MA in Communication Studies

Total Units required for the MA:  30

Program Description

A Master's degree can lead to doctoral or other professional education, or to advanced positions in business, public service, or government. The graduate program in Communication Studies is guided by two interrelated goals. First, that each student has the opportunity to study and conduct original communication research consistent with individual interests and abilities. Second, each student develop and follow a coherent, rigorous plan of study within the field of communication. Accordingly, a structured advising procedure has been established in the Department to help accomplish these two goals (see "The Graduate Document," available from the Department, for details). As an integral part of a plan of study, each student will designate a series of courses to be completed for their degree with the assistance of their advisor and the approval of the Graduate Committee. A statement outlining the logic of the chosen courses will be required and will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee. Areas of faculty expertise include (but are not limited to):

  • Mediated Communication
  • Organizational Communication
  • Instructional Communication
  • Rhetoric and Criticism
  • Political Communication
  • Intercultural/International Communication
  • Social Interaction

As mentioned above, this program, culminating in the Master of Arts in Communication Studies, is designed for the student who subsequently will pursue a doctoral degree or a professional career. The program is NOT designed for students who wish to train in production or presentational skills which are taught at the undergraduate level in the Sacramento State Communication Studies Department.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Communication Studies is based on the assessment of individual credentials by the Graduate Committee, but requires at least:

  • a 3.0 overall GPA or 3.25 GPA in the last 60 undergraduate units;
  • a grade "B-" or better in the following (or equivalent courses):
    COMS 167Systems and Theories of Rhetoric3
    or COMS 168 Approaches to Rhetorical Criticism
    or COMS 169 Television Criticism
    COMS 170Data Analysis in Communication Research 13
    or COMS 171 Survey Methods in Communication Research
    or COMS 172 Content Analysis
  • a clearly written statement of purpose for pursuing this particular MA degree. This statement is part of the application to the graduate program and should explain the applicant's career and academic goals, specifying how the program will help to accomplish these goals, and explain the applicant's motivation for pursuing those goals;
  • three letters of recommendation indicating the applicant's abilities and potential for completing graduate work successfully. These letters should assess at least the student's abilities to perform well in academic courses; to conduct research independently; to express ideas well in writing and orally; and to think critically, analytically, and creatively;
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores;
  • an earned baccalaureate degree, and
  • two examples of writing that indicate research, analytical, and/or creative abilities.

Admission Procedures

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply several months prior to the semester first enrollment is sought. All application materials must be received before any evaluation begins. Applicants must complete a separate university application by the posted application deadline date for the term applying. For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit

  • an online application for admission; and
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State.

A decision regarding admission will be mailed to the applicant.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  30

Minimum cumulative GPA:  3.0. No course with a grade lower and "B-" may apply towards the degree

Advancement to Candidacy

Near the completion of coursework each student must submit an Advancement to Candidacy form, with his or her major advisor and graduate coordinator's approval, to the Office of Graduate Studies. This procedure may begin upon satisfactory completion of the following:

  • all deficiencies in admission requirements removed;
  • all undergraduate course deficiencies, as noted as conditions on application response;
  • the following with a grade "B-" or better;
    COMS 200Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
    COMS 201Communication Theory3
    COMS 202Quantitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
  • at least 50 percent of coursework toward the degree; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

At least 18 units must be 200-level courses and no more than 6 units of courses numbered 150-198 (excluding 195) may count toward the minimum 30-unit requirement. By University policy, courses completed to satisfy deficiencies or admission requirements are not counted toward the MA degree.

Program Requirements

Required Courses (12 Units)
COMS 200Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
COMS 201Communication Theory3
COMS 202Quantitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
COMS 213Seminar In Criticism 3
Major Courses12 - 18
Select 12-18 units of graduate courses 1
Culminating Requirement1 - 6
Select one of the following:
Culminating Experience (Plan A: Thesis, Plan B: Projects) 2
Directed Study and Comprehensive Examination (Plan C: Exam) 2
Total Units30