Current Students

All incoming graduate students should schedule a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Graduate Academic Advisor during the first semester of classes in the program. The DGS will serve as your official faculty advisor upon admission.

Once you have completed 12 hours of graduate coursework in Communication, you should notify the DGS of your choice of either comprehensive examination or thesis option as well as your selection of your faculty advisor. The faculty advisor then will assist you in selecting courses related to your program of study as well as helping you form comprehensive exam committee or thesis committee.

Handbook

read more/hide

Important Note to Students:

ALL students who have been admitted to graduate status must read this handbook and send acknowledgement to the Director of Graduate Studies that they fully understand and assume full responsibility for the contents of this handbook. You are advised that the Graduate Committee can neither support nor make exceptions for commitments made to you by faculty or students which do not conform with the procedures and requirements outlined below.

Click here to obtain an updated copy of the handbook.

Click here to submit your acknowledgement.

Introduction

read more/hide

Mission Statement

It is our mission to:

  • Foster a social and collegiate community for graduate students of the School of Communication at the University of Houston
  • Advance research learning experiences such as conference attendance, collaboration with UH faculty, and attendance of guest speakers
  • Promote networking among the communication professional community in Houston for practitioner-oriented graduates
  • Help assimilate graduates into the communication discipline and profession

Overview of Graduate Programs

The Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston offers four Master’s degrees directed toward professional success in both academic and non-academic careers. The goal of the program is to produce graduate students who are able to move effectively into professional media positions, advance their current careers, teach in junior colleges or high schools, or enter into top doctoral programs. To date, our school has placed graduates into top-ranked Ph.D. programs as well as into non-academic positions in both public and private institutions. Regardless of the career goal, the graduate program broadens each student’s communication expertise through courses that improve conceptual, applied, and research skills—all of which are critical for successful careers in today’s information-oriented and changing global society.

There are four major areas of concentration within this program: Mass Communication Studies, Public Relations Studies, Health Communication Studies, and Speech Communication. Once accepted into the graduate program, all students pursuing a Master’s degree (in either the thesis or comprehensive exam track) are required to take three graduate core courses: COMM 6300, COMM 6305, and one required theory course in the students’ major area (COMM 6335 for health communication, COMM6310 for mass communication, COMM 6371 for public relations, and either COMM 6330 or 6320 for speech communication). Students take additional coursework in their stated area of concentration to complete their degree, plus the writing of a thesis or the successful completion of the comprehensive exams. Theses reflect original research carried out by the student in his or her chosen area; comprehensive exams reflect a mastery of all course content taken as a graduate student. Both tracks require the formation of a committee to help guide the student in his or her endeavors.

Areas of Concentrations

Speech Communication

This concentration examines the theories, research, and practices of communication in interpersonal, organizational/corporate, health practice, health campaigns, and family contexts. Areas of study include interpersonal relations, health, family relationships, managerial/organizational culture and cultural diversity.

Mass Communication Studies

This concentration explains the development of modern media systems and their impact on society, and examines ways in which the media contribute and respond to political, social and economic issues. Students who are interested in advancing their scholarly understanding and professional growth in print and broadcast should consider this major.

Public Relations Studies

This concentration studies theory and research needed to help advancing practitioners assist organizations to communicate and strengthen relationships with their stakeholders. Emphasis is given to management issues relevant to products, services, image, and public policy issues.

Health Communication Studies

This concentration examines the symbolic and organizational processes by which people, individually and collectively, understand, shape, and accommodate to health and illness. Areas of study include health communication theory and research; provider-patient communication; social marketing and health communication campaigns on health-related behavioral change; cultural influences on health meanings and treatment preferences; health citizenry and health literacy; communication within healthcare organizations; and the influence of narrative and interactive media, including e-health and telemedicine, on public understanding and health promotion. 

GRADUATE FACULTY

read more/hide

General Requirement at the University of Houston

read more/hide

Please consult the link below for policies that apply to ALL graduate students at the University of Houston.

University of Houston Policies, General Academic Regulations & Requirements

http://www.uh.edu/graduate-catalog/policies/index.php

Graduate Statement:
http://www.uh.edu/admissions/apply/graduate/graduate-statement/index.php

Below is a new regulation on bacterial meningitis vaccination

Beginning January 2012, Texas State law (SB 1107) mandates that all entering students under the age of 30 provide a certificate signed by a health care provider or an official immunization record verifying that a student has been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis, or has received a booster during the five years prior to registration. Students may also submit proof of approved conscience exemption from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
http://www.uh.edu/academics/courses-enrollment/policies/immunization/index.php

Students should consult the Graduate and Professional Studies Catalogue (found here: http://www.uh.edu/graduate-catalog/index.php) on matters not addressed or clarified by this handbook.

General Requirement and Policies for Graduate Students at the Valenti School of Communication

read more/hide

A. Degree Requirements 

All students in the program must complete COMM 6300 and COMM 6302.All other course work should be selected in conjunction with the graduate advisor and members of their committees (thesis or comprehensive exam) as well as other professors in their areas of concentration.

Plan I Program Requirements (Thesis Option)

Requirements

Hours

COMM 6300 and COMM 6302.

