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Online Master of Arts in Communication: Curriculum

Curriculum Details


Combine foundational theory in communication with hands-on practical application in the Queens University of Charlotte’s Master of Arts in Communication program.

You’ll work alongside expert instructors who are active in the communication field and graduate with an in-depth mastery of both traditional communication and the tools to break through in an ever-changing digital world.

The M.A. in Communication includes 30 credit hours of coursework. Students take 12 credit hours of core requirements plus an additional 18 credit hours of coursework selected from specializations or electives. Students can choose one specialization with electives, two specializations, or all electives for these 18 credit hours.

The program also offers two 15 credit hour standalone certificates in Strategic Communication and Organizational Communication. These certificates are “stackable;” by completing both certificates, you can earn the 30 credit hour degree. The courses in the program are offered online or on-campus in eight-week sessions. All courses are 3 credit hours. You can complete this program online in as few as 1.5 years or take longer if needed.

Core Courses


Theories help us to make sense of the world around us. They shape how we understand reality, relationships, circumstances and decisions in our lives. Therefore, students will explore the major theories that inform the study of communication and its various contexts, such as interpersonal, group, persuasion, organization, rhetoric and media. In this course, students will learn and apply communication theories to their own lives and issues in the world to better understand communication processes and interactions. From taking this course, students will gain a better understanding of the depth and complexity of communication processes, events and interactions by applying communication theory and the research used to understand it. Prerequisite: None.

In this course, students will explore the scientific, interpretive, rhetorical and critical research approaches we use to study communication problems and processes. We will focus on the critical analysis, evaluation and use of quantitative and qualitative communication research methods to investigate communication problems and processes. From taking this course, students will acquire the ability to understand communication research methods, to critique and analyze the value of communication research studies and to conduct communication research to answer communication questions and solve communication problems. As a result, students will become more critical consumers of quantitative and qualitative research findings and more adept at creating quantitative and qualitative research studies. Prerequisite: None.

This course examines communication ethics in individual, organizational and societal contexts. Students will learn theoretical and practical applications of communicating ethically in a society where interactions and messages are complex, shifting and often mediated. The course increases understanding of how critical self-awareness and emotional intelligence contribute to communicating consciously and productively. Dialogue, narrative, reflection and identification are explored as tools for ethical communication in a rapidly changing world. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Our globalized world, with its emphasis on digital, mobile and internet technology, has revealed a greater need to communicate across cultures effectively. We might be more connected, but few know how to communicate competently in a global society. Therefore, this course examines differences in cultural values, practices and styles and how they are impacted in a digital society. This class explores intercultural theory and how it can be applied to improve and enhance intercultural communication in a global society. This course critically investigates how digital technology (i.e., blogs, video blogs, podcasts, streaming, tweeting, etc.) affects the construction of knowledge and information creation, production, transmission and censorship in a global society. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Strategic Communication Specialization


This course explores ways by which we construct and disseminate messages to a variety of audiences for a variety of purposes, including to lead, motivate, persuade, inform and advocate. Whether targeting consumers, employees, media professionals, investors, friends, family or like-minded individuals, students will learn effective tools for creating messages that advance goals and build and engage a community. Students will explore how best to analyze audiences, craft messages, design information, choose among communication media, shape user experience and evaluate success. The course gives special attention to how digital technology impacts effective communication, including how to best consume, filter, create and critically analyze messages. Students also explore the implications of evolving communication channels on society, especially regarding opportunities for conversation, engagement, advocacy and experimentation. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course explores the ways organizations today craft and communicate an authentic brand identity. As the marketplace has changed, organizations have had to find ways to differentiate and gain a competitive edge. Connecting with stakeholders through a clear and consistent identity that aligns with organizational values and mission can increase profits as well as customer and employee loyalty. This course highlights the most effective ways to craft brand identity through authentic, strategic messages and visual presentation disseminated through both traditional and mediated platforms. The course also investigates how social networks have changed and challenged efforts to craft organizational identity and brand, as well as the ways employees’ identities are ultimately interdependent with organizational identity. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course explores location-based and digital interventions and the role of digital technology in local, group and community participation. With an emphasis on social and participatory media, the course examines the ways digital communities form and organize in digital, geographic, physical and hybrid environments. Students in this seminar will design a digital intervention for a community of their choice as their culminating project. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Organizational Communication Specialization


This course demonstrates the ways social interaction shapes and is shaped by organizing processes. Students will see how communication becomes the means by which we come to make sense of organizational life and develop strategies, structures and practices for coordinating action and meeting goals. Students explore how contemporary organizations transform individuals participating in society by examining essential topics such as identity construction, motives, motivation, effectiveness, socialization, leadership and career. Forms of analysis include organizational values, narratives, artifacts, messages, practices and structures. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course explores the principles and practices of group dynamics. Students will become more knowledgeable about how to apply strategies that improve the effectiveness of the teams in which they have membership. Specifically, this course will explore the factors that impact group dynamics such as group development, rules and norms, individual vs. group goals, group performance, team building, leadership, diversity and inclusion, conflict management and traditional vs. virtual meetings. From taking this course, individuals will understand the complexity and challenges of working in team-based groups to apply effective strategies that facilitate healthy group dynamics. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course surveys the essential relationship between leadership and communication. Examining leadership from a communication perspective, this course focuses on leadership as a means of management, namely, how to create, frame and communicate one’s own “realities” to others. Moreover, this class examines leadership as encompassing symbolic acts of creation and interpretation by drawing on communication theories (i.e., the social construction of reality and coordinated management of meaning) that illustrate the symbolic capacities, limitations and ethics of meaning making. Finally, the course focuses on practicing the skills of meaning making as it pertains to creating, using, interpreting and critically evaluating moments of leadership in “everyday” acts of communication. Prerequisite: COM 601.



This course explores various strategic communication issues and challenges with a diverse, global audience. The increased global climate necessitates new thinking habits and strategies to best craft targeted, integrated messages to a specific audience, whether it be global, national or local. This course investigates strategies for successful audience analysis, community development and dialogue, image and branding, innovation, marketing, public relations and risk and crisis management for global and multinational audiences. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Even in the digital age, the stories we tell about ourselves and the stories that are told about us are narratively (re)constructed and evaluated. This class draws on media theory (i.e., Marshall McLuhan) and narrative theory (i.e., Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm) as it pertains to creating, interpreting and evaluating stories in the digital age. This course addresses the opportunities and challenges of creating stories for different media, the skills needed for telling stories in various media and an understanding of how audiences interpret and evaluate stories across media platforms. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Society today faces many unanticipated, unexplored problems and challenges, and communities can come together to develop innovative solutions for a better tomorrow. As part of the Knight School of Communication mission to enhance digital and media literacy in Charlotte, in this course, students work together or in small groups to develop a digital community engagement project that aims to foster community and produce a solution to a particular social, civic, fiscal or environmental problem or issue. The group nature of the course allows students to explore group and team communication principles and practices, such as roles, norms, power, leadership, decision-making and problem-solving processes and conflict. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This class investigates how specific digital and mediated platforms affect our understanding of essential interpersonal constructs such as relationship development and engagement, image management, the inevitable dialectical tensions of work-life balance and the challenges and opportunities of creating private and public identities in a mediated landscape. In this class, students will study issues of identity by addressing how we compose our multiple and sometimes conflicting digital and media selves and how the presentation of our “work” self affects conceptions of our “private” self. This class seeks to address these essential questions by exploring the creation, development and negotiation of our multiple selves (i.e., identities) across a multitude of digital platforms. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course explores both traditional and cutting-edge approaches to innovation. Creativity, collaboration and design are still essential. Yet, contemporary organizations realize the potential of new ways of thinking, such as right-brain approaches to organizing and open innovation using digital and mediated tools. By building an authentic, collaborative relationship among a community, organizations can tap into the creative potential of its members and harness the distributed knowledge of many. This course investigates how shifting communication practices have shaped knowledge, networks and innovation. The course also explores how to foster creativity and innovation through curiosity, play, passion, connection, dialogue, experience, storytelling and failure. Prerequisite: COM 601.

In this course, students participate in an exploration of the communication environment in an international country with attention to communication culture, values and practices and issues such as digital and media literacy. This course requires attendance at pre-trip seminars and completion of all course assignments after the conclusion of the international experience. Prerequisite: COM 601.

This course intensively considers a single topic related to communication. Topics and prerequisites vary depending on the subject and instructor. Student may repeat as needed. Prerequisite: COM 601.

Topics vary each term. Check the term schedule for specific topic descriptions. Student may repeat for a total of 6 credit hours. Prerequisite: COM 601.

*If already completed, 6 credit hours are needed at the COM 600 level.

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