the University.

The faculty has also distinguished itself in the prestigious disciplinary organizational positions they have held, including the presidency of the Rhetoric Society of America; National Communication Association Publications Board membership and divisional chairpersons; and book review editorships. Charles E. Morris III, professor and chair of the department, co-founded the journal QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking at the invitation of Michigan State University Press, now beginning its third year of publication. Finally, our faculty features board members on multiple elite journals inside and outside the discipline.


Our curriculum has earned national and international honors based on a proven record of scholarly and pedagogical excellence in rhetoric, critical/cultural studies, and discourse analysis.

View full curriculum for the M.A. in CRS.