Teaching Opportunities

Unique among many master’s-level graduate programs, the Communication Studies department at Sacramento State offers the opportunity for graduate student teaching. Typically, new graduate students will start out as Graduate Assistants, assisting a professor, leading small lab sections, and grading student work (see details below). After gaining experience in the classroom, graduate students are eligible to be Teaching Associates, which involves being the instructor of record for and designing their own stand-alone courses with guidance from a full time faculty member (see details below). Graduate students who participate in the GA/TA program leave well prepared to teach in the community college system, as part time faculty at Sacramento State or other CSUs, and in doctoral programs. 

Graduate Assistant Responsibilities

  1. Teaching one, two, or three sections (as Lab Instructors)
  2. Grade presentations and other assignments
  3. Provide students with constructive, detailed, and prompt feedback
  4. Regular attendance at lectures
  5. Regular attendance at Lab Instructor meetings (on average 2 meetings per month)
  6. Record-keeping: attendance, grades, etc.
  7. Hold 45 minutes of office hours per lab section taught

 Monetary Conditions

  1. A salary of $1,361 per semester per lab section taught ($272.38 per month for five months)
  2. The Department of Communication Studies at California State University Sacramento does not offer tuition waivers for graduate student teaching at this time.

 Eligibility

  1. In order to apply for a Graduate Assistantship, the student must have applied for admission to the Communication Studies graduate program or have been admitted to the program.
  2. A Graduate Assistant must have a GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  3. At the time of appointment, a Graduate Assistant must be either classified or conditionally classified in the graduate program of the Communication Studies Department and enrolled in six (6) units of coursework that will count toward completion of the master’s degree.

 Teaching Associates Responsibilities

  1. Teach two sections of COMS 4 (Intro to Speech Comm) or COMS 5 (The Communication Experience)
  2. May have other duties assigned (a total time commitment not to exceed 20 hours per week). This one semester award typically will be renewed for a second semester by action of the Graduate Committee (the committee’s decision to renew is based on the evidence of teaching effectiveness, the recommendation of the course supervisor, and the academic status of the candidate).
  3. Pursue standard objectives and follow a standard syllabus.
  4. Receive supervision by a full-time faculty course coordinator.
  5. Be critiqued and evaluated on teaching by the Graduate Committee or its designees among the full-time faculty.

 Monetary Conditions

  1. A salary of $7,099.20 per semester (spread over 6 months)
  2. The Department of Communication Studies at California State University Sacramento does not offer tuition waivers for graduate student teaching at this time.

Eligibility

  1. Must be a graduate student with regular, classified status in the Communication Studies Department.
  2. Must have completed two semesters (or be in the process of completing the second semester) as a successful Graduate Assistant. (The Graduate Committee will pay particular attention to teaching evaluations and the recommendation of the course supervisor.)  Students with prior teaching experience may qualify for consideration as a teaching associate if their experience is equivalent to or surpasses the graduate assistant level.
  3. Must be making acceptable progress toward the master’s degree and establish a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  4. Must be enrolled for at least 6 units per semester.

Program Details

The Master of Arts in Communication is a 30-unit program that students usually complete in two to three years. A hallmark of the program is flexibility and students can choose courses from our curriculum to tailor a program of study to their interests and career goals. Likewise, students can choose from three options for their culminating experience: comprehensive examination, thesis, or project. 

Required courses (9 units):

  • COMS 200 Qualitative Research Methods/Introduction to Graduate School (Offered in Fall)
  • COMS 202 Quantitative Research Methods (Offered in Fall)
  • COMS 213 Seminar in Criticism (Offered in Spring)

Elective courses (15-18 units, depending on culminating experience):

  • COMS 201 Communication Theory
  • COMS 206 Organizational Communication
  • COMS 207 Dyadic Communication
  • COMS 208 Communication and National Development
  • COMS 209 Communication and Social Change
  • COMS 210 Seminar in Mass Communication
  • COMS 211 Electronic Media and American Culture
  • COMS 212 Seminar in Small Group Communication
  • COMS 215 Communication and Public Opinion
  • COMS 216 Seminar on Contemporary Issues in Intercultural Communication
  • COMS 217 Assessment of Communication Behavior in Organizations
  • COMS 219 Conflict Resolution
  • COMS 221 Instructional Communication Theory (Offered every Spring)
  • COMS 222 Instructional Communication Practicum (Offered every Fall)
  • COMS 228 Corporate Advocacy and Public Policy
  • COMS 230 Computer-Mediated Communication
  • COMS 285 Practicum for Teaching Associates in Communication Studies
  • COMS 295 Internship in Communication Studies (Requires pre-approval and proposal)
  • COMS 298 Special Topics Course (Offered in the Spring)
  • COMS 299 Special Problems (Independent study, requires pre-approval and proposal)

Culminating Experience Options (3-6 units):

  • COMS 500 Thesis (6 units)
  • COMS 500 Project (6 units)
  • COMS 297 Preparation for Comprehensive Exam (3 units)*
    *Students who elect to take comprehensive exams need to take one extra elective course to meet the 30-unit requirement

Resources for Current Students

Welcome current students! Below you will find a wealth of resources for navigating the M.A. program.

