M.A./Ph.D Areas of Study

The Department of Communication at the University of Washington seeks to advance the study and practice of communication across mediated and face-to-face contexts by using both humanistic and social scientific approaches. Our research and teaching focus on seven interrelated areas of study:

  • Communication and Culture
  • Communication Technology and Society
  • Global Communication
  • Journalism Studies
  • Social Interaction
  • Political Communication
  • Rhetoric and Critical/Cultural Studies

Faculty, staff, and students work across these domains to cultivate a collaborative and inclusive scholarly community. The Department highlights these areas to demonstrate the strengths of the unit, not to create a set of seven separate programs. Faculty typically work across multiple areas of study. Students do not formally identify themselves as belonging in a particular area.

All graduating M.A. and Ph.D. students receive degrees in Communication, not a particular area of study.

Courses in this area concentration look at the ways people communicate within and across different cultures. Communication is at the heart of cultural identity and expression, and it is through communication that cultures emerge, sustain themselves, and change.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Carmen Gonzalez | LeiLani Nishime | Valerie Manusov | Christine Harold | Nancy Rivenburgh | Ralina Joseph | Doug Underwood

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about communication and culture can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.

COM 513 Fieldwork Research Methods
COM 516 Descriptive and Analytic Comm Research Methods
COM 517 Survey Research
COM 520 Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 521 Advanced Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 524 Observational Rating and Coding
COM 537 Comm and Community
COM 554 Discourse and the Politics of Resistance
COM 564 Media, Myth, and Ritual
COM 566 Discourse and Sex/uality
COM 567 Ethnicity, Gender, and Comm
COM 570 Organizational Comm
COM 572 Comm, Identity, and Social Change
COM 578 Intercultural Comm
COM 580 Nonverbal Comm
COM 584 Ways of Speaking

Both new and old communication technologies have transformed modern culture. Courses in this area concentration explore how media technologies, particularly digital, networked media, change the way we build relationships, form communities, exchange information, organize, govern ourselves and do business.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Kirsten Foot | Katy Pearce | Benjamin Mako Hill | Matthew Powers | Carmen Gonzalez | Anis Rahman

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about communication technology and society can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.

COM 514 Experimental Design
COM 516 Descriptive and Analytic Comm Research Methods
COM 517 Survey Research
COM 520 Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 521 Advanced Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 528 Internet Research
COM 535 Critical Theory Applications in Comm
COM 537 Comm and Community
COM 538 Theories and Criticism of Comm Technology
COM 539 Theories of Technology and Society
COM 542 Readings in Comm History
COM 543 Research Seminar in Historic and Contemporary Comm
COM 545 Development of Mass Comm
COM 547 Telecommunications Policy and Convergent Media
COM 549 Mass Comm Process and Effects
COM 550 European Union Information Society Policy
COM 565 Mass Media Structure

This area concentration examines national and transnational media as part of a global system of news flow, political interaction, and cultural exchange. Courses compare media and interaction patterns within and across nations and cultures, as well as examine how the globalization of communication systems and content affects peoples’ lives around the world.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Patricia Moy | Kirsten Foot | Nancy Rivenburgh | Katy Pearce | Matthew Powers | Anis Rahman | Adrienne Russell

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about global communication can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.

COM 511 Content Analysis
COM 513 Fieldwork Research Methods
COM 514 Critical Discourse Analysis
COM 516 Descriptive and Analytic Comm Research Methods
COM 517 Survey Research
COM 520 Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 521 Advanced Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 527 International Comm Research Methods
COM 535 Critical Theory Applications in Comm
COM 542 Readings in Comm History
COM 543 Research Seminar in Historic and Contemporary Comm
COM 545 Development of Mass Comm
COM 547 Telecommunications Policy and Convergent Media
COM 549 Mass Comm Process and Effects
COM 550 European Union Information Society Policy
COM 559 Media and Foreign Policy
COM 561 Regional Comm Systems
COM 562 International Comm Systems
COM 572 Comm, Identity, and Social Change

Journalism Studies examines research and theories on the production and distribution of news and information. The concentration includes a critical analysis of the history, functions, and structures of media organizations in America and globally. This field examines the professional, organizational, economic, social, legal, and technological forces shaping news and information, along with the people responsible for deciding what becomes news. A particular focus is on the roles that news media play in society and politics, particularly with the rise of new modes of information production and distribution that are challenging traditional definitions of news and journalism. Faculty explore these topics across different temporal and geographic contexts and from a variety of methodological and epistemological stances.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Matthew Powers | Nancy Rivenburgh | Doug Underwood | Caley Cook | Adrienne Russell

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about journalism studies can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below.

