Why Choose CSU
Ph.D. in Communication
Our doctoral program offers a rigorous scholarly experience with maximum flexibility.
- Candidates develop programs of study tailored to their unique professional goals, choosing courses from our three departmental specializations.
- Doctoral students teach a variety of undergraduate courses, and they are mentored by acclaimed scholars engaged in leading-edge research.
- We have distinctive programmatic features that you won’t find anywhere else in the nation, including the Center for Public Deliberation and the ACT Human Rights Film Festival.
- We train students as scholars, practitioners, and professionals who are well-prepared for the academic job market and skilled at translating their research for diverse civic and professional audiences.
M.A. in Communication Studies
Our M.A. degrees offers an introduction to the field of Communication Studies, with core courses in our three areas of study and instruction in critical and social scientific research methods.
- Students augment our M.A. core with electives of their choosing and they complete a master’s thesis under the advisement of a faculty committee.
- Thesis track students hold Graduate Teaching Assistantships and are the instructors of record in their own sections of public speaking and may assist faculty in other courses.
- Our award-winning instructor training prepares graduate students to succeed as teachers, and the professional experience gained in the classroom is valued by employers in diverse contexts.
Deliberative Practices Track
- The deliberative specialization augments our regular M.A. core and elective curriculum with coursework and research in public deliberation.
- Working with our nationally recognized Center for Public Deliberation, students are trained as impartial facilitators and gain experience designing and running deliberative processes in the local community.
- Deliberative Practices students complete an applied research project that supports the mission of the CPD and/or relates to public deliberation. They are also eligible for Graduate Teaching Assistantships.
Faculty Areas of Specialization
Faculty research and teaching within the Department of Communication Studies is organized around three main areas of specialization: Film and Media Studies, Relational and Organizational Communication, and Rhetoric and Civic Engagement. However, students nor faculty are siloed into one of these areas. Scholarship is fluid across these areas. Students benefit greatly from exposure to all three areas and develop a program of study tailored to their professional goals.
Watch the short videos below for an overview by faculty on each area, or take a deeper dive into faculty expertise on our Faculty Areas of Specialization page.
Film & Media Studies
Classes in this area examine television, film, new media, and music and their relationships to culture and society.
- SPCM547 – Media Industries
- SPCM548 – Media Texts
- SPCM549 – Media Audiences
- SPCM550 – Contemporary Issues in Media
- SPCM646 – Media Theory
Relational & Organizational Communication
Classes in this area explore the verbal and nonverbal aspects of interpersonal, small group, co-cultural, intercultural, and organizational communication.
- SPCM532 – Theories of Interpersonal Communication
- SPCM533 – Discourse, Work, and Organization
- SPCM534 – Communication and Cultural Diversity
- SPCM539 – Communication Theory
- SPCM638 – Communication Research Methods
Rhetoric & Civic Engagement
Classes in this area explore the ways that public discourse is used to persuade and influence others across a range of rhetorical texts including speeches, political artifacts, architecture, photography, and museums.
- SPCM504 –Rhetoric of Everyday Life
- SPCM511 – Topics in Public Address
- SPCM520 – Rhetoric and Public Affairs
- SPCM523 – Feminist Theories of Discourse
- SPCM540/ETST540 – Rhetoric, Race, and Identity
- SPCM601 – History of Rhetorical Theory
- SPCM612 – Rhetorical Criticism
Program Benefits & Perks
We support graduate students with comprehensive funding, competitive opportunities, and transformative resources.
- Funding duration: M.A. 2 years | Ph.D. 4 years
- Tuition covered. Student pays fees.
- 9-month stipend
- Extensive training, including graduate seminars in pedagogy and professional development, and one-on-one faculty mentoring.
Conference Travel Support
- Reimbursable expenses that vary by year and destination.
- M.A. 1 conference | Ph.D. 2 conferences
Diverse Teaching Assignments
- M.A. and Ph.D. students serve as the instructor of record in Public Speaking
- M.A. and Ph.D. students support undergraduate courses taught by tenure track faculty and large lecture recitations
- Ph.D. students teach a variety of upper-division classes
- Support tenure track faculty with grant-funded projects and summer research assignments
- Grants to support thesis and dissertation research, including research site visits, travel to archives, survey and experiment costs, transcription fees, and compensating research participants
Department Resources & Programs
Communication Research Lab
Dedicated space to conduct interviews, focus groups, and experimental research, including VR and biomarker testing.
ACT Human Rights Film Festival
Attend and help execute Colorado’s only weeklong film festival dedicated to human rights.
Center for Public Deliberation
Design and run deliberative processes on campus and in the community in partnership with nationally-recognized deliberation scholars.
How to Apply
To apply to a graduate program in Communication Studies at Colorado State University, prospective students must submit an online application and application fee.
The following items are required for application to a graduate program in Communication Studies at Colorado State University:
- Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
- Statement of Purpose
- Writing sample
- Three letters of reference