Communication Arts and Sciences

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission.

The minimum undergraduate preparation is 12 credits in communication studies/speech communication. Students who cannot meet this requirement in full may be admitted but must make up their deficiencies without credit toward the graduate degree.

Additionally, students with a 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale) and appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 3.00 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. A student must have completed the master's degree before being admitted as a doctoral student.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Students pursuing the M.A. degree in Communication Arts and Sciences must take 2 credits of CAS 590 Colloquium and 3 credits of CAS 602 Supervised Experience in College Teaching; however, the 3 credits of CAS 602 cannot be counted towards the minimum 30 credits required. Students must schedule a review of their program of courses during the first year of residence and receive approval by a duly constituted advisory committee.

A minimum of 30 credits at the 400, 500, 600, or 800 level is required, with at least 18 credits at the 500 and 600 level, combined. If a student is required to write a thesis, at least 6 credits in thesis research (CAS 600 or CAS 610) must be included in the program. If no thesis is required, at least 18 credits must be in 500-level courses. Students choosing to complete a thesis must complete at least 6 credits in thesis research (CAS 600 or CAS 610). Students choosing to complete a scholarly paper must complete at least 18 credits in 500-level courses. Students must schedule a proposal meeting in which their research plan for their thesis is approved by their committee. They are also required to present an oral defense before their committee. The thesis must be accepted by the committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass the thesis defense.

Although typically discouraged, students in unique circumstances may apply to complete a non-thesis track. Students must apply in advance for acceptance in the non-thesis track and additional course credits will be required, among other differences from the thesis track. The specific requirements for the non-thesis track will be established based on the student’s application and subject to approval by the M.A. committee. The non-thesis track requires completion of a scholarly paper in place of the thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Students must take 2 credits of CAS 590 Colloquium and 3 credits of CAS 602 Supervised Experience in College Teaching. Doctoral students must schedule and pass a qualifying examination during their first year. Following completion of the English competence requirement and all courses from the program of study, doctoral students must pass a comprehensive examination to determine their mastery and competence in the discipline of communication. After successful completion of the written and oral component of the comprehensive exam, doctoral candidates must schedule a proposal meeting at which the research plan for their dissertation is approved by their Ph.D. committee. Doctoral candidates must pass a final oral defense of their dissertation before their Ph.D. committee. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Titles

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences and African American and Diaspora Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Dual-title CAS and AFAM graduate students will first be admitted to CAS in accordance with the requirements stipulated by Graduate Council and the department. After admission to the CAS Ph.D. program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African American and Diaspora Studies dual title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for a dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the CAS Ph.D. program in which they are primarily enrolled. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies, listed on the AFAMD DualTitle Bulletin Page. No more than 6 credits may be double counted towards both CAS Ph.D. and AFAMD dual-title degree requirements. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student, their CAS and AFAMD advisers.

Qualifying Examination

Students must meet the Ph.D. qualifying examination requirements specified by the CAS program. During the qualifying examination, the student will also be assessed for qualifying to the dual-title program, and at least one member of the qualifying examination committee must come from the AFAMD dual-title program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role. Students in the dual-title Ph.D. program will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in African American and Diaspora Studies that includes a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of African American and Diaspora Studies. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both CAS and AFAMD. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, at least two members of the committee must be members of the African American and Diaspora Studies graduate faculty. If the chair is not a member of the AFAMD Graduate Faculty, the committee member representing AFAMD must be appointed co-chair of the committee. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Comprehensive Examination

The African American and Diaspora Studies representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination. The faculty member (or members) affiliated with the dual-title Ph.D. program will be responsible for administering a portion of the comprehensive exam that will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of various theoretical and methodological approaches to African American Studies, and an ability to apply them to issues and problems in the field.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in CAS and AFAMD. The African American and Diaspora Studies-related topic of the dissertation or the African American and Diaspora Studies component will be approved by the student's Ph.D. committee. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences and Bioethics

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Dual-title bioethics graduate students will first be admitted to their primary program in accordance with the requirements stipulated by Graduate Council and the primary program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Bioethics dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirement section of the Bioethics Bulletin page. They will be admitted to graduate study in the Bioethics program by an admissions committee consisting of faculty affiliated with the Bioethics program. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Bioethics prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for a dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the CAS Ph.D. degree program in which they are primarily enrolled. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in Bioethics, listed on the Bioethics Bulletin page. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student, their CAS and Bioethics advisers.