Forms & TEmplates   

Graduate Document

Courses & Rotation  

Steps to Graduation

 

Course Rotation

Spring 2019 Courses:

  • COMS 211 Electronic Media and American Culture
  • COMS 213 Seminar in Criticism 
  • COMS 298 Special Topics--Political Communication

Fall 2019 Courses (tentatively):

  • COMS 200 Qualitative Research Methods/Introduction to Graduate School 
  • COMS 202 Quantitative Research Methods 
  • COMS 206 Organizational Communication
  • COMS 222 Instructional Communication Practicum 

Curriculum

Required courses (9 units):

  • COMS 200 Qualitative Research Methods/Introduction to Graduate School (Offered in Fall)
  • COMS 202 Quantitative Research Methods (Offered in Fall)
  • COMS 213 Seminar in Criticism (Offered in Spring)

Elective courses (15-18 units, depending on culminating experience):

  • COMS 201 Communication Theory
  • COMS 206 Organizational Communication
  • COMS 207 Dyadic Communication
  • COMS 208 Communication and National Development
  • COMS 209 Communication and Social Change
  • COMS 210 Seminar in Mass Communication
  • COMS 211 Electronic Media and American Culture
  • COMS 212 Seminar in Small Group Communication
  • COMS 215 Communication and Public Opinion
  • COMS 216 Seminar on Contemporary Issues in Intercultural Communication
  • COMS 217 Assessment of Communication Behavior in Organizations
  • COMS 219 Conflict Resolution
  • COMS 221 Instructional Communication Theory (Offered every Spring)
  • COMS 222 Instructional Communication Practicum (Offered every Fall)
  • COMS 228 Corporate Advocacy and Public Policy
  • COMS 230 Computer-Mediated Communication
  • COMS 285 Practicum for Teaching Associates in Communication Studies
  • COMS 295 Internship in Communication Studies (Requires pre-approval and proposal)
  • COMS 298 Special Topics Course (Offered in the Spring)
  • COMS 299 Special Problems (Independent study, requires pre-approval and proposal)

Q: Don’t I need straight As to get into grad school?

A: No. We require a 3.0 cumulative GPA, or a 3.25 in the last 60 units of coursework.

Q: What’s a statement of purpose?

A: It’s a couple pages where you tell us why you want to study in our program, why you would be successful in grad school, how you’ve prepared, your areas of interest, faculty you want to study with, etc. Check out Donald Asher’s “Graduate Admissions Essays” to learn more.

Q: What about pre-reqs?

A: There aren’t any per se, although you might be asked to take extra undergraduate methods courses in rhetorical and/or quantitative methods if you earned less than a B- in your methods courses or did not complete any during your undergraduate program. These classes would count toward your M.A. program.

Q: What type of GRE scores are you looking for?

A: We don't have a specific number in mind, although we expect to see at least 50th percentiles in the verbal and quantitative reasoning. Definitely spend time preparing for the GRE, especially the math section, if you haven’t had recent coursework. There are many study books and apps available online, and recent students report that there are a lot of helpful Youtube tutorials. 

Q: Is the program compatible with working professionals?

A: Absolutely. Most of our students work full time during the day and take classes at night. Our courses are almost exclusively offered in the evenings starting at 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Q: How many classes do grad students usually take per semester?

A: Usually two classes. Full time is considered 6 units. Some students take three courses per semester, but we discourage it, especially for those who are working or teaching.

Q: What about student teaching?

A: We have a fantastic TA program and many students teach their own sections of introductory classes like Public Speaking and The Communication Experience.

Q: How much does the grad program cost?

A: For in-state students, tuition is $6,738, without fees. (For comparison, basic undergrad tuition is $5,472). For non-residents, there is an extra fee of $372 per unit.

Q: Are grad students eligible for financial aid?

A: Yes. Turn in your FAFSA early!

Q: Is there funding available?

A: Yes. We offer funding in the form of the Graduate Assistantship and Teaching Associate programs. The GA salary is $1,361 per semester, per lab section taught (spread over five months). The TA salary is $7,099.20 per semester for two courses (spread over six months).

 Q: How do I apply to the program?

