Houston State University (SHSU) offers an online Master of Arts in Communication Studies through its Department of Communication Studies. The program can be completed entirely online without students making any visits to campus. The Communication Studies program offered by SHSU is unique in that it is one of the few online master’s in communication programs that gives students the option to focus on communication studies from a principally scholarly perspective, as opposed to focusing more on applied communication and industry skills. Therefore, the program is a good option for both students looking to advance their careers or for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. after they complete their masters.

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies requires 36 credit hours to complete, all of which are comprised of classes, with no thesis requirement. All students in the program must take and successfully pass a comprehensive examination after completing their coursework. The academic calendar follows a semester schedule, with two 16-week semesters (fall/spring) and two four-week summer sessions. The program is divided between required courses (18 credits) and electives (18 credits).The six core classes are Communication Studies Methods and Research, Statistical Methods for Communication, Advanced Interpersonal Communication, Advanced Family Communication, Advanced Communication Theory, and a Seminar in Interpersonal Communication. Through these courses, students are introduced to graduate-level research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative methods, data gathering and analysis techniques, and research proposal development. Core classes also cover specific statistical techniques (e.g. statistical modeling, multiple regression analysis, etc.) that are used by communication professionals and researchers in the field. Through the courses in interpersonal and family communication, students learn how communication research insights apply to personal and professional contexts.

Students must also complete six classes of electives from a diverse menu of courses in the Communication Studies Department. Examples of courses that students can take include Advanced Intercultural Communication, Computer Mediated Communication, Health Communication, Sex & Gender in Communication, Intergenerational Family Communication, Social Support and Well-Being, Risk Communication, Sexual and Affectionate Communication, and Persuasion and Social Influence. These courses help students further their understanding of the scholarly literature around interpersonal, group, and community communication through lenses such as mass media communication, multicultural communication, health and medicine, conflict management, and more.

As illustrated above, the curriculum emphasizes communication theory and research within the context of organizational communication, conflict resolution, family communication, interpersonal communication, and gendered communication. While this program is well-suited to students who want to continue their studies at the doctoral level, its course options are also designed for working professionals in that they help students develop advanced skills in interpersonal communication, writing and research, and media analysis.

Upon completing 27 credits in the program, students are eligible to take their comprehensive examination, which is an eight-hour written exam (often split between two four-hour sessions) that can be completed either on the SHSU campus or online. The comprehensive examination tests students’ understanding of scholarly communication theories (classical and contemporary), research methodologies in communication, and key advanced concepts covered in their elective courses.

Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department: Department of Communication Studies
Specializations/Concentrations: Areas of Study in Gendered Communication; Health Communication; Interpersonal and Family Communication
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses asynchronous instruction - although it is up to the individual instructor
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in ~2 years (4 semesters taking 3 courses per semester)

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Comprehensive exam (no thesis option)
Credits Required: 36 credits (12 courses)
Example Courses: Communication Studies Methods & Research; Statistical Methods for Communication; Advanced Interpersonal Communication; Advanded Family Communication; Health Communication; Sex & Gender In Communication; Risk Communication

Application Requirements
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE required - students with a master's degree may submit a GRE waiver to appeal having to submit GRE scores
Start Dates: Fall and Spring admission

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$20,853 + fees (out-of-state tuition may be higher - check with program for more information)
Cost per Credit Hour: ~$579.25 per credit hour (cost per credit hour changes based on number of credits taken per semester) - cost per credit hour may be higher for out-of-state online students (for more information on tuition costs, visit SHSU’s Cashier’s Office)

State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states

*Estimated tuition is calculated by multiplying the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required to graduate. It does not include fees or other expenses.