About Dr. Meina Liu, Ph.D.: Meina Liu is an Associate Professor of Communication in the Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication at The George Washington University (GWU). She is the Graduate Director of GWU’s MA program in Communication Management, for which she oversees the review of graduate applications, enrollment, graduate advising and curriculum, DegreeMap, brown-bag events, student assessment, and thesis options. Dr. Liu’s research foci include intercultural communication, organizational communication, and negotiation and conflict management. She teaches Research Methods in Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Intercultural Negotiation for the MA program, as well as Senior Seminar for undergraduate majors. Dr. Liu earned her PhD in Organizational Communication at Purdue University, her MA in Applied Linguistics from Tsinghua University, and her BA in English from Beijing Language and Culture University, China.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of The George Washington University’s (GWU) Master of Arts in Communication Management, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?
[Dr. Meina Liu] GWU’s MA Program in Communication Management is an interdisciplinary program that explores strategic management of communication messages and processes within and across a variety of contexts. It prepares students to develop depth and breadth in one or more of the following areas: organizational communication, intercultural communication, and health communication. Students are required to complete 30 credits (10 courses), with 15 credits from required courses, and the other 15 from elective courses inside or outside of Communication for non-thesis students, or a combination of electives (9 credits) and research (6 credits) for thesis students.
The required courses include: Communication Theory, Research Methods in Communication, Persuasion, Professional Communication, and Leadership Communication. Students who have taken any of the required courses at the undergraduate level can submit a waiver request; upon approval, the student can replace the required course with an elective. Non-thesis students are required to take at least two COMM electives (6 credits) and thesis students, one COMM elective (3 credits). Examples of COMM electives include Intercultural Negotiation, Organizational Communication and Conflict Management, and Health Communication. This curriculum allows students the flexibility of taking three electives (two for thesis students) from outside of Communication to expand their understanding of communication contexts across disciplines. Students develop a Plan of Study in collaboration with the graduate advisor in the first semester, which can be revised for approval when the need arises.
This degree program will set our students apart from other candidates by giving them a theoretical and practical grasp of communication functions at interpersonal, group, and public levels. The program is designed to prepare students to achieve the following learning outcomes (which are also listed on our website):
- Analyze and develop strategies to enhance communication management functions in intercultural, organizational, public, and health contexts.
- Expand and employ critical thinking practices, and strategic oral and written communication skills, applicable across multiple communication contexts.
- Plan, implement, and actively facilitate communication management-related training and interventions to individuals, groups, and organizations in various contexts.
- Prepare for admission to doctoral programs in communication and related disciplines (such as international affairs, organizational sciences, public health)
[MastersinCommunications.com] GWU’s Master of Arts in Communication Management offers both a master’s thesis and a non-thesis option for students’ final graduation requirement. Could you please elaborate on both of these options, and what they entail?
[Dr. Meina Liu] Students pursuing a thesis option will indicate their area(s) of research interest and identify an advisor and committee members for approval by the Graduate Committee by the end of the first semester. The student will enroll in two independent study courses to conduct research under the supervision of the advisor, with the first course culminating in a research prospectus, and the second one, an M.A. thesis, both to be evaluated by the committee in an oral defense. Examples of thesis projects include “Gender Differences in the Effect of Fear Appeals in Anti-Binge Drinking PSAs: Physical Fear vs. Social Fear” and “Person-Culture Fit and Intercultural Adaptation: The Effect of Communication Styles on International Students’ Friendship Patterns and Psychological Wellbeing”. Non-thesis students will be assessed in each of the individual courses; there is no additional project or exam beyond coursework.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in GWU’s Master of Arts in Communication Management program, and how can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems? Additionally, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program?
[Dr. Meina Liu] Soon after admitted students accept the offer, they will receive a “Rules of the Road” document providing detailed information about the program, graduate student resource guide and handbook, curriculum, course schedule, and plan of study so that they can be successfully transitioned into the program and University. A welcome and orientation session is arranged for new MA students before or during the first week of class, where they will meet with faculty members and returning MA students in the Program. Internship opportunities are regularly sent out via the COMM-MA email list-serve. Besides faculty mentorship that is available throughout their stay in the program, a series of brown-bag events are arranged for MA students to receive career-related advice or training from successful alums and invited speakers. Thesis option students benefit from extensive faculty support and mentorship during the completion of their theses through independent study courses.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for GWU’s Master of Arts in Communication Management program?
[Dr. Meina Liu] Applicants to our program must submit a personal statement, transcripts of all college-level coursework they have taken, two letters of recommendation, and GRE test scores (this requirement can be waived for GWU applicants or applicants who hold a doctorate-level degree, such as a J.D., an M.D., or a Ph.D.). International applicants are required to submit TOEFL test scores or scores from an equivalent English proficiency test. Detailed admission requirements can be found here.
The Graduate Studies Committee reviews applications by looking at the entire package rather than one specific aspect. Our MA students come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including international affairs, economics, organizational sciences, political communication, strategic communication, mass communication, women’s studies, and so on. In general, applicants that articulate a good fit between their backgrounds/interests and what our program offers are given more serious consideration than those that write a generic essay. For example, a student who describes how the program’s course offerings may help advance his or her career goals is considered to have a stronger fit and motivation than a student seeking a career in journalism.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes GWU’s Master of Arts in Communication Management unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? How does the program prepare students for careers in communication research and instruction, as well as roles in industry across different fields?
[Dr. Meina Liu] GWU’s location in Washington, DC is particularly appealing to students pursuing a Master’s education in Communication Management, given its international and domestic diversity, numerous leading organizations, business headquarters, consulting firms, and government and media agencies. Based on our research on eight major universities in the surrounding areas, GWU’s M.A. program in Communication Management is the only degree of its kind in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Possible professional career paths for someone with our Communication Management degree include any role that involves employing problem-solving and decision-making at interpersonal or group levels, making strategic decisions around communication issues, and utilizing written and oral advocacy skills to achieve coordinated actions in professional contexts. One of the major appeals of this degree is the wide variety of career paths that students can pursue. Students with an M.A. in Communication Management enter careers as Project Managers, Communications Managers, Brand Specialists, Market Research Analysts, and so on.
Thank you, Dr. Liu, for your excellent insight into The George Washington University’s Master of Arts in Communication Management program!