1. Visit https://www.csus.edu/coms/ to learn about our program, classes and professors.

2. Start your online application with the Office of Graduate Studies https://www.csus.edu/gradstudies/

3. Prepare your supplemental materials and email (c/o Vicenza Weeks moscariello@csus.edu) or mail them to the Communication Studies office:

- Academic writing samples (2)
- Statement of purpose
- Resume (optional)
- Unofficial transcripts (Get official transcripts sent to OGS)
- Unofficial GRE scores (Get offical scores sent to OGS)

4. Request letters of recommendation from three professors or professionals who can speak to your abilities. Have those mailed or emailed to the Comm Studies Department c/o Vicenza Weeks at moscariello@csus.edu.

5. Study, study, study and take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

6. Ask lots of questions. Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Shawna Malvini Redden at malviniredden@csus.edu

7. Submit your materials no later than September 15, 2019 to join the Spring 2020 cohort. The priority deadline for Fall 2020 will be January 15, with applications accepted through March 1, if space allows.

Teaching Opportunities

 Unique among many master’s-level graduate programs, the Communication Studies department at Sacramento State offers the opportunity for graduate student teaching. Typically, new graduate students will start out as Graduate Assistants, assisting a professor, leading small lab sections, and grading student work (see details below). After gaining experience in the classroom, graduate students are eligible to be Teaching Associates, which involves being the instructor of record for and designing their own stand-alone courses with guidance from a full time faculty member (see details below). Graduate students who participate in the GA/TA program leave well prepared to teach in the community college system, as part time faculty at Sacramento State or other CSUs, and in doctoral programs. 

Graduate Assistant Responsibilities

  1. Teaching one, two, or three sections (as Lab Instructors)
  2. Grade presentations and other assignments
  3. Provide students with constructive, detailed, and prompt feedback
  4. Regular attendance at lectures
  5. Regular attendance at Lab Instructor meetings (on average 2 meetings per month)
  6. Record-keeping: attendance, grades, etc.
  7. Hold 45 minutes of office hours per lab section taught

 Monetary Conditions

  1. A salary of $1,361 per semester per lab section taught ($272.38 per month for five months)
  2. The Department of Communication Studies at California State University Sacramento does not offer tuition waivers for graduate student teaching at this time.

 Eligibility

  1. In order to apply for a Graduate Assistantship, the student must have applied for admission to the Communication Studies graduate program or have been admitted to the program.
  2. A Graduate Assistant must have a GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  3. At the time of appointment, a Graduate Assistant must be either classified or conditionally classified in the graduate program of the Communication Studies Department and enrolled in six (6) units of coursework that will count toward completion of the master’s degree.

 Teaching Associates Responsibilities

  1. Teach two sections of COMS 4 (Intro to Speech Comm) or COMS 5 (The Communication Experience)
  2. May have other duties assigned (a total time commitment not to exceed 20 hours per week). This one semester award typically will be renewed for a second semester by action of the Graduate Committee (the committee’s decision to renew is based on the evidence of teaching effectiveness, the recommendation of the course supervisor, and the academic status of the candidate).
  3. Pursue standard objectives and follow a standard syllabus.
  4. Receive supervision by a full-time faculty course coordinator.
  5. Be critiqued and evaluated on teaching by the Graduate Committee or its designees among the full-time faculty.

 Monetary Conditions

  1. A salary of $7,099.20 per semester (spread over 6 months)
  2. The Department of Communication Studies at California State University Sacramento does not offer tuition waivers for graduate student teaching at this time.

Eligibility

  1. Must be a graduate student with regular, classified status in the Communication Studies Department.
  2. Must have completed two semesters (or be in the process of completing the second semester) as a successful Graduate Assistant. (The Graduate Committee will pay particular attention to teaching evaluations and the recommendation of the course supervisor.)  Students with prior teaching experience may qualify for consideration as a teaching associate if their experience is equivalent to or surpasses the graduate assistant level.
  3. Must be making acceptable progress toward the master’s degree and establish a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  4. Must be enrolled for at least 6 units per semester.

Graduate Program Policies & Procedures

Graduate students are responsible to know the policies, procedures, and requirements that govern the graduate program. Download the Graduate Document as a PDF.

Degree Culmination Options

Students have three options for their culminating experience.

Comprehensive Exams

The standard option is the comprehensive examination, which involves 10 hours of responding to questions developed by a committee of the student’s choosing. The questions, of which there are usually six or seven, cover the core courses and whatever subjects the student is specializing in. Students work with committee members to develop reading lists, and guided by their committee chair/advisor, prepare for the questions that they see for the first time during the two examination days. The written examination is then defended orally a few weeks later. Students who do comps will have one extra class in their program of study, as the exam option is worth three credit hours.

Thesis or Project

The second most common culminating experience is the traditional thesis option, where with the approval of their advisor and the graduate committee, students embark on their own research study. The thesis and project options involve similar processes of developing a proposal for study and a scholarly rationale, but the project option includes a practical deliverable such as a training program, curriculum, program evaluation, video or documentary. Thesis and project options typically involve six credit hours, and both include an oral defense.