Department of Communication faculty believe that introducing graduate students to diverse theories and methods helps them develop a research focus that will enrich the field of communication, as well as the larger world.
Completion of the M.A. signals that a student understands a range of communication theories, can formulate fruitful research questions, and has the ability to design and conduct significant scholarship.
Upon graduation, Ph.D. students will have developed a broad foundation of knowledge in communication, begun to create a coherent program of research, and made connections beyond the university by attending academic conferences and contributing to public life in meaningful ways.
The foundation of graduate study in the Department is comprised of two core courses that embody the Department’s philosophy and that are taught consecutively across the students’ first terms. These courses align closely with the Department’s core principles. In these initial courses, students learn the interplay of theory and method and enhance their ability to make informed choices about their program of study. These courses also underscore the importance of building relationships within and between disciplines as well as between the academy and other communities and institutions.
Topical and methods seminars
In addition to the two foundational courses, the Department of Communication offers at least eight seminars for M.A./Ph.D. students each academic year: four on the theories and research relevant to a variety of communication topics, and four on distinct methods of research reflecting the wide-ranging methodological expertise of UW’s Communication faculty. For a full list of the Communication courses designed for M.A./Ph.D. students and offered on a rotating basis every 2-4 years, see the 500-level courses in the department’s course catalog. UW Communication M.A./Ph.D. students are welcome to take courses in any M.A./Ph.D. program at UW, and may also take UW 400-level courses as part of their graduate program. Students from other UW graduate programs are welcome to enroll in Communication topical and methods seminars.
Professional development for a variety of career paths
The Department of Communication offers a set of one-credit proseminars and an internship course to help students develop a range of professional competencies. Ph.D. students are required to take three of these courses as part of their program of study. M.A. students also may enroll in them. In these proseminars, faculty share their experiences as teachers, researchers, and public intellectuals and students engage in workshop-style discussions. There are six different proseminars taught regularly. The “Writing for Academic Publication” and “Advanced Communication Pedagogy” proseminars are offered every spring quarter; the other four are offered autumn or winter quarter once every two years.
Proseminars on pedagogy
Graduate students who are appointed as Instructors or Teaching Assistants are required to enroll in a series of two one-credit introductory proseminars on pedagogy (COM 596). An advanced communication pedagogy proseminar (COM 594) is offered each spring. The pedagogy proseminars are described below.
In the Department of Communication, students also can receive credit for participation in community outreach programs and other practical projects. Students are encouraged to undertake projects that use communication theory to address community, social, or political problems. These activities may entail a professional internship or formal membership in a volunteer organization. Such experiences can be particularly valuable for students who choose to pursue non-academic careers. With an approved plan of work, students receive credit while enrolled in the following course: