Mar 23, 2018  
2015-2016 CSU East Bay Catalog 
2015-2016 CSU East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Communication, M.A.

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The Department of Communication offers graduate study leading to the Master of Arts degree in Communication. The candidate must observe the general requirements for the Master of Arts degree stated in the Graduate/Post-Baccalaureate Admission and Degree Information  chapter in this catalog as well as specific departmental requirements stated here and more fully in the Graduate Handbook issued by the department (copies available upon request). University requirements include the 32-unit residence requirement, the 5-year rule in currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, a 3.00 GPA, and the University Writing Skills Requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at or call 510.885.3661.

The candidate is also responsible for:

  1. consulting an advisor and planning a tentative program with that advisor.
  2. completing the prerequisites to the program and all program requirements.

Important Forms

Program Description

Students who complete the Master of Arts degree in Communication will gain understanding and expertise in media studies, organizational and interpersonal communication. By enabling them to critically analyze and improve spoken and written messages, the program prepares students to play valuable roles in business, industry, government, and education; to pursue doctoral study; and to communicate effectively in day-to-day life.

The study of Communication includes theories and critical methods of rhetoric and communication, as well as critical analysis of messages as they occur within and across public, interpersonal, and organizational contexts, and across disciplines. The department focuses upon relating theory to practice in ways that recognize and explore the profound influences of ethics and cultural experience on how we communicate. Cal State East Bay’s Communication program is widely and highly regarded for its excellence in preparing business, government, teaching professionals, and Ph.D. students.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.A. in Communication will be able to:

  1. Engage critical and creative thinking toward a convergent praxis of theory and applications relevant to tensions, transitions, and transformation in the communication discipline;
  2. Develop a program of original research adding to the discovery of knowledge, theory and practical applications toward issues in the communication discipline;
  3. Demonstrate results of original research development in the communication discipline through presentation in written, oral, and mediated formats;
  4. Develop critical and cultural perspectives toward the role of the communication discipline in promoting equity, social justice, and solutions to complex problems in various communities.

Career Opportunities

Students with an M.A. in Communication are educated to speak, think, and write clearly and effectively. Because these are highly-sought-after skills, graduates are valuable employees in many jobs, including but not limited to teaching, consulting, human resources, personnel, communication training in organizations, management, banking, sales, government, and politics. The degree is also excellent preparation for Ph.D. and law degrees.

Faculty: Areas of Specialization

The graduate faculty is comprised of seven professors committed to teaching excellence and research. The faculty are well respected and are involved in professional organizations, in campus activities, and in community service.

Katherine Bell, Ph.D., University of Washington

Lonny Brooks, Ph.D. 2004, University of California, San Diego; M.L.I.S. 1995, University of California, Los Angeles: organizational communication, information technologies, critical ethnography, communication theory and research

Mary Cardaras, Ph.D., Northeastern University

Grant Kien, Ph.D., 2006, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, M.A., 2002, York University: technography, technology and organizational/social change, digital media and culture, qualitative research, globalization.

Sally Murphy, Ph.D. 1986, University of Minnesota; M.A. 1975, University of New Mexico: conversation analysis, research methods, persuasion theory, communication theory, teaching speech communication-on reassignment to General Education

Robert Terrell, Ph.D., 1978 University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1973, U.C. Berkeley: mass communication, journalism, photojournalism, media and social justice.

Terry West, Ph.D., 1994, Southern Illinois University, M.A., 1985, Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University): communication education, argumentation, critical thinking, persuasion, forensics, debate.

Gale Young, Ph.D. 1978, University of California, Los Angeles; M.A. 1970, University of California, Los Angeles: intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, communication theory

Areas of Emphasis

Students in the department take regularly-offered seminars and upper division courses in organizational communication, interpersonal communication, media studies, and intercultural communication. In addition, students may choose among special-topics seminars, upper division courses, and independent study. Advisors work with students to create programs of study that meet their goals.


Teaching Associates: Qualified students may be granted opportunities to teach, to assist in forensics, or to assist a professor on a project. To be eligible for consideration in teaching COMM 1000  and/or COMM 1004 , students must show satisfactory achievement in COMM 6250  (Teaching Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication), successful completion of specified coursework, and must have mentored with a faculty member in the course(s) they wish to teach. Interested students should consult with the Graduate Coordinator or the department Chair.

Communication Laboratory: In addition to classroom study of interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, and public communication, we sponsor a Communication Laboratory open to the campus community that provides communication-related support services. Upper division Communication majors and graduate students serve as tutors who help students research, organize, outline, and deliver oral presentations. Students are encouraged to volunteer in the Lab to gain valuable teaching experience and to serve other students. Graduate students may also serve as paid lab assistants.

The Pioneer, the University’s weekly student newspaper, currently distributed on our campus and to 150 stands in 7 surrounding communities, from Fremont to San Lorenzo including 5 BART stations as well as globally through The Pioneer Online http://www.the

Pioneer Web TV Students gain experience working in a professional television and film studio producing the weekly Pioneer Web TV News Show and increasingly a number of pilot shows.

Pioneer Web Radio Pioneer Web TV/Podcast.html. Students gain professional experience with Internet radio startup and providing the campus communities with news, event updates, special profiles and web-streaming for concerts.

Pioneer Advertising Agency. Students gain experience working in and studying an actual Advertising Agency. They sell Ads for the Pioneer Newspaper, design and implement strategies to sell ads for The Pioneer On-line, and commercials for Pioneer Web TV.

Work Study: If you are interested in the work study program, consult with the Financial Aid Office, 3rd Floor, Student Services and Administration.

Internships: With the permission of your committee chair, students may earn up to four units of internship credit by working in the Communication Lab, by mentoring in COMM 1000  or COMM 1004 , by internship through Co-op Education, by internship in Organizational Communication, or by other work-related internships.

