Graduate Programs

Graduate Courses, Fall 2021

COMM 501 Proseminar in Mass Communications

Tuesdays, 8:45 – 11:45 a.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Michael Schmierbach
The course will review and discuss the major concepts, issues and approaches involved with studying media from a social science perspective.

COMM 502 Pedagogy in Communications

Wednesdays, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Ford Risley

This course focuses on the unique characteristics of undergraduate education in the communications discipline. The principles and practices covered in the seminar have applications for teaching communications in a number of venues including the academic, business and government professional settings. The course involves students in collaborative learning, assessment skills, powerful pedagogies, practical workshops and substantive reviews and applications of curricular and pedagogical research in the communications discipline.

COMM 506 Research Methods in Communications

Mondays, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., 24 Carnegie Building / S. Shyam Sundar
This is a gateway course on social science research, providing students a rigorous introduction to basic methodological concepts needed for conducting empirical research. Students will learn how to explicate concepts, ask research questions and test hypotheses using experiments, surveys and content analyses. They will be introduced to descriptive and inferential statistics. They will critically analyze published research, by identifying threats to validity of inferences. They will conduct a research project from start to finish, and produce original, publishable research.

COMM 515 MA Proseminar in Mass Communications

Thursdays, 8:45 – 11:45 a.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Patrick Plaisance
An introduction to graduate studies for MA students in Media Studies. The class will explore a range of major approaches and perspectives in the study of media and communications. The class will also examine the scholarly profession of media and communication studies, and Penn State media studies traditions and current scholars.

COMM 518 Media Effects

Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Homero Gil de Zúñiga
This course focuses on key theories in the social-scientific study of the individual/social effects of media use. The class explores how media shape our attitudes and behaviors in different contexts, including enjoyment, consumer behavior, politics, stereotyping, aggression, learning, and ongoing attitudes toward media. Course readings include scholarship on traditional media and digital media as well as other media innovation realms (e.g., gaming, augmented reality, algorithmic based and artificial intelligence, etc.). Students should have a basic familiarity with quantitative research, but the class is ideal for anyone interested in the media, regardless of whether they have prior experience with scholarship in the area. Students are welcome even if they are taking COMM 506 concurrently or have completed equivalent coursework in another department.

COMM 555 Media and Culture

Fridays, 8:45 – 11:45 a.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Matthew Jordan
This course will provide an overview of the major theorists of mass media whose work offers critical appraisals of the impact of mass media on cultures and the people within those cultures. It will give students an understanding of the major theorists and their conceptions of the relationship between media, communication and culture. Each section is designed to interrogate a particular epistemological or methodological challenge to the social and cultural understanding of mass media, from the seminal thinking of the Frankfurt School - the first thinkers to engage this important field of research - through the theorists of the so-called post-modern turn. Special attention will be paid to examining the ways in which mass media constructs ideological foundations for society's understanding of democracy, identity and everyday life.

COMM 585 Media & Telecommunications Industries

Tuesdays, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Krishna Jayakar
This course will study the structure and performance of media, telecommunications and information industries applying principles and ideas from microeconomics, finance and communications. The objective of this graduate seminar is twofold. First, the course provides exposure to the applications of selected concepts, principles and topics in microeconomics to the analysis of the media, telecommunication and information markets. This course is not intended as a general introduction to microeconomic theory and practice - however, students will have the opportunity to begin their study of selected applications of microeconomic principles at a fundamental level and advance their understanding to a high level of complexity worthy of graduate coursework. The second objective of the course is to connect ideas and principles from microeconomics to a body of communications theories, demonstrating possible complements and conflicts across the two disciplines. Discussion of both theoretical and empirical scholarship is emphasized. This in turn gives students a framework for further research on the structure of information industries and the conduct and performance of communications firms. Course covers international markets but focus is on North America. Topics may include selected industries such as wired and wireless telephony, satellite communications, broadband/cable, broadcasting, film, advertising, publishing, computing and Internet; industrial organization; competition and competitive advantage, growth and the economic causes of innovation; economics of intellectual property protection; electronic markets, hierarchies and transactions cost economics; the economic justification and effects of regulation; natural monopoly economics; cost modeling, demand forecasting and pricing in regulated monopoly and competitive industries; telecommunications deregulation and privatization.

COMM 590 Colloquium

Thursdays, 4:35 – 5:50 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Anthony Olorunnisola
A one-credit course that consists of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers that discuss different areas of communications, graduate study, and resources at Penn State. The course is designed for COMM graduate students in their first semester.

COMM 597 Advanced Qualitative Methods

Fridays, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., 3 Carnegie Building / Juliet Pinto
This course is intended to provide students with an in-depth exploration of the more advanced aspects of qualitative research, with a focus on the application of qualitative methods to research design, data collection and analysis. We begin with a comprehensive understanding of theoretical perspectives and critical appraisals that inform complex and rigorous qualitative inquiry, and discuss the translation of findings in terms of understandings of social phenomena. Students will design and complete research projects. The course is taught as a seminar, so student participation and discussion are core components. Students should have taken COMM 511 or an equivalent class in another program before enrolling in this course, as it requires a basic understanding of qualitative research design.