Communication Studies master’s degree program lands award
Communication Studies | December 18, 2014
Colorado State’s Department of Communication Studies has been selected as a recipient of the National Communication Association’s 2014 Outstanding Master’s Degree Program Award.
The honor, which is given by NCA’s Master’s Education Section, recognizes excellence in research, teaching, and student mentoring and was presented to Communication Studies Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Kari Anderson at the 2014 NCA conference in Chicago on Nov. 21.
“This award formally recognizes what students and colleagues from other programs have been telling us for decades—that we are one of the best master’s programs in the country,” Anderson says. “Our program is a program on the rise.”
Second-year graduate student Shana Makos says she’s thrilled the department has received such prestigious recognition from NCA.
“Not only am I proud to be a CSU Ram, I’m also proud to put on my applications and resume that I attended the best M.A. program for communication studies in the country,” said Makos. “The hard work that we’ve all put forth will result in a more competitive program in the future.”
“Winning this award affirms the fact that our current faculty is perhaps the finest group of scholars to have taught at any one time in our department,” says Anderson.
All 15 faculty members have won teaching awards, many have won major national and regional research awards, and faculty members’ publishing rate is equal to that of many scholars in Ph.D.-granting departments with lower teaching loads. Anderson herself was honored at the NCA conference with two awards, one for a book she co-authored, Woman President, and a second, also from the Master’s Education Section, for “Outstanding Graduate Mentor.”
Makos is one of 25 graduate students currently in the program. Graduate students, who teach their own sections of public speaking, receive extensive training in communication instruction.
“On campus our department has long been known as a place with excellent GTA training,” says Anderson, noting that the department also has a strong reputation for mentoring.
Graduate students are closely mentored by individual faculty who help them make the transition from student to scholar. All graduate students are required to submit a competitive paper to a scholarly conference, and some students co-author papers with faculty.
“I was able to work closely with faculty to develop my own original line of research, gain an appreciation of other areas of the discipline, present research at conferences, and begin authoring an essay I would eventually publish,” says George McHendry, (M.A., ’08), who is now an assistant professor of communication studies at Creighton University. Anderson was his advisor.
“She gave of her time and attention selflessly, but more importantly she made me a better scholar through exacting standards and relentless, but constructive, criticism,” McHendry says.
Teacher training, mentoring, rigorous graduate seminars and the breadth and depth of faculty scholarship have resulted in the program’s exceptional track record of consistently placing master’s graduates at top Ph.D. programs around the country.
According to former NCA president and distinguished scholar Raymie McKerrow, CSU’s program is currently one of the strongest programs in the country.
“Their research productivity mirrors that of doctoral programs,” McKerrow says. “They are also on the cutting edge of scholarship, especially in work focused on engaging communities in deliberative practices.”
The department’s Center for Public Deliberation (CPD), founded in 2006, is a hallmark of the innovation that the NCA award recognizes. The CPD is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to enhancing local democracy through improved public communication and community problem-solving. The center provides both undergraduate and graduate students with training and experience in designing and facilitating deliberative forums.
According to Anderson, many graduate students are attracted to the M.A. program because the CPD offers experience that cannot be gained anywhere else. In response, the department recently created a non-thesis M.A. track in Deliberative Practices. Students develop an applied research project that allows them to work closely with the department’s rhetoric and civic engagement faculty and gain experience and connections in the local community.
Anderson says that communication studies M.A. alumni now stand to benefit from a reputational boost an award like this places on their graduate degree. Furthermore, she says the award will also allow the department to recruit top faculty members and graduate students.
“Each year our top graduate student recruits receive funding offers from multiple competing programs; this recognition by our national association will be an important distinguishing factor and should result in even more successful recruiting,”
This is the first time Colorado State University has won the award.
By the Numbers
- Communication Studies is one of 13 departments in the College of Liberal Arts, which is the largest college at CSU.
- Communication Studies ranks first in the College for largest major and seventh overall in popularity for undergraduate majors.
- 670 graduate students are enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts
- 551 of these are master’s degree candidates
- Communication Studies ranks second for largest number of master’s degree students