6

Six graduate courses

Note:

a. No more than two pre-approved graduate courses may be taken outside of Valenti School of Communication.
b. At least five graduate courses need to be in the student’s area of concentration
c. Three hours of pre-approved 4000-level coursework may be taken

18

COMM 6399 and 7399: Thesis

6

Total

30

Plan II Program Requirements (Non-thesis Option)

Requirements

Hours

COMM 6300 and COMM 6302.

6

Nine graduate courses

Note:

a. No more than two pre-approved graduate courses may be taken outside of Valenti School of Communication.

b. At least five graduate courses need to be in the student’s area of concentration (major area)

c. At least three graduate courses need to be in another graduate area of concentration inside the Valenti School of Communication (minor area)

d. Three hours of pre-approved 4000-level coursework may be taken

27

COMM 6398: Comprehensive Exam

3

Total

36

B. Policies on Courses

1. NO courses at the 3000 level or below are accepted for graduate credit. NO academic credit may be granted for internships at the graduate level.

2. Only courses in which a grade A through F is awarded can be applied to the number of hours required for a degree. Courses with grades of U or S do not meet degree requirements, except for comprehensive examination credit, which does not count as hours required for graduation.

3. A student who receives a grade of C+ or lower in 12 semester hours of credit attempted at this institution for graduate credit, whether or not in repeated courses, is ineligible for any advanced degree at this institution and will not be permitted to re-enroll for graduate study.

4. All students admitted to graduate status must choose one of two options--the Thesis Option or the Comprehensive Exam Option--by the end of 12 hours of graduate study. The requirements for each option are outlined below.

5. Only one 4000 level course, with an additional research component, may be petitioned for consideration as graduate credit. Undergraduate courses taken to fulfill undergraduate deficiencies will not count as undergraduate courses credited to the graduate program. A petition must be submitted two weeks prior to enrollment and to allow for the multiple signatures required. The completion of a petition does not guarantee acceptance.

6. For courses taken outside of Valenti School of Communication, a petition must be submitted two weeks in advance of enrollment because multiple signatures are required. These hours should supplement the student's area of concentration.

7. Special Problems Course:
Students may enroll in one special problem courses with an individual professor. A special problems course is 3 credit hours. The appropriate section number is available each semester from the professor who will direct the study or from the graduate assistant. The student must complete a general petition form outlining the nature of the independent study, the product to be produced and evaluated, and how often student and professor will meet throughout the semester. After the professor signs the general petition form, the student needs to submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies. The Director of Graduate Studies must, before the last day for enrollment, have approved this petition. A student who fails to comply with this provision will be dropped from the state audit roll if the petition is not on file and approved by the twelfth class day. In no case may unapproved special problems hours be counted toward a degree.

C. Other Policies

1. ALL students must select one degree program when applying to enter the graduate program. The decision is made when filling out the graduate admission application form. The student's choice is registered with the Office of Graduate Programs and it cannot be changed unless the student formally petitions the Director of Graduate Studies. Changing area of concentration may require leveling courses to make up any deficiencies in course work.

2. Students have five years to complete the M.A. degree, and the time interval begins when the first course is taken for graduate credit. If a student has a legitimate reason due to health or employment, he/she can file for a one-time, one-year leave of absence. Otherwise, continuous enrollment is expected. Summers may be excluded.

3. For full-time student status, a student is required to be enrolled in 9 hours. Thesis credit hours may count for six hours. Students taking comprehensive exams may only take one course in addition to comps (COMM 6398) - maximum number of hours is 6.

4. No more than nine hours shall be transferred from another college or university to count toward the degree in communication.

5. Post-baccalaureate (PB) status in ALL M.A. programs

Unless authorized by the Director of Graduate Studies, no PB student will be allowed to take graduate-level course work in the Valenti School of Communication. PB students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in their graduate course work. PB courses will not be considered for graduate credit until the student is admitted to graduate status. No more than 12 graduate hours will be accepted for graduate credit in the case of PB students who are subsequently admitted to graduate status. Students are limited to one semester of PB status. If by the end of one semester, a student has not achieved admission to the graduate program, he/she will not be allowed to take graduate courses for graduate credit. Students must petition to have courses changed from PB to GR status.

6. Undergraduate access to graduate courses

Senior students in exceptional cases may begin their graduate program while completing their undergraduate degree. They may take up to six hours of graduate coursework in their last semester before graduation. Students must present the requisite petition to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval. Undergraduate students will be allowed to take graduate courses only under the following conditions: (1) they must have no more than 12 semester hours needed for the bachelor’s degree, and (2) the last semester course load is limited to 15 semester hours maximum including graduate work. They must also have achieved an overall GPA of 3.00 and a GPA of 3.25 in Communication.

D. Additional Requirements for Thesis Option.

1. Students who intend to pursue the thesis option are required to file an application to the Director of Graduate Studies after the completion of 12 hours indicating that intention. If this petition is not filed, the Graduate Committee will assume that the student will pursue the non-thesis option.

2. The student must complete a minimum of six thesis hours and maintain continuous enrollment during the formal research and writing of the thesis.

