Program Requirements

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies is a 30-units degree program. Most students complete the degree in two years. Students can follow one of three options in completing their degrees: (1) completing 30 units of course work and taking comprehensive exams, or (2) completing 27 units of course work and writing a project (HCOM 597) for three units, or (3) completing 24 units of course work and writing a thesis (HCOM 598) for six units. The choice among the three options is made by the students in consultation with their supervisory committees based on the students’ goals and objectives. Students planning on completing a Ph.D. are encouraged to select the thesis option. The comprehensive exam option includes a general exam and an exam over primary and secondary areas of concentration. The specific requirements are as follows:

Required Courses (6 units)

  • HCOM 500 Research in Communication Studies (3)
  • HCOM 536 Seminar in Communication and Rhetorical Theory (3)

Seminars (9-18 units)

  • HCOM 509 Seminar in Qualitative Methods
  • HCOM 510 Seminar in Interpersonal and Relational Communication (3)
  • HCOM 520 Seminar in Group Communication (3)
  • HCOM 522 Seminar in Intercultural Communication (3)
  • HCOM 525 Seminar in Organizational Communication (3)
  • HCOM 530 Seminar in Rhetorical Theory and Criticism (3)
  • HCOM 535 Seminar in Argumentation and Persuasion (3)

Research Options (0-6 units)

  • HCOM 597 Project (3)
  • HCOM 598 Thesis (6)

Example Electives (0-15 units)*

  • HCOM 413 Communication in Interpersonal Relationships (3)
  • HCOM 420 Communication Theory (3)
  • HCOM 422 Applications of Intercultural Communication (3)
  • HCOM 425 Health Communication (3)
  • HCOM 430 Classical Rhetoric (3)
  • HCOM 432 Contemporary Rhetoric (3)
  • HCOM 433 Training and Development (3)
  • HCOM 435 Communication in Community Building and Civic Engagement (3)
  • HCOM 438 Principles of Rhetorical Criticism (3)
  • HCOM 440 Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication (3)
  • HCOM 445 Toxic and Intoxicating Leadership (3)
  • HCOM 456 Intercultural Conflict (3)
  • HCOM 492T Pro-Seminar (3)
  • HCOM 599 Independent Graduate Research (3)

* A maximum of 9 units of 400-level course work can be applied to the M.A. degree. A maximum of 6 units of HCOM 599 can be taken.

** Topics vary each semester (e.g., Compliance-Gaining, Political Communication, Mediation, Japanese-North American Communication, Intercultural Conflict). One section is offered each semester.


This section contains forms that are useful in applying for the M.A. program, as well as forming a supervisory committee and filing a graduate study plan once students are admitted.


In addition to department teaching positions, there is an Outstanding Teaching Award given to graduate students each year. Applications for teaching positions should be sent directly to the department chair (and include separate letters of recommendation). For information about general financial assistance, contact the Cal State Fullerton Office of Financial Aid (University Hall 146) at (657) 278-3125. The department also has several small scholarships that are awarded to students each spring.

Teaching Fellowships

Teaching Fellowships and Teaching Assistantships are available through the Department of Human Communication Studies. Teaching Fellows generally teach Introduction to Human Communication (HCOM 100) and/or Public Speaking (HCOM 102). Teaching Assistants generally assist faculty with large sections of courses, assist with faculty research, or work in the forensics program.

Students applying to the M.A. program are not automatically considered for Teaching Fellowships/Assistantships. Teaching Fellows/Assistants are appointed by the Chair of the Department based on the recommendation of the Department Graduate Committee. Applicants interested in applying for Teaching Fellowships/Assistantships should write the Graduate Advisor of the Department (Dr. Gary Ruud) directly. A complete application includes a completed application form, a letter of application, a copy of the applicant’s curriculum vitae/resume, and three letters of recommendation that address the applicant’s potential as an instructor. The application form for teaching fellowships is available in the Forms section of this web site. The letters sent to the Chair as part of applying for a teaching position are different from the letters sent to the Graduate Advisor when applying for admission. Students admitted to the M.A. program with deficiencies are not eligible for teaching positions until the deficiencies are removed.

Student Activities

The Graduate Student Association for Communication Scholars (GSACS) assists students in obtaining funding for attending professional conferences, sponsors workshops, and social activities. In the past, our student association also has co-sponsored six intercultural conferences held at Cal State Fullerton.

Graduate students also have opportunities to work on research with faculty members. Many of the faculty/student projects lead to joint conference presentations at conventions, such as the International Communication Association, National Communication Association, and Western Communication Association, and/or publication in book chapters and journals, such as Human Communication ResearchInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations,Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, and Western Journal of Communication. Graduate students interested in intercultural training have the opportunity to work as trainers in the yearly Study Abroad Seminar. Other training opportunities are available as part of regular course work within the program. Graduate students interested in forensics have the opportunity to work with the Southern California Urban Debate League, a mentoring program that uses academic debate to teach responsible advocacy to students in local high schools. Graduate students gain experience in coaching, judging, publicity, grant writing and fund raising.