About Dr. Janie Harden Fritz: Janie Harden Fritz is a Professor and the Director of both the B.A. and the M.A. in Communication Studies programs at Duquesne University. She advises students and collaborates with other faculty members to implement changes to the programs’ curricula and procedures. She teaches courses at the undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D. levels, including Exploring Interpersonal Communication, Exploring Leadership Communication, Intercultural Communication, Organizational Communication, Communication Research Methods, Communication Ethics and Professional Civility, Rhetoric and Philosophy of Organizational Communication and Leadership, and Rhetoric and Philosophy of Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication.

Dr. Fritz earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Speech Communication at the University of Georgia and completed the Ph.D. in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993, with emphases in communication theory, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, and quantitative research methods. Her research focuses on communicative practices that constitute, sever, and restore the ties that bind individuals to the institutions of which they are a part. She studies problematic work relationships and writes about communication ethics in the workplace. Professional Civility: Communicative Virtue at Work, her award-winning book, applies MacIntyre’s virtue ethics and communication research to the organizational setting. The field of communication is broad, diverse, and relevant to every area of human experience, which drew Dr. Fritz to pursue research and teaching in this area.


About Dr. Craig Maier: Craig Maier is an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, where his work involves philosophical and interpretive approaches to corporate communication, with a special interest in institutions struggling amidst radical uncertainty and change. As an undergraduate student at Duquesne University, he was drawn to communication because of its practical importance in contemporary life and the extraordinary diversity in the field. Corporate communication draws together a whole host of concerns—management and leadership communication, employee communication, marketing communication, crisis and risk communication, community relations, and so on—that require a broad understanding of culture, economics, politics, religion, and numerous other fields. To that end, he teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on strategic research and planning, marketing communication, nonprofit and development communication, persuasion and advocacy, and public relations.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Duquesne University’s Master of Arts in Corporate Communication, Master of Arts in Communication, and Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication programs, and how each is structured?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] We offer three degrees, all of which can be completed in as little as one year. Two of them can be completed online:

The M.A. in Corporate Communication (30 credits, 10 courses) emphasizes professionally focused, intellectually rigorous, ethical leadership. Through a professional core, specialization electives, and a professional integration project, students prepare for careers in management communication, integrated marketing communication, crisis and risk communication, and nonprofit communication. Courses can be taken face-to-face, online, or in a hybrid format. Core courses include:

  • COMM 500 Professional Communication
  • COMM 501 Persuasion in the Marketplace
  • COMM 523 Communication Ethics & Professional Civility
  • COMM 549 Corporate Communication: Economic and Financial Foundations
  • COMM 556 Organizational and Leadership Communication

The M.A. in Communication (30 credits, 10 courses) allows students to pursue their unique intellectual and professional goals in consultation with the M.A. program directors. Courses can be taken face-to-face, online, or in a hybrid format. Core courses include:

  • COMM 500 Professional Communication
  • COMM 501 Persuasion in the Marketplace
  • COMM 523 Communication Ethics & Professional Civility
  • COMM 522 Communication Research Methods
  • COMM 556 Organizational and Leadership Communication

The M.A. in Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication (36 credits, 12 courses) prepares students for a Ph.D. degree. Students take courses in Philosophy of Communication, Rhetorical Theory, Argumentation, Free and Responsible Speech, Political Communication, and other areas. Core courses include:

  • COMM 500 Professional Communication
  • COMM 501 Persuasion in the Marketplace
  • COMM 522 Communication Research & Evidence
  • COMM 523 Communication Ethics & Professional Civility
  • COMM 556 Organizational and Leadership Communication
  • COMM 559 Philosophy of Communication
  • COMM 561 Rhetorical Theory

[MastersinCommunications.com] Both Duquesne’s MA in Corporate Communication and its MA in Communication offer students the option of completing their program online. Could you please elaborate on what these online programs entail?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] Online classes are handled in a number of ways depending on the instructor. In some cases, students interact with professors and each other via online discussion board postings and prompts. In other cases, lectures are recorded, and students have the opportunity to watch the class in real time and participate in the discussion by sending questions via instant messaging. Students appreciate this diversity. We have no residency requirement, which means that online students do not have to attend classes in Pittsburgh.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Duquesne University’s MA in Corporate Communication program implements a four-part Integrated Professional Development approach, which involves the following steps: Professional Planning, Professional Praxis, Professional Experience, and Professional Integration. Could you please elaborate on each of these four components, particularly the Professional Experience and Professional Integration?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] When we redesigned the MA in Corporate Communication, we wanted to provide students with a clearer sense of professional trajectory. To achieve these goals, we integrated professional planning content into COMM 500 Professional Communication and COMM 501 Persuasion in the Marketplace to help students develop a better sense of the directions that they can take into the rest of their coursework. This coursework focuses on what we call professional praxis, or the conscious integration of theory and practice. As they progress through the program, students can gather professional experience through practicum experiences and complete their coursework through a professional integration requirement, which students can complete by taking a doctoral-level course, writing a scholarly paper during a practicum placement, or completing an independent study.

While this framework is woven into the MA in Corporate Communication, it does influence the other programs, especially since they share many of the same courses. However, students in our other degree programs may have other needs, so their programs are structured differently.

For instance, students in the Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication program are often interested in going on for a doctorate. As a result, their program focuses more on preparation for a Ph.D. However, even here, students can take professional coursework and complete practicums if they decide they want to enter the marketplace. Our program is flexible, and our students make the most of this flexibility.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Duquesne University’s program? Independent of faculty instruction and support, what career development resources and academic services are available to students? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] We are always willing to help and mentor students when they ask for it. Mentoring can take a number of forms, from working on various departmental projects and career advice to working with faculty on research projects.

Professional development in the MA in Corporate Communication program has four components:

  • Professional planning integrated into COMM 500 and 501 to develop students’ professional focus;
  • Professional praxis through core courses and specialization requirements that integrate skill development and content expertise;
  • Professional experience through a communication practicum (3 credits required, 6-9 credits optional); and
  • Professional integration through a student-designed applied project.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For students interested in Duquesne University’s MA in Corporate Communication, MA in Communication, and/or MA in Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication programs, what advice do you have in terms of submitting a competitive application, and selecting a program that is the best fit for their interests and goals?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] We suggest first and foremost that students contact us to learn more about our programs. Depending on their interests and goals, we can help guide them to the right program, and we are also willing and able to help students change course if necessary. As for a competitive application, we always tell students that we look at the entire application and not at specific scores.

This consultation is most important for students interested in assistantships. We have a limited number of assistantships, and so the program is highly competitive. Also, because the assistantship program is designed to prepare students for doctoral study, it is limited to students in the Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication program.

If students are interested in an assistantship, they should talk with us to learn about the program and their options. In addition, they should be sure to apply by January 15, which is the deadline for assistantship applications.

In their personal statements and recommendations, students interested in the MA in Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication should focus on their scholarly interests and how they think our program can advance them. Students interested in the MA in Corporate Communication or the MA in Communication should focus on their professional aspirations and demonstrate their aptitude for graduate-level work.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Duquesne University’s MA in Corporate Communication, MA in Communication, and MA in Rhetoric and Philosophy of Communication unique, and particularly strong graduate degree options for students? How does the program prepare students particularly well for careers in organizational communication, integrated marketing communication, and other areas of communication leadership?

[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier] Our program stands out because it provides an intensive liberal arts education that can help students make the transition to either professional life or academia. The MA in Corporate Communication, in particular, is designed as an alternative to an MBA or master in business (MIB) program that exposes students to the knowledge they will need to assume positions of administrative leadership while deepening their skills and knowledge as communicators. Courses in organizational and leadership communication, nonprofit communication, economic and financial communication, strategic communication, and other areas all build important leadership and corporate strategy skills.

Thank you, Dr. Fritz and Dr. Maier, for your excellent insight into Duquesne University’s graduate programs in communication and rhetorical studies!