3. The student must enroll in both COMM 6399 and COMM 7399 in the semester she/he intends to graduate.

4. Procedures for submitting and recording the various stages of the thesis project:

a. The student in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies will select a thesis chair who will then help the student in selecting the Thesis Committee.

b. The Thesis Committee must contain at least three members--the chair, one member representing an outside field (outside the School of Communication), and another member selected from the student's area of concentration (inside the School of Communication). The student must consult with each member to determine that she/he will serve on the committee.

c. The student must present a Thesis Prospectus (typically the first three chapters of the thesis) to his or her Thesis Committee for approval. The content of the prospectus should ordinarily include the title page, chapter one (Introduction) that details the context and significance of the study, chapter two (Literature Review or Conceptualization) that reviews and integrates relevant literature as well as proposes research questions and/or hypotheses, chapter three (Methodology) that details the research methods to be used, references, and appendices (interview protocol, survey questionnaire, solicitation letter, informed consent form etc.). The student then defends the prospectus before their committee.

d. Once the prospectus has been successfully defended and the signed copy is in the student’s file, the student may complete the remainder of the thesis, i.e., data collection, data analysis, thesis write-up, and schedule a final thesis defense.

e. The student must provide a final Thesis Defense to the Thesis Committee. The title page of the thesis is a formal document that must be signed by each member of the committee and a copy placed in the student's file. (Guidelines for completing the thesis can be obtained from the graduate administrative assistant or the office of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, 402 Agnes Hall, http://www.uh.edu/class/students/graduate/thesis-dissertation-info/index.php

f. Students should note the deadline for submission of completed theses to the dean’s office (http://www.uh.edu/class/students/graduate/thesis-dissertation-info/index.php) and schedule their defense date accordingly. As a professional courtesy, the thesis prospectus and the completed thesis are required to be delivered to committee members at least one week prior to defense dates (two weeks prior is preferred). Thesis students are encouraged to examine bound theses completed by former SOC graduate students located on the 3rd floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. A form with instructions on how to prepare the thesis (margins, paper type, fonts, etc.) is available in 101 COMM or from the CLASS dean’s office (402 AH).

1. The meetings dealing with the Thesis Prospectus and Thesis Defense may be open, and the time, date and venue may be advertised beforehand to encourage graduate faculty and especially graduate students to attend.

2. The responsibility for selecting the thesis topic and completing the thesis in a timely manner rests solely with the student.

5. If a thesis involves the collection of data, the study must be approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects before any data collection can occur.

E. Additional Requirements for Comprehensive Exam Option

Advisory Committee

Upon acceptance into the graduate program, the Graduate Director will serve as the student’s advisor. The Graduate Director will suggest courses to take in the first semester based upon the student’s stated interests, as well as provide a list of faculty who study areas related to the student’s interest.

By the end of the first semester, the student is to turn in to the Graduate Director the “Advisor Selection” form. That form will formally state who the student wishes to serve as his or her advisor. That advisor will be responsible for suggesting courses to be taken from that point forward. The student has the option to change advisors at any point up until the final semester when he or she registers for the comprehensive exams.

Before the student registers for comprehensive exams, he or she must select a three-member Advisory Committee that will be responsible for administering the final exam and granting approval for the degree. It is expected that the student have some sort of relationship established with the faculty committee members, such as having completed coursework with each. Of the three committee members, two have to be from the major area of specialization and one has to be from the minor area. Also, at least two of the members of the committee must be from the Valenti School of Communication and it is acceptable for all three members to come from within the School of Communication. It is also permitted for the graduate director to serve on the committee, although this is not required. The graduate director may also serve on the committee if the student is unable to find a third member of the committee.

Once the committee is determined, the student completes the “Comprehensive Exam Committee” form and gives it to the Graduate Director. 

Comprehensive Examination

Students must pass a comprehensive written examination, administered by the Advisory Committee. The exam consists of written questions related to core coursework as well as written questions related to major and minor areas of specialization.

General Procedures

Comprehensive exams are taken after the completion of all coursework, including completion of all incompletes. Exams cannot be scheduled until grades of incomplete are removed from the student’s transcript. Students should coordinate written exam dates with their Committee members first. The students should then contact the Graduate Director to let him or her know of the exam schedule. Faculty committee members must submit exam questions to the student’s advisor electronically at least two weeks prior to the exam.

Primary responsibility for formulating the content boundaries and procedures for the examination resides with the committee members. However, it expected that each student will be asked a total of six questions, two of which come from each committee member. It is also expected that there should be one question that directly addresses communication theory (for students entering prior to Fall 2013) or overall theory and research in the student’s major area (for students entering after fall 2013) as well as a question that addresses research methods. Additionally, two questions should be directed toward the major area of specialization (one general and one specific) and two questions should be directed toward the minor area of specialization (one general and one specific). It is ultimately up to the committee members to decide who should ask what questions.

Students and committee members should also discuss expectations prior to the exam. Specifically, they should discuss the procedures to be followed before, during, and after the examination as well as preparation strategies for each question.

