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Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Exploring the interplay of power and communication, our program provides advanced training in core theories and methodologies in communication studies and critically engages contemporary research themes in the discipline. Our program is animated by interdisciplinary faculty with expertise in areas such as alternative media, cultural and creative industries, digital cultures, global media, health communication, media history, mobilities, popular music, social media, visual communication, and beyond.

Normally completed in 12 months, the MA in Communication Studies offers three options of study:  major research paper and coursework; thesis and coursework; coursework only.

The Major Research Paper (MRP) option is the default for admission.  All students are accepted to this option and may apply to change to the thesis or coursework option after consultation with the graduate co-ordinator.

All students must complete two required courses:  CS600 - Graduate Seminar in Communication Studies and CS601 - Communication Studies Research Methods.

A cooperative education program, with limited enrolment, is open to full-time students.

Major Research Paper Option

Under the MRP option, students will take the two required courses (CS600 and CS601) and four elective courses in Communication Studies or a related area plus CS695* - Major Research Paper. You will take three courses in both the fall and winter terms.  Under faculty supervision, you will complete your MRP in the summer.

The MRP is considered to be similar to a thesis in the quality and originality of research, but less than a thesis in scope. Research topics will be approved by the student’s advisory committee, which will normally consist of a supervisor and a second committee member (or reader). MRPs will be approximately 50 to 60 pages in length, not including bibliography and notes.

On completion of the MRP, the supervisor, any readers, and the Graduate Coordinator will determine if any revisions or further drafts are required. The MRP is graded on a pass/faily basis and there is no oral defence.

Thesis Option

In exceptional circumstances, students may be allowed to complete the thesis option instead of the MRP option.

Students in the thesis option will take four one-term courses plus CS699 - Thesis, consisting of the two required courses (CS600 and CS601) and two elective courses. The thesis shares the same basic properties and structure of the MRP, but is considerably larger in scope (100-120 pages) and must contain a substantive amount of original scholarly research.

Students wishing to write a thesis should consult with the graduate program director during the fall term of their first year. A thesis abstract, of approximately 500 words, is due December 15 to the graduate co-ordinator. The abstract, along with the student's academic record from the fall term, will be assessed by the graduate co-ordinator and the graduate committee and, if approved, a supervisory committee will be established. Students will be notified of the committee's decision within three weeks of the submission deadline. The committee will then decide upon a work schedule, using the MRP guidelines as a template.

On completion of the thesis, students will be expected to pass an oral defence of the work by an examining committee, which will include the student's supervisors and readers(s), and an external examiner who is at arm's length from the student. The purpose of the oral defence is to demonstrate to the examiners that the candidate fully understands the work that was completed, how the research was completed, and the meaning and significance of the findings and conclusions. The candidate must have a clear understanding of how the work fits with the relevant literature and/or practice. The thesis is graded on a pass/faily basis.

Coursework Option

Coursework-only option students will take eight one-term courses. Course offerings may be explored in the Graduate Academic Calendar.

Cooperative Education Program

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies may be taken as a cooperative education program.
This limited enrolment option is open to full-time students. Applicants indicate their interest in being considered for the cooperative education program when they apply to the program.