- A 30-unit program that you can complete in two years
- Coursework to explore your interests in media, communication, and culture
- Evening classes and flexible program plans for working professionals
- Graduate internship and independent study opportunities
- Three "culminating experience" options, including a Master's thesis, graduate project, or comprehensive examination
- Several funding and professional development opportunities, including Graduate Teaching Associateships, Communication Consultancies, Research Assistantships, and Scholarships.
- Award-winning faculty with expertise in human communication, media studies, and strategic communication (among other areas)
- An alumni network of highly successful communication professionals, educators, and scholars
So what is the M.A. in Communication Studies? It’s a program where you can…
Explore your interests in communication, media, and culture
CSUSB’s Master of Arts in Communication Studies is a two-year, 30-unit graduate program that prepares effective and ethical communication professionals, educators, and scholars. Our faculty and students are a talented and diverse group, and they study a wide range of communication processes, including: interpersonal and intercultural communication; strategic communication and public relations; digital/media studies and production; instructional and health communication; and communication for social justice.
Watch Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb explain how CSUSB's diversity helps her and our M.A. students grow.
Take engaging coursework taught by faculty experts
Our M.A. students enjoy small, hands-on classes and one-on-one faculty mentorship. Most of our courses are offered in the evenings to fit working professionals’ schedules. During the 2023-2024 academic year, our graduate-level coursework will include seminars in: Communication Theory; Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods; Family Communication; The Political Economy of Communication (i.e., wealth, power, and the media); Strategic Planning in Public Relations; and Immersive Media (e.g., augmented, virtual reality, and “the metaverse”).
Each of our M.A. courses are taught by the department’s award-winning faculty, including: Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb (PR, media studies, & documentary filmmaking), Dr. Gregory Gondwe (community & multimedia journalism), Dr. Gretchen Bergquist (communication & identity), Dr. Jess Nerren (PR & disability inclusion), Dr. Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos (decolonial media, art, & social justice), and Dr. Mihaela Popescu (immersive media and communication law & policy)
Hear Dr. Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos describe the logic of coloniality and how her teaching, scholarship, and art disrupts it.
Tap extensive funding and professional development opportunities
Communication Studies M.A. students enjoy a number of funding and professional development opportunities. Our Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs) earn a stipend and gain valuable professional experience teaching undergraduate sections of Oral Communication (COMM 1006). The Speaking Center’s Communication Consultants help students from across campus to prepare for class presentations, interviews, and other speaking opportunities. And graduate student researchers in CSUSB’s xREAL Lab work with faculty on impactful, cutting-edge research and storytelling. Our students also secure need- and merit-based scholarships, such as the Graduate Equity Fellowship and the prestigious Sally Casanova Pre-doctoral Scholarship.
Engage in and share your research and creative work
The M.A. in Communication Studies has a rich tradition of student research and creative work. Students share that work in venues like CSUSB’s Student Research Competition and the “Grad Slam” 3-Minute Thesis Competition. They also attend major academic conferences like National Communication Association (NCA) and International Communication Association (ICA). And in Summer 2023, two Communication Studies M.A. students will participate in a 4-week summer research program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication — one of the top Communication doctoral programs in the country.
Watch M.A. program alumni Alexia B. Martinez and Olabode Lawal present their thesis research at CSUSB’s 2022 3-Minute Thesis Competition.
Be a leader on campus and in the community
Our M.A. students are active on campus and in the community. They represent CSUSB on the university’s Model United Nations delegation, serve on the ASI Board of Directors, and are founding members of groups like the Graduate Student Society and the Coyote Pack. They also organize events like the Speak for Social Justice public speaking competition, and they work with community organizations like Building Resilient Communities and Riverside Pride. Little surprise, then, that Communication Studies graduate students are regularly recognized as the College of Arts & Letters’ Outstanding Graduate Students.
Check out a few of our outstanding graduate students' (now alumni) accomplishments
Complete an enriching “culminating experience”
At the conclusion of the program, our M.A. students complete a “culminating experience,” such as a Master’s thesis, graduate project, or comprehensive examination. These rigorous and enriching endeavors see students put their coursework into practice and demonstrate what they have learned. As they do, they are guided and supported by faculty mentors like Dr. Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos and Dr. Mariam Betlemidze, both of whom have been recognized for their outstanding mentorship.
Check out our M.A. students’ recent Master’s theses and graduate projects, and read M.A. alumna Marisol Botello’s experience completing her Master’s thesis.
Prepare for doctoral studies at top Ph.D. programs
After graduation, some of our M.A. program alumni pursue their doctorates or other terminal degrees (e.g., M.F.A.) at top programs in media, communication, cultural studies, and related fields. Indeed, in the just past 5 years, 10 of our M.A. students have secured positions at top Ph.D. programs, including Northwestern University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of California-Irvine, the University of Oregon, the University of New Mexico, and the Institute for Communication Research at the University of Illinois.
And watch below as M.A. alumni Shane Burrell (2021) describes his path to the Ph.D.
Launch or advance your career as a communication professional
Today’s employers consistently identify communication and critical thinking as their most sought-after skills for prospective hires. And our M.A. alumni translate their expertise in these areas into rewarding careers as public- and private-sector communication professionals, including:
- Kaiser Permanente Communications Consultant, Chelsea Galvez
- Growing Inland Achievement Communications Director, Jake Poore
- 4A’s Foundation Director of Talent, Equity & Inclusion, Jacquelyn Green
- Advancing Steps Founder and Executive Director, Walker Beverly
Read this post by M.A. alumna, Marisol Botello about her career as a Marketing Manager at Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Inc.
Share your insights as a communication educator
Given their wealth of expertise, our M.A. program alumni -- particularly our former GTAs -- can also be found teaching at every area community college and in college and universities across California. In fact, our M.A. alumni chair or coordinate several local Communication programs, including Mount San Jacinto College's Basemeh Rihan, Riverside City College’s Cliff Ruth, and Chaffey College’s Steve Shelton.
Check out this profile of M.A. program alumna, CSUSB instructor, and local radio personality, Lacey Kendall