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The M.A. degree offered through the Communication & Development Studies program focuses on using communication to promote social change. The curriculum encompasses four core courses that emphasize topics and proficiencies in areas that include development theory, communication for development, strategic communications, communication theory, and research methods. These courses are listed below, and most Comm Dev students would likely agree that through taking these core courses together, and perhaps also due to their shared interests in issues associated with social change in general, incoming cohorts tend to remain remarkably well-connected during their time at Ohio University (and thereafter). To suit their individual objectives, students build upon the core courses as described below by devising a curriculum that draws upon courses in graduate programs from across the university.

Comm Dev Core Courses

Seminar in Communication and Development (MDIA 6080)

This course provides an overview of the historical and contemporary nature of issues and theories that have influenced the field of development communication (a.k.a. communication and social change; C4D; etc.). The course serves as a foundation for the subsequent in-depth study and analysis of specific aspects of the role of communication in development and social change. The course explores the complex relationships between communication and socioeconomic development, and the role that communication plays in promoting (or impeding) social change and development. This is one of three core courses taken by first year students during their first semester.

Introduction to Research Methods in Communication and Development (MDIA 6082)

This course introduces students to basic principles associated with conducting graduate-level research, including identifying a research topic; accessing and critiquing scholarly research; writing a literature review; and research ethics. Students are also introduced to research design and to qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches to collecting and analyzing data. Given the nature of the discipline, the course provides some emphasis on participatory research methods. This is one of three core courses taken by first year students during their first semester.

Applied Research Methods in Communication and Development (MDIA 6090)

This fourth core course is taken by first year students during their second semester. It complements MDIA 6082 (Intro to Research Methods) in that it continues with a focus on research methods, though in this course students focus more intensively on key research methods used by development practitioners and NGOs. It is also more applied than the Intro to Research Methods course. Topical emphases include monitoring and evaluation, and a more rigorous engagement of qualitative and quantitative methods than in the previous, introductory course.

By the end of this course, students will hopefully have developed a proposal for their thesis or final project (or at least a conference paper or journal article), which they will then begin working on and complete by the end of their second year in the program.


As suggested above, to suit their individual objectives, students build upon the program's core coursework by devising a curriculum that draws upon courses in graduate programs from across Ohio University. Specific examples of some of the specializations and related schools/colleges across the university where Comm Dev students have taken courses over the past few years are listed below. However, this list should be seen as only an example of some of the specialization possibilities, as students are encouraged to actively devise their own curriculum, including one that might be truly original in nature.


Key Areas of Coursework

Women's & Gender Studies

Women's & Gender Studies and related courses

Human Rights/Conflict Negotiation

Communication Studies; Political Science; Journalism

Media & Social Change; Media Studies

Media Arts & Studies

New Media/Digital Media

Media Arts & Studies; Journalism; Education

Video Production/Documentary

Media Arts & Studies; Visual Communications; Film

Management in Media Organizations

Media Arts & Studies; Journalism

Economics/Economic Development

Economics; Geography; International Studies

Political Communication; Public Policy

Political Science; School of Public Affairs

Education - Including Educational Technology

College of Education

Strategic Communications/Public Relations

Journalism; Communication Studies

Health Policy/Health Communication

College of Health Sciences; Communication Studies

Environmental Sustainability

School of Public Affairs

In the program, students take four core courses in Comm Dev and then specialize in a particular area of interest.

Issues associated with development tend to remain at the center of what students do throughout their time in the program (e.g. for their capstone project or thesis), including as informed by one or two particular areas of specialization. At the same time, some students stray from a more development-oriented approach. In general, within any given cohort students range from taking more strictly applied, to more highly theoretical, approaches to their studies.

The Comm Dev curriculum also encourages students to be involved with internships and service learning projects. Comm Dev students often complete internships in various parts of the world, and they are also often involved in service learning projects in the local community. The program encourages original research, with most students completing a thesis or a professional project.

*For more information on specific courses, please visit the Ohio University Registrar.