M.A. in Communication

Program Overview

Fairfield University's Master of Arts in Communication emphasizes theory, research, and application to examine the ways humans communicate - verbally and nonverbally - across a variety of levels and contexts. In addition to those interested in pursuing a PhD., an MA degree in communication can lead to advancement in careers throughout business and industry, healthcare, all levels of education, media and public relations, non-profit, government, and social services. In fact, surveys from professionals in all fields consistently rank communication skills as the most important factor in hiring and promotion decisions.‌

As a graduate student, you'll work individually with a faculty advisor to tailor your curriculum to your personal, professional, and academic goals. Throughout the program, you'll be supported by talented, enthusiastic teachers who'll use their academic and professional experience to help start you on your career path.

 



Graduate Information Session

Join us for an upcoming Graduate Information Session where we can answer your questions one-on-one, give you an opportunity to meet our faculty and introduce you to the Fairfield University community and experience.

Message from the Director


‌Dear Prospective Student,

Audra NuruWelcome 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 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, Communication Graduate Program

Course Offerings

Visit our online catalog for more information.

Required core courses (15 credit hours)

  • CO 400: Communication Philosophies, Theories, and Research Traditions
  • CO 420: Communication Research Design and Methodologies
  • CO 440: Ethics and Communication
  • CO 560: Thesis Proposal/CO 561: Thesis Research OR CO 570: Project Proposal and CO 571:Independent Project

Elective Communication courses (21 credit hours)

  • CO 400: Communication Philosophies, Theories and Research Traditions
  • CO 410: Perspectives & Theories in Organizational Communication 
  • CO 420: Communication Research Design and Methodologies
  • CO 430: Written Communication
  • CO 431: Media Law and Institutions
  • CO 440: Ethics and Communication
  • CO 498: Communication Practicum
  • CO 500: Interpersonal Communication
  • CO 502: Small Group and Team Communication
  • CO 522: Communication and Organizational Leadership
  • CO 524: Negotiation & Conflict Management: Communication Approaches
  • CO 528: Professional Rhetoric and Presentations
  • CO 530: Media Theory and Criticism
  • CO 535: Globalization, Communication, and Culture
  • CO 537: New Media Studies
  • CO 540: Intercultural Communication
  • CO 541: International Communication
  • CO 545: Race, Identity, and Representation
  • CO 547: Healthcare Organizational Communication
  • CO 548: Health Communication
  • CO 559: Topics in Communication Research
  • CO 560/561: Thesis Proposal/Thesis Research
  • CO 570/571: Project Proposal/Independent Project
  • CO 598: Independent Study

Elective Graduate non-Communication courses (6 credit hours maximum)

  • School of Business/Management
  • School of Business/Marketing
  • School of Nursing/Leadership

Admission Requirements

The M.A. in Communication program welcomes students of ability 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.

Formal Admission Process

Applications are reviewed by the Graduate Admission Committee. Students seeking admission must submit:

  • A Completed Application for Graduate Admission Form Apply Online. While your application is in progress, you can check to see if your supporting documents, such as transcripts and recommendations, have been received. Please allow 48 hours from the time we receive the documents for them to post to the checklist. Track the status of your application.
  • A Non-refundable $60 Application Fee
  • A Professional Resume. Applicants are required to submit a current resume that includes employment and education history. (Submit Online)
  • A Personal Statement of self-evaluation of work experience and career objectives. (Submit Online)
  • Official transcripts from all universities and colleges attended. (All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an approved evaluating service.)
  • Two Recommendation Forms and Letters, one of which must be, preferably, from a current employer or supervisor. The Recommendations are completed online. At the time of application you will need to provide your two Recommender's names and e-mail addresses.
  • Interviews. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview as part of the admission process. If required, candidates will be contacted by the program director to schedule an appointment.

 

All application materials should be sent to:

Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies Admission
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824-5195
Phone: (203) 254-4184
Fax: (203) 254-4073
gradadmis@fairfield.edu

 

How to Apply

For detailed admission requirements, please refer to the links below:

Admission Deadline

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Financial Aid

To be considered for financial aid, Fairfield University requires students to complete a FAFSA form. For further information, visit the Office of Financial Aid.

Faculty

The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and passionate 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.

Accelerated M.A. in Communication

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) has created an accelerated pathway for current, high achieving undergraduate students who are interested in transitioning directly into one of our Master's programs.

