Master of Arts in Communication

Message from the Director

Dear Prospective Student,

Welcome and thank you for your interest in graduate studies in the Department of Communication at Fairfield University! Our Master’s program invites you to gain specialized knowledge in communication with the help of our comprehensive curriculum and our expert faculty.

In your own personal and professional experience, you have corroborated the centrality of communication to every aspect of life. Yet, being a skilled communicator requires not only practical skills but also, and perhaps more importantly, an ability to discern underlying processes affecting all levels of human interaction: interpersonal, organizational, mediated, and intercultural. Through our course offerings, students are equipped with the tools to thrive in today’s top careers, as well as in those which have not yet been envisioned.

A graduate degree in communication must go beyond current trends and technologies to cultivate students’ capabilities to adapt to a constantly changing world. This is precisely our program’s focus. We offer both applied knowledge and in-depth exploration of broader theoretical implications to help you distinguish fad and contingency from substance and essence in these complex times.

Grounded in social justice and multidisciplinary inquiry, our program prepares students with a solid theoretical, methodological, and ethical foundation. This, in turn, allows students to pursue their individual interests within communication.

The 21st century is the Age of Communication. Join us to explore the multiple, fascinating possibilities that a career in communication opens for you. 
 

Audra K. Nuru, Ph.D
Director of the MA in Communication Program

Requirements

To earn the Master of Arts degree in Communication, students complete the following:

CO 0400Communication Philosophies, Theories, and Research Traditions3
CO 0420Communication Research Design and Methodologies3
CO 0440Ethics and Communication3
Select 7 elective courses in Communication 121
Select one of the following:6
Thesis Proposal
and Thesis Research
Project Proposal
and Independent Project
Total Credits36
1

Students take seven courses, focusing on communication, theoretical and research traditions, communication processes, applications, and allied coursework in related areas. Two of the seven electives can be approved graduate courses in other disciplines. In addition, students may take one Independent Study course, CO 0598, and/or one Internship course, CO 0498. Students design their curriculum in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

Thesis or Independent Project

The program culminates in an independent research exploration of some scope and originality, completed under the close supervision of a Communication Department faculty member and a second faculty reader. At the outset, the student chooses a topic and provides a prospectus and literature review. The research typically results in a thesis, but proposals for more individualized and creative projects are welcome. Theses or projects must be completed within one year of their registration.

Communication Faculty Research Interests Include

  • Alternative Mass Media
  • Children’s Media
  • Communication for Social Change
  • Communication Research Design and Methodologies
  • Comparative Media Systems
  • Conflict Communication
  • Crisis Communication
  • Cultivation Theory
  • Distance Education
  • e-Government
  • Economics of Information
  • Gender-Related Issues in Communication
  • Global Media Systems
  • Group Decision-Making
  • Health Communication
  • Health Education
  • Healthcare Advertising
  • Healthcare Organizational Communication
  • Healthcare Provider Education
  • Instructional Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • International Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Mass Media and Popular Culture
  • Media Criticism
  • Media Effects
  • Media Institutions
  • Negotiation and Management
  • New Media Technologies
  • Organizational Communication
  • Organizational Rhetoric
  • Public Opinion
  • Public Relations
  • Risk Communication
  • Social Uses/Effects of the Media
  • Spiritual Communication
  • Training and Consulting
  • Written Communication

CO 0400 Communication Philosophies, Theories, and Research Traditions3 Credits

This class is designed to provide an introduction for the graduate student to the diverse and voluminous research in the area of human communication. As such, it covers an extremely wide range of intellectual, scientific, and historical material. It is a survey course, but we will deal with selected areas in depth. This course will not only introduce the areas of human communication theory and research, but it will also introduce the process of theorizing and thinking about communication. Therefore, the nature of theory, research, and intellectual inquiry is an important part of this course.

CO 0410 Perspectives and Theories in Organizational Communication3 Credits

This course is intended to highlight organizations and how they are created, maintained and changed through social interaction. Communicating by organizational members is essentially organizing. The course examines organizational communication from both functional and constructivist perspectives.