Exam procedures are established by the committee in consultation with the student. Exams will usually be take-home, open-book exams. Responses to open-book and take-home exams are expected to be detailed, substantial, and comprehensive in scope. Although the ultimate decision rests with the committee, it is expected that under normal circumstances, the procedure for the comprehensive exams will be:

  • By the beginning of the exam semester, the student will have met with each member of the committee to discuss the parameters of the comprehensive exam questions.
  • The student will determine what is to be studied based upon the meetings with the committee members.
  • It is up to individual committee members how specific his or her guidance will be, but it is expected that the faculty will provide general questions that will help the student organize his or her knowledge and studying around specific content areas.
  • Each committee member will submit two questions to be asked. The questions should be coordinated among the committee members so that there is not excessive overlap.
  • The timing of the exam is to be worked out between the student and his or her advisor. It is expected that the exam typically fall in the second half of the semester, either in October or early November for the fall, or in March or early April in the spring.
  • The student will have one week from the designated start time to complete all responses.
  • The student’s responses will be emailed back to his or her advisor.

Following the completion of the comprehensive exam:

  • Within one business day from the completion of the exam, the student’s advisor forwards the student’s exam responses to all members of the committee.
  • Within one week of receiving the student’s responses, each committee member submits a grade (pass/fail) to the advisor.
  • All committee members must agree that the student passes in order for the student to graduate.
  • The advisor then notifies the student as to whether he or she passed.
  • If the student fails one or more of the written exams, he or she must retake that portion (i.e., the failed portion(s)) of the exam the following semester. 

Should the student fail any sections of the exam, the student has the option to change committee members for the failed section(s) at the discretion of the thesis advisor.

Enrollment for comprehensive exam hours

Students must obtain the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies before proceeding to take the comprehensive exam. The Director must be informed of the student's intention to take the exam in the semester prior to taking the exam. The student must list all courses taken and indicate whether all prerequisites, if any, have been fulfilled. Approval will be based on the prospect that the student has already completed at least 33 of the 36 hours of coursework required for completion of the degree and that the student has taken five courses in the major area of concentration and three courses in the minor area. The major area of concentration must be selected from one of the following: Speech Communication (i.e., Interpersonal Communication/Organizational Communication), Health Communication Studies, Mass Communication Studies, or Public Relations Studies. The minor area must be selected from one of the remaining options.

Students must register for COMM 6398: Comprehensive Examination during the semester they take the comprehensive exam. The course will be graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U), and will comprise the last 3 required hours of coursework.

Approved Courses (Graduate and Leveling) in All Concentrations

read more/hide

APPROVED GRADUATE COURSES

Required courses for ALL concentrations:
COMM 6300- Research Methodology (to be taken in the first year of course work)
COMM 6305 – Applied Research Techniques in Communication

PUBLIC RELATIONS CONCENTRATION

COMM 6371- Public Relations Theory [Required course]

COMM 6306- Legal, Regulatory, and Ethical Issues [archived]

COMM 6308- Seminar in Persuasion

COMM 6309- Propaganda

COMM 6320- Seminar in Organizational Communication

COMM 6321- Organizational Communication Analysis

COMM 6322- Organizational Communication Symbolism

COMM 6370- Public Relations Management

COMM 6372- Issues Management

COMM 6373- Public Relation Ethics [archived]

COMM 6374- Investor Relations [archived]

COMM 6375- Risk Communication

COMM 6376- Seminar in Crisis Communication

MASS COMMUNICATION CONCENTRATION

COMM 6310- Mass Communication Theory & Research [Required course]

COMM 6306- Legal, Regulatory, and Ethical Issues [archived]

COMM 6309- Propaganda

COMM 6314- Issues in International Mass Communication

COMM 6315- History of Mass Communication

COMM 6316- Television and the Family

COMM 6317- Media Effects

COMM6318- Media Corporations and Media Content

COMM 6350- Communication Technology and Society

COMM 6360- Critical Theory and Media Culture

COMM 6361- Case Studies in Media Culture

COMM 6362- Twentieth Century Popular Culture

COMM 6363- Media and Development

SPEECH COMMUNICATION CONCENTRATION

Required course:

COMM 6320- Seminar in Organizational Communication OR

COMM 6330- Interpersonal Communication 

COMM 6308- Seminar in Persuasion

COMM 6316- Television and the Family

COMM 6321- Organizational Communication Analysis

COMM 6322- Organizational Communication Symbolism

COMM 6331- Interpersonal Conflict

COMM 6333- Relational Communication

COMM 6334- Family Communication

HEALTH COMMUNICATION CONCENTRATION 

COMM 6335- Health Communication Theory & Research [Required course]

COMM 6317- Media Effects

COMM 6398- NIH and Non-Profit Grant Writing [archived]

COMM 6338- Health Literacy

COMM 6336- Provider/Patient Interaction

COMM 6344- Health Campaign Principles & Tailored Messages

COMM 6340- Communication & Catastrophic Conditions [archived]

COMM 6345- Health Campaigns

COMM 6339- Multicultural Health Communication

COMM 6346- Health Campaign Evaluation  [archived]

COMM 6337- E-Health & Telemedicine

APPROVED PRE-REQUISITE “LEVELING” COURSES

Successful applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree in communication will be required to complete up to 12 hours of undergraduate leveling courses that do NOT count toward their graduate degree. The selection of these courses is somewhat flexible and dictated by the area in which the student intends to concentrate at the graduate level. Courses typically include COMM 2300 and 6-9 hours at the 3000 or 4000 level in the area of concentration. Some students may prefer to enroll as post-baccalaureate to complete part or all of this work before starting their graduate program.

