CSUSB Advising Podcast

Ep. 43 - What is the M.A. in Communication Studies?

March 02, 2023 Matt Markin Season 1 Episode 43
CSUSB Advising Podcast
Ep. 43 - What is the M.A. in Communication Studies?
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 43 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Dr. Thomas (T.C.) Corrigan and Dr. Jo Anna Grant about the M.A. in Communication Studies! What are graduate students learning in the M.A. program? How is the program structured? What funding opportunities are there? What careers can a student head into? Find out in this episode!

For more info, check out the Communication Studies Linktree.

Questions? Contact Dr. Corrigan (corrigan@csusb.edu) or Dr. Grant (jgrant@csusb.edu

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Yoties, it's time for another episode of the CSUSB advising podcast. My name is Matt Markin, an academic advisor here at Cal State San Bernardino. Welcome, as always, and for this episode, we're learning more about the master's degree in Communication Studies. We have two guests today from the Communication Studies Department. And they are one returning guests from a previous episode, Dr. T.C. Corrigan, and new to the podcast, Dr. Jo Anna grant. Welcome both.

Thank you for having us.

Thank you.

So let's jump in. Let's get to know you a little bit better. And Dr. Corrigan, even though you're on a previous episode, those that might didn't listen to that, but might be interested in this one about the MA and Comm Studies. Let's get to know both of you your your title, what you study. So maybe we'll start with Dr. Grant. Okay.

I'm Dr. Jo Anna grant, I'm a professor in Communication Studies. My areas of interest are health, communication, interpersonal communication, and instructional communication. And I kind of work around the intersections of those three things, oftentimes, and sometimes overlapping to things like helping media or their personal line, and you know, kind of things like that. Dr. Corrigan.

Thank you, Matt. My name is Dr. Thomas Corrigan, or T.C. I'm an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies. And I'm the graduate coordinator for the MA in Communication Studies. My, my teaching and research generally focuses around digital media and the political economy of communication. So political economy or communication is the study of wealth, power, and media. And so, for instance, the richest person in the world bought one of the most influential social networking platforms like Twitter, that would certainly be of interest to folks who study the political economy of the media. I write mostly about research methods in the area. So how do people study media businesses, many of which don't necessarily want to want to open up the door and let us into the boardroom to hear how the decisions go down. But methodologically? How do we go about making sense of what happens in those spaces? And what consequences are?

So let's maybe start broad and then work our way to the specifics of the M.A., but maybe we start with how you would define communication studies, and then kind of going into the types of topics that maybe a master's student in communication studies would explore. So I'm not sure who wants to start with that?

Sure, I'll jump in. So, you know, I think one of the most common definitions of Communication Studies or communication that I like, is the study of the construction of shared meanings. So you know, whether we're talking about interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, strategic communication, or media studies, all of those are concerned with how people go about developing a shared understanding of the world and a shared understanding of of each other. Doesn't mean it always works  well there are certainly misunderstandings, there's misinformation and disinformation. But communication studies is interested in how we come to those shared understandings, whether they're accurate or accurate or not, and what the implications of those processes are. So that's sort of how I make sense of communication studies across the discipline. But, Dr. Grant?

I did with that definition, about shared meanings. And that really helps us understand this is a broad discipline, and we have a lot of subfields. within it. Dr. Corrigan mentioned strategic communication, political economy, I talked about interpersonal communication, instructional, there's also intercultural, cultural studies, you know, and it expands and expands, there's a lot of different ways to look at how human beings share meaning. But really, that's, to me, that's the core of what it is to be human, is to come together with other human beings and create a shared understanding of the world. That's how we create relationships. That's how we create cultures. That's how we create and maintain our institutions, you know, in our societies that we live in, and so to me, that's kind of the heart of what communication is about, and why I'm so interested in it.

Yeah. And so now that you both have kind of set the foundation of Communication Studies, maybe we talk more about the the M.A. in terms of how is it structured and organized, you know, what, what are what kind of classes are graduates expect to take and in a way, how does this differ from being a graduate student versus being an undergraduate?

