Jul 23, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Communication, M.A.


The Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston offers four Master’s degrees directed toward professional success in both academic and non-academic careers.  The goal of the program is to produce graduate students who are able to move effectively into professional media positions, advance their current careers, teach in junior colleges or high schools, or enter into top doctoral programs.

To date, our school has placed graduates into top-ranked Ph.D. programs as well as into non-academic positions in both public and private institutions.  Regardless of the career goal, the graduate program broadens each student’s communication expertise through courses that improve conceptual, applied, and research skills - all of which are critical for successful careers in today’s information-oriented and changing global society.

There are four major areas of concentration within this program:  Mass Communication Studies, Public Relations Studies, Health Communication Studies, and Speech Communication.

  • Health communication concentration examines the symbolic and organizational processes by which people, individually and collectively, understand, shape, and accommodate to health and illness.
  • Mass communication concentration explains the development of modern media systems and their impact on society, and examines ways in which the media contribute and respond to political, social and economic issues.
  • Public relations concentration studies theory and research needed to help advancing practitioners assist organizations to communicate and strengthen relationships with their stakeholders. Emphasis is given to management issues relevant to products, services, image, and public policy issues.
  • Speech communication concentration examines the theories, research, and practices of communication in interpersonal, organizational/corporate, health practice, health campaigns, and family contexts. Areas of study include interpersonal relations, health, family relationships, managerial/organizational culture and cultural diversity.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Lan Ni, Director of Graduate Studies, at lni@uh.edu

Ms. Erika Jimenez, Graduate Advisor, at esalinas@central.uh.edu

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the college graduate admission requirements, applicants to the communication program must have achieved an undergraduate degree in the area of specialization or have completed at least 18 college-level hours in the field. Students who do not meet this requirement will be required to take remedial course work which will be specified at the time of admission.

Application Deadlines

For domestic students, March 1 is the priority deadline with the possibility of additional applications being reviewed up to May 1.

For international students, see http://www.uh.edu/admissions/apply/international/deadlines/index.php

Note to all students:  The graduate program in the Valenti School of Communication accepts applications for fall semesters only, effective fall 2013.  All required application materials must be received by the application deadline in order to be considered complete and submitted for review by the admission committee.  The admission committee will review completed applications in mid-March for domestic applicants and mid-April for international students.  Domestic applications received after the priority deadline of March 1 will then be reviewed on a monthly basis.

After your application is reviewed by the admission committee, a recommendation will be made to the dean’s office in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.  Once the dean’s office approves the application, you will be notified via an official letter.

Effective October 1, 2013, application to the graduate program in communication will be processed through an automated admission system.  Please submit your application online by following the steps in the link below:  http://www.uh.edu/graduate-school/prospective-students/Admissions/how-to-apply/

Admission to the Valenti School graduate program requires the following items for ALL applicants:

  1. Application Fee:  To be submitted online.
  2. Official GRE Test Scores:  To be submitted online.  The GRE should be taken at least one month prior to submitting your application.  The GRE score must not be more than 5 years old.  The test code for University of Houston is 6870.
  3. Official Transcripts from all higher educational institutions:  To be mailed to:
    University of Houston
    Graduate Admissions
    P. O. Box 3947
    Houston, Yexas 77253-3947
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation:  To be submitted online.  The letters should preferably be from former or present instructors who can comment on applicant’s academic work in detail.
  5. A Statement of Purpose:  To be submited online.  A brief essay of 1 to 2 pages about why the applicant wants to pursue graduate work in communication, experiences in communication, and plans after receiving a graduate degree.
  6. A Resume:  To be submitted online.
  7. A Writing Sample:  To be submitted online.  This writing sample can be a thesis, a term paper, or a class project that demonstrates your critical thinking and analytical skills.
  8. Unofficial Transcripts can be uploaded in the automated system if the applicant chooses to do so in addition to sending the official transcripts by mail (See #3).

For International Applicants, the following additional items are required:

  1. TOEFL Test Scores:  International students must also provide evidence of satisfactory English proficiency.  The TOEFL exam provides this evidence and must be taken at least a month before submitting your application.  TOEFL scores must be less than 2 years old.
  2. Please check the link below for additional required materials:  http://www.uh.edu/graduate-school/prospective-students/how-to-apply/submit-docs/#9

Admission Information

To be considered eligible for unconditional admittance, the student must:

  • Have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field from an accredited institution,
  • Have a minimum 3.0/4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) in the last 60 undergraduate hours attempted, and
  • Have competitive scores on the GRE which are typically in the range of 500 on both the verbal and math-quantitative portions of the exam for the older scoring system, or 153 for the verbal portion and 144 for math/quantitative portion in the new scoring system.

Students who have earned several grades of C or below in undergraduate communication courses will not be deemed eligible for this level of admission.

Applicants not meeting the criteria for unconditional admission might be considered for conditional admission.  Any student admitted conditionally must:

  • Have a GPA of at least 2.7/4.0 in the last 60 undergraduate hours attempted,
  • Have a GPA of at least 3.00 in undergraduate communication course hours
  • Have acceptable GRE scores, and
  • Have other application materials that suggest the student can succeed in the graduate program.

All materials in the application packet (letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, transcripts and GRE scores) are considered in admission decisions.  Simply meeting the minimum GPA or GRE criteria does not guarantee admission.

Students may have to complete required leveling courses if they do not have adequate background in the degree they are pursuing.  There are typically few exceptions to who can be exempt from the leveling courses.  Please be aware that these leveling courses will likely extend how long it takes to complete the program.

TOEFL scores for international students must meet the new minimum requirement of the International Based Test (IBT) 79.

Conditional admittance requires that the student maintain at least a “B” average in the first 12 hours attempted in graduate school.  Conditional students must submit a course adjustment form (available from the director of graduate studies) requesting that their status be changed after those 12 hours have been completed satisfactorily. Students cannot embark on the next stage of the M.A. program – the thesis option or the comprehensive exam option – until they are granted unconditional status.  This is normally conferred (1) if the student has completed all undergraduate deficiencies noted at the time conditional status was granted, (2) if the student has fulfilled all graduate degree prerequisites, (3) if the student has terminated all incompletes on her/his graduate record, and (4) if the student has maintained a minimum (3.0) GPA in the graduate program.

General Degree Requirements

All students in the program must complete

  1. COMM 6300  
  2. COMM 6305  
  3. One required theory course in the student’s major area:
  • All other course work should be selected in conjunction with the graduate advisor and members of their thesis or thesis committees as well as other professors in their areas of concentration.

Policies on Courses

1. NO courses at the 3000 level or below are accepted for graduate credit.  NO academic credit may be granted for internships at the graduate level.

2. Only courses in which a grade A through F is awarded can be applied to the number of hours required for a degree.  Courses with grades of U or S do not meet degree requirements, except for comprehensive examination credit, which does not count as hours required for graduation.

3. A student who receives a grade of C+ or lower in 12 semester hours of credit attempted at this institution for graduate credit, whether or not in repeated courses, is ineligible for any advanced degree at this institution and will not be permitted to re-enroll for graduate study.

4. All students admitted to graduate status must choose one of two options – the Thesis Option or the Comprehensive Exam Option – by the end of 12 hours of graduate study.  The requirements for each option are outlined below.

5. Only one 4000 level course, with an additional research component, may be petitioned for consideration as graduate credit.  Undergraduate courses taken to fulfill undergraduate deficiencies will not count as undergraduate courses credited to the graduate program.  A petition must be submitted two weeks prior to enrollment and to allow for the multiple signatures required.  The completion of a petition does not guarantee acceptance.

6. For courses taken outside of Valenti School of Communication, a petition must be submitted two weeks in advance of enrollment because multiple signatures are required.  These hours should supplement the student’s area of concentration.

7. Special Problems Course:
Students may enroll in one special problem courses with an individual professor.  A special problems course is 3 credit hours.  The appropriate section number is available each semester from the professor who will direct the study or from the graduate assistant.  The student must complete a general petition form outlining the nature of the independent study, the product to be produced and evaluated, and how often student and professor will meet throughout the semester.  After the professor signs the general petition form, the student needs to submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies.  The Director of Graduate Studies must, before the last day for enrollment, have approved this petition.  A student who fails to comply with this provision will be dropped from the state audit roll if the petition is not on file and approved by the twelfth class day.  In no case may unapproved special problems hours be counted toward a degree.

Other Policies

1. ALL students must select one degree program when applying to enter the graduate program.  The decision is made when filling out the graduate admission application form.  The student’s choice is registered with the Office of Graduate Programs and it cannot be changed unless the student formally petitions the Director of Graduate Studies.  Changing area of concentration may require leveling courses to make up any deficiencies in course work.

2. Students have five years to complete the M.A. degree, and the time interval begins when the first course is taken for graduate credit.  If a student has a legitimate reason due to health or employment, he/she can file for a one-time, one-year leave of absence.  Otherwise, continuous enrollment is expected.  Summers may be excluded.

3. For full-time student status, a student is required to be enrolled in 9 hours.  Thesis credit hours may count for six hours.  Students taking comprehensive exams may only take one course in addition to comps (COMM 6398) - maximum number of hours is 6.

4. No more than nine hours shall be transferred from another college or university to count toward the degree in communication.

5. Post-baccalaureate (PB) status in ALL M.A. programs:

Unless authorized by the Director of Graduate Studies, no PB student will be allowed to take graduate-level course work in the Valenti School of Communication.  PB students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in their graduate course work.  PB courses will not be considered for graduate credit until the student is admitted to graduate status.  No more than 12 graduate hours will be accepted for graduate credit in the case of PB students who are subsequently admitted to graduate status. Students are limited to one semester of PB status.  If by the end of one semester, a student has not achieved admission to the graduate program, he/she will not be allowed to take graduate courses for graduate credit.  Students must petition to have courses changed from PB to GR status.

6. Undergraduate access to graduate courses:

Senior students in exceptional cases may begin their graduate program while completing their undergraduate degree.  They may take up to six hours of graduate coursework in their last semester before graduation.  Students must present the requisite petition to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval.  Undergraduate students will be allowed to take graduate courses only under the following conditions:  (1) they must have no more than 12 semester hours needed for the bachelor’s degree, and (2) the last semester course load is limited to 15 semester hours maximum including graduate work.  They must also have achieved an overall GPA of 3.00 and a GPA of 3.25 in Communication.

More specifically, students will complete one of the following plans:

Plan I: Thesis Option

Program Total: 30.0 Credit Hours

Plan II: Non-thesis Option

Students must complete 36 hours of course work plus three hours earned by taking the comprehensive examination. The student must complete at least 15 hours of approved graduate-level course work in an area of concentration within the School of Communication. The student may take six hours of approved graduate course work in a field outside the School of Communication and may take six hours of 4000-level course work with the approval of the graduate advisor. The student must take at least nine hours of approved course work in another graduate area of concentration inside the School of Communication. The student must pass a comprehensive examination in the final semester of the degree program.

Program Total: 36.0 Credit Hours