2023-2024 Course Catalog

Master of Arts in Communication

Effective August 1, 2023, the Master of Arts in Communication program is not accepting applications while the program is on hiatus. All currently enrolled students will progress through the program to completion.

The Master's program in Communication is a professional degree program designed to relate theory and practice. While this is a professional program, the foundations in research and theory offered also equip graduates to pursue doctoral studies in the Communication-related field. This accelerated 30 credit Master's is a hybrid program, blending on-ground courses with select online offerings for increased flexibility. A required core of classes provides foundations in communication research, theory, and ethics.

Students may select one of three tracks to pursue a specialization in: Health Communication, Environmental Communication, or Strategic Communication. These unique tracks provide depth in defined content areas to cultivate expertise and provide necessary skills and knowledge relevant to the specialization.

Curriculum and Courses:
The Masters of Arts in Communication program consists of a core of five courses (15 credits), one specific concentration, and six credits of electives.

Admission Requirements

Recommended application deadline for FALL entry: July 1
Note: applications will continue to be accepted and considered for admission as long as seats remain in the class

  • Have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
  • If a Student has below a 3.0 GPA, please feel free to apply if you show extreme promise through other achievements. Additional Admissions documents may be requested.
  • Completed application for admission, including:
    • Online application
    • In approximately 500 words, please explain why you are interested in pursuing this degree.  How will the degree impact your future personal and career goals? 
    • Curriculum vita or resume
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

Admissions Materials may be submitted to:
Chatham University
Office of Graduate Admission
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Fax:  (412) 365-1609
Email: graduate@chatham.edu

For specific questions about the Program, please reach out to the Graduate Admission Recruiter at 412-365-1825 or at graduate@chatham.edu.

Integrated Degree Program

Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all requirements according to their IDP course of study.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Master’s Degree in Communication will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of communication theory and its practical applications in a variety of situations and environments.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of communication law and ethics, particularly with regard to social responsibility in the communications field.
  • Apply communication research and theory in a professional context.
  • Solve concrete communication problems within organizations and larger social systems.
  • Communicate their ideas effectively and professionally through oral communication, the written word, and a variety of media.

Students in the Health Communication Track will be able to:

  • Adapt complex medical and scientific messages for specific publics, thereby indicating applied scientific literacy
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the role of media in prompting behavioral and attitudinal change
  • Design effective measures to evaluate the success of a health communications campaign
  • Design, plan, and implement a health communications campaign

Students in the Environmental Communication Track will be able to:

  • Adapt complex environmental and scientific messages for specific publics, thereby indicating applied scientific literacy
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the role of media in prompting behavioral and attitudinal change
  • Demonstrate knowledge of risk perception and crisis communications play in defining environmental problems and policy
  • Critically evaluate an environmental communications campaign
  • Demonstrate comprehensive awareness of sustainability as a social construction

Students in the Strategic Communication Track will be able to:

  • Demonstrate theoretical knowledge of organizational communication
  • Design effective measures to evaluate the success of a strategic communications campaign
  • Demonstrate media literacy
  • Design effective measures to evaluate the success of a strategic communications campaign
  • Design, plan, and implement a strategic communications campaign


+Core Requirements

(5 required courses - 15 credit hours) - required in all three concentrations:

COM525 Communications Research and Theory

Course provides an overview of the major theoretical and research developments in the communications discipline. The emphasis will be on the application of theory to practice and on applied research. Topics include quantitative and qualitative research methods, research ethics, and the history of development of communication theories.

COM528 Risk and Crisis Communications

Students acquire an understanding of crisis management and risk communication. Course topics include public opinion research, data collection and analysis, crisis and risk management theory, and communication tactics and strategies. Students develop case studies relating to their areas of professional interest.

COM625 Communications Campaigns

Students explore the use of communication campaigns to reduce health risks and promote public health and awareness. Course prepares students to develop, implement, and assess health campaigns. Drawing on health behavior theory and communication research and theory, students work on case studies and develop original campaigns employing multiple communication channels.

COM675 Communication Law & Ethics

Course provides an examination of the legal and ethical dimensions of communications. The historical development of media law is covered, although emphasis is placed on contemporary legal issues. Students explore complex ethical challenges facing media practitioners through case studies, exercises and class discussions.

COM685 Communications Project

This is the capstone project for all students in the Master's in Communications program. This applied learning experience builds upon previous coursework. Students develop a major project designed to meet their professional interests. The project will demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills gained throughout the program.


+Environmental Communication

9 credits

COM515 Environmental Communications

Course offers an overview of environmental communications providing an analysis of how individuals, institutions and corporations describe and portray our interactions with the environment. Discussion topics include environmental discourse, environmental conflicts, risk communication, environmental disasters, environmental social movements, and the nature-society relationship.

SUS580 Sustainable Behavior Change

This hybrid course combines classroom and online instruction with real-world application. Students learn the latest science concerning sources of environmental degradation. In teams, students apply motivational theory, collect secondary and primary data, and develop an action plan for increasing pro-environmental behaviors (PEB) in a specific context.

And one of the following:
SUS502 Sustainability and Systems

In this course, students will develop skills necessary to understand, describe, and communicate complex systems. Working from examples, exercise and interactive discussions, students will learn to identify key drivers and leverage points for change. Students will learn to solicit useful information, model, and enact change using a various systems-based tools.

SUS504 Foundations of Sustainability

This course provides students the skills to understand, communicate, and critique the fundamentals of sustainability at multiple scales and across disciplines and cultures. It explores sustainability's origins and foundations, application, and assessment. We evaluate the inter-relationships among environmental, societal, and economic well-being and the implications on individual and social decision-making.

SUS590 Careers in Sustainability

This is a graduate level course that will contribute to the mission of SSE in training students in the theories, applications, and assessment of sustainability in a broad range of contexts.

SUS603 Sustainability: Ethics, Equity, Justice

This course focuses on the role of the "social" as one of the three pillars of sustainability. It explores historic and contemporary notions of ethics, social equity and social justice. It examines how these concepts can be applied to sustainability by studying local and global case studies.

Pre-requisites Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • SUS504 Introduction to Sustainability and Systems
  • SUS501 Fundamentals of Sustainability
  • SUS503 Understanding Knowledge Across the Disciplines
  • 3
    SUS611 Decision Making Under Uncertainty

    The application of design principles to data provides a bridge between the increasing volume of information that we encounter everyday to evidence-based, decision-making toward sustainable systems. This course provides a hands-on introduction to data analysis, data visualization techniques, and software for translating complexity and uncertainty into useful products.

    SUS640 Sustainable Community Development

    This course explores how people can engage in creating more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities at multiple scales, from the local to the regional. The reading and assignments emphasize sustainable planning theory and practice as well as sustainable food systems perspectives. Students will engage in practice-based research and community projects.

    Pre-requisites Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • FST508 Food Systems
  • FST509 Food Access
  • SUS504 Foundations of Sustainability
  • 3

    +Health Communication

    9 credits

    COM510 Health Communications

    Course provides an introduction to the essential concepts and theories of health communication. Students study how individuals understand health issues and how communication processes help shape and influence our acceptance of health-related messages. Topics include health literacy, media coverage of health issues, and health risk communications.

    BUS511 Health Policy & Advocacy

    Analyze and synthesize innovative approaches to issues in health care delivery at all levels. Politics, policy, market forces, and advocacy are used to assess how system approaches affect health care delivery. Transformational leadership for political and policy activism are emphasized, while exploring regional, national, and global health issues and trends.

    BUS551 Informatics in Healthcare

    This course is designed to assist the student in understanding the various database systems used within a healthcare setting. Key to this course is understanding how healthcare professionals can collect and extract data from database systems to assess the organizations performance and impact on patient outcomes.

    PWR632 Science and Environmental Writing

    This course focuses on the practice of writing about science, environment, medicine, and technology for audiences ranging from the general public to scientists and engineers. It starts with basic science writing for lay audiences, emphasizing organization and clear writing techniques and also explores problems of conveying highly complex technical information to multiple audiences, factors that influence science communication to the public, and interactions between scientists and journalists.


    +Strategic Communication

    9 credits

    COM550 Organizational Communications

    Course covers current theory and research in the area of organizational communications. Includes formal and informal organizations and public and private organizations. Topics include organizational culture, employee information needs, decision making, leadership and power. Emphasis will be placed on developing the analytical tools to analyze and improve organizational communications.

    COM518 Strategic Communications

    Course provides an overview of concepts, tactics and skills employed in strategic internal and external communications. Students learn how to determine the communications objective(s), define the target audience(s) and stakeholders, and develop key messages to improve strategic communications.

    PWR621 Use of New and Social Media

    This course seeks to give students the skills and confidence to create interesting and informative digital presentations based on simple presentation design and delivery options.

    Pre-requisites Complete the following course:
  • PWR601 Introduction to Professional Writing
  • 3


    6 credits

    All students will round out their program of study with 6 credits of electives.