CO 0420 Communication Research Design and Methodologies3 Credits

A detailed review of research methods and procedures relevant to measuring the phenomena and characteristics of human communication behavior in a variety of contexts and relationships. Quantitative, qualitative, and critical approaches are reviewed and practiced in course projects. Applications of research methods to describing and evaluating communication are studied.

CO 0430 Written Communication3 Credits

Explores how written communication by its very nature is drastically different from verbal and other nonverbal forms of communication. Considers the effect a printable form of communication has on the message, the sender and receiver, and the potential legal issues associated with written communication. This course focuses on the impact of written messages for intrapersonal, interpersonal, small group, organizational, intercultural, and mass media communication. Examines the historical transformation in content, style, and perception from letters, memos, and notes to the evolving electronic formats for written communication including: e-mails, blogs, chat rooms, e-networking/e-cultures, wikis, etc.

CO 0431 Media Law and Institutions3 Credits

The course concentrates on the legal and economic environment of U.S. mass media. Topics include examination of major doctrines of media law, organization and operation of individual media industries, the economic structure of U.S. media markets, the role of media watchdogs and advocacy organizations, as well as media users' forms of collective action. The course's content is approached through an institutional analysis perspective, intended to facilitate students' understanding of institutions as dynamic points of confluence for organizations, norms, and individual agents. As part of the course's requirements, students conduct a research project exploring recent developments in media regulation and/or decision-making processes within one of the major media institutions covered during the semester.

CO 0440 Ethics and Communication3 Credits

Coursework includes a comprehensive overview of the development of ethics from ancient to contemporary thought and practices. Emphasis is placed on the ethical agenda, problems, and responsibilities of contemporary organizations in diverse cultures. Case studies and student research focus on contemporary issues in the ethical communicative performance. The relationship between Jesuit philosophy and applied communication work in organizations is also explored.

CO 0448 Health Risk Communication3 Credits

This is a one-week, predominantly face-to-face course that includes online interactions. This course examines the theories and research that underlie the study of health risk communication and behaviors. The primary purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of how communication impacts our assessment of health risk behaviors, critical thinking, the creation of preventive programs, and outcomes. This course will evaluate and explore the multidimensional processes involved in researching the communication of risky behaviors and how organizations can utilize health communication theory to develop appropriate campaigns and assess their success or failure.

CO 0497A Gender and Organizing3 Credits

Gender is central to how we organize our lives. The way we communicate about gender can enhance or undermine all of our relationships. The purpose of this seminar is to augment, or even change, our understanding of the relationship between gender, communication, and organizations. Specifically, the goal for this course is to use a combination of scholarly essays and journal articles as well as popular news media to examine critically topics such as femininity, masculinity, and sexuality within the following contexts: education, sports, politics/government, leadership, the military, and other professions and organizations. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0323.

CO 0497B Risk Communication3 Credits

Risk Communication examines the communication theories and research that underlie the study of risky behaviors and the development of effective responses to perceived risks. This course provides an understanding of how communication impacts our assessment of risk, critical thinking and policy making about risk prevention and response, and the creation of preventive programs and campaigns. Students will evaluate and explore the multidimensional processes involved in researching and responding to sustained risks or emergency situations, utilize communication theory to develop appropriate campaigns, and assess their success or failure. Topics may focus on health and environmental risks, security, or disaster response. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0348.

CO 0497C Technoculture and Information Society3 Credits

This course explores phenomena, trends, and theories related to emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as relationships among those technologies, socio-economic structures, "old" media institutions, media users, and culture. Through a combination of theoretical and practical explorations that emphasize historical, ethical, and critical thinking, the course introduces students to academic and non-academic perspectives on new media. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0342.

