Communication Studies, M.A.

Graduate Degree
Graduate Degrees
Communication Studies, M.A.

What is Communication Studies?

Communication Studies is a discipline that provides theory, techniques and tools for analyzing, managing and improving communication in every arena of professional and personal interaction.

Students can earn a Master of Arts (MA) in Communication Studies at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. At the graduate level, Communication Studies is a field that examines the process of human communication, including the creation, delivery and receiving of both verbal and non-verbal messages.

The field of Communication Studies cuts across socioeconomic, political and cultural contexts, dealing with how meaning is generated in interpersonal, private, public and mass communication settings. The master’s program in Communication Studies is a multi-disciplinary area of practice that blends several interrelated disciplines, such as mass communication, health communication, intercultural communication, political communication, communication and rhetorical theory, scientific communication, gender studies and interpersonal communication.

The master’s in Communication Studies degree is very versatile and can be applied in many fields from business, sales, healthcare administration and government to law, education, social services, media, technology and many others. The advanced skills graduate students learn are valuable to any employer.

Developing high-level communication competencies in face-to-face interactions, group and team settings, large groups, electronic communication and public messaging is essential to professional success in virtually any career field.

Why Study Communication Studies at Marshall?

The master’s in Communication Studies degree program has a strong emphasis in organizational communication and health communication, while also providing graduate students with opportunities for tuition assistance through graduate assistantships.

Learning theory and practice. At Marshall University, Communication Studies graduate students learn to leverage communication theory to analyze, manage and effectively communicate information in personal and professional interactions. Graduate Communication Studies students also focus on how to develop theory-driven communication strategies for nonprofits, corporations and government agencies.

Job-ready curriculum. The master’s program in Communications is led by an award-winning faculty in the Department of Communication Studies. Professors, who come from a variety of top programs across the United States, ensure that students learn about the application of Communication Studies in real-world scenarios. Master’s students can immediately apply what they learn across a wide range of positions as public relations specialists, educators, advertisers, fundraisers, health communication specialists, lobbyists, political consultants, community affairs managers, market researchers, writers and editors, journalists and other communication professionals.

Communication Studies faculty members are dedicated to involving students in research projects and community engagement. The department has a strong reputation for excellent instruction, intensive advising and strong mentoring. Small class sizes ensure graduate students not only receive more one-on-one attention from faculty but also come together as a supportive community of learners.

Students who earn an MA in Communication Studies will graduate with important learning outcomes and be ready to:

Distinguish among the major theoretical approaches to communication
Achieve mastery knowledge of a theory or program of research
Describe major theories/research programs in a communication field (e.g., rhetoric, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, health communication)
Apply theoretical knowledge of communication to a particular context or situation
Demonstrate critical thinking and listening skills
Communicate effectively by applying standards of the communication discipline
Explain major communication methodologies
Describe the critical elements of a major communication methodology
Analyze/apply a communication research methodology in a particular communication field (e.g., interpersonal, organizational, public, health)

Career Outlook for Communication Studies Graduates

Approximately 95 percent of recent Marshall graduates with an MA in Communication Studies are employed in excellent professional positions.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Communication Studies?

Marshall’s graduate program in Communication Studies produces job-ready graduates who are successful in obtaining positions in law, government, consulting, healthcare administration, education, higher education administration, corporate communication, business development and many other fields.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4 percent through 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations, and will result in about 46,200 new jobs. Demand for media and communication occupations is increasing to meet the need to create, edit, translate and disseminate information through a variety of different platforms and in response to emerging platforms and channels.

