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Mass Communications

CHAIR: Teri K. Henley, M.B.A. OFFICE: 332 Communications/Music


Program Description

The program leading to the master of arts (M.A.) in mass communications at Loyola is designed to increase the student’s knowledge and understanding of the roles and functions of mass communications, the processes and effects of mass communications, the history of the mass media in the United States, and the economic structure of the media. As such, it will appeal to persons working in the communications industry, those who wish to work in that industry, and, particularly, those who wish to prepare themselves for doctoral study in communications. It will be possible for students to complete the large majority of degree requirements through evening study.

One of the program’s distinguishing features is its emphasis on the study of ethical practices within the mass media. The program requires that all students successfully complete a course in the ethics of the mass media. The graduate core curriculum forces the thematic consideration of ethical problems and issues, and graduate electives may include courses designed to produce ethics information resource materials for public distribution.

Program Summary

The degree program consists of 30 hours of coursework and a six-hour thesis. A final written exam and a final oral exam are required.

There are three types of communications graduate courses: core, elective, and cognate. Students are required to take 15 hours of core courses. Core and elective courses are offered within the communications department. Up to nine hours of cognate courses may be taken outside the communications department.


Students seeking admission to the graduate program in mass communications must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants are required to submit for evaluation:

  1. a résumé with a personal statement indicating educational goals and reasons for pursuing the M.A. degree,
  2. two letters of recommendation indicating academic and professional competencies,
  3. transcripts of all previous college work, and
  4. a recent (within the past five years) GRE score. International applicants with degrees from non-English-speaking universities are also required to submit TOEFL scores.

Applicants may be required to complete successfully up to 15 hours of undergraduate-level courses in communications as prerequisites before being formally admitted to the graduate program. Prerequisites will be determined on an individual basis based on the applicant’s academic record and professional communications experience. Members of the graduate faculty of the department will sit as a board to evaluate applications for admissions and to decide what prerequisites, if any, newly admitted students must complete.

Deadlines for submitting all relevant materials for evaluation are July 1 for fall semester admission and November 1 for spring semester admission.

Couse Requirements

Each M.A. candidate must complete a minimum of 21 hours of coursework within the Department of Communications. All graduate students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in the graduate program, with no grade lower than a C.

Core Courses

Fifteen hours of core courses are required. Core courses cover broad themes and topics in the field of mass communications. The five required core courses are:

CMMN A701 Mass Communications Theory . 3 hrs
CMMN A702 Mass Communications Research . 3 hrs
CMMN A703 Mass Communications Ethics 3 hrs.
CMMN A704 Mass Communications Law s. 3 hr
CMMN A705 Mass Communications History 3 hrs.

Elective Courses

Graduate elective courses include undergraduate/graduate cross-listings and graduate-only seminars and tutorials dealing with professional and scholarly topics in mass communications. Graduate elective courses may offer the opportunity for students to participate in the publication of informational resources for local and regional communications professionals.
M.A. candidates may satisfy up to 15 hours of degree requirements by enrolling in graduate-only elective courses offered by the Department of Communications. Non-repeatable graduate-only electives include:

CMMN A713 Mass Media and Society . 3 hrs
CMMN A714 Management of Mass Communications 3 hrs.

The following graduate-only elective courses may be repeated for credit, with the permission of the graduate adviser:

CMMN A894 Experimental Course 1 – 3 hrs., may be repeated
CMMN A896 Seminar/Workshop 1 – 3 hrs., may be repeated
CMMN A899 Independent Study 1 – 3 hrs., may be repeated

Students in CMMN A896 will normally contribute to the production of print (or other) materials designed to introduce mass media professionals to the study of ethics. These printed materials might include newsletters reviewing important books in the field and/or scholarly compilations of ethics research and comment. Participation in workshops, practica, or other activities promoting discussion and analysis of professional ethics is an important part of the graduate-only elective requirement.

All senior-level undergraduate courses (CMMN A402 – A480) within the Department of Communications may be taken—in more rigorous form—for graduate credit, insofar as these undergraduate courses are distinct from graduate course offerings. However, no more than nine hours of undergraduate/graduate cross-listed courses may apply toward the M.A. degree in communications. Graduate students will be expected to do additional work and will be held to a higher standard of performance than undergraduates in these cross-listed courses.

Cognate Courses

Each M.A. candidate may complete up to nine hours of graduate-level coursework in a cognate area outside the Department of Communications. Cognate courses are selected in consultation with the graduate adviser and with permission of the offering unit and might be chosen from graduate offerings at Loyola University including religious studies, education, law, business, or music.
Demonstrated proficiency in a language other than the student’s native language gains three hours of credit in the cognate course category. This proficiency will normally be demonstrated through satisfactory performance on the appropriate GRE foreign language exam (or its approved equivalent).

Transfer Credit

Students may transfer up to six hours of graduate-level courses toward the master’s degree at Loyola, with the approval of the graduate adviser, in consultation with the department chair. Transfer courses will not normally fulfill core course requirements, but may be credited toward elective or cognate requirements, as determined by the director of graduate studies. Transfer credits earned more than five years prior to enrollment—or more than six years prior to formal admission to M.A. degree candidacy—will ordinarily not be considered.

Joint Degree Program

The Department of Communications has established a joint degree program with Loyola’s School of Law.

Applicants to the M.A./J.D. program must apply separately and be admitted separately to each graduate program. Upon acceptance, M.A. candidates may apply nine hours of coursework in the juris doctor program toward the completion of the M.A. degree. Nine hours of graduate work in the Department of Communications may likewise be applied toward the completion of the juris doctor degree.

M.A. Degree Candidacy

Degree candidacy is an intermediate status in the normal progress toward a graduate degree. Graduate students may gain full and formal admission to the graduate program—and become M.A. candidates—after satisfying any undergraduate deficiencies and successfully completing 12 graduate credit hours (with at least nine hours in the communications core curriculum). Students must undergo evaluation for degree candidacy at the completion of 18 graduate credit hours (with at least nine hours in the communications core curriculum). At this point, the graduate program committee of the Department of Communications will evaluate the student’s courses and grades to determine whether to grant the student M.A. degree candidacy. Graduate students without a 3.0 grade point average will not be granted M.A. candidacy. Only M.A. degree candidates are assigned thesis advisers, and only M.A. degree candidates are eligible to register for thesis hours.

M.A. degree candidates must complete the degree no later than six years after their formal admission as candidates.


Final Written and Oral Examinations

At the completion of all coursework, all M.A. candidates are required to pass a written examination demonstrating knowledge of the required graduate core curriculum topics. This exam will be based on a reading list composed of both required and supplemental texts for the core curriculum courses.
At the completion of the thesis, all M.A. candidates are required to pass an oral examination based on the content of the thesis.


An M.A. candidate may register for three hours of thesis—CMMN A898/Research Project—during the semester after the completion of 12 hours in the degree program, with at least nine of these hours in the graduate core curriculum. Students are not allowed to register for thesis hours without being formally admitted as M.A. candidates.
General requirements and deadlines for the thesis are determined by the Department of Communications. These requirements include the selection of a three-member graduate committee to direct, review, and evaluate the candidate’s thesis. Specific requirements for the thesis are determined in consultation with the candidate’s graduate adviser and the candidate’s graduate committee.


Updated August 23, 2005