CO 0497D End of Life Communication3 Credits

This course focuses on the only reality for every human being: death. However, in spite of its certainty, American culture tends to minimize or ignore discussions of death and provides little insight into effective communication strategies for healthcare providers, family members, friends, and lovers. The complexities of this unique communication will be assessed vis-à-vis an applied approach that includes a service-learning opportunity at a 51-bed hospice. In addition, the course will include self-reflection, autoethnography, an exploration of scholarly research in palliative communication, and scholarly interaction between students in the classroom and the hospice setting. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0341.

CO 0497E Comparative Media Systems3 Credits

This course provides a comparative overview of the economic and regulatory structure of media industries worldwide. By exploring the ways in which different institutional frameworks, structural factors, and audiences' agency affect mass communication within and across regional borders, this course offers a comprehensive picture of common and interdependent processes underlying the individual development of media industries in each region. Students learn about emerging market and research trends concerning international media. Issues related to free flow of messages, social responsibility, universal access, intellectual commons, participatory communication, developmental communication, and cultural diversity in the global exchange of media messages through discussion of current, real-life cases, as well as through design and execution of an original research project. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0334.

CO 0497F Organizational Communication and Advertising3 Credits

This course will highlight how organizations market, promote, and advertise their brands. The importance of advertising for organizations, consumers, and the U.S. economy will also be a central focus of this class. Furthermore, the critical roles of research, audience analysis, persuasion, and effective communication in altering consumers' perceptions will be explored from both theoretical and applied perspectives. The value of deconstructing ads from a consumer, brand manager, and advertiser's viewpoint will be stressed and explored. In addition, the historical and contemporary ethical implications of advertising, especially in health care and for children, will be closely examined. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0325.

CO 0497G Globalization, Media, and Culture3 Credits

Globalization, a complex and transformative process that influences our lives at every level, has produced the increased flow of goods, capital, people, knowledge, images, crime, pollutants, drugs, fashion, viruses, and beliefs across territorial and ideological boundaries of all kinds. This course focuses on the role of communication media (radio, television, film, computers) in the processes of globalization and examines the impact of globalization on cultural representations, cultural identity, and international relations. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0335.

CO 0497H Visual Communication3 Credits

This course provides a broad introduction to the structure, conventions, and effects of visual communication with a theoretical emphasis on media ecology. The first half is devoted to understanding formal properties including examining the basics of vision, techniques for visual persuasion, and the language of cinematography and editing. The second half surveys more controversial issues like digital manipulation and violence and sex in media. Course material and assignments will be drawn from media domains including advertising, photo/video journalism, and video games. Students will read both theoretical contributions to and empirical investigations of the field. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0337.

CO 0497I Media Audiences3 Credits

This course has three related aims: to introduce the theoretical and academic study of media audiences, to introduce students to qualitative field research methods, and to prepare students to engage with the current media industry through an examination of applied audience research. Recognizing that the study of media audiences is an important theoretical as well as practical endeavor, we will consider how audiences have been studied historically, in the academy, and within media industries. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0338.

CO 0497J Crisis Communication3 Credits

This course discusses key concepts, principles, and best practices of crisis communication. Intersections with other areas of the communication field will also be addressed, including public relations and organizational and risk communication. Students will understand the role strategic communication, power, stakeholders, and organizational culture play during a crisis. This course analyzes case studies of previous crises and will ask students to provide their own plans and critical assessments of recent crises. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0324.

CO 0497K Ethics and Medical Marketing Communication3 Credits

This course will explore the dialectical tensions between the need for safe and effective products/services and the expectations for corporations to generate profits and dividends for their stakeholders. This course will use an applied ethics lens to examine the organizational, marketing, advertising, and corporate communication to clients, consumers, vendors, and investors.The content and ethical implications of marketing communication (from a variety of organizational perspectives: healthcare, economics, cultural, etc.) on expected and unintended outcomes will also be discussed and analyzed. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0343.