Master’s in Communication Jobs

Marshall graduates in the MA in Communication Studies degree program are hired by top employers in major professional positions. Here’s a sampling of where Marshall graduates have gone on to work:

Development & Communications, Ronald McDonald House
Internal Communications, Disney World
Outreach Coordinator, WV Free
Student Support Specialist, College Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Executive Assistant to the Dean of Pharmacy, Marshall University
Market Intelligence Administrator, Pulte Homes
Director of Recruiting and Development, Marshall University
Public Relations, Girl Scouts of Southwest Ohio
Director of Advising, Marshall University
Recruiter, Manpower Staffing
Director of Global Human Resources at Amazon
Vice President, 1st Commonwealth Bank
Business Development Officer, N3
Consultant at Berry Dunn Assurance, Tax & Consulting
Marketing Coordinator, UK Health Care
Admissions Counselor, Marshall University
Sales Training, Blue Grace Logistics
Marketing Strategy Manager, Enventys Partners
Learning and Development Specialist, Ohio University
Marketing & Brewing, Cartridge Brewing
Director, Banner Public Affairs
Senior Director of Direct Marketing, AXS
Customer Account Manager, American Mobile Healthcare
Program Manager, Office of Dual Enrollment, Marshall University

Master’s in Communication Salaries

Overall, the median annual wage for media and communication occupations (such as announcers, interpreters and translators, and technical writers) was $61,310 in May 2020, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $41,950, as reported by the BLS.

Here’s a sampling of top-paying industries that hire media and communication workers, along with annual mean salaries, according to the BLS:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing – $99,760
Insurance carriers – $74,290
Grantmaking and giving services – $72,480
Software publishers – $69,100
Local governments – $66,040

The BLS reports the following major industries have the highest concentration of employment for media and communication professionals, along with annual mean salaries:

Independent artists, writers and performers – $44,860
Manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media – $51,370
Motion picture and video industries – $64,480
Radio and television broadcasting – $51,820
Promoters of performing arts, sports and similar events – $44,190

Opportunities for Communication Studies Graduate Students

Graduate Student Resources

On Marshall’s campus in Huntington, WV, master’s in Communication Studies students can take advantage of the Writing Center and also have access to outstanding library facilities.

Faculty support. Graduate students work with Communication Studies faculty to develop grant writing skills, write academic research papers, and focus on training and development projects. Our graduate students have presented their work at regional and national conferences.

Internships. Graduate Communication Studies students have pursued a wide variety of internships focused on communication in the nonprofit, corporate and educational sectors. Some of recent internships for master’s in communication students included:

Social media and communication, Community Autism Resources & Education Systems (CARES)
Communication and development intern, Ronald McDonald House
Social media intern, Marshall University Athletics
Internal communications Intern, Disney World
Communications intern, CONTACT Rape Crisis Center

Student research. Many graduate students in the Communication Studies master’s degree program choose to do a thesis as a capstone for their graduate experience. A thesis is not required, but for students who enjoy research, this is an excellent option. Instead of completing coursework in their third and fourth semesters, students work with their faculty adviser and register for thesis credits.

The following are a selection of thesis topics developed by Communication Studies graduate students:

The West Wing: President as Symbol
A Communication Audit of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
The Storm After The Storm: A Comparative Framing Analysis of Governmental and News Reporting on Hurricane Katrina
Female Workplace Self-Help Books: Guiding Women to Become Leaders

Admission Requirements

Applicants should follow the admissions process described in the Graduate Catalog, or at the Graduate Admissions website at

In addition, to be unconditionally admitted to the Communication Studies department, an applicant must have:

  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for all previously completed undergraduate university work. 
  • A written statement of educational and professional goals addressing how the Communication Studies M.A. program will help achieve those goals. (500 words)

International students and applicants who have earned a degree from a non-English institution must provide proof of English proficiency as follows: minimum of 80 on TOEFL IBT (or 550 paper-based); IELTS 6.5.

Provisional Admission

The Communication Studies program may admit applicants provisionally who have an undergraduate degree GPA between 2.5 and 2.99 on a 4.0 scale. Students admitted provisionally must attain a 3.0 GPA their first semester in the program or be academically dismissed. 

Students admitted provisionally will not be eligible for a teaching assistantship their first semester in the program. 

Assistantships and Financial Support

The Department of Communication Studies has funds available in the form of assistantships to provide financial support for graduate students. For complete information on graduate assistantships please see

For complete information on other financial support opportunities please see

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