Apr 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Professional Communication (M.A.)

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Purdue University
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department of Communication  
College of Arts and Sciences

Neff Hall 230 ~ 260-481-6825

Steven A. Carr, Chair
Michelle Kearl, Graduate Program Director

The master’s program in Professional Communication serves students seeking to advance their education beyond an undergraduate degree. The master’s program can help you achieve your goals, whether you are looking to enhance your career in broadcasting, business, education, new media, or social services; or if you are preparing to enter a Ph.D. program.

Our program emphasizes three areas of specialization:

  • Interpersonal and Organizational Communication Theory
  • Media Criticism, History, and Theory
  • Rhetorical Criticism and Theory

The program meets the needs of students who work full time.  During fall and spring, most graduate courses are scheduled once a week in the evening.  During summer, an additional course is offered.  Students can take one class a semester, or go full-time and complete the program in less than two years.

Degree Requirements:

The curriculum consists of 36 credits in approved courses and one of the following: a comprehensive examination, a professional project, or a thesis. 

Comprehensive Examination (Non-Thesis) Option:

Graduate students who select the comprehensive examination option must complete a minimum of 36 credits of course work and pass the examination administered by an Advisory Committee. Election of the comprehensive examination option must be made and approved by the Advisory Committee created by the student prior to the completion of 15-21 credits of course work. The comprehensive examination consists of a take-home written examination and a one-hour oral examination. The examination will test the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of one area of competency/specialization claimed by the student including (1) the theoretical foundations of the student’s area of communication inquiry, (2) relevant methodological approaches, and (3) the research literature in the candidate’s area of specialization. The written examination is expected to be approximately 30 pages in length (10 pages or so for each question).   The oral examination is meant for the student’s defense of his/her perspectives put forth in the written work.  The Committee will determine whether some or all of the answers passed, failed, or required a revision.  The student must pass all of the questions.

Professional Project (Non-Thesis) Option:

The professional project option offers students the six (6) credit option of completing a professional/creative project to meet the requirements for their degree. The purpose of a creative/professional project is to demonstrate professional competence in an applied setting. The professional project has two parts:  The analysis component and the professional skills/creative component.  Students will conduct research, synthesize and analyze information, and present information to an audience. The project may be developed and disseminated in print, still photography, audio, video, documentary film, online or a combination of media and must demonstrate a student’s mastery of the chosen medium. Examples include an investigative news article series; a handbook, manual or video training module for professionals; a news or feature series with photographs or video; an original radio or television program; a short documentary film; or a Web-based project. The professional project is designed for students pursuing the MA or MS as a terminal degree. Students considering doctoral work should discuss the alternative thesis plan with their advisor.

Thesis Option:

The thesis option offers students the six (6) credit option of completing a master’s thesis to meet the requirements for their degree. A M.A. thesis is a completed research project that applies the theories and methods of a given approach to communication research. Students will conduct this research under the supervision of their advisor and their work will ultimately need the approval of their advisory committee. This project allows students to leave the program with a proven track record in research. We advise students who are looking forward to a career in research or planning on pursuing a PhD in Communication or a related field to select this option in hopes that completing a thesis will enhance their chances being able to move forward with their academic and career aspirations.

In certain specialized situations, the Graduate Program Director may designate an M.S. instead of an M.A. degree.  Unless approved by the Graduate Program Director, all students will earn an M.A. in Professional Communication.  Contact the Director for further details.

Non-Degree Seeking Post-Baccalaureate:

If you have already earned an undergraduate degree, you can apply to take up to twelve (12) credits as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate student. If you are a non-degree-seeking post-baccalaureate student, you are not admitted to the graduate program. You will not be eligible for financial aid, nor for assistantships. However, you can re-apply to the program as a degree-seeking candidate within the same semester that you begin as a non-degree seeking student. If you are admitted as a degree-seeking student, you can apply up to twelve (12) credits taken as a non-degree-seeking student to your graduate degree.

Teaching Assistantships:

A limited number of teaching assistantships are available and  provide tuition reduction and a stipend. The assistantship normally requires teaching two lower-level sections. All recipients must be enrolled in two graduate courses during each of the regular semesters of the academic year.  See www.ipfw.edu/comm/grad for details.

Program Requirements

Cognate Studies: Credits 12

  • You may apply to count up to four courses for 12 credits toward your specialization area.
  • Courses are to be selected with the approval of your advisor or advising committee from graduate-level courses in communication or other disciplines.
  • Undergraduate-level coursework will not count toward cognate studies, even if you completed this coursework while seeking another graduate degree.

Total Minimum Credits: 36

Student Responsibility

You are responsible for satisfying the graduation requirements specified for your selected program.  Thus, it is essential that you develop a thorough understanding of the required courses, academic policies and procedures governing your academic career.  All requests for exceptions to specific requirements must be made in writing and may be granted only by written approval from the Graduate Director.

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