COM 542 Readings in Communication History
COM 545 Development of Mass Communication
COM 557 Government and Mass Communication
COM 559 Media and Foreign Policy
COM 565 Mass Media Structure
COM 570 Organizational Communication

Scholarship on social interaction focuses on the language and nonverbal processes through which people connect with one another. Courses in this area concentration examine the development of personal relationships, the role of communication in social influence, the processes of group deliberation, and other communication activities as they occur in face-to-face and on-line settings. Courses explore how communication shapes and reflects initial encounters, informal conversations, interpersonal conflicts, close relationships, and decision making. They also reflect on the nature of social interaction as a theoretical, ethical, and cultural practice.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Carmen Gonzalez | Valerie Manusov | Katy Pearce | Kristina Scharp

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about social interaction can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.

COM 514 Critical Discourse Analysis
COM 517 Survey Research
COM 520 Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 521 Advanced Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 534 Observational Rating and Coding
COM 537 Comm and Community
COM 555 Political Deliberation
COM 566 Discourse and Sex/uality
COM 567 Ethnicity, Gender, and Comm
COM 569 Relational Comm
COM 570 Organizational Comm
COM 576 Interpersonal Comm
COM 577 Comm in Small Groups
COM 578 Intercultural Comm
COM 580 Nonverbal Comm
COM 582 Comm Education Research

One of the primary purposes of communication in representative political systems is to exchange ideas and opinions about how to govern ourselves. Courses in the political communication area concentration examine how citizens and communities talk among themselves, how public officials make decisions together, and how citizens and officeholders talk to each other. Some courses also explore the role of communication in autocratic political regimes.

The University of Washington also offers an interdisciplinary Ph.D. award in Political Communication. To learn more about this award, click here.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Matthew Powers | Leah Ceccarelli | Matt McGarrity | Patricia Moy | Nancy Rivenburgh | Kirsten Foot | Doug Underwood

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about political communication can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.

COM 511 Content Analysis
COM 513 Fieldwork Research Methods
COM 514 Experimental Design
COM 516 Descriptive And Analytic Comm Research Methods
COM 517 Survey Research
COM 520 Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 521 Advanced Statistical Methods in Communication
COM 542 Readings in Comm History
COM 543 Research Seminar in Historic and Contemporary Comm
COM 545 Development of Mass Comm
COM 547 Telecommunications Policy and Convergent Media
COM 549 Mass Comm Process and Effects
COM 550 European Union Information Society Policy
COM 551 Comm and Politics
COM 553 Public Opinion and Comm
COM 554 Discourse and the Politics of Resistance
COM 555 Political Deliberation
COM 556 Political Comm Research Practicum
COM 557 Government and Mass Comm
COM 559 Media and Foreign Policy
COM 565 Mass Media Structure
COM 567 Ethnicity, Gender, and Comm
COM 570 Organizational Comm
COM 572 Comm, Identity, and Social Change

The communication discipline began as the study of rhetoric, and some of the courses in this area explore rhetorical theory. Other courses in this concentration include both rhetorical criticism and modern critical theories of communication.

Faculty

The faculty listed below emphasize this area of study in their teaching and research, though most have additional areas of expertise. This list is not exhaustive, as many University of Washington faculty outside the Department of Communication also teach courses and conduct research in this area.

Leah Ceccarelli | Matt McGarrity | Christine Harold | LeiLani Nishime | Ralina Joseph | Carmen Gonzalez | Amanda Friz

Courses

Graduate students who wish to learn more about rhetoric and critical/cultural studies can enroll in the Department of Communication courses listed below. Students also typically enroll in other courses within and outside the Department, and students are welcome to develop programs of study that combine different area emphases.
Students may be particularly interested in coursework from faculty in the English department who list rhetorical theory as an area of interest.

COM 512 Critical, Social, and Practice-Based Approaches
COM 514 Critical Discourse Analysis
COM 515 Rhetorical Criticism
COM 516 Descriptive and Analytic Comm Research Methods
COM 530 Phil Issues in Rhetorical and Comm Theory
COM 531 Rhetoric in Society
COM 532 Classical Rhetoric
COM 534 Studies in Contemporary Rhetoric
COM 535 Critical Theory Applications in Comm
COM 538 Theories and Criticism of Comm Technology
COM 540 The Rhetoric of Science
COM 563 Black Cultural Studies
COM 566 Discourse and Sex/uality
COM 567 Ethnicity, Gender, and Comm

Some course descriptions may be found on the Course Catalog page.