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Graduate Program

The top-ranked graduate program in Communication Arts and Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University trains students in communication science and rhetoric, with particular attention to political deliberation, health communication, interpersonal communication, public address and the rhetoric of public culture. Our graduate students conduct research investigating how communication influences public life, individual development, family dynamics, public memory, social interaction, democratic decision making, and struggles for social justice.

What sets our program apart?

We provide full funding for all of our graduate students—2 years for the M.A. degree, 4 years for the Ph.D.

Rather than the standard 2/2 teaching assistantship at most communication programs, our students teach a reduced 1/2 course load. This allows for valuable teaching experience while providing additional time for research and professional development.

Our students receive generous stipends near the top of the Big 10 along with full tuition wavers and health care benefits.

Our graduate students enjoy summer employment as teaching assistants or as research assistants working directly with faculty.

We provide full funding for students to travel to two academic conferences per academic year.

M.A. and Ph.D. students are eligible to apply for a Graduate Research Award of up to $1,500 to support pilot research, applications for external grant funding, archival work and travel, or other research-related costs.

We provide all of our Ph.D. students in good standing with a semester teaching release to support the researching and writing of their dissertations.

Apart from a course that provides students with pedagogical training in their first semester (CAS 602), there are no required courses. This means that students, working with their advisor and committee, have the freedom to shape their programs of study to best suit their professional goals.

CAS actively values interdisciplinary research.

Our communication science students can:

-participate in a Health and Risk Communication brownbag series

-learn big data science through BDSS IGERT

-learn new methodologies through the Methodology Center

-pursue research and teaching at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

-learn to pursue fMRI research through the Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center

-participate in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy Roundtable

Our rhetoric students can:

-take classes in allied departments, including English, Philosophy, Sociology, History, and Media Studies

-pursue graduate minors, including in Women’s Studies and the Social Thought Program

-work with the Rock Ethics Institute to develop their understanding of ethics literacy and pedagogy

-receive fellowships and research support through the Institute for the Arts & Humanities

-work closely with the Center for Democratic Deliberation to improve public deliberation in Pennsylvania and beyond

-complete a Digital Pedagogy Graduate Internship through the Penn State Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship

If you would like more information about our graduate program or the admissions process, please direct your email to: We are proud of our department's history and accomplishments, but we also are committed to building an even brighter future. We look forward to hearing from you.

Jeremy Engels


Jeremy Engels

Associate Professor and Graduate Director