Public Relations: COMM 3368 Principles of Public Relations, COMM 3369 Public Relations Writing (which has a pre-requisite of COMM 2310), and 4368 Public Relations Campaigns.

Mass Communication: COMM 1301 Media and Society and courses in media studies at the 3000 and 4000-level such as COMM 3372 Gender and Media, COMM 3376 Media Effects, COMM 4372 Media, Power, and Society, COMM 4375 Propaganda, and 4370 Social Aspects of Film.

Speech Communication: COMM 1333 Interpersonal Communication, and courses at the 3000 and 4000-level such as COMM 4337 TV and the Family, COMM 4338 Family in Popular Culture, COMM 4331 Persuasion, COMM 4335 Crisis Communication, COMM 4357 Intercultural Communication and Organizations, COMM 4355 Organizational Communication.

Health Communication: COMM 3300 Health Communication, COMM 3303 Health Literacy, COMM 3340 Health Campaign Principles & Tailored Messages, COMM 3341 Health Communication.

Concurrent enrollment may be permitted; please be aware that undergraduate courses are very popular and therefore typically close early in the registration process.

If you require “leveling courses”, please contact the Graduate Assistant to help you create an undergraduate program plan in order to enroll.

Graduate Courses

read more/hide

Graduate Program FAQs

read more/hide

What do I need to do to apply?

http://www.uh.edu/class/communication/graduate/prospective-students/index.php

What are the admission criteria?

http://www.uh.edu/class/communication/graduate/prospective-students/index.php

What if I don’t have an undergraduate degree in a communication field?

Successful applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree in communication will be required to complete up to 12 hours of undergraduate leveling courses that do NOT count toward their graduate degree. The selection of these courses is somewhat flexible and dictated by the area in which the student intends to concentrate at the graduate level. See next question “What courses do I take for leveling?”

What courses do I take for leveling?

Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in communication are required to take up to 12 hours of undergraduate courses:

Public Relations: COMM 3368 Principles of Public Relations, COMM 3369 Public Relations Writing (which has a pre-requisite of COMM 2310), and 4368 Public Relations Campaigns.

Mass Communication: COMM 1301 Media and Society, and courses in media studies at the 3000 and 4000-level such as COMM 3372 Gender and Media, COMM 3376 Media Effects, COMM 4372 Media, Power, and Society, COMM 4375 Propaganda, and 4370 Social Aspects of Film.

Speech Communication: COMM 1333 Interpersonal Communication, and courses at the 3000 and 4000-level such as COMM 4337 TV and the Family, COMM 4338 Family in Popular Culture, COMM 4331 Persuasion, COMM 4335 Crisis Communication, COMM 4357 Intercultural Communication and Organizations, COMM 4355 Organizational Communication.

Health Communication: (optional) COMM 3300 Health Communication, COMM 3303 Health Literacy, COMM 3340 Health Campaign Principles & Tailored Messages, COMM 3341 Health Communication.

Concurrent enrollment may be permitted; please be aware that undergraduate courses are very popular and therefore typically close early in the registration process.

May I enroll as a post-baccalaureate student?

Post-baccalaureate status is reserved for those students who have completed an undergraduate degree and want to: a) enroll in their leveling courses while they are awaiting the completion of their application materials or b) enroll in undergraduate courses to raise their GPA. Graduate status is required to enroll in graduate-level courses. If post-baccalaureate students complete graduate courses, there is no guarantee that those courses will eventually be counted as graduate classes. Post-baccalaureate application forms are available in the admissions office at the Welcome Center.

Where do I take the GRE? How do I prepare for the GRE?

Test administration information is available at www.las.uh.edu/uts or from GRE Student Services (204 SSC, 713 743-5386). There are numerous GRE preparation resources (including sample tests) available in book stores and libraries. The School of Communication requires a competitive score in both verbal and math/quantitative sections of the GRE. The analytical score is not considered.

What is my degree plan?

Graduate students do not have a degree plan. It is expected that the individual student, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and their professors, will select the courses that best suit the completion of their degree objectives. All students must complete the two required courses: COMM 6300 Research Methods and COMM 6302 Communication Theory. See “Degree Requirements” 

What are the required courses?

All students must complete the two required courses: COMM 6300 Research Methods and COMM 6302 Communication Theory. COMM 6300 Research Methods is only offered in the spring semester; COMM 6302 Communication Theory is only offered in the fall semester. Concurrent enrollment is permitted in other course work. COMM 6305 Qualitative Research Methods is strongly recommended for all graduate students. It is taught in the fall semester only.

Who is my advisor?

Upon acceptance into the graduate program, the Graduate Director will serve as the student’s advisor. The Graduate Director will suggest courses to take in the first semester based upon the student’s stated interests, as well as provide a list of faculty who study areas related to the student’s interest. It is a good idea to discuss as soon as you can your research, career goals, and concerns about the program with professors whose interests are similar to your interests.

