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Communication - Master's and Doctorate

Availability: Hattiesburg Options

Why study communication at Southern Miss?

The School of Media and Communication offers graduate programs at multiple levels, in which students can focus in topics such as mass communication, public relations, communication studies, or a number of other specializations as directed by the student’s program of study.

We offer a Communication M.A. degree, an online Public Relations M.S. degree, and a Communication Ph.D.

Whether you are a returning professional, a younger student wishing to switch directions after a successful undergraduate degree, or pursuing careers in academia or industry with a doctoral degree, here, you will advance your career.

Graduate Program FAQs

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2master's degree options
2doctoral emphasis areas
3program-specific scholarships; 4 graduate awards

What Will I Learn?

You will work with faculty advisors to ensure a program of study that meets your career goals. Courses focus on higher level learning, with a deep engagement in theory, research and publishable scholarship.  

We offer courses in a variety of communication topics, including social media, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, health communication, rhetoric, risk and crisis communication, minorities, women and media, persuasion, public relations, and a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches.


Choose Com at USM!

Admission Requirements

Graduate (if applicable) and undergraduate transcripts reflecting at least a 3.5 GPA on all graduate work and a 3.0 on undergraduate work during the last 60 hours of undergraduate study.

Admission decisions are not solely based on test scores. Exceptional academic work and/or professional experience are also taken into consideration and may offset low scores.

Applicants must provide: 

  • At least three letters of recommendation addressing academic preparation and readiness for doctoral studies.
  • A statement of purpose, indicating why you wish to pursue a doctoral degree at USM.
  • A current resume.
  • A writing sample.

Writing samples may include academic research papers or professional communication materials such as news articles or background papers.

International students must submit scores of at least 79 on the TOEFL exam or 6.5 on the IELTS exam. 

Ph.D. applicants must have a master's degree from an institution approved by a recognized accrediting agency.

Students who do not have substantial professional experience may opt to complete a semester-length approved internship, consisting of at least 160 total hours completed during the semester in which the student is registered. Students are responsible for securing their own internship, but each position must be approved by the graduate coordinator. Internship opportunities help students: enhance practical skills, gain experience in the field and create networking opportunities with communication professionals.

Program Options

The Communication M.A. degree requires that students complete either a thesis, a professional project, or comprehensive exams. The best option for each student’s career path can be selected with the help of an advisor and graduate committee.

The doctoral degree requires that students complete both comprehensive exams and a dissertation prior to graduation. Students must select an advisor and committee during their program of study.

Research Opportunities 

All graduate students are challenged to pursue innovative and important research, in concert with the graduate faculty and with other graduate students. That research should be conference ready and publishable in an academic journal.  Funding exists for both research support and travel support.

A limited number of graduate assistantships may be awarded to qualified students by a competitive application process. Assistantships are awarded based on the strength of the student’s application and the needs of the School of Media and Communication.

Graduate Assistants receive a stipend and tuition waiver for up to 12 credit hours each term of the appointment.

The priority deadline for students to apply to the programs and be considered for assistantship funding is January 31st.  Potential graduate students will not be considered for award until they have been formally accepted into the program.

Graduate students are eligible to apply to the university’s British Studies Program. There is currently a British Journalism and Social Media course offered during the summer term. Graduate students are provided an enhanced research opportunity abroad, as well as an opportunity to explore the UK and surrounding countries. 

Office of Study Abroad

Please review the International Graduate Admissions web page for information regarding international graduate admissions.

For questions specific to international students, contact Ms. Elizabeth Shoemake at the International Student and Scholar Services Office:


Our Faculty

The graduate programs in the School of Media and Communication are served by 22 graduate faculty members who have significant professional experience in their fields as well as advanced academic careers. In addition to teaching assigned graduate courses, faculty may serve in the capacity of academic advisor, thesis advisor or professional project director. In each instance, faculty provides guidance, support and direction to guide students in the successful completion of their specific project and/or program.


Degree Plan Availability
Communication PhDHattiesburg
Communication MAHattiesburg
  • Media/Communication Relations
  • Non- and For-profit work with organizations
  • College/University Professor and/or Administrator
  • Scholar
  • Research Analysts/Specialist
  • Dr. Carl Brown, 2015, 
    Assistant Professor, Grand Valley State University
  • Thomas Broadus, 2011, 
    Director of Digital Strategy, The Focus Group
  • Dr. Angela McGowan, 2015, 
    Assistant Professor, State University of New York Fredonia
  • Dr. Hazel J. Cole, 2008, 
    Associate Professor/Public Relations Sequence Head, University of West Georgia
  • Kaisha Brown, 2017, 
    Communications Specialist, City of Salisbury (NC)
  • Dr. Willie Tubbs, 2017,
    Assistant Professor, University of West Florida