Communication
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

FAQs

All master's students are encouraged to meet with an advisor regularly.

Q: Are M.A. students allowed to pursue their degree on a part-time basis? In other words, how many classes must I take each semester to be considered "active" or "on-track"?

Students can take anywhere from one to four courses per semester, but typically our graduate students take two or three courses at a time. To be considered a full-time student by the university, you should take three courses (9 credits) per semester, unless you have a teaching or research assistantship, in which case full-time status can be maintained by taking two courses (6 credits) per semester.

Q: How long does it take to earn an M.A. in Communication degree? 

The M.A. in Communication is a 33 credit degree. Full-time students typically finish the degree in four semesters (or two years). Students can complete the degree in less time if they enroll in summer courses. 

Q. When and where do communication graduate students take classes?

Communication graduate students take classes at the Fairfax campus. Courses are offered during the evening in two time slots: 4:30pm-7:10pm, and 7:20pm-10pm.

Q: Approximately how many people come into the M.A. in Communication program with an unrelated undergraduate degree?

Approximately 15 percent of our current graduate students enter the M.A. in Communication with an undergraduate degree from a different field or discipline. Many of these students have a related degree in one of the social sciences (e.g., sociology, anthropology, and psychology), but we have also admitted students with B.A. degrees in the humanities (e.g., English, history, etc.) as well. What matters most is the match between your interests and goals and our program's focus on strategic communication, public relations, and health communication.  

New students who have not taken a research methods course as an undergraduate should consider enrolling in our undergraduate research methods course, COMM 400, prior to their first semester of graduate study. Finally, the first class required of all new M.A. in Communication students - COMM 600 - will provide all students (regardless of academic background) with a broad introduction to communication theory and the history of the field.  

Q: What are the main areas of emphasis in the M.A. in Communication program?

The M.A. program has two major areas of emphasis: (1) strategic communication/public relations, and (2) health communication. Our strategic communication faculty have expertise in planning and evaluating research-based, theory-guided public communication campaigns. In addition, our strategic communication faculty have particular expertise in the expanding subfields of risk and crisis communication (note: risk communication refers to the special problem of communicating effectively about risks to our physical well-being, and crisis communication refers to the challenge of effectively communicating with the public before, during, and after emergencies).  

For their part, our health communication faculty explore the relationship between communication practices and the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Research in this area examines everything from how to improve relationships between health care providers and patients to how non-profits and government agencies can develop more effective health information campaigns (for example, HIV prevention campaigns).

Q: How do I transfer graduate-level coursework taken at other universities or as a GMU non-degree student into my M.A. in Communication program?

The form required to get previous graduate work transferred to your M.A. in Communication degree is called a Graduate Transfer of Credit Request. This form is available from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) website. Be sure to consult with the M.A. director first. University rules place limits on the number of outside credits that can be transferred into a GMU degree program.

Q: What is the deadline for applying to the M.A. in Communication program?

The application deadline is March 1st. Applications which are not complete by this date will not be considered for admission in the Fall. For more information on how to apply, please click here: http://chss.gmu.edu/programs/application/LA-MA-COM

Q: Are M.A. in Communication students admitted only for the fall semester?

Yes. We admit new graduate students once a year in the fall semester. We feel it is important for students to develop relationships with one another as cohorts, and this is best accomplished by admitting only one class per year.

Q: I am not a native English speaker, so I think I need a TOEFL score. What score do I need to achieve?

The university policy requires all international students to submit TOEFL scores. For details on the scores required for admission into the university, see the GMU Admissions website.

Q: What GRE scores are required for admission to the M.A. program?

Although strong scores on the GRE will obviously strengthen your file, we do not use "cutoff" scores during our admission process. When considering applications, we examine the entire application file (including GRE scores, GPA, goal statements, and letters of reference). No single component of the application is considered in isolation.  

Q: May the GRE be waived based on my undergraduate GPA? May I substitute the GMAT or another standardized test for the GRE?  

The GRE cannot be waived, nor do we accept other tests like the GMAT.  

Q: Can I enroll in a study abroad course as part of my M.A. in Communication degree?

The Center for Global Education at George Mason University offers a number of options for study abroad courses that could potentially be applied to your M.A. degree, subject to the approval of the M.A. director. If you see a global education course that you might like to take as part of your degree program, you should contact your advisor and the M.A. director. For more information, see the Center for Global Education website.

Q: I realize that I may be too late to apply to the graduate program for this fall. Should I wait a year to re-apply, or should I enroll in M.A. in Communication courses as a non-degree student?

Although we welcome non-degree students into many of our courses, we usually encourage students who already know they wish to earn an M.A. in Communication degree to wait until they are formally admitted into the program before they begin taking our courses. The M.A. curriculum has a particular logic. Introductory courses (COMM 600 and COMM 650) put students in position to succeed in future theory, research, and elective courses. Taking courses "out of order," so to speak, can sometimes place students at a disadvantage.   

Q: I am not sure I want to earn an M.A. in Communication degree, but I would like to take a class or two to learn more about the field and your program. What should I do?

Consider applying to take graduate courses at George Mason as a non-degree student. Non-degree students can take courses from many departments at the university, including in the M.A. in Communication program. Taking courses as a non-degree student can be a good way to learn more about what Mason's many graduate programs have to offer. More information about taking graduate courses as a non-degree student can be found at the Office of Admissions website.

Q: I am a current M.A. in Communication student, and I would like to write a Master's Thesis. How do I register for COMM 799?

Students interested in registering for COMM 799: Master's Thesis should consult their advisor and then contact the M.A. director for an individualized course form.

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