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Applied Communication Studies


Students must complete at least 33 semester hours for this degree. A foreign language is not required. With approval of the student’s graduate advisory committee, up to 3 hours of 400-level and up to 3 hours of course work from outside the applied communication studies curriculum may be applied toward the minimum of 33 hours. Additionally, up to 3 hours of independent study credits may be applied toward the student’s program of study. In general, our students will most likely take courses from the following departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Geography, Management and Marketing, Mass Communications, Psychology, Public Administration and Policy Analysis, and Sociology and Criminal Justice.


All students admitted to the program are required to enroll in the program core, which consists of two courses (6 semester hours total):

  • ACS 500 Seminar in Communication Theory
  • ACS 501 Communication Research Methods and Tools

The core courses must be completed with a minimum grade of "B" the first time that they are offered after the student is admitted. ACS 500 must be completed with a B grade before taking ACS 501. Students who fail to meet this stipulation will be restricted from enrolling in any other 500-level courses until the program core requirement is met.

Students are also required to declare an area of specialization and complete three courses in their respective area of specialization. These courses include:

Health Communication

  • ACS 530 Survey of Health Communication Theory and Research
  • ACS 531 Culture, Heath and Communication
  • ACS 532 Seminar in Health Communication Campaigns
  • ACS 533 Seminar in Provider/Caregiver-Patient Communication

Interpersonal Communication

  • ACS 520 Seminar in Interpersonal Communication.
  • ACS 521 Seminar in Computer-Mediated Communication
  • ACS 522 Seminar in Family Communication

Organizational Communication

  • ACS 540 Survey of Organizational Communication Research
  • ACS 541 Seminar in Organizational Culture
  • ACS 542 Communication Consulting

Public Relations

  • ACS 550 Seminar in Public Relations
  • ACS 551 Nonprofit Public Relations
  • ACS 552 Corporate Social Responsibility

Responsibility for the development of the remainder of the student’s program of study rests with the student and student’s graduate advisory committee. The Department of Applied Communication Studies offers a variety of courses designed to fit and complement the students’ academic and professional interests.

Plan of Study

Students may choose a treatise or a non-treatise plan of study. These plans are comparable yet different. While the treatise plan engages students in intensive research experiences, students taking the non-treatise plan will gain research experience through graduate coursework and other options, such as independent studies that require empirical research.

Treatise Plan

Students who select the treatise plan (thesis or applied project) must declare their intentions by the time they have completed 18 semester hours of graduate work. They will complete a minimum total of 27 hours of course work. They will confirm their ability to conduct research in applied communication studies by submitting a treatise for six semester hours of credit in ACS 598 or ACS 599. Students writing a thesis must take 6 credits of methods (and 12 credits of electives). If a student is completing the project exit option, his or her advisor will determine if an additional methods class is required and applicable. The oral defense then provides a supplemental assessment of the student’s performance on the written portion of the treatise.

Non-Treatise Plan

Students who select the non-treatise plan will complete a minimum total of 33 hours of course work. They will confirm their ability to conduct research in applied communication studies through the research projects and papers that they complete during their course work.

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