Qualifying Examination

Students must meet the Ph.D. qualifying examination requirements specified by the CAS program. During the qualifying examination, the student will also be assessed for the Bioethics program, and at least one member of the qualifying examination committee must come from the Bioethics program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both CAS and bioethics. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a CAS and Bioethics dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Bioethics Graduate Faculty. Graduate students are encouraged to have a second committee member so qualified. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Bioethics, the member of the committee representing Bioethics must be appointed as co-chair. The Bioethics representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive Examination

The faculty member (or members) affiliated with the Bioethics Program will be responsible for administering a portion of the comprehensive exam that will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of various theoretical and methodological approaches to bioethics, and an ability to apply them to issues and problems (including, where appropriate, practical problems) in their primary field.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in CAS and Bioethics. The bioethics-related topic of the dissertation or the bioethics component will be approved by the student's Ph.D. committee. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Dual-title CAS and WGSS graduate students will first be admitted to CAS in accordance with the requirements stipulated by Graduate Council and the department. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the WGSS dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the WGSS Bulletin page. They will be admitted to graduate study in the dual-title program by a committee consisting of faculty from WGSS.  Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in the primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. degree in CAS. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in WGSS, listed on the WGSS Bulletin page. No more than 6 credits may be double counted towards both the CAS Ph.D. and the WGSS dual-title degree requirements. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student and the CAS and WGSS advisers.

Qualifying Examination

Students must meet the Ph.D. qualifying examination requirements specified by the CAS program. During the qualifying examination, the student will also be assessed for qualifying to the dual-title program, and at least one member of the qualifying examination committee must come from the WGSS dual-title program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role. Students in the dual-title Ph.D. program will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies that includes a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both CAS and WGSS. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, at least two members of the Ph.D. committee must also be Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies-affiliated faculty. If the chair is not a member of the WGSS graduate faculty member, the committee member representing WGSS must be appointed co-chair of the committee. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Comprehensive Examination

The WGSS representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination. The faculty member (or members) affiliated with the dual-title Ph.D. program will be responsible for administering a portion of the comprehensive exam that will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of various theoretical and methodological approaches to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and an ability to apply them to issues and problems in the field.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in CAS and WGSS. The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies-related topic of the dissertation or the WGSS component will be approved by the student's Ph.D. committee. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

In addition to the fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described on The Graduate School's website, the following awards typically have been available to graduate students in this program:

Edwin Erle Sparks Fellowships in the Humanities
Available to beginning and continuing graduate students in one of the following graduate programs:

  • Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Comparative Literature
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Spanish

Apply to department before February 1.

Additional funding opportunities may be available for graduate students enrolled in a dual-title program in which Communication Arts & Sciences participates. Please speak to the Graduate Officer and Director for further information about these opportunities.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) Course List

Learning outcomes

  1. Graduates will demonstrate command of the history of and current developments in rhetorical or communication science theory and methods.
  2. Graduates will demonstrate the capacity to organize, synthesize, and critique the theoretical and methodological literature relevant to their area of disciplinary specialization.
  3. Graduates will formulate and execute an independent research project that significantly furthers knowledge and theory in rhetoric or communication science. 
  4. Graduates will articulate ideas, arguments, and evidence with clarity, creativity, and compatibility with the conventions of the discipline in oral and visual presentations and written formats.
  5. Graduates will develop professional practices through department service, conference participation, and disciplinary engagement.
  6. Graduates will display capacity to deliver effective undergraduate and graduate instruction, including course design and delivery.

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Denise Haunani Solomon
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Andrew High
Program Contact

Robin Kowa Chakravorty
234 Sparks Building
University Park PA 16802
rlk5025@psu.edu
(814) 865-5558

Program Website View