Yeah, So the the M.A. in communication studies, it's a it's a two year program, and it's a 30 unit program. Now when I say two years, it's a program that you can complete in two years, if you're taking six to nine units per term, which is sort of the norm for, for graduate students, we have some students, folks who are working professionals have families at home life commitments, that might take a little bit longer than two years, and certainly, that's understood, and we want them want them along, right. But you can complete it in two years. And and we also offer our courses in the evenings so that working professionals are able to come attend, and we want, you know, folks who are, you know, looking to go into Media and Communication careers, to use their, their work in professional and community contexts. But we also like for folks with those backgrounds to come into our program and be able to share those ideas in our classes. And so when it comes to like the the organization of the program from from start to finish, in year one, students complete their their core coursework. And that's there's four courses that are part of our core core classes. In their first term, students take introduction to graduate states, which is a course that prepares students for the sorts of graduate level research and writing. Secondary research, for instance, using University databases and library databases, that are really essential for being able to get the most out of graduate experience. Students also take that first term, theoretical perspectives in communication studies, which Dr. Grant just just taught this past fall. And that course, introduces students to theoretical perspectives that are pertinent regardless of whether they're heading into interpersonal communication, media studies, topics, strategic communication, sort of those foundational theoretical perspectives, and also a chance to explore and learn about theories that that might be a little further flung, right, an interpersonal communication student, for instance, learning about media theories, and vice versa. So the in their second term, students take two research methods courses, quantitative and qualitative research methods, in our programs, stresses, the, you know, the value of theory, research and practice. And in that second term, we really want you to have a strong methodological foundation building on those that those theoretical and, and beginning research skills in the first term, want you to really develop those quantitative and qualitative research methods. So when we say quantitative methods, we're thinking about experiments, thinking about surveys, quantitative content analysis, where you're, for instance, counting the number of occurrences of, for instance, sex and violence in media content. And the qualitative methods course, thinks, you know, explores more methods that are focused on meaning and ideas. So for instance, interview methodologies, interview methodologies, focus groups, close textual readings of media, and other text based content. And those are, you know, to two sort of core areas of research competencies that it's really valuable for students to have in their toolkit, whether they're heading into careers in, in academia, or in teaching or in professional practice, those are all really important bedrock methodologies to have on hand. And there...so, those are four courses that students take in their first year, they might take a, you know, an elective here or here or there during the first year also, but we really want them to get that foundation in the program. As they move into year two. In year two, students take more of their elective coursework. This can vary depending on a student's interests. Over the past year, we've offered elective coursework in instructional communication, decolonial theory and methods. This spring, we're offering electives in public and political communication, and a course on the Inland Empire news ecosystem, which I'm currently teaching. In the upcoming year, we're going to have elective coursework, including the political economy of communication. So again, that study of wealth, media and power, we'll have a course on family communication, Strategic Planning and Public Relations, and an exciting course pertinent or very timely in immersive media. So we've heard a lot about topics like the metaverse, for instance, in VR and XR, and we're going to have a course focused specifically on those topics by Dr. Popescu, who is the Director for the extended reality lab on campus. So, you know, a wide variety of elective coursework, that is there for students to explore based on on their interests. In that second year, in addition to elective coursework, students might take internships, independent studies. It's also you know, it is an interdisciplinary discipline, right? So we've got, you know, their communication studies is informed by psychology, sociology, business history, etc. And so we encourage students to take courses here and there outside of our department that dovetail well with their their plan of study. And then the last sort of structural component in the program is a culminating experience. So students can choose from one of three culminating experiences. One is a master's thesis. So this is an original research study that the student conducts under the supervision of a of a department faculty member, it might be a survey, it might be a series of focus groups, it's really, you know, a student's opportunity to use those research methodologies we talked about earlier, to answer some important communication question that they want to wrestle with. And, and so, you know, a master's thesis is, is one popular option. Other students complete what's called a graduate project. These can vary pretty, pretty widely, but I like to think of it as the creation of some sort of communication artifact, right. It might be a documentary, might be a screenplay, it might be a, a marketing plan for a company, or a guidebook for an organization. But, you know, one way or another, it's some sort of active communication that the student has engaged in, could be a workshop, right? And, and they, it involves research, they put together a manuscript that explains what they plan to do and what they accomplished. And then there's the project itself and executing. And then the last culminating experience option is a comprehensive examination. And this is, it's a, it's it can be a little bit more timely than a thesis or project sometimes for for students for whom time is of the essence, right? But nonetheless, it's still a rigorous and valuable experience in terms of reflecting on the coursework that you've taken up to that point and completing a written examination, addressing key questions with respect to your, your classes. So those are the three options that students have at the end of the program. And that sort of walks them through from from start to finish.

