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Indiana University Bloomington

Graduate | Masters Program

The Master of Arts in degree serves as a foundation for the Ph.D. in Communication and Culture. Students work with an adviser to construct a curriculum that addresses individual needs and interests while benefiting from the broad expertise of our faculty. Explore the following links to learn more about degree requirements for the Masters program, examine reading lists, and peruse information on comprehensive exams.

Degree Requirements | Reading Lists | Exams

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree must complete a minimum of thirty credit hours of approved graduate coursework as designated below:

  1. Two of the following three introductory courses: C501 - Introduction to Rhetoric and Public Culture, C502 - Introduction to  Performance and Ethnography in Communication and Culture, or C503 - Introduction to Media Aesthetics. 

  2. One of the following three methods courses: C505 - Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric, C506 - Methods of Ethnography, or C507 - Media research Methods.  The course should be in the same area (Rhetoric and Public Culture, Film and Media Studies, or Performance and Ethnography) as one of the introductory courses from Requirement 1.

  3. C700 – Independent Readings in Communication and Culture. Students choose to be examined on two reading lists drawn from the three departmental areas of research (rhetoric and public culture, film and media, and performance and ethnography), most of which they will study in the framework of the introductory and methodological courses mentioned in (1) above. In C700, students also work independently with the reading lists in preparation for the M.A. Comprehensive Examination. Much of the work for C700 is normally taken during the summer following the first full year of coursework but it is also spread across the whole period preceding the MA exams. Students will be graded in C700 on the basis of the outcome of their examination, with a high pass being recorded as an A+, a pass on the first attempt as an A, a pass after rewriting one question as A-, and a pass after retaking the exam as B+, and a fail as F.

  4. An additional eighteen hours of graduate coursework, of which no more than six hours will be at the 400-level, and no more than three additional hours of C700. Students may take a maximum of eight hours of coursework outside of the Department of Communication and Culture.  Courses taken at the 400-level must be specifically approved for graduate credit.

  5. Students may transfer a maximum of eight hours of graduate coursework with grades of B+ or better with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Dean of the University Graduate School. 

  6. Nine thousand word, take-home, written comprehensive examination to be administered in January or May of the second year of coursework.
  1. Coursework taken towards the M.A. must be completed no more than five years prior to the awarding of the degree. Coursework that does not meet this criterion may be revalidated. For the rules governing revalidation, see the University Graduate School Bulletin.
  1. Students must achieve a GPA of 3.5 in order to be awarded an M.A.


Reading Lists

The M.A. reading list in Communication and Culture consists of three separate lists, each calibrated to one of the department's three areas of research. Students are expected to complete the readings on any two of the three lists in order to prepare for the10,000 word M.A. Comprehensive Examination.


The M.A. Exam

The examination consists of a 3,000 word response to a question in one topos or research area, a second 3,000 word response to a question in a different topos, and a 3,000 word response to a question that asks the student to articulate relationships between those two areas of research. Each student determines which two areas of research s/he will select for the examination. If, for example, a given student chooses to prepare for exams on rhetoric and media, s/he will write a 3,000 word response in rhetoric and another 3,000 word response in media, followed by a 3,000 word response that relates rhetoric and media. The student will submit these responses to the Graduate Secretary electronically.

The exam questions will be drafted by the most recent instructors of C501, C502 and C503 (including the questions that cross topoi) and revised by the M.A. Examination Committee in consultation with the instructors. The M.A. Examination Committee will consist of one faculty member from each topos. All students will answer the same question in a given topos. Thus, for example, one question in performance and ethnographic studies will be prepared for all students who have selected this topos as one of the two areas of research in which they wish to be examined. Similarly, one question will be prepared in rhetoric and one in media for students who wish to write in either or both of those areas.

The M.A. exam is regularly scheduled two times each year – in January and May, (with an opportunity for those who took but failed the exam in May to retake it in August). Students applying for the PhD in CMCL should consult the DGS about the best time to take the exam. A student who does not plan to pursue the PhD may elect to take the M.A. exam during a regularly scheduled exam period in May.

The M.A. exam is evaluated by the M.A. Examination Committee plus one faculty member of the student’s choosing. The identity of the student will be masked to all evaluators except for the faculty member of the candidate’s choosing. Once the student determines which areas the examination will cover, and no later than one month prior to when the examination will be taken, the student needs to file the Application for the M.A. Examination with the Graduate Secretary. Note that members of the Graduate Affairs Committee are ineligible to serve as graders for the MA exam.