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Masters in Communication

Welcome to the graduate program in the Department of Communication, Media, & Persuasion (CMP) at Idaho State University! For more than fifty years, ISU’s Master of Arts in Communication program has been preparing graduates to be active citizens in public life who critically engage with the world, whether as creative, strategic professionals or as researchers pursuing academic careers in teaching and scholarship. The program continues this mission in the 21st century by using contemporary methods and best practices in communication.

Why get your Masters in Communication at ISU?

The Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion offers a diverse and customizable program. Our graduate faculty are not only dedicated teachers, they are also national and international scholars who present their research in books, journals, exhibitions, and conferences. Their expertise extends across the breadth of the field, including Corporate Communications (Leadership, Advertising, Public Relations); Multiplatform Journalism; Visual Media (Photo, Video, Design); and Rhetoric & Media Affairs. With the size of our program, faculty are able to work closely with graduate students, providing them with exceptional guidance and experience.

Though it is possible to work at an accelerated pace, the Master of Arts in Communication is designed as a two-year program.

The Masters in Communication can now be completed entirely online with synchronous online classes, or in-person! 


CMP Graduate Student Handbook

Graduate Program of Study form CMP


All programs of study will be expected to reflect the following departmental standards:

  • At least 30 MA program credits
  • At least 15 credits must be from 6600-level coursework.
  • At least 18 credits must be from course work in Communication, Media, and Persuasion.
  • Students choosing the Graduate Degree Paper option must take a minimum of 27 course credits plus a minimum of 3 Graduate Degree Paper (CMP 6660) credits.
  • Students choosing the Thesis option must take a minimum of 24 course credits plus a minimum of 6 Thesis (CMP 6650) credits.

Required Coursework:

  • CMP 6601 Introduction to Graduate Research Methods (to be taken in a student’s first fall semester)
  • All Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to take CMP 5587 Rhetorical Theory: 3 semester hours.
  • All Graduate Students must take one of the following courses:
    • CMP 5509 Communication Inquiry: 3 semester hours. (Spring) 
      Introduces tools and strategies communication professionals use to answer questions and solve problems through systematic investigation. The course will focus on developing an understanding of applied communication research, including design, sampling, data collection, and data analysis. Specific, evaluated graduate-level activities and/or performances are identified in the course syllabus. 

      - or -

    • CMP 5588 Rhetorical Criticism: 3 semester hours. (Spring) 
      Study and application of various theories and methods of rhetorical criticism including Aristotelian and Burkeian principles. Specific, evaluated graduate-level activities and/or performances are identified in the course syllabus.
  • A minimum of nine credits of CMP 6630 Seminar in Communication (repeatable)
    • In-depth study and analysis of selected topics related to the communication field. See instructor for specific topics. Repeatable if covering different topics. General Areas and Specific Course Topics include:
      • Media
        • Media & Culture
        • Social Movements
        • Communication Revolutions
      • Criticism & Theory
        • Visual Culture Methods
        • Human Symbol Usage
        • Metaphor & Thought
      • Strategic Communication
        • Crisis Communication
        • Creative Team Leadership
  • Additional credits from 5500 and/or 6600 level CMP courses or other graduate-level courses approved as part of a program of study (Graduate Program of Study Form)
  • Graduate Degree Paper or Thesis

The primary objectives related to the Master of Arts in Communication program are to help students develop the following competencies:

  • Graduates will develop an understanding of communication research methodology and roles of research in academia.
  • Graduates finishing their master’s degree will find professional employment in public or private sectors of business, service, or education.
  • Graduates will further their graduate careers by pursuing a doctorate in communication.

As part of the above, students completing the program will meet the following goals:

  • Graduates will pass oral defense.
  • Graduates will submit to and/or present at a professional conference.
  • Graduates will find employment in education, public service, or business.

Frequently Asked Questions

The application deadlines for the program are set by the ISU Graduate School. Currently, students wishing to enroll in the Spring Semester must apply by Nov. 1st. Students seeking entry during the Summer or Fall Semesters must apply by April 1st.

For full admission requirements, please visit http://coursecat.isu.edu/graduate/artsandletters/communicationmediaandpersuasion/

Yes. To be considered for a teaching assistantship, students must send complete application materials by April 15. Assistantships offer over $8000 for the academic year and are generally awarded for the fall and spring semesters. Application materials are available by contacting the department directly or by clicking the button above.

In addition, all graduate teaching assistants must have either completed CMP 4487/5587: Rhetorical Theory or complete the course within their first semester as a teaching assistant.


The program is quite flexible. You will likely take graduate courses in other departments to supplement your course work in Communication, Media, and Persuasion. However, the courses you take will need to form a cohesive program of study. You need to work with a graduate advisor to approve the "additional credits" as part of your program.

Each graduate student has unique interests and goals, and there are many departments with courses that are relevant to an individually tailored MA in Communication. Explore the most recent graduate catalog thoughtfully and thoroughly. Previous graduate students have found valuable classes in departments and programs such as Anthropology, Business Administration, English, Educational Leadership, History, Organizational Learning and Performance, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

Be sure to contact one of the graduate faculty before registering. That faculty member can direct you to a few courses that will be appropriate. Eventually, you and an advisor will work out the entire program of study. Do plan to take CMP 6601 Introduction to Graduate Research Methods in your first semester as a graduate student (or in your first fall semester if you begin the program in the spring or summer). If you have minimal undergraduate background in the communication field, you might consider taking CMP 5585 Classical Rhetorical Theory and/or CMP 5503 Mass Communication and Society to give you a better historical and theoretical foundation.

It depends on many things. First, graduate classes require much more individual effort and out-of-class time than undergraduate classes. Full time graduate students typically take 9-12 credits in a semester. Also, as with most faculty across the university, CMP department faculty are not on contract during the summer and, therefore, not available to assist graduate students during that time. Summer progress is possible but is usually limited to courses in other programs that offer summer graduate classes and self-directed work on degree papers or theses. Finally, much depends on how long it takes a student to complete, polish, and defend a final degree paper or thesis. Though it is possible to work at an accelerated pace, the MA in Communication is designed as a two-year program.

The Department of Communication, Media & Persuasion maintains a 3-year schedule of graduate level coursework, which is listed below.

(Please note: This schedule is subject to change and is not a guarantee.)

Semester/Year  Fall 2022  Spring 2023  Fall 2023 


 Spring 2024   

Fall 2024  Spring 2025 
CMP 6601

Communication & Media Studies

Neelam Sharma 


Communication & Media Studies

Neelam Sharma 



Communication & Media Studies

Neelam Sharma 



CMP 6630

Understanding Visual Culture

Terry Ownby 

Social Media & International Study

Neelam Sharma 

Media and Culture

Zac Gershberg 

Sport Rhetoric and Culture

Karen Hartman 

Social Media & Advertising



Sarah Partlow-Lefevre 

CMP 6630


Creative Team Leadership

James DiSanza 


Design Theory

Nikyra Capson 


Rhetoric of Identity

Nancy Legge