Students will then need to decide whether they want to choose thesis or comprehensive exam option. It is the student’s responsibility to find an advisor for either option.

Students choosing the thesis option should begin as early as possible in their academic program to identify a research topic and a professor to serve as chair in directing their thesis. The students need to file a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies after the completion of 12 hours indicating their intention to choose the option.

For students pursuing the comprehensive exam option, they need to turn in to the Graduate Direct the “Advisor Selection” form by the end of first semester. That form will formally state who the student wishes to serve as his or her advisor.

How do I tailor the program to my interests?

It is expected that in each course you will select a topic of interest for the research paper produced in that course. For example, if you are interested in the effect of media violence on children, you could research relevant theories and research on that topic in COMM 6300 Research Methods, COMM 6302 Communication Theory, or in any of the media studies courses.

How do I enroll for a special problems (independent study) course COMM 6398?

Students may enroll in one special problem courses with an individual professor. A special problems course is 3 credit hours. The appropriate section number is available each semester from the professor who will direct the study or from the graduate assistant. The student must complete a general petition form outlining the nature of the independent study, the product to be produced and evaluated, and how often student and professor will meet throughout the semester. After the professor signs the general petition form, the student needs to submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies. General petition forms are available in 101 Comm. Bldg. or from the Graduate Academic Advisor. Please note that independent studies are rare because they require significant extra work on the part of the instructor and that students should not plan on a guarantee on the option of an independent study to fulfill deficiencies in requirements.

Can I take graduate courses in the summer?

We do not offer graduate courses in the summer. You may however choose to work on special problems courses with a faculty member or taking classes outside the dept (both with prior approval) and/or getting approval for a 4000-level course. Special problems courses are for unique areas of study (not part of regular curriculum) identified by the student and agreed to by the professor and are not automatically available based on request. Check with your cooperating instructor about the Special Problems course criteria and well before the start of a semester.

What courses may I take outside the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication?

You may take up to 6 hours of graduate courses outside of the Valenti School of Communication. It is anticipated that the student will make a choice that best fits with their academic goals; for example, a public relations student may find courses in business management beneficial to them. Students must submit a general petition form requesting that the course be counted toward their graduate degree, prior to enrolling in the course. General petition forms are available in 101 Comm. Bldg. or from Erika in Theatre - 133.

Can I take undergraduate classes? (non-leveling)

Graduate students may take one 3 credit hour, 4000-level undergraduate course that is not one of their leveling courses, that may count toward their graduate degree. Students in these courses are expected to work out an arrangement with the professor to include a research component for the course. Students should complete a general petition form requesting that the 4000-level course be counted toward their graduate degree, and submit the petition prior to enrolling in the course. The completion of a petition does not guarantee acceptance. General petition forms are available in 101 Comm. Bldg. or Erika - 133 Theatre and are submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies.

How many courses do I need to take for the thesis option? Comprehensive exam option?

Thesis students must complete 24 course hours (8 courses) in addition to the 6 hours of thesis credits (total 30 hours). Students may enroll for thesis credit for more than one semester; however, students must be enrolled for 6 hours of thesis credit during the semester in which they intend to graduate. A thesis grade is conferred only upon the completion of the thesis. Theses “in progress” are given the grade of in progress [IP] for each semester until it is completed; grades of incomplete are not available for theses in progress.

Comprehensive exam students must complete 33 course hours (11 courses) in addition to the 3 hours comprehensive exam credits (total 36 hours). Students must have completed, or be very near to completing 33 of their course hours before becoming eligible to enroll in comprehensive exams. The student is limited to one course in addition to registering for comprehensive exams (total six hours).

What is the process for completing a thesis?

Before the start of each semester, students are expected to attend a graduate student orientation/mixer where faculty will discuss expectations of graduate students and give an overview of the major differences and requirements of completing a thesis versus comprehensive exams. If you choose the thesis option, see the following for the general process.

Students should begin as early as possible in their academic program to identify a research topic and a professor to serve as chair in directing their thesis. The ideal timing is early in the student's second semester of coursework, after s/he has had a chance to meet professors and develop a research interest. The student then discuss with the chair and select committee members. The Thesis Committee must contain at least three members--the chair, one member representing an outside field (outside the School of Communication), and another member selected from the student's area of concentration (inside the School of Communication). The student must consult with each member to determine that she/he will serve on the committee.

The student then works on the thesis prospectus (typically the first three chapters of the thesis). The content of the prospectus should ordinarily include the title page, chapter one (Introduction) that details the context and significance of the study, chapter two (Literature Review or Conceptualization) that reviews and integrates relevant literature as well as proposes research questions and/or hypotheses, chapter three (Methodology) that details the research methods to be used, references, and appendices (interview protocol, survey questionnaire, solicitation letter, informed consent form etc.). The student then defends the prospectus before their committee. Once the prospectus has been successfully defended and the signed copy is in the student’s file, the student may complete the remainder of the thesis, i.e., data collection, data analysis, thesis write-up, and schedule a final thesis defense.

If a thesis involves the collection of data from people, the study must be approved by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects before any data collection can occur.

