Masters in Communication

On This Page

Program Overview

Surveys from professionals in all fields consistently rank communication skills as the most important factor in hiring and promotion decisions.‌ Fairfield University's Master of Arts in Communication program is designed to foster these skills by emphasizing theory, research, and application to examine the ways humans communicate - both verbally and nonverbally - across a variety of levels and contexts. As part of their studies, students gain a complete understanding of the role of communication in personal relationships, large organizations, and society as a whole.

Though we have communicated our entire lives, it is less common for us to think about how we communicate, why we communicate, and the effects of our communication. Exploring the how, the why, and the effects of messages will be the main theme of students’ graduate coursework.

As a graduate student, you'll work individually with a faculty advisor to tailor your curriculum to your personal, professional, and academic goals. Possible paths that students pursue include organizational communication, health communication, public relations, media studies, communication in the nonprofit sector, educational communication, and preparation for PhD-level work.

Requirements & Curriculum

Fairfield’s MA in Communication is a 36-credit program. To earn their degree, students must select from one of two tracks, no later than the start of their tenth course in the program.

This academic track culminates in an original, independent research exploration completed under the close supervision of a communication faculty member and a second faculty reader. This 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 Philosophies, Theories, and Research Traditions
Communication Research Design and Methodologies
Ethics and Communication
Project Proposal
OR
Thesis Proposal
Independent Project
OR
Thesis Research
Seven (7) additional graduate courses

Students take three required communication courses plus nine additional electives.

Communication Philosophies, Theories, and Research Traditions
Communication Research Design and Methodologies
Ethics and Communication
Nine (9) additional graduate courses

A detailed list of course requirements, offerings, and more can be viewed in the University’s course catalog.

Admission

The MA in Communication program welcomes students from all academic and professional backgrounds. Students who hold a bachelor's degree in any field from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) are encouraged to apply. Applications are considered on a rolling basis for fall, spring, and summer admission.

Research Opportunities

Communication graduate students have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and/or produce original research through the courses they take and the Independent Study work they engage in. Such research can then be submitted for presentation at scholarly conferences and for publication in academic journals and books.

Communication Association

Recently, our graduate students have presented co-authored research at various academic conferences. With faculty supervision, students can submit research for any of the following conferences:

National Communication Association (NCA)

International Communication Association (ICA)

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)

Eastern Communication Association (ECA)

Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (PCA/ACA)

International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)

University of Kentucky Conference on Health Communication

George Mason University DC Health Communication Conference

Western States Communication Association

International Association for Relationship Research

E-mail List-serves/Communication Associations

E-mail list-serves and regional communication associations are also valuable ways to keep up with the field and to stay abreast of call-for-papers (CFP) opportunities. Here are a few useful links for those resources:

Communication, Research and Theory Network (CRTNET)

Affiliated Organization/Interest: National Communication Association

CULTSTUD-L

Affiliated Organization/Interest: Cultural Studies

H-PCAACA

Affiliated Organization/Interest: Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association

Southern States Communication Association (SSCA)

Central States Communication Association (CSCA)

Western States Communication Association (CSCA)

Stag Spotlight

Maria Valentina Aduen Ramirez headshot

Maria Valentina Aduen Ramirez

MA ‘18

Get to Know Maria

Current Employer
Texas A&M University

Current Job Title
PhD Student and Graduate Assistant

What were your reasons for choosing Fairfield University for your advanced degree?

Fairfield University had flexible schedules, turbo modality classes, and a wide variety of courses to tailor my MA to the areas of expertise I was looking for. Fairfield also allowed me to build a schedule convenient to my busy work hours.

What did you like about your Fairfield education?

I had the opportunity to work with amazing professors and had great mentorship to achieve my academic and career goals.

What would you tell someone considering an advanced degree at Fairfield?