CO 0497L Social Media3 Credits

At the turn of the millennium, social media was still an unknown term; today, it is inescapably altering the landscape of our world and our lives in complex ways. This course examines social media by historicizing what is timeless about it and charting its new frontiers for humankind. Through a mix of scholarly, journalistic, and professional industry readings on social media, we will explore how culture, community, and identity are being reshaped alongside politics, business, and (what was once called) the mass communication industry. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0336.

CO 0497M Communication Processes in Organizations: Negotiation3 Credits

This course reviews and explores, through simulation and experiential learning, negotiation as a communication process in and among organizations. It focuses on core concepts and approaches to negotiation, and exercises the negotiative process in a contemporary context. In this course, which is open to majors and minors in communication and other disciplines related to the study of humans and their organizations in the work world, participants carry out individual and team work, and contribute on time and proportionately to team preparations and class simulations. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0321.

CO 0497N Relational Communication3 Credits

Close relationships can bring us a great deal of joy, happiness, and love, but unfortunately they can also be sources of frustration, pain, and conflict. This course is designed to help us understand the critical role of communication in developing, maintaining, and terminating close relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family members. The course examines the most current research and theory on a variety of topics that are central to understanding and maintaining close relationships, with a focus on attraction, attachment, conflict, power, emotion, transgression, reconciliation, and termination. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0345.

CO 0497O Conflict Communication3 Credits

Conflict is a natural part of human life that has a variety of potential consequences. Although conflict can be disruptive and destructive, it can also be constructive and lead to improved adjustment and better decisions. The course is designed to offer you opportunities to enhance and improve your techniques and skills in managing conflict and moving them in a productive direction. The course examines the dynamics of human conflict across a variety of settings from personal relationships to the workplace, with special attention to the communication processes that escalate, manage, and mediate conflict. Undergraduate equivalent: CO 0340.

CO 0497P Interracial Communication3 Credits

This course explores current trends in literature on the topics of race relations, communication styles and patterns, communication theory, and the social construction of race along with its influence on how individuals from different races communicate. Throughout the course, up-to-date issues that surface locally and nationally in the media that illustrate the relevance of improved interracial communication will be addressed through class discussion and linked to course assignments. Using case studies to explore interracial exchanges in close relationships, at the workplace, and reflected in social media, students will link theory with practical applications in an effort to better understand interracial communication.

CO 0498 Communication Practicum3 Credits

Communication Practicum is a semester-long internship or other type of placement carried out by graduate students in Communication in local, national or inter-national contexts. These placements are determined in conjunction with, and carried out under the supervision of, a faculty member. Practicums allow students to gain professional experience; where possible these activities should relate directly to thesis projects and other long-term academic interests. Students must commit to a minimum of 120 hours at an approved work site (internships cannot be done at a student's place of employment) and are also responsible for completing additional academic requirements.

CO 0500 Interpersonal Communication3 Credits

This course is a critical examination of the major theories of interpersonal communication and an exploration of interpersonal communication research in relational and organizational contexts. Student projects will use social science research methods to examine factors influencing interpersonal communication such as language, perception, nonverbal behavior, power, status, and gender roles.

CO 0502 Small Group and Team Communication3 Credits

This course is a study of the communication dimensions and dynamics of small groups, teams, and networks of organizational actors. Coursework and projects focus on interpersonal processes and structures for tasking and relating effectively in organizational settings. The special characteristics of virtual team and technology-enhanced decision-making work are investigated.

CO 0522 Communication and Organizational Leadership3 Credits

This course focuses on the communication behaviors that constitute leadership. Models explore interpersonal influence, power in organizations, leading decision-making teams and task-oriented groups, and developing situational leadership skills. Early and contemporary research perspectives on leadership are reviewed and critically analyzed. Student projects include case studies and reviews of role-model leaders.

CO 0524 Negotiation and Conflict Management: Communication Approaches3 Credits

This course explores a selection of conflict situations with particular emphasis on organizational and community settings. Theoretical exploration focuses on the nature of conflict, and negotiation and dialogue as communication processes. The course privileges win-win and dialogic approaches and provides experiential learning in simulations in which teams of students negotiate detailed and practicable outcomes for resolving contemporary organizational and societal problems.