The title page of the final thesis is a formal document that must be signed by each member of the committee and a copy placed in the student's file. (Guidelines for completing the thesis can be obtained from the graduate administrative assistant or the office of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, 402 Agnes Hall, http://www.uh.edu/class/students/graduate/thesis-dissertation-info/index.php

Students should note the deadline for submission of completed theses to the dean’s office (http://www.uh.edu/class/students/graduate/thesis-dissertation-info/index.php) and schedule their defense date accordingly. As a professional courtesy, the thesis prospectus and the completed thesis are required to be delivered to committee members at least one week prior to defense dates (two weeks prior is preferred). In order to understand the final product better, thesis students are encouraged to examine bound theses completed by former SOC graduate students located on the 3rd floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. A form with instructions on how to prepare the thesis (margins, paper type, fonts, etc.) is available in 101 COMM or from the CLASS dean’s office (402 AH).

The meetings dealing with the Thesis Prospectus and Thesis Defense should be open, and the time, date and venue may be advertised beforehand to encourage graduate faculty and especially graduate students to attend.

The responsibility for selecting the thesis topic and completing the thesis in a timely manner rests solely with the student.

How do I enroll for thesis hours?

There are two course numbers for thesis hours: COMM 6399 and COMM 7399. Section numbers for each are available each semester from the professor chairing the thesis committee. Each professor is given individual section numbers each semester that are not published due to space restrictions. Students must register in BOTH courses the semester in which they intend to graduate.

What's the comprehensive exam process?

Advisory Committee

Upon acceptance into the graduate program, the Graduate Director will serve as the student’s advisor. The Graduate Director will suggest courses to take in the first semester based upon the student’s stated interests, as well as provide a list of faculty who study areas related to the student’s interest.

By the end of the first semester, the student is to turn in to the Graduate Direct the “Advisor Selection” form. That form will formally state who the student wishes to serve as his or her advisor. That advisor will be responsible for suggesting courses to be taken from that point forward. The student has the option to change advisors at any point up until the final semester when he or she registers for the comprehensive exams.

Before the student registers for comprehensive exams, he or she must select a three-member Advisory Committee that will be responsible for administering the final exam and granting approval for the degree. It is expected that the student have some sort of relationship established with the faculty committee members, such as having completed coursework with each. Of the three committee members, two have to be from the major area of specialization and one has to be from the minor area. Also, at least two of the members of the committee must be from the Valenti School of Communication and it is acceptable for all three members to come from within the School of Communication. It is also permitted for the graduate director to serve on the committee, although this is not required. The graduate director may also serve on the committee if the student is unable to find a third member of the committee. Once the committee is determined, the student completes the “Comprehensive Exam Committee” form and gives it to the Graduate Director.

Comprehensive Examination

Students must pass a comprehensive written examination, administered by the Advisory Committee. The exam consists of written questions related to core coursework as well as written questions related to major and minor areas of specialization.

General Procedures

Comprehensive exams are taken after the completion of all coursework, including completion of all incompletes. Exams cannot be scheduled until grades of incomplete are removed from the student’s transcript. Students should coordinate written exam dates with their Committee members first. The students should then contact the Graduate Director to let him or her know of the exam schedule. Faculty committee members must submit exam questions to the student’s advisor electronically at least two weeks prior to the exam.

Primary responsibility for formulating the content boundaries and procedures for the examination resides with the committee members. However, it expected that each student will be asked a total of six questions, two of which come from each committee member. It is also expected that there should be one question that directly addresses communication theory (for students entering prior to Fall 2013) or overall theory and research in the student’s major area (for students entering after fall 2013) as well as a question that addresses research methods. Additionally, two questions should be directed toward the major area of specialization (one general and one specific) and two questions should be directed toward the minor area of specialization (one general and one specific). It is ultimately up to the committee members to decide who should ask what questions.

Students and committee members should also discuss expectations prior to the exam. Specifically, they should discuss the procedures to be followed before, during, and after the examination as well as preparation strategies for each question.

Exam procedures are established by the committee in consultation with the student. Exams will usually be take-home, open-book exams. Responses to open-book and take-home exams are expected to be detailed, substantial, and comprehensive in scope. Although the ultimate decision rests with the committee, it is expected that under normal circumstances, the procedure for the comprehensive exams will be:

  • By the beginning of the exam semester, the student will have met with each member of the committee to discuss the parameters of the comprehensive exam questions.
  • The student will determine what is to be studied based upon the meetings with the committee members.
  • It is up to individual committee members how specific his or her guidance will be, but it is expected that the faculty will provide general questions that will help the student organize his or her knowledge and studying around specific content areas.
  • Each committee member will submit two questions to be asked. The questions should be coordinated among the committee members so that there is not excessive overlap.
  • The timing of the exam is to be worked out between the student and his or her advisor. It is expected that the exam typically fall in the second half of the semester, either in October or early November for the fall, or in March or early April in the spring.
  • The student will have one week from the designated start time to complete all responses.
  • The student’s responses will be emailed back to his or her advisor. Following the completion of the comprehensive exam:
  • Within one business day from the completion of the exam, the student’s advisor forwards the student’s exam responses to all members of the committee.
  • Within one week of receiving the student’s responses, each committee member submits a grade (pass/fail) to the advisor.
  • All committee members must agree that the student passes in order for the student to graduate.
  • The advisor then notifies the student as to whether he or she passed.

