Illinois State University’s School of Communication (SOC) offers a graduate program for students wishing to pursue a master’s degree in communication, which is considered to be one of the top programs in the United States, according to SOC Graduate Coordinator Kevin Meyer.
“[Students] learn how to do a lot of research in the program,” Meyer said. “Our students learn quantitative, qualitative and rhetorical methods [...] they learn communication theory and communication philosophy so they’re better suited to go into the work place.”
The curriculum is a generalist program which consists of three required courses following a variety of electives students can take. This opportunity allows students to explore many areas of study in communication including journalism, mass media and organizational communication.
The SOC offers a few options of how students can complete the master’s program.
Students may choose to do the traditional thesis or a written statement where students design and execute a study involving substantial research.
The documentary thesis requires students to shoot and edit film in which they will be interviewing people to make an argument of their choice. Students may also choose to take 39 credit hours to complete the program. With this option, students can choose an internship that will substitute up to six credit hours.
Choosing to go to graduate school may put financial burdens on students. However, the SOC offers assistantships which pay for their tuition in full. These include work in teaching, alumni services, disability office, international studies, graduate school office and more.
“In exchange for working usually 20 hours a week like teaching classes, or [as an] administrative assistant, you get a stipend and on our campus, almost all of those are about $1,000,” Meyer said.
Meyer is a graduate alum in the SOC. His decision to go to grad school was influenced by ISU faculty and students.
“When I applied here, I did so because of the faculty,” he said. “I was a teaching assistant and I really loved the classes. When I came out of my doctorate program and this job was on the market, I remembered how much I liked the faculty here and the culture among the students being very corporative.”
Graduate Teaching Assistant Mitchell Combs said he believes he made a good decision to go to grad school because it introduced him to an opportunity with higher education.
“The [SOC graduate program] prepares you to become a confident and well-informed leader in whatever career field you decide to go into,” Combs said.
“For me, much of this came from the graduate teaching assistantship offered to me by the school. Specifically, it showed me how to keep a group of people excited about what they are learning while staying focused on certain tasks.
“I would not have realized that without encouragement from the SOC,” Combs added.
The SOC was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Master’s Program by the National Communication Association.
For more information about the master’s program, visit the SOC website at Communication.IllinoisState.edu.