About Dr. Sorin Nastasia, Ph.D.: Sorin Nastasia is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Applied Communication Studies. As Graduate Program Director, Dr. Nastasia oversees program promotion, admission, and administration, as well as graduate orientation, academic planning, and career preparation. Dr. Nastasia also serves as the Director of the International Studies undergraduate degree program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).

Originally from Romania, Dr. Nastasia earned his B.A. in Languages and Literatures and three M.A.s in American Cultural Studies, International Relations, and Public Relations. He has also worked as an international relations counselor for the Ministry of Culture and then as a public relations counselor for the Ministry of Education. He came to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Communication and Public Discourse at the University of North Dakota, and earned his Ph.D. in 2010. At SIUE, Dr. Nastasia teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations (including an international PR study abroad that has taken students to Lyon, France and Bucharest, Romania in 2012 and to Munich, Germany and Budapest, Hungary in 2014), persuasion, and intercultural communication.

His research topics include: comparing public relations practices in Western and Eastern European countries with U.S. models; responses of various communities and populations to internationally mediatized disasters and crises; and examinations of media portrayals of underprivileged populations. On these topics, he has presented over 100 papers at regional, national, and international conferences, and has published several journal articles and book chapters.

He currently serves as co-advisor for the SIUE chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) and is the President Elect of the Faculty Senate at SIUE.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies program, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum and electives, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?

[Dr. Sorin Nastasia] The Department of Applied Communication Studies at SIUE offers graduate coursework in four specialization areas: Public Relations, Corporate and Organizational Communication, Health Communication, and Interpersonal Communication.

Core courses
ACS 500 Seminar in Communication Theory
ACS 501 Communication Research Methods and Tools

In ACS 500, students learn a broad range of theories in Applied Communication Studies as well as in their specialization area, including the meta-theoretical assumptions for each theory, used to describe, explain, predict and control, or interpret and critique communicative behaviors and contexts. In ACS 501, students learn and apply various research methods (e.g. experiment, survey research, interview and focus group research, content and textual analysis, case study method, and naturalistic inquiry) used by scholars in the field engaging in primary and secondary research. In the core courses, students also demonstrate an understanding of the connection between theory and methods through a variety of written research papers and formal speaking assignments as well as through writing and speaking opportunities to reflect on and discuss applied projects and hands-on professional experiences.

Elective courses
Graduate students of the Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies take 12-18 credit hours of electives appropriate for their specialization area. The number of credit hours of electives depends on the choice of a treatise or non-treatise plan of study.

The Public Relations specialization offers graduate students opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in communication practices and technological developments useful for various campaigns and reputation management, and thus to advance their careers in this fast growing profession.

Specialization Requirements
ACS 550 Seminar in Public Relations
ACS 551 Nonprofit Public Relations
ACS 552 Corporate Social Responsibility

The Corporate and Organizational Communication specialization provides graduate students with a dynamic learning experience integrating activities in team building, conflict negotiation, and organizational leadership and culture, thus instilling the qualities needed for making critical contributions toward improved organizational practices.

Specialization Requirements
ACS 540 Survey of Organizational Communication Research
ACS 541 Seminar in Organizational Culture
ACS 542 Communication Consulting

The Health Communication specialization allows graduate students to evaluate patient-caregiver interactions and the impact of health communication campaigns, thus preparing them to apply communication theories and methods to the array of situations and problems encountered in the fast-evolving healthcare industries.

Specialization Requirements
ACS 570 Survey of Health Communication Theory and Research
ACS 571 Seminar in Provider/Caregiver-Patient Communication
ACS 572 Seminar in Health Communication

The Interpersonal Communication specialization offers graduate students opportunities for advanced examinations of the social, cultural, and technological influences on two-person, family, and small group interactions, and thus to become ready for careers in academic and business settings.

Specialization Requirements
ACS 520 Seminar in Interpersonal Communication
ACS 521 Seminar in Computer-Mediated Communication
ACS 522 Seminar in Family Communication

When choosing between these specializations, students should take into consideration their specific interests in the various aspects of communication and the array of communication industries. With approval from the Graduate Program Director and their graduate committees, students can pursue two specialization areas.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students in this program can choose between a master’s thesis, an applied project, or additional coursework. Could you please elaborate on each of these options, and what they entail?

[Dr. Sorin Nastasia] Graduate students of the Department of Applied Communication Studies at SIUE have a choice of treatise and non-treatise exit options.