If the student fails one or more of the written exams, he or she must retake that portion (i.e., the failed portion(s)) of the exam the following semester.

Should the student fail any sections of the exam, the student has the option to change committee members for the failed section(s) at the discretion of the thesis advisor.

How do I enroll for comprehensive exams hours?

Students must obtain the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies before proceeding to take the comprehensive exam. The Director must be informed of the student's intention to take the exam in the semester prior to taking the exam. The student must list all courses taken and indicate whether all prerequisites, if any, have been fulfilled. Approval will be based on the prospect that the student has already completed at least 33 of the 36 hours of coursework required for completion of the degree and that the student has taken five courses in the major area of concentration and three courses in the minor area. The area of concentration must be selected from one of the following: Speech Communication (i.e., Interpersonal Communication/Organizational Communication), Health Communication Studies, Mass Communication Studies, or Public Relations Studies. The minor area must be selected from one of the remaining options.

Students must register for COMM 6398: Comprehensive Examination during the semester they take the comprehensive exam. The course will be graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U), and will comprise the last 3 required hours of coursework.

Graduate Assistantships

read more/hide

Grievance Policy

read more/hide

  •  Every effort shall be made by the graduate/PB student and the faculty members(s) involved to settle their differences amicably and informally to redress the grievance. If appropriate or necessary, the School of Communication director shall participate in this informal effort to resolve the grievance. If appropriate, the aid of a disinterested mediator should be sought to aid resolution.
  • In the event that an informal resolution is not possible, the graduate/PB student may petition the School of Communication director by filing a formal written complaint within 10 working days after the decision is mutually made that the grievance cannot be settled informally. The letter should provide details regarding the complaint and redress sought. After receipt of the letter, the School of Communication director must respond in writing within 10 working days
  • The student must file official notice of an intention to grieve within 30 days of the point in time when the grievant has knowledge or should have had knowledge of the problem being grieved. Within 60 days of filing the intent to grieve notice, the grievant must submit a formal grievance.
  • In filing the formal grievance, the grievant must state 1) when he/she discovered the issue being grieved, 2) what issue is being grieved and provide evidence to support the grievance, 3) what is the desired solution. The grievance committee must meet within 10 workings days following receipt of the written complaint.
  • The School of Communication grievance committee will consist of 3 members: 2 full-time tenure track faculty who have taught a graduate course within the last five years and 1 graduate student. The director of graduate studies will appoint faculty members and the student from a pool of people willing to serve and who are not involved in any aspect of the grievance. All three committee members will have voting privileges; they will elect their own chair.
  • The committee will observe the following hearing guidelines: attendance is limited to the grievance committee, the grievant, the grievant's witness (if the student requests one be present), and the faculty member(s) against whom the grievance is filed. The grievant and the faculty member against whom the grievance is filed shall not be in the hearing room at the same time. The grievant's witness is not allowed to speak and cannot provide legal representation. No recording of the proceedings is allowed. Each party is given one hour to present their case, followed by questions from the committee. The committee will review the written grievance and may request other documents as it sees fit. If the grievance is filed against the graduate committee as a whole, the director of graduate studies may speak for the graduate committee.
  • Notification of the hearing schedule to all parties must be done in writing through certified mail with return receipt requested.
  • The committee has 5 working days following the committee hearing to provide a written report in which the committee articulates, at a minimum, a brief summary of the allegations made and the respondent's rebuttal, the findings of the committee (i.e. the panel's judgment of the facts), and the recommendations of the panel. The written report must be distributed to the parties involved through registered mail with return receipt requested.
  • The grievant may appeal the grievance committee's decision in writing to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The appeal must be filed in writing within 10 working days after receipt of registered mail notifying grievant of the committee's decision.

Graduate Resources

read more/hide

New Student Orientation/Returning Student Mixer.  Before the start of each semester, students are expected to attend this event.   This is an opportunity to meet faculty and staff as well as other students and to engage in open dialogue about many of the issues addressed in this handbook. Faculty will discuss expectations of graduate students and give an overview of the major differences and requirements of completing a thesis versus comprehensive exams. Check with the graduate director or academic advisor about scheduled date.

Academic Calendar - www.uh.edu/academics/catalog/general/academic_calendar.html
Bookstore - www.uh.bkstore.com/
Center for Students with Disabilities - www.uh.edu/csd
Financial Aid -            http://www.uh.edu/enroll/sfa/
Information Technology Customer Support - www.uh.edu/infotech/
International Student and Scholar Services - www.issso.uh.edu/
Learning Support Services – www.las.uh.edu/lss
Libraries - www.uh.edu/campus/kibraries.html
Parking and Transportation Services - www.uh.edu/plantops/pts.html
Police - www.uh.edu/admin/police    Phone: 713-743-3333
Registration & Academic Records - www.uh.edu/enroll/rar
Student Financial Services (Bursar) – www.uh.edu/sfs/
Student Information and Assistance Center – www.uh.edu/dos/siac.html
University Career Services – www.career.uh.edu
Veteran’s Services – www.uh.edu/veterans

Advising and Forms

read more/hide