Yeah, and I guess the follow up with that, you know, you kind of broke down the coursework, and you can kind of see the differences between like, what an undergrad would take versus what a graduate would take. But I guess, if we talk about expectations, like someone who's an undergrad right now, there's probably different expectations that a professor might have for them versus like, at undergraduate level, would you be able to talk maybe a little bit about that?

Sure. I'll tell you a little bit about that. So yes, there are some different expectations, and one of them is being a little bit more, having, you know, kind of the self management and things like that, doing more readings, and we're more writing and things like that. But one of the things I think that's really strong about our program is in that first semester, that introduction to graduate studies course, really takes you through and gives you the tools to be successful as a graduate student, and make that transition from being an undergraduate student and those expectations, let you know, and kind of demystify the expectations that we have it in the graduate program, and give you practice learning and applying those skills. So as you go through your graduate coursework, you've already have all the skills and tools that you need to be successful in the program. So, I know a lot of students have apprehension about can I do graduate work, but at least in our program, it's set up and designed to give you the practice and the tools that you need to be successful. Off the bat, when you start a call.

The one thing I would add to is, you know, I think sometimes with with an undergraduate class, maybe upper division undergraduate classes, you might have an opportunity for a little bit more individualization of, of course content. But at the graduate level, you're we're working with smaller classes, right, and you're working much more closely with, with individual faculty. And, you know, one upside of that is that you've got a chance to sort of take a class and tailor it to your interests, right? And so, you know, I always tell students, you know, go into a class with, you know, whatever it is that you're most curious about, you know, whether it's body image on social media or the experience of different students in the classroom, right, whatever it happens, happens to be and, and sort of talk to the professor about, you know, how can I, how can I study? The what I'm interested in using the theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, so of this class, right. And, and that's usually something we can, you know, we can work with and figure out, you know, an opportunity for you to certainly still get the, the nuts and bolts of that particular class, but figure out how to how can we write a paper that's, you know, it's, that speaks to your individual interests in communication, as a graduate student? Right. And so that's something that smaller class sizes at the graduate level really allow students and faculty to do a little bit more, a little in a little bit more nuanced way. And, and that's, I don't know, to me, that's half the fun. Very nice.

And you were mentioning before that it's flexible in the sense with this program that the classes are in, like the evening time. So is this a program that is all on campus? In person? Are there any virtual components?

So we have, most of our courses are offered in person on the San Bernardino campus, we do have some courses that are offered online, it's typically you won't be looking at more than one course, in a term that would be offered online. We sometimes offer courses that are hybrid, where you're meeting once a week, but doing some significant coursework online collaboratively, in virtual spaces, but it is a program that is predominantly an online or sorry, a an in person face to face program. So yeah, that's good to know, in terms of the modality for the program?

Absolutely. And of course, somebody that probably question that comes up as funding. Are there any funding opportunities available for graduates who are doing the communication studies master's degree?

Dr. Grant, do you want to talk about the GTA program, and then I can fill in with some some other?

Absolutely, I'll start with the GTA program. So the GTA program is graduate teaching associate programs. So when students apply for our program, they can also apply to become a graduate teaching associate. And there's an interview process along with that. But what that means is, if you're selected, we will train you and support you to teach your own independent class of our oral communication course. So you'll be working with our first year coyotes coming in doing their public speaking class. And that provides a stipend that you know, the amount varies based on the contract or whatever, per class and you get support for me, the coordinators, professional development, I come and visit the classes and give feedback to the, you know, the instructors, but they are the instructor, there's like nobody else in the classroom, you have your own class, if somebody's interested in training, or teaching. This is a great experience for them in their second year. And they're doing well they have the opportunity to take on two sections per semester. You know, for of course, increased monies, and I get again, I get the training and the support from the coordinator. So that's one opportunity that we have for funding our graduate students. And I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Corrigan for some other ones.

Yeah, so you know, the the GTA program, it's an excellent program. And it's really sort of the the crown jewel of our funding opportunities in the program are associated with the MA program. We have had a couple really exciting other funding opportunities that we've developed in conjunction with other entities around campus that we're very excited about. So one is called the communication Consultants Program. And that's associated with the speaker, the Jack H. Brown Speaking Center, which is over in the College of Business. And what that Communication Consultant Program entails is that communication consultants, many of whom have been MA students in our in our program will work with undergraduate and graduate students across campus to help them prepare for speaking opportunities, right? It might be a class presentation, it might be a job interview, basically any anytime when you need to stand and deliver, right, and they will help students prepare for those, those moments and also, you know, virtual practice with virtual speaking engagements like we're like we're doing now, right? Communication consultants, again, many of them have been MA students in our program, I think the last two years, we've had five MA students each year who have had, who have earned a paycheck right for this, this work with the with the speaking centers, communication consultants. And in doing so, you know, really getting to learn, you know, the, the oral communication and speaking, best practices in that context as well. And some of these students have also been GTAs, right. So we'll have GTPase who are taking their experience, teaching oral communication in the classroom, and then turning around and this sort of mentorship and consulting role, being able to share those insights through the speaking center. So that's one really exciting funding opportunity. And the best contact for that is the speaking Center here at at CSUSB. The couple of others though, we have students who inch your work as instructional student assistants, which you you might give them like more, more commonly think of as TAs, right, so students who are working with, with faculty, usually with large lectures on organization, grading, student feedback, and those sorts of things. And we have MA students who work in in those roles. We also have MA students who are graduate assistants. And basically what they do there is is work as research assistants, for faculty members in communication studies who are conducting one study or another and oftentimes they have some some grant grant funding that they can use to to, to hire a master student to work with them on a project. We recently had a couple MA students who were working with one of our faculty members, Dr. Theo Mazumdar on a study of conspiracy theories on Twitter, right. And so the, the graduate students were, were coding those tweets, so counting the number of occurrences of different conspiracy theories, who was sharing them, how many folks were, they were reaching, and those sorts of things. So graduate assistantships, they, they change from term to term, but they're also certainly an exciting opportunity, not just for, you know, for funding but to learn communication research, theory and practice. The there also some, some, some funding opportunities that students tap into through the one is through the extended reality lab on campus. The director for that lab is Dr. Mihaela Popescu, and they have a $3,000 annual award. It's called the innovative media and technologies Graduate Research Award. And basically, you know, a student who's interested in a topic like extended reality or machine learning, virtual reality, those sorts of topics, they can propose projects that they want to work on, funded, and the extended Reality Lab may go ahead and support that work under the supervision of a faculty member. We've had students in recent years who have secured the a number of campus funding awards, one being the student research and travel award. So if you're doing research or traveling to a conference, the Office of Student Research will fund students up to $1,000 annually. And then when students are working on their company experience so that the thesis or the graduate project that I talked about earlier, you can get up to $2,000, that that final year to support you for the research or travel associated with your comedy experience. So those are exciting funding opportunities. Last I mentioned, there's the graduate equity Fellowship, which is a an award for students both need and merit based to support graduate students to continue their graduate studies. And so that's another exciting funding opportunity that our students have been able to tap into.

Definitely lots of opportunities for students. So you know, we always tell students like there's opportunities there. Sometimes it falls in your lap, sometimes you gotta go and find it or other times it's go to a workshop or talk to the faculty and they will you will let them know about it. So let's lead into that. What are other activities that some of your communication studies graduates, what are they going to be involved in?

Dr. Grant, you just talked about the GTA program, which would have been one of the first ones I would I would mention, but certainly student teaching is a big thing.

Yeah, yeah. Teaching is a big thing. And our graduates, you know, go on to like if you look at all the colleges and community colleges in the Inland Empire, you will in the communication program you will see Coyotes. They are our graduates. They are chairs of department. They're tenured faculty in our community colleges all across the region. They're also involved in training and development programs in institutions and corporations. You know, supporting and, and that teaching and learning environment again, so that, you know, from the TPA standpoint, these are a couple of things that our graduates go on to do. Many of them go on to further their education in a in a Ph. D. program, and having the experience of teaching is often an opportunity for them to get funding for their PhD, and teach at PhD, and some of them are interested in being professors. And so great way to get experience there. So I'll turn it over to you, etc.

No, those are two that really come to mind, the student teaching is a really valuable opportunity. I'd add just you know, there's, there's no better way to learn communication than to try to teach it to someone else, right? And so, I think you, you come out of that experience, not just with teaching experience, but really knowing the subject matter really well. Dr. Grant, you mentioned, you know, students moving on to PhD programs. One thing that is just I think really worth underscoring is that our students do a lot of really good research here before they move on. And so we've got students who, each year participating in the usually what they're doing is they're taking work from a class, right? It might be the literature review that they do, and introduction to graduate study, or, and a theory application from the theoretical perspectives course, or, you know, methodological plans for one of their, their methods courses, or, you know, a final paper that came out of an elective. And what they're doing is taking those projects, and sometimes they they dovetail right, you work on something early in your, your program and sort of stick with it and continue that and other in other classes. And next thing, you know, you've kind of got a research agenda, right? For lack of a better term. And they, you know, take those projects, and then go and share them and really cool spaces. So we just had four students, I guess, a week and a half ago who participated in the Student Research competition here on campus at CSUSB. And one of those students, Deah Pool, she was selected to go share her research is one of 10 CSUSB students who will share their research at San Diego State University and in April, at the statewide competition, so that we're really excited, excited for her. And we've had other students in recent years, Alexia Martinez and Shane Burrell before her who who both shared their research at the state level as well. Alexia, I just mentioned that she she did a really cool study of discourses around body image on social media. And she presented in a, at an event, it was a it was the Three Minute Thesis this this year, it's called the Grand Slam. But basically, it's a cool event where in three minutes or less, you go ahead and you explain your thesis or graduate project to audience, right and, and work on effectively communicating what you're up to. And, and she did a great job in that. In that event, another graduate student olabode A from the wall. He also presented at that at event last year. And there were no cash prizes. But you know, frankly, just a great opportunity to share what your share what you're up to. And then Alexia got to go on and present at the state level as well. We've had students the last couple of years who have not just presented on campus, but traveled to national and international conferences. This this past summer, we had three students who went and presented their work in Paris at the International Communication Association Conference, which was just, you know, an exciting opportunity for international travel for sharing their their work with other scholars in the field and obviously, very excited and students have an opportunity to do something.

I'll put in a plug for Dr. Jess Nerren, who recently published a book around disability. And several of our students are masters students and you know, worked on projects in her classes and contributed chapters in that book. So they are actually published authors in our field coming out of our program, so put in a plug for that team.

Yeah, the and you know, when you bring these sort of these pieces together, not just the coursework, but you know, we're teaching in the GTA program, student research Have, we got another number of students who are involved in campus clubs and activities. We've got several students this year on the Model United Nations team. We have students in student government. And and you know that you put these pieces together and students really come out with a, you know, a varied and empty skill set that is applicable in a range of different contexts. So, Dr. Grant mentions, you know, teaching in the California Community College system and the Cal State system, we've got students who go on to, to funded PhD programs, just in the past couple of years, we've had students that funded positions at, in doctoral studies programs at the University of Oregon, University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana, University of New Mexico, Colorado, Boulder, Northwestern University, Chapman University, I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but they've really, you know, been unable to secure some terrific funded positions at at top universities. And, and last, I'll just mention that, you know, the teaching and scholarship is one trajectory, but we have a lot of students who head into public and private sector communication, I was talking to one alum alumna of our program, who, during the pandemic was working for Inland Empire Health Plan in media relations. Now, just imagine that working in media relations for a health plan during the pandemic, you know, a very timely opportunity to use that skill set developed in communication studies to, to make sure that the folks you know, associate with their health plan know, know what, you know, opportunities and services, they have to be able to navigate a scary and traumatic time. So it's just, you know, the range of things you can do with an MA in Communication Studies is quite varied.

No, absolutely. And I love hearing about the different, like what your students have done, and I think that will relate to seen as that might be interested in joining in, and hopefully applying for this program. So you mentioned a few of the different types of careers that your students have gotten into. Are there any other careers that you see graduates going into after they graduate with the MA? You know, those

are the big ones that come to mind to me yet? Dr. Grant, do you have any others that you're? Well, I

think, like a variety of nonprofits, like I think about, some of our students have gone to either start nonprofit organizations in particular fields, to support their communities, or really build a career out a nonprofit, working on various communication issues, whether it's the you know, promoting the organization, from a grassroots standpoint, the media standpoint, the marketing standpoint, and helping the organization develop its own community relation plans, things. So those are some of the things that kind of come to mind, but certainly in industry, and, you know, we have students, former students that that work in, you know, big PR marketing firms or, or, or large companies, you'd recognize, like Microsoft, or Google, that have developed careers, using their communication skills that they got from our program, and they're continuing on in their professional careers.

So say someone's listening to this. And they're like, I really interested now, in this program, what does the application process look like for student applying? Yeah,

so we have two application cycles each year. So students who are interested in applying for this spring term, so the term that just just started, or the one that will start it a year from now, that application period is our deadline is November 1, for for spring starts, for students interested in starting in the fall. So this this upcoming fall term, our application deadline is April 15. So texting, so if you're interested in starting the MA program this fall, April 15 is the deadline to get your application materials in that's also the the application deadline for the GTA program too. So when you submit your application materials for the MA program, you can also do the same for for the GTA program, if you're interested in being considered for that the program requirements, we require a 3.0 GPA overall, or in your last 60 semester units. So you know, a lot of students really thrive once they get into their their major right and so we you know, we we, we recognize that and we want to pay attention to those later units, especially to make sure that you're, you know, your trajectory is headed well heading into graduate studies, we also you know, if you're, if your GPA is just below that 3.0 level, but you really think you've got a strong application for us to consider, please send it along. We don't want to just reduce any student to a number. And so if you know if you're below that 3.0 cost, submit your application. And we'll certainly pay attention to the the other factors, which I'll talk about in just a moment for for application materials. So we international students, we just like other programs, across campus, we have language proficiency score of 550 for TOEFL, or 6.0, for the IELTS, but those are the basic requirements for students coming coming into the program. In terms of application materials, we asked applicants for contact information for three letter writers, you don't, you can actually submit your application without those letters in hand, once you hit submit, it gets sent off to the letter writers saying, hey, you know, so and so we'd like, like your recommendation, we definitely encourage you to reach out to them first, so that they know why they're getting an email, you know, saying, Hey, we write a letter of recommendation for this person. That's, that's, that's good practice. But, but yeah, we asked for contact information for three letter writers, it's great if you can, you know, have some, some some previous faculty members, it isn't an academic program. And so we value the perspective of previous instructors. But if you've got someone else in your life, you know, a coach or faith leader, you know, previous employer who can speak to your, you know, preparation for graduate study, certainly, we welcome those letters as well. We ask for a sample of, of academic or professional writing, graduate study, it's reading intensive, but it's also writing intensive. And so we want to make sure you're well prepared to communicate effectively, in written form. As you're heading into graduate study. At the same time, we also know you're going to be learning plenty about effective communication in the program. Effective use of things like APA style, and those sorts of things are things that are built in the program. But we do want to see that you can communicate effectively in writing. So we want to see a writing sample to that effect, also helps us get a sense for your interests and get a sense for your the arguments that you that you'd like to make. And so we you know, if you've got a great class paper that you're proud of, or a, you know, a piece of professional writing, maybe a grant application or news article that you wrote, those are certainly welcome pieces. We also asked for a one page essay, relating the MA program to your life or career goals. So you know, what do you what are you coming to graduate? Study for? Right? Why? Why Communication Studies? What are you curious about and passionate about? And what do you want this degree to be able to be? Where do you see yourself going with it after you're after you're done. Students who are interested in the GTA program are asked to prepare a CV, a curriculum a tie or, or a resume, as well as a one page statement of intent in terms of your interest in preparation for the GTA program. Do you have anything you want to add there? Dr. Grant?

No, I would just add that, you know, for our students that are, you know, wanting, maybe some support in writing this statement of intent, or, you know, have something they are thinking about for writing sample, but maybe it needs a little bit of polish or something like that. We have the writing center on campus that is happy to help you. And that's part of what they do is help you write these pieces and polish that up for these kinds of applications, whether you're applying to us or to another program. So I would just put a plug in.

Yeah, absolutely. The you know, one thing I would add to is that the Office of Graduate Studies has really terrific resources. In terms of workshops, for preparing students for the application process. They've got workshops on asking for letters of recommendation, they've got workshops on preparing your statement of intent or one page essay. They also have workshops on how to navigate the Cal State apply website, which is the website that students use to apply to RMA program or to any other MA program or bachelors program for that matter, across the Cal State system.