Go for it! You will find Fairfield to be a great place to pursue an advanced degree. I appreciate the hands on experience they offer, and as a person who has been in different academic environments, I can tell you that you will get one-on-one advising and the necessary help to navigate academic life. The resources available for international students like myself are amazing, attentive, and available when needed.

How has your advanced degree at Fairfield affected your life?

I am currently a PhD student at an R1 institution. I never could have made it this far without the academic rigor of my classes and the support of the amazing faculty I encountered at Fairfield.

Erin Craw headshot

Erin Craw

MA '19

Get to Know Erin

Current Employer
Chapman University

Current Job Title
Graduate Teaching Associate/ PhD Student

What you would tell someone considering an advanced degree at Fairfield?

Fairfield University does an excellent job of making every student feel important and a part of the community. During my career at Fairfield, I was involved in different events and opportunities on campus that helped me feel connected even as a commuter in a graduate program. The professors have the same focus in the classroom. The small class sizes make it easy for you to get to know them and form lasting relationships.

How has your advanced degree at Fairfield affected your life?

I continue to reflect back on my time at Fairfield University. The master's degree program in Communication has provided me with the tools needed to move forward in my academic career at Chapman University. I was able to take an array of different courses within the discipline in order to gain a better understanding of the field, which helped to guide my career overall.

Stephen Grayson headshot

Stephen Grayson

MA '14

Get to Know Stephen

Current Hometown:  Brooklyn, New York 

Special Distinctions: His thesis was accepted for presentation at the 2014 Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, sponsored by the University Of Kentucky School of Health Communication in Lexington, KY.

Employer Name: NYU Langone Health

Job Title and Duties: Government Affairs Analyst (Health Policy).

I am responsible for researching major health care issues including federal, state, and local legislation and regulations; analyzing local and state budgets related to health areas; filing and registering lobbying reports; developing and updating the Government Affairs Department website; drafting correspondence and position papers to public officials and their staffs; and representing the Medical Center in efforts to engage and support communities with NYU Langone Health facilities. 

Why did you choose to pursue your graduate degree at Fairfield University?

I was keenly aware of the excellent reputation of Fairfield as an academic institution and its outstanding graduate program. I also knew that the University had an exceptionally strong networking connection in New York City. This was important to me, as I grew up in Manhattan.  

What were the best academic aspects of the program? 

I received my undergraduate degree in mass communications from the University of New Haven. Fairfield’s master’s program in communication offered courses in areas I had not studied in college, such as End-of-Life Communication and Health Communication. These fascinating courses changed my life and career aspirations. A required internship at a hospice had a profound impact on me. It reshaped the vision I had for my career. I began graduate school thinking I wanted to work in marketing and development with a goal of securing a position with the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, I left with in interest in working in healthcare because of the passion I developed for importance of communication in healthcare. 

What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/ encouraging? I found the professors in my graduate program to be very accessible and encouraging. I built great relationships with my professors, who supported my academic development and have remained supportive of my professional development since I graduated. The faculty were key for me in this program. 

Describe the ways that the University’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.

“Men and women for others.” In addition to a very demanding academic program and a part-time job, consistent with the University’s Jesuit philosophy, I also made time to volunteer at a hospice while helping people in the final stages in their life.

Angela Rudas headshot

Angela Rudas

MA '15

Get to Know Angela

Name:  Angela Rudas '15
Special Distinction: 2015 Professor James J. Keenan Award for Outstanding Achievement by a communication graduate student
Name of employer: American Heart Association
Current hometown: San Jose, California
Job title and duties: Business Development Director, American Heart Association (AHA) – I work in collaboration with the San Jose/Silicon Valley AHA staff and volunteer team to achieve an overall $1.5M shared revenue goal. I manage and coach executives for leadership and fundraising events while cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with the San Jose/Silicon Valley community and major companies in these areas.   

Why did you choose to attend a graduate program at Fairfield University?

