Graduate Program Details

MS in Communication

Program Details

At Portland State, Communication graduate students complete a total of 46 credits to earn a Master of Science degree. Students begin the program together with their cohort in fall. All students take foundational courses in social science research methods and theory. As they complete, their required courses, they choose among a variety of electives. The Communication graduate degree program is designed to provide a broad foundation in social scientific approaches to communication, but students can tailor the courses they choose to their individual goals. All students are assigned a faculty mentor for their first year in the program. Thereafter, they choose a faculty adviser who provides one-on-one support throughout their time.

Core Requirements

All students who earn a Master of Science degree in Communication complete the following requirements:

Comm 511 - Introduction to Communication Theory
4 credits

Comm 521 - Quantitative Methods of Communication
4 credits

Comm 531 - Qualitative Methods of Communication
4 credits

Comm 503 or 506 - Thesis or Project (Exam)
6 credits

Elective Courses
28 credits total

Program Total Credits:
46 credits 

Required and Elective Courses

All graduate students complete the core required theory and method courses. In addition, students choose from a variety of electives offered in the Department. Graduate students may take an elective course outside the Department if relevant to the student's program of study and if approved by their adviser and the Graduate Program Director.

Apprenticeship and Internship Credits

Full-time graduate students are encouraged to take the one-credit apprenticeship class (Communication 507) each term (unless you have completed all your coursework). Part-time students are welcome but not required to take the apprenticeship course. The apprenticeship course introduces you to the scholarly process, allowing you to work one-on-one with a graduate faculty member on his or her research. Students may have the opportunity to present and publish research by completing apprenticeship coursework. Additionally, students may take internship credits to apply their coursework to professional careers (Communication 504).

Track Options

Students choose from a Thesis or Project (Exam) option at the time they apply for admission. They may apply to switch to the other track at the end of their first academic year.

Research Track (Thesis Option)

The Research Track is a great fit for students who wish to pursue doctoral studies after completing their MS in Communication or who wish to be able to design and carry out their own studies. Research Track students complete a thesis which entails systematic study and a written research report about a topic in the field of communication. Research Track students will partner with a member of the graduate faculty on their thesis. Our graduate faculty have a range of research expertise including media, politics, health, conversation, campaigns, language and interaction, persuasion and propaganda. 

When applying for the Research Track, applicants are requested to furnish GRE scores. Faculty give first priority to Research Track students when awarding Graduate Teaching Assistantships. 

Professional Track (Project/Exam Option)

The Professional Track is designed for students who prefer to focus on applying their studies to careers in communication. We especially encourage mid-career professionals to apply for this track. Professional Track students complete three written take-home exams as their culminating projects. Students work with their faculty advisor and committee to negotiate exam topics that apply to real-world problems they hope to solve.