Eligibility

  • Full-time, matriculated students of any CAS major may apply to the MA in Communication Program
  • GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • Completion of at least 96 credits prior to the start of fall senior year

Admission Requirements

  • Online application available at fairfield.edu/applynow
  • $60 admission fee (waived for current students)
  • Fairfield University transcript (obtained by the Office of Graduate Admission)
  • A letter of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Copy of resume


Timeline

  • Students apply during their Spring semester of junior year
  • Upon acceptance, students will remain an undergraduate, but are allowed to register for TWO graduate classes during their senior year. One class should be CO 420, which will replace CO 309. Accelerated students are expected to enroll in a Communication elective as needed to assure 10 undergraduate Communication courses are taken to complete major.
    • These classes will be covered through full-time tuition payment
    • These classes cannot count towards fulfillment of the undergraduate degree
    • During the final semester, typically spring, students will need to apply to the program officially to become a matriculated graduate student upon completion of their undergraduate degree. 

 

For more information, contact:

Ms. Fran Yadre
College of Arts and Sciences
fyadre@fairfield.edu
(203) 254-4000 x2246

Alumni & Student Profiles

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. 

 

cas_r_casellaName: 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!

Research Opportunities

aca_st_in_lib1Graduate students in our program have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and/or produce original research through the courses they take and vis-a-vis 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 Conferences

Recently, our graduate students have co-authored research presented in Boston, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Washington, Dublin, and Barcelona. Here are some of the major recurring conferences in the field of communication:

National Communication Association (NCA)
Research Area: Communication
Submission Deadline: February
2014: Chicago, November 20 - 23
2015: Las Vegas, November 19 - 22
2016: Philadelphia, November 10 - 13
2017: Dallas, November 16 - 19

International Communication Association (ICA)
Research Area: Communication
Submission Deadline: November
2015: San Juan, Puerto Rico May 21 - 25
2016: Fukuoka, Japan June 9 - 13

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)
Research Area: Journalism and Mass Communication
Submission Deadline: April
2014: Montreal, Canada - Le Centre Sheraton, August 6 - 9
2015: San Francisco, CA - Marriott San Francisco Marquis, August 5 - 9
2016: Minneapolis, MN - Hilton Hotel August 4 - 7

Eastern Communication Association (ECA)
Research Area: Communication
Submission Deadline: October
2015: Philadelphia, PA

Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (PCA/ACA)
Research Area: Popular and American Culture
Conference Meeting: March or April

International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
Research Area: Communication
Submission Deadline: February
Conference Meeting: July

University of Kentucky Conference on Health Communication
Research Area: Health Communication
Submission Deadline (abstracts): December
Conference Meeting: April (even years - e.g., 2012, 2014, etc.)

George Mason University DC Health Communication Conference
Research Area: Health Communication
Submission Deadline (abstracts): December
Conference Meeting: April (odd years - e.g., 2011, 2013, etc.)

Western States Communication Association
Research Area: Organizational Communication Interest Group
Submission Deadline: September
Conference Meeting: February

 

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)

Career & Professional Opportunities

macom_students09Almost all 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 M.A. 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 and 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 Ph. D. 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 more about how the University's Career Planning 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in communication to apply?

No. The M.A. 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.

 

How long does it take to complete the M.A. in Communication degree program?

While it is possible for a full-time grad student to earn an M.A. in Communication degree in 2 (calendar) years, the majority of our full-time students complete their degrees in approximately 2.5 years.

The time-frame for part-time students varies widely based on the number of courses taken per semester, but averages 3.0 years.

Regardless of full- or part-time status, all degree work must be completed within 5.0 years from the date a student first enrolls in our graduate program.

 

How are courses offered?

The three foundational courses will all be taught in the 14-week, 2 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

 

How are the courses structured?

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.

 

What is the tuition for this degree program?

Tuition and fees for Fairfield's graduate programs

 

What is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

 

Do I need to take the GRE's?

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

 

Can I transfer graduate credits? If so, how many?

We may consider graduate credits from other accredited graduate programs in communication. Other credits may be counted toward "allied and applied" courses (up to 6 credits). If approved, up to 6 credits will be considered to count toward the "Allied and Applied" category.

 

Can I apply to this program as an international student?

Yes, review the application requirements for international students.

 

Whom do I call if I have questions?

For information about admission, contact gradadmis@fairfield.edu. For information about the program, contact Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui, Director of the M.A. in Communication program.

 

Contact Us

For more information about Fairfield University's graduate programs, please contact:

Office of Graduate Admission
Fairfield University
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824

Call (203) 254-4184 or email gradadmis@fairfield.edu.

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