Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts


The graduate program in Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State trains students in communication science and rhetorical studies, with particular attention to political deliberation, health communication, interpersonal communication, public address, rhetorical theory, and the rhetoric of public culture. Our graduate students conduct research investigating how communication influences attitudes and behavior, relationship development and family dynamics, public life and public memory, democratic decision making, and struggles for social justice. In the 2021 URAP rankings, Penn State was listed in the top three for the language, culture, and communication field category.

Part of the mission of our department is “to create knowledge about the role of communication in diverse interpersonal, communal, national, international, and cultural settings.” To accomplish this goal, the department welcomes graduate students and affiliated scholars who represent the widest array of identities and perspectives. We value every individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, level of ability/disability and political perspective. We respect and seek to ensure each person’s right to define their own identity and to craft the language that best represents who they are.

What sets our program apart?

Provide full funding to all graduate students – 2 years for the M.A. and 4 years for the Ph.D
Students participate in research and teaching assistantships
Full travel funding for two academic conferences each year
Offer research funding up to $1,500 for M.A. students and $5,000 for Ph.D.
Teaching assistants are allowed a ½ course load versus the standard 2/2
Beyond our financial support, the department is a vibrant intellectual community devoted to developing students’ particular interests. We embrace the value of an interdisciplinary education. Our communication science students can participate in a Health and Risk Communication brown bag series, learn big data science through SoDA, 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, and 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, work with the Rock Ethics Institute to develop their understanding of ethics literacy and pedagogy, receive fellowships and research support through the Humanities Institute, work closely with the Center for Democratic Deliberation to improve public deliberation, and complete a Digital Pedagogy Graduate Internship through the Penn State Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship.