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 507 Seminar in Critical/Cultural Studies
  • 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 415 Seminar in Digital Media Culture (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. 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.

Graduate Assistantships

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

Students applying to the M.A. program are not automatically considered for Teaching Fellowships/Assistantships. Applications for teaching positions should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor, using the “Graduate Assistant Application/Renewal” form. Students admitted to the M.A. program with deficiencies are not eligible for teaching positions until the deficiencies are removed. Students are eligible for Graduate Assistantships for a maximum of four semesters.

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 Research International 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.