Skip to main content

M.S. Degree Requirements

Students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework. That includes 9 credit hours of core courses, 27 credit hours of electives.

Course Requirements

Core Courses (9 credit hours)

Two of the following methods courses:

  • COM 540: Critical and Interpretive Inquiry in Communication
  • COM 541: Quantitative Methods
  • COM 542: Qualitative Methods

One theory course:

  • COM 561: Communication Theory

Full-time students should register for core courses during their first year (fall and spring semesters). Part-time students should take the required core courses as they become available during their first three semesters.

No more than 9 credit hours may be accepted for transfer. Courses submitted for transfer are subject to the approval of the director of graduate studies and the Graduate School.

Elective Courses (27 credit hours)

With 27 credit hours of elective courses, students have ample time to explore personal interests, new career paths and fine-tune communication skills.

A few notes:

  • 18 of your elective credit hours must come from 500-level communication courses.
  • 9 credit hours can be taken in other disciplines.
  • 6 credit hours can come from independent study (COM 630).
  • 6 credit hours can come from an internship (COM 650).
  • 6 credit hours can come from master’s thesis research (COM 695).

Here are a few communication electives we’ve offered in recent years. Course offerings vary by semester, so check with your advisor before enrolling.

  • COM 516: Rhetorical Criticism: Theory and Practice
  • COM 523: International and Intercultural Communication
  • COM 529: Communication Campaigns
  • COM 536: Environmental Communication
  • COM 537: Gaming and Social Networks
  • COM 538: Risk Communication
  • COM 547: Mobile Technologies and Social Practices
  • COM 563: Public Relations Theory
  • COM 566: Seminar in Crisis Communication
  • COM 581: Visual Rhetoric: Theory and Criticism
  • COM 630 Independent Study
  • COM 650: Internship

Through NC State’s Inter-Institutional Program, students can also register for classes at UNC System schools and Duke University. Students must obtain approval from the director of graduate programs and complete a form.

Graduate students in other programs and non-degree-seeking students are welcome to request enrollment in communication electives. Here’s how it works:

  1. Make note of the course name, course number, section number and the instructor.
  2. Email the instructor with the course details, along with your request to enroll. Provide a brief explanation for your interest in taking the class.
  3. If approved, the professor will forward his or her approval in an email to the graduate services coordinator (GSC), copying you.
  4. You’ll then send the following information directly to the GSC:
    1. The name of the course, course number, section number.
    2. Your full name.
    3. Indicate if you are on the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) in the event the course needs to be “swapped” for another to maintain your required minimum hours.
    4. Your student ID number.

Note: Communication master’s students have priority enrollment over non-program students, although most COM-prefix 500-level courses have 700-level equivalents and seats are reserved for each level. There is a slight risk non-COM program students could be bumped from courses of choice should enrollment reach capacity and COM-program students need to take courses.

Thesis and Non-Thesis Tracks

Our students have unique goals and objectives, and we offer them a variety of ways to demonstrate their knowledge. Whether it’s through a thesis, comprehensive exams or other options, our faculty advisors will help you identify an ideal choice.

One option is a thesis, a research project that helps develop a strong foundation in our discipline. On this track, you’ll work with faculty to develop a research topic, written thesis and oral defense.

Other options include comprehensive exams, in which you’ll test and apply your expertise through written and oral assessments.

A student sits behind a desk and talks to two people

Internships and Independent Study


Through our internship course (COM 650), you can put your advanced communication skills to work at a local business or organization. This course counts for up to 6 credit hours (one internship for 6 hours or two internships for 3 credits each).

You’ll work with our graduate program faculty to find an opportunity, negotiate pay and balance your studies and hours. Contact the director of graduate programs Elizabeth Craig prior to taking the course to discuss your plans and get approval for your internship.

Independent Study

Through our independent study course (COM 630), you’ll work on an agreed-upon research project with a faculty member. This course counts for up to 6 credit hours.

Our goal is for you to produce work for a conference presentation or for publication. This project does not take the form of a typical structured class.