CO 0528 Professional Rhetoric and Presentations3 Credits

This course focuses on developing and practicing written and oral presentations for professional settings. Coursework includes reviewing strategies and tactics for enhancing interpersonal and social influence through the development of sound reasoning skills, audience analysis techniques, use of source materials, effective extemporaneous delivery, and the appropriate use of technological support within the organizational setting. Additional applications are considered for scholarly, scientific, policy, and public arenas. The course requires the preparation, practice, and critical assessment of several written and oral presentations.

CO 0530 Media Theory and Criticism3 Credits

This course introduces graduate students in Communication to the study of media in the US. It focuses on the major theoretical trajectories that have shaped the field, empirical research that has emerged as canonical, and contemporary critical approaches that inform not just how we study media as scholars, but also how we understand media as consumers.

CO 0532 Nonprofit Media3 Credits

This course focuses on public relations, advertising and marketing strategies for nonprofit and public service organizations. The course begins with a broad overview of media industries and the changing landscape of media technologies and then considers how nonprofit and other public service organizations can best leverage resources to effectively communicate with intended audiences. Both theoretical and practical, this course provides graduate students with historical understandings of how media industries are organized and how not for profit organizations interface with profit-driven media businesses. Special attention is paid to how social media platforms and other digital technologies impact communication strategies.

CO 0535 Globalization, Communication, and Culture3 Credits

Globalization has produced the increased flow of goods, capital, people, knowledge, images, crime, pollutants, drugs, fashion, viruses, and beliefs across territorial and ideological boundaries of all kinds. This course is focused on organizational communication in a global economic environment and helps students prepare for cross-cultural management issues, decision-making for multinational organizational effectiveness, and a consideration of global economic and labor issues.

CO 0537 New Media Studies3 Credits

The digital and social media that have emerged in the past decade are reshaping our world in profound ways - this course explores those developments in light of both extended history and the contemporary moment. Through a mix of scholarly and journalistic readings, we will inquire into the ways in which culture, community, and identity are undergoing change alongside marketing, politics, and the "mass" communication industries. Our focus will include a wide variety of new media platforms, practices, and issues drawn from social networking, mobile, and online content, as we cultivate a critical lens on society's increasing digitalization (and its discontents.

CO 0539 Advertising and Consumer Communication3 Credits

This course takes a critical look at the intersection of consumer culture, advertising, marketing and communication. This course also considers the history of advertising, marketing and public relations in the US as a starting point for better understanding of contemporary practices in these fields. Central in this examination is a consideration of how race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality often map (and are mapped onto) specific consumption patterns. Further, this course examines how advertising and related communication practices happen within a specific political-economic environment and how technology is quickly changing how theory translates into practice in these fields. While advertising, marketing and public relations are undoubtedly a part of our consumer culture, this course is not exclusively about how to "do" these activities, but rather how these communication practices impact our culture. Finally this course will ask students to critically reflect on consumption in terms of global, environmental and labor concerns.

CO 0540 Intercultural Communication3 Credits

This course examines the relationship between communication behavior and cultural factors such as nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, class, sexuality, and religion. We will focus on cross-cultural sense-making, relationships, problem-solving, and organizing with particular application to business, education, and health care encounters. The course reviews the social science research of variations in normative communication behavior, as well as the theoretical approaches to understanding the relationship between worldview/cultural values and preferred communication practices. Examples will be used from a variety of nations, as well as those within the diverse cultural landscape of contemporary United States.

CO 0545 Race, Identity, and Representation3 Credits

Rooted in a constitutive approach to communication, this course advances the notion that identities are not bound within the self, but rather, are socially negotiated through communication practices and are situated firmly in cultural and historical settings. Specifically, this course examines how racial identities emerge, reform, and are redirected through discourse. In addition to exploring how racial categorizations are socially constructed, this course attends to contemporary representations of race within media, education, and health care systems. Further, students in this course will interrogate social issues involving structural inequality, privilege, power, and hegemony.