When I began looking for a graduate program that interested me, I had just earned my bachelor’s degree and wanted to be sure I was making the right choice in not only the graduate program itself, but also the university I was planning to attend. Fairfield U’s graduate communications program had everything I was looking for and more. This program allowed me to choose my path every step of the way. I was very interested in organizational communication when I entered the program and ended up writing my thesis in the field of health communications instead. I knew this program would allow me to grow not only academically but professionally as well and that is exactly what I was looking for. Not only a graduate program, but a life-changing experience.

 

What were the best academic aspects of the program?

This program offers the opportunity to take courses in other related disciplines, such as the school of business, cross-listed undergraduate/graduate health related courses and the list continues; ranging from several diverse fields of study. This was one of the best academic aspects of Fairfield U’s graduate communications program. I entered this program as a student who was determined to focus on a business-related commutations path and I exited this program as a well-rounded student who took advantage of every learning opportunity.  

 

Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of.

There are two particular projects I am incredibly proud of. The first consisted of a quantitative study that researched diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace. I paired up with one of my peers to fulfill a course requirement for the communications program and later, our work was accepted at the 99th Annual National Communication Association. The second project was the completion of my thesis. I conducted an ethnographic study onsite at a hospice. This experience allowed me to interact and study each participant, which included nurses, doctors, patients, interns and volunteers. I spent about 9 months at the hospice and left with a great understanding of the organizations values, goals and the importance of art and music therapy as a form of palliative care.

 

What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

This program has incredibly supportive, encouraging and caring faculty members. If there was ever a time I felt unsure of my work or the direction I was going in regarding the program, my professors constantly offered advice and helpful suggestions. I often received an extra push of encouragement during thesis writing and when my professor(s) felt my work was good enough to submit to a conference. Fairfield U’s graduate communications faculty is certainly one of the reasons I enjoyed this program immensely.  

 

What were some of the challenges in going back to school as an adult student?

When I entered the program I had just received my bachelors degree and did not have to deal with the difficulty of balancing my professional responsibilities with my academic studies. However, after completing a few courses I began my professional career mid-way through the program. At first it was quite difficult to balance my time but this program offers hybrid and weekend courses as well as a manage-yourself thesis structure that helps with finding a balance. I found a balance that not only allowed me to receive the best academic experience, but my career also flourished at the same time.

 

Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.

Fairfield U’s Jesuit mission initially attracted me to the university’s graduate communications program. Each faculty member and student adhere to the university’s mission of academic excellence which includes faculty members encouraging students to work to their greatest potential and understanding the world from several diverse viewpoints. The university’s mission and values allowed me to create my own personal and professional experience based on all that Fairfield U believes in and because of that, I have become a well-rounded student, working professional and person.

Ryan Cassella headshot

Ryan Cassella

MA '14

Get to Know Ryan

Name: Ryan Cassella MA'14
Employer: WWE
Current job and responsibilities: I am a Senior Associate Producer for WWE’s Domestic Production department. I am part of a diverse team that creates WWE’s weekly programming for our US audience. I produce, edit and write content for our live and taped programming. 

Why did you choose to attend a graduate program at Fairfield University?

I always entertained the idea of going back to school for a Masters in something. After a few years at WWE, a graduate degree in the Communications field made a lot of sense. Thankfully, I work for a company that supports continuing education and Fairfield had an excellent program with a great deal of flexibility in terms of scheduling. 

 

What were the best academic aspects of the program?

The faculty have such a diverse background and are willing to go the extra mile for you. With the guidance of your professors, you are encouraged to focus on your own specific academic interests and tailor your degree to your own needs. 

 

Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of.

Last year, I submitted a paper to the NCA (National Communication Association) Convention. The study’s topic was the future of the television industry. I was fortunate enough to have my paper selected and went down to Washington DC to present my findings. Great experience, thanks for staying on usDr. Pagano! 

 

What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

They’re great teachers – thoughtful, involved, and willing to help in anyway they can. 

 

What were some of the challenges in going back to school as an adult student.