So a question about the recommendation. So I know you're mentioning that doesn't all have to be from faculty. I'm sure it'll be nice to have it from faculty. But of course the notes on this will tell students that it's great to get to know your professors so that way you need to approach them for a recommendation or a letter of rec that they might be happy to write that for you. But they can only write so much if they only know so much about you. As soon as might feel intimidated to how do I even start that conversation is professors teaching my class? You know, I'm taking my exams or doing the papers, I get my grade. How do I talk to them? Any advice for students?

Dr. Grant, do you?

Yeah. So I mean, when you're in the class, anytime you can connect, what the class is doing to something that you're interested in, or your own life experience. Doing that and sharing that with your professor, through your work or through conversations in class, outside of class is a great thing to do. And then when you're approaching that, professor, for this letter, one of the things that I think is helpful for me, when students approached me is I had you for this class, this really helped me in these ways, and I'm looking to, you know, apply to a program. And could you talk about these kinds of things in your letter that I did in your class, that I think are relevant for their program. And sometimes you don't know all those things up front? That's okay. You can have a conversation with us, like, we're nice people. And, you know, when you reach out to me and say, I'd like to write a letter of recommendation, I'm like, Okay, well, let's have a conversation about that. And we can kind of opt in those conversations, kind of reminders of like, what you did in the class, and what might be applicable for your, your letter, my letter or for your statement of intent, kind of come up in this conversation. So reaching out having that conversation, it doesn't have to be a long one. But just reaching out and saying, Hey, I enjoyed your class, I got this out of it, that that makes me immediately motivated to like, Okay, I want to help you, how can I help to write the letter?

Yeah, I think it also helps to, you know, tell the, that faculty member, why you're interested in that, that program you're applying to, and certainly, you know, give them you know, a link to the program so that they're able to, it doesn't mean that they're going to go and do a bunch of, you know, research on your behalf about this, this program and that program, but it certainly helps to know about you as a, as a student, beyond what they might remember from, from having you in class, but also to, you know, know, know, why you you're doing what you're doing, right, sometimes I think can be helpful, helpful. If you already have the one page, you know, essay that most programs asked for, including ours, give that to the letter writer, right and say, Hey, here's my, you know, here's my essay, so you can get a sense for why I'm applying for this program. And then they've, they've got a good, good idea of what to include in their letter as well. So I think those can, that can be helpful, they might even give you a little bit of feedback on that, that that essay to

Right, and, and I'll as students, sometimes if you have that, that letter, that statement, or a draft of it, to share it with me, if you have a resume, share that with me, because oftentimes you have, you know, relevant work experience or other relevant experiences that are on there that I can kind of fold into my letter in that recommendation that I might not have known about you just from having you in class.

Nice. Yeah, no great advice. And if a student has questions, they want to find out more about the MA and Communication Studies. Where did they go?

All right. Yeah. So Well, before we get to that, I want to mention I didn't finish on the application process. The when students actually when you actually go to submit those application materials, right, the the contact information for your letter writers, the one page essay, etc, your writing sample, students go and submit that at the Cal State apply website. So that's Cal State that apply backslash or sorry, Cal State that edu backslash apply. If you just search Google search, Cal State apply, it's easily found. But in terms of you know, more information about our MA program, we have a website, which is a page on the Department of Communication Studies, what website at CSUSB. It's got a long URL, though. So what I like to do to tell students how to get to information about our program is to go to our link tree page. So that's li n k, t r dot E, backslash CSUSB commgrad. So li n k, tr dot E, backslash CSUSB commgrad. All right, and that's a great way to find out about our program. And we've also got a number of of social media accounts, Facebook, Instagram, we've got a YouTube page with a bunch of videos, video interviews with alumni and faculty from our program. And all of those have the same handle at CSUSBcommgrad, so CSUSB c o m m, G R A D.

Right sounds good, a lot of great information. Hopefully students listening to this will be applying and get interested in this program. But thank you both for being on the podcast today.

Yeah, thanks so much. Hey, Matt one one other thing if they want to just reach out to us directly. My email is corrigan@csusb.edu and anyone's more than welcome to share 

jgrant@csusb.edu JG R and T so students can reach out to me about the GTA program.

Alright, sounds good. Thank you.

Thank you very much, Matt.

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