CO 0547 Healthcare Organizational Communication3 Credits

This course examines the processes and complexities of modern healthcare organizations (hospitals, nursing homes, insurers, associations, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, non-profits, marketing, advertising, and PR firms, provider education institutions, etc.). The primary purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of how communication within, to, and from healthcare organizations impacts the company, its employees, stakeholders, customers, federal and local governments, and U.S. healthcare delivery. This course will evaluate and explore the multidimensional processes utilized by healthcare organizations and how communication is critical to their successes or failures and to the health and well being of their customers.

CO 0548 Health Communication3 Credits

Communicating to people about health has become oneof the most active areas of communication research and practice. This course focuses on the theory and practice of communication in health settings. Topics covered include doctor-patient communication, health campaigns, effects of media on health, intercultural issues in health communication and risk communication in relation to health practices.

CO 0559 Special Topics in Communication Research3 Credits

This course is taught when a particular faculty member has a compelling proposal for a topic that has been approved by the department. Preference will be given to topics related to contemporary issues or to a current faculty research project.

CO 0560 Thesis Proposal3 Credits

This course operates as an independent study experience under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the secondary supervision of one additional faculty reader. Each proposal and thesis should have a total of two readers, the faculty advisor and one additional reader from the Communication Department who has taught the student. At the student's request, a faculty member from another department who has taught the student in a graduate course could serve as a third reader. In unusual circumstances (e.g., a conflict between the faculty advisor and the second reader) a third reader would be assigned by the Graduate Program Director. The thesis will be orally presented to the faculty.

CO 0561 Thesis Research3 Credits

This course operates as an independent study experience under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the secondary supervision of one additional faculty reader. Each proposal and thesis should have a total of two readers, the faculty advisor and one additional reader from the Communication Department who has taught the student. At the student's request, a faculty member from another department who has taught the student in a graduate course could serve as a third reader. In unusual circumstances (e.g., a conflict between the faculty advisor and the second reader) a third reader would be assigned by the Graduate Program Director. The thesis will be orally presented to the faculty.

CO 0562 Continuing Thesis Research3 Credits

CO 0570 Project Proposal3 Credits

This course operates as an independent study experience under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the secondary supervision of one additional faculty reader. Each proposal and project should have a total of two readers, the faculty advisor and one additional reader from the Communication Department who has taught the student. At the student's request, a faculty member from another department who has taught the student in a graduate course could serve as a third reader. In unusual circumstances (e.g., a conflict between the faculty advisor and the second reader) a third reader would be assigned by the Graduate Program Director. The project will be presented to the faculty and should have some kind of public presentation or impact.

CO 0571 Independent Project3 Credits

This course operates as an independent study experience under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the secondary supervision of one additional faculty reader. Each proposal and project should have a total of two readers, the faculty advisor and one additional reader from the Communication Department who has taught the student. At the student's request, a faculty member from another department who has taught the student in a graduate course could serve as a third reader. In unusual circumstances (e.g., a conflict between the faculty advisor and the second reader) a third reader would be assigned by the Graduate Program Director. The project will be presented to the faculty and should have some kind of public presentation or impact.

CO 0572 Continuing Project3 Credits

CO 0598 Independent Study3 Credits

Prerequisites: Graduate Director's approval and a communication faculty member's sponsorship.

This course allows students to thoroughly investigate communication concepts, theories, or issues presented in a previously completed graduate communication course. Independent study does not substitute for any other required course(s) in the graduate program and students' investigations must be scholarly in intent. An independent study may be taken only once.

Professors in the program are full-time Communication Department faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Professor

Zhang, Chair

Associate Professor

Pagano
Wills

Assistant Professor

Iddins
Nuru, Program Director
Rugg
Ryan