I have a very demanding job and it’s a challenge to juggle a commitment like grad school. I have to thank all of my professors as there were several times where I had to put my career before class and they were very understanding. 

 

Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.

I should probably know a thing or two about a Jesuit education by now. Group learning? Individuality? Creativity in academics? If the Jesuits believe in any of those ideals, count me as a supporter!

More About MA in Communication

Life After Fairfield

Learn More

Life After Fairfield

Almost all professional fields require people with excellent communication skills. Advanced study of communication at Fairfield will help you enhance and/or develop such skills as:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Leadership
  • Negotiation and conflict management
  • Persuasion
  • Professional and academic writing
  • Public speaking/oral presentation

Through Fairfield's MA in Communication program, you'll develop skills for more effective communication within organizations, teams, and small groups. You'll also gain a greater understanding of communication institutions as well as communication in different cultural contexts. Finally, you'll sharpen your research skills and learn how to apply communication theory in the context of real-world issues and problems through:

  • Understanding, interpreting, and extending previous research
  • Learning research techniques (e. g., content analysis, survey techniques, experimental techniques, qualitative techniques)
  • Analyzing data
  • Synthesizing all of the above to produce original research

Fields that have traditionally sought out those with advanced training in communication include journalism, media industries, public relations, advertising, and online communication. Students with advanced training in theory, research methods, and practical application can consider using their new and enhanced skills in fields such as:

  • Communication consulting
  • Communication education/Preparation for PhD work
  • Communication training
  • Community affairs
  • Consumer research
  • Corporate/organizational communication
  • Educational leadership and communication
  • Environmental communication
  • Health communication
  • Human resources
  • Management leadership and training
  • Mediation
  • Non-profit communication
  • Public information
  • Public opinion research
  • Sales and sales training
  • Social and human services
  • Strategic communication

Learn how the University's Career Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Visit the Career Center

Faculty

Learn More

Faculty

The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff, and accomplished scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Our faculty members are experts in their field and work closely with graduate students to provide academic advice and individualized attention that makes their experience as productive as it is rewarding.

Meet the Faculty

Frequently Asked Questions

No. The MA program is designed to accommodate a variety of students from different backgrounds. An undergraduate degree in communication is not required. Students with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds are encouraged to apply if they feel that training in communication theory, research, and applications would further their personal, academic, and career goals.

Students who attend our program full-time (e.g., three classes a semester) can complete the program in two years. That said, most of our students work full-time and, therefore, take 1-3 classes a semester.

The three foundational courses will all be taught in the 14-week, 2.5 hr/week (28 contact hour) format in order to allow for sufficient time to explore the foundational material necessary to proceed effectively in the program. The remaining courses will be taught in a variety of formats, including:

  • Traditional: 14-week/2.5 hours per week format (35 hours)
  • Accelerated: 7-week/5 hours every other week format (35 hours)
  • Intensive: Saturdays (7 5-hour meetings spread over 7 or 14 weeks, or 5 Saturdays for 7 hours each; 35 hours)
  • Summer: 7-week accelerated (35 hours)
  • Online or hybrid formats of any of the above schedules

Traditional courses are taught as lectures/seminars. Courses offered in other formats are designed to offer the same type of classroom experience as the traditional format. Some classes use online discussion, chats, blogs, electronic portfolios, and other mechanisms as ways to enhance the course experience. Classes taught fully online deliver lectures through a variety of means, and use any or all of the above mechanisms to ensure student participation, comprehension, and performance.

Tuition and fees for Fairfield's graduate programs.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

No. However, we will look closely at your undergraduate academic record and professional achievements when considering your application.

We may consider graduate credits from other accredited graduate programs in communication. Other credits may be counted toward "Allied and Applied" courses (up to six credits). If approved, up to six credits will be considered to count toward the "Allied and Applied" category.

Yes, review the application requirements for international students.

For information, contact gradadmis@fairfield.edu.

Search Results