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Speech Communication

Program and Application Information
Department Chair:Dr. Mark Meister
Graduate Coordinator:Dr. Zoltan Majdik
Department Location:Minard Hall 338
Department Phone:(701) 231-7705
Application Deadline:Ph.D - March 1; M.S. and M.A. - March 15, October 15
Degrees Offered:Ph.D., M.A., M.S
Test Requirement:GRE
English Proficiency Requirements: TOEFL ibT 100, IELTS 7 for admission; TOEFL ibT114, IELTS 8 for teaching assistantship

Program Description

The graduate program in communication offers graduate study leading to the M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees. The program prepares students for academic and management positions, as well as advancement within current career fields.

The department tailors student research projects and academic programs to individual needs and interests. Students may take interdisciplinary graduate course work to enhance their program of study. Information is available on the department's website, .

Admission Requirements

Programs are open to students holding baccalaureate degrees from accredited universities or colleges.

Master of Science or Arts

To be admitted with full status to the program, the applicant must meet the Graduate School requirements; have adequate study in communication, journalism or a related area; and provide a score for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Doctor of Philosophy

To be admitted with full status to the program, the applicant must meet the Graduate School requirements. In addition to materials required by the Graduate School applicants must submit:

  • A CV or resume which clearly identifies your current position, including your responsibilities; your professional publications and papers; your service and professional activity; and your teaching and training experiences
  • A scholarly writing sample where the candidate is first author (single authorship preferred), such as a master's thesis, proposal, or chapter; conference paper; final course paper 
  • Evidence of effective teaching potential (please include one or more of the following): teaching evaluations, teaching philosophy statement, recommendation letter(s) may speak to experience or potential of applicant, peer evaluations/observations, sample syllabi, sample lesson plan/assignment, etc.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores
  • TOEFL test results (required for international students)

Financial Assistance

Students admitted at full or conditional status may apply for teaching assistantships at the master's or doctoral degree level. Initially, teaching assistants conduct lab sessions for the Comm 110 class. Teaching assistants may have opportunities to teach other classes during their program. The teaching assistantship deadline is March 15 for the following fall semester.

Graduate assistants receive a stipend and tuition waiver. Applications are available from the department office or online from the department's website,

Master's program

The Master of Arts program is designed for students who are interested in conducting qualitative or rhetorical research, while the Master of Science program is designed for those interested in quantitative research. Both programs require completion of 30 credit hours of graduate coursework with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. The student can elect to complete a research-based thesis, for which six of the 30 credits are awarded, or a written exam, for which three credits are awarded. A prospectus meeting and final defense of the thesis/written exam is required.

COMM 700Research Methods in Communication3
COMM 711Communication Theory3
Research Tools
Select at least two of the following:6
Qualitative Research Methods in Communication
Quantitative Research Methods in Communication
Rhetorical Criticism
Qualitative Methods
Quantitative Methods
Applied Statistics
Students pursuing the M.A. degree must take at least one qualitative methods course (COMM 704, COMM 708, COMM 767, or SOC 700). Students pursuing the M.S. degree must complete at least one quantitative methods course (COMM 707, COMM 710, SOC 701, or STAT 725).
Elective Specialization
12-15 credits of additional coursework, depending on whether the thesis or exam option is selected. Students can select from a wide range of specializations, pending approval from their adviser. Students may also choose graduate-level electives from other departments that may enhance specialized communication study goals.12-15
Thesis or Exam
The thesis option requires six credits of COMM 798. The exam option requires three credits of COMM 799.3-6

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in 4 years, and requires at least 60 credit hours beyond the master's degree. These hours will be in a planned course of study approved and overseen by the student's adviser and advisory committee.

The department currently offers two areas of concentration:

  • Media and Society
  • Organizational Communication

Students with a master's degree in another discipline may be required to complete additional graduate course work in specific areas of communication deemed necessary by the student's adviser and advisory committee. Graduate work taken beyond the master's degree may be judged applicable by the advisory committee, but post-master's graduate credits beyond 9 semester hours will not count toward the 60 credit minimum required for the Ph.D.

Students are strongly encouraged to take all of the Summer Scholar courses.

Course Requirements

Minimum of 30 credit hours in core or content concentration:

Core Courses
COMM 701Advanced Research Methods in Communication I3
COMM 702Introduction to College Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences3
COMM 711Communication Theory3
COMM 735 or 783 Media and Society or Org Comm Theory Course3
Content Concentration
Minimum of 12 credit hours in the department's 700-level courses in the student's major concentration area12
Minimum of 9 credit hours in the department's 700-level courses in the student's minor concentration area9
Research Courses
Exclusive of COMM 701, maximum of 6 credit hours of independent study12

Comprehensive Exam

When coursework is nearly completed, the DGS will consider the program of study and student’s professional presentations and publications to determine readiness for the comprehensive exam process. Doctoral students will meet with their advisers to prepare for the comprehensive examination.

After completion of the written examination, the doctoral committee will evaluate the written work. If the committee deems the work to be acceptable, the advisor will schedule an oral examination in which the student will defend his or her exam.


Under the guidance of an adviser and advisory committee, doctoral candidates will submit and defend a dissertation prospectus and ultimately a completed dissertation.

Stephenson J. Beck, Ph.D.
University of Kansas, 2008
Research Interests: Group and Organizational Communication, Interaction Analysis, Communication Strategy

Ann Burnett, Ph.D.
University of Utah, 1986
Research Interests: Legal Communication, Small Group Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Gender and Communication

Ross F. Collins, Ph.D.
University of Cambridge, 1992
Research Interests: Media History, International Media

Elizabeth Crisp Crawford, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee, 2007
Research Interests: Visual Storytelling, Advertising Message Strategy, Advertising Education

Zoltan Majdik, Ph.D.
University of Southern California , 2008
Research Interests:  Science and Risk Communication in Biotechnological Practice, Rhetorical and Argumentation Theory, Ethics and Moral Theory

Mark Meister, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska, 1997
Research Interests: Rhetorical and Critical Theory, Environmental Communication

Robert Mejia, Ph.D.
The College at Brockport, 2012
Research Interests: Media and Cultural Studies, Political Economy of the Media, Technology Studies, Game Studies, Rhetoric of Health and Disease

Charles Okigbo, Ph.D.
Southern Illinois University, 1982
Research Interests: Social and Behavioral Change Communication, Health Communication

Carrie Anne Platt, Ph.D.
University of Southern California, 2008
Research Interests: Rhetoric of Cultural Politics, Gender and Technology, Media in Society

Melissa A. Vosen Callens, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2010
Research Interests: Online Pedagogy, Emerging Media and Classroom Technology, Representations of Race and Gender in Popular Culture

Justin A. Walden, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University, 2013
Research Interests: Organizational Communication, Organizational and Individual Technology Adoption, Employee/Brand Advocacy

Catherine Kingsley Westerman, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 2008
Research Interests: Organizational Communication, Workplace Friendships

David Westerman, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 2007
Research Interests: Computer Mediated Communication, Interpersonal Communication


Robert S. Littlefield, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota

Paul E. Nelson, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota

Judy C. Pearson, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Jerry Richardson, M.A.
University of Washington

Lou Richardson, M.A.
North Dakota State University