Three faculty of Communications talking and laughing


Explore the meanings people share through verbal and nonverbal messages in relationships, organizations and societies. 

Master Your Communication Skills

Communication is at the center of everything we do. As a communication student at USD, you will advance your speaking, listening, critical thinking, problem solving, research and technology-guided communication skills as you explore the role communication plays in our lives. Our program is a great fit for students with a variety of career interests – including going on to doctoral study, teaching at the post-secondary level and securing leadership positions in fields such as business, education, public relations, marketing, media management, advertising and more. Our unique program blends multiple disciplines, encouraging you to choose classes and research topics that best fit your interests and goals. Our expert professors will offer mentorship as you design an individualized plan of study that emphasizes the communication context and meanings that are most important to you.

Degrees & Offerings

Communication (M.A.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The M.A. in communication prepares you with a broad range of skills and a master's-level understanding of communication. You'll explore interpersonal identities and relationships, culture and organizational life, in addition to traditional and new forms of media. You can tailor the program to fit your interests and career goals; after completing foundational courses in research and theory, you will build your own academic plan by selecting courses from communication studies, media and journalism or other related departments. Thesis and non-thesis tracks are available.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a graduate student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The Department of Communication Studies offers a number of graduate teaching assistantships, which carry a stipend and tuition reduction. As a graduate assistant, you may:

  • Teach individual sections of CMST 101: The Basic Course
  • Provide campus-wide training at the Presentation Center
  • Assist with coaching the Speech and Debate Team
  • Support audio and video production at the state-of-the-art Al Neuharth Media Center
  • Conduct testing and research in the psycho-physiology lab

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation.

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Graduate School Assistantships

You'll find the mentorship and opportunities you need to study topics that spark your curiosity. Some of our recent master's graduates in the communications program have crafted their degree plans around the following research areas:

  • Communication in cross-cultural adaptation
  • Gender stereotypes in media
  • The role of artificial intelligence in crisis communications
  • Persuasive techniques in political campaigns
  • Provider-patient interaction in health care
  • Sports and community identity

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations.

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community. 

Join Now

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education.
Instructor students discussion table video screen

Communication Studies

Communication is at the center of everything we do. Explore the role communication plays in our personal relationships, professional experiences and public leadership through the Department of Communication Studies.

Behind the scenes during Coyote News TV.

Media & Journalism

Media connects us to each other and our world. Explore the art of storytelling and media marketing through the Department of Media & Journalism.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know faculty and staff in the Departments of Communication Studies and Media & Journalism.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Leah Seurer

Leah Seurer

Chair-Communication Studies
Bio Image for Faculty Member Nicole Ackman

Nicole Ackman

Bio Image for Faculty Member Lori Costello

Lori Costello

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Janet Davison

Janet Davison



Media and journalism, writing
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hanna DeLange

Hanna DeLange

Public Relations Strategist
Bio Image for Faculty Member Travis Loof

Travis Loof

Assistant Professor


Media Psychology
Perceptions of AI
Bio Image for Faculty Member April Lovrien

April Lovrien

Bio Image for Faculty Member Todd Mechling

Todd Mechling

Bio Image for Faculty Member Samantha Nelson

Samantha Nelson

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jill Tyler

Jill Tyler

Chair, Comm Studies/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michelle Van Maanen

Michelle Van Maanen

Chair-Media & Journalism


Journalism, Digital Media Writing, Theory
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hailie Warren

Hailie Warren

Creative Director for Visual Storytelling
Several Communications students sitting at a conference table working together

Tailor the Program to Your Interests and Career Goals

Graduate with a degree that reflects your passions and sets you apart.


USD's Master of Arts in communication is unique in that you can craft the program to fit your interests and career goals. You'll learn from supportive and expert faculty in the Departments of Communication Studies and Media & Journalism, and you'll also take classes from other departments across campus to expand your skillset and knowledge. This unique structure provides a versatile and supportive climate that prepares students for effective participation in an information-rich society.


Photo of students all smiling in a large room with one standing in front of a microphone

Unlock Broad Career Opportunities

Master your communication and leadership skills as you prepare for your next career opportunity.


Students who complete our program are well positioned for leadership roles in a variety of fields, including business, education, media, politics, social and human services, arts and entertainment, public relations, advertising, human resource development and other areas. The program also prepares students for doctoral study and for teaching at the secondary and post-secondary levels.


Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 

Graduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Graduate Assistantships

USD offers opportunities for grad students to earn a reduced tuition rate in exchange for their teaching, research and service efforts to the university.


Alum success story

Erin Rasmussen's portrait
The Communication Studies program balances its scholastic focus with real-world applications. The brilliant and passionate professors teach students why communication functions in our  relationships, communities, organizations, cultures and societies. It has challenged me as a learner, thinker, speaker and writer. I am confident that the knowledge and skills I have developed because of this program will make me an asset in any profession I pursue in the future.

Erin Pedersen Rasmussen

M.A. Communication '19
Instructor, Department of Communication Studies
Montana State University 

Take the Next Step