Scholarships and Awards

  • The Karl Robinson Scholarship is awarded to outstanding Communication students and M.A. candidates who show potential for excellence in scholarly achievement.
  • The Outstanding Graduate Student Award is given to students who demonstrate outstanding scholarship, leadership, and contribution to the program.
  • The Outstanding Teaching Associate Award is given to students who demonstrate outstanding performance in teaching.


Application for admission includes two parts:

  1. submit the university application form, with fee, to the Admissions Office, Student Services and Administration Building, Cal State East Bay, Hayward, CA 94542;
  2. submit the department application form, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a sample of scholarly writing to the Graduate Coordinator, Department of Communication, Cal State East Bay, Hayward, CA 94542. Both university and department application forms are available on the Department of Communication website. You may be admitted under one of the following:

“Classified Graduate” Standing

For admission with “Classified Graduate” standing to the M.A. program in Communication, students must:

  1. submit an application to pursue a specific program of graduate study and be accepted by the department and the university
  2. have completed a baccalaureate major in Communication from an accredited institution, or appropriate preparatory coursework approved by the faculty
  3. have maintained an overall grade point average of at least 3.00, and
  4. satisfied the University Writing Skills Requirement.

“Conditionally Classified Graduate” Standing

If a student’s communication major did not include prerequisite courses, if a student’s degree is in another field, or if the University Writing Skills Requirement has not been satisfied, it may be possible to be admitted with “Conditionally Classified Graduate” standing. In this case, students are admitted graduate students but have conditions to meet. Student status will remain conditional until the work is completed with a minimum of “B” or better grades and the Writing Skills Test has been passed. (See the following section, “Degree Requirements,” for prerequisite courses.)

Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Communication requires completion of 45 units in an approved program of study, with a “B” (3.0) or better.

Up to 12 units at the 4000 level may count toward graduation.

Up to 12 units of Independent Study may be taken (by advisor approval) which may also count towards your degree. No more than two Independent Study units may be taken as mentee or intern credit.

Up to 12 units of graduate seminars outside the Communication Department may be taken (by advisor approval) at or above the 4000 level.

All courses are four units unless otherwise specified. In cases of transferred credit, a minimum of 32 units must be completed at CSU East Bay.

Writing Skills Requirement

All students must meet the University Writing Skills Requirement (UWSR) to become fully “Classified Graduate” students. Graduate students must begin satisfaction of this requirement in their first quarter of their residency.

Attainment of “Classified Graduate” Standing

To attain “Classified Graduate” standing, a student must have completed all prerequisites with grades of “B” or better and satisfied the University Writing Skills Requirement. Notify the graduate advisor immediately upon completion, and request that s(he) complete the necessary paper work.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be Advanced to Candidacy for the M.A. degree in Communication, the student must:

  1. be a “Classified Graduate” student in good standing;
  2. complete 12 quarter units beyond the prerequisites with at least “B” grades;
  3. choose a program advisor;
  4. submit a study plan for completion of the degree program to the program advisor;
  5. have the thesis proposal or project proposal approved by their graduate adviser, if applicable;
  6. show evidence of progress and ability to complete the program.

Capstone Experiences

  1. Project (5 units): Upon approval of his/her graduate committee, a student may elect the Project option (5 units); enrollment commits the student to a production of a piece of work which is to follow prescribed forms; a permanent record is to be filed in the departmental office.
  2. University Thesis (9 units): Upon approval of his/her graduate committee, a student may elect the University Thesis; s/he will carry out research on a specific topic in the field and will report, review, and file the results; s/he will be examined on the thesis (see 3, below under “Examinations” heading); the University Thesis carries 9 units of credit.
  3. Comprehensive Examination: A student may elect a program made up entirely of a minimum of 45 units of approved coursework, including COMM 6901 - Comprehensive Examination Preparation . A comprehensive examination must be passed.


  1. Students electing the Project option (5 units) will sit for a two-hour oral defense of their project at its completion.
  2. Students electing the University Thesis option will sit for a two-hour oral defense of the thesis at its completion.
  3. Satisfactory achievement on comprehensive written and oral examinations will be required of students electing the coursework and project options. For the comprehensive examinations, the student will be tested on all coursework taken during their graduate study, including all required courses and any coursework in progress during the quarter of examination.

Curricular Requirements

I. Required Courses (12 units)

A. Take both of the following in the first year of study (8 units)

B. Select at least one course from the following in the first year of study (4 units)

II. Cluster Courses (12 units)

Select at least three courses in the cluster of your choice (12 units; more may be taken).

Cluster 1: Communication Studies (12 units)

Any combination of 12 units taken from all clusters with advisor’s approval.

Cluster 2: Media Studies (12 units)

Cluster 3: Organizational and Interpersonal Communication (12 units)

Select at least two courses from the following:

III. Electives (12-20 units)

The number of elective units you take is determined by the Capstone Experience you choose in IV, below (e.g. 16 units of electives with a 5-unit Special Project). Total units for III. Electives and IV. Capstone Experience must be 21. Total units for degree is 45.

Qualifying 4000 and 6000 level departmental and non-departmental courses to be approved in advance of every quarter, as per the University course calendar.

IV. Capstone Experience (1-9 units)

The M.A. degree may be completed in one of the following ways, with approval of the advisor: Project, University Thesis, or Comprehensive Examination.

A. Special Project (5 units)

B. University Thesis (9 units)

C. Comprehensive Examination (1 unit)


Advancement to Candidacy (completion of all required and elective courses.)

Other Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the university requirements for graduation which are described in the Graduate Degree Information  chapter in this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 grade point average, and the University Writing Skills requirement.

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