Treatise Exit Options

Students following the treatise plan of study can pursue one of the following two types of treatises:


The thesis is a comprehensive report of substantive and significant research that has been conducted, analyzed, and written by the candidate under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The thesis is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate they can use theory, empirical findings, and research methods to design and carry out a study. The candidate utilizes a theoretical model, conducts an in-depth literature search, and develops research hypotheses or research questions. These are examined empirically by the candidate, through primary quantitative or qualitative research methods, and the results and their implications are fully considered. Typically, the thesis is lengthy, similar in style to a paper submitted to a scholarly conference or for publication, and is structured in the manner suggested by the American Psychological Association, the Modern Language Association, or a similar scholarly or professional organization.


The project is also a lengthy report of substance and significance that has been executed entirely by the candidate under the guidance of a faculty member and might be similar to a paper submitted to a scholarly conference or for publication. The project is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they can use theory, empirical findings, and research methods to identify and resolve practical communication problems. Typically, the candidate identifies relevant theory, useful literature, and appropriate methodology as necessary to demarcate an authentic communication problem within an actual context (such as a specific professional setting), then develops, implements, and assesses the efficacy of a solution to that problem. The project results in a tangible product (such as a training guide, video, or recruiting handbook) as well as a write-up that outlines relevant theories and potential implications.

Non-Treatise Exit Options

Students following the non-treatise plan of study will have as their exit option a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination, which is administered during each student’s final term of coursework, comprises both written and oral elements, and includes both the required core courses and the individually planned program.

The comprehensive examination is offered once every fall and spring semester, divided across a morning and afternoon session.

The comprehensive examination is divided into two parts: The Core curriculum (3½ hours) and the Specialization curriculum (3½ hours). The Core, or first part of the examination, tests mastery of material in ACS 500 Seminar in Communication Theories and ACS 501 Seminar in Communication Research Methods and Tools. The Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the Graduate Faculty, prepares the Core portion of the examination for all candidates in any given semester. The Specialization, or second part of the examination, reflects courses from the student’s specialized areas of interest. The oral component, which takes the form of a discussion of the candidate with the comprehensive examination committee members, provides a supplemental assessment of the student’s performance.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies 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. Sorin Nastasia] Each graduate student works closely with a graduate committee, formed of a faculty advisor and chair of the student’s graduate committee as well as two to three additional faculty members who serve on the student’s graduate committee. Students select their graduate committees at the end of the first year of study in the program. In collaboration with the graduate committee, each graduate student determines a plan of study and the exit option. The graduate committee also supports the student’s thesis, project, or comprehensive examination preparation, and evaluates the student’s exit option performance.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies program?

To be accepted in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies program, prospective students must:

  • Have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 (out of 4), documented with an undergraduate transcript
  • Submit a typed statement (approximately 500 words) about the academic and professional goals they plan to attain through their work in the graduate program
  • Have two letters of recommendation submitted on their behalf by academic or professional mentors
  • Applicants who do not have an undergraduate major in communication will be required, if admitted to the program, to demonstrate a knowledge of basic communication theory before enrolling in any 500-level classes

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes the Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?

[Dr. Sorin Nastasia] Our specializations are devised to allow students to acquire knowledge and skills in various areas of communication and to put to work their expertise through hands-on activities, service learning, and internships. In recent years many regional organizations have benefited from experiential learning activities of our students in regards to training, research, assessment, fundraising, or planning and implementation of campaigns and events, including: the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, the Greater East St. Louis Partnership and Innovation Zone, Oasis Women’s Center in Alton, IL, the Covering House in St. Louis, MO, the Edwardsville YMCA, the Granite City Youth Center, Edwardsville Neighbors in Need, the GlenEd Pantry, the American Cancer Society, the International Institute in St. Louis, the Office of the Treasurer of the City of St. Louis, the Bonfyre startup in St. Louis, the Metro East Humane Society, the Edwardsville Watershed Nature Center, and many others.

Courses in our programs are taught by talented faculty who ground their outstanding instructional abilities in research and deep connections to relevant communication industries.

Graduating with a Master’s degree in Applied Communication Studies at SIUE has opened career opportunities at management and leadership levels in business and industry, government agencies, educational systems, non-profit organizations, and community-based resource centers. Our graduates have also pursued doctoral degrees at various universities throughout the country.

Thank you, Dr. Nastasia, for your excellent insight into Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies program!