Communication Studies (MA)

Our Master of Arts (MA) in Communication Studies program seeks students with open minds to explore new approaches to media, communication and culture in a challenging, rewarding and supportive environment.

Exploring the interplay of power and communication, our program provides advanced training in core theories and methodologies in communication studies and critically engages contemporary research themes in the discipline.

 

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Program Highlights

  • Our program is animated by interdisciplinary faculty with expertise in areas such as alternative media, cultural and creative industries, digital cultures, global media, health communication, media history, mobilities, popular music, social media, visual communication, and beyond.
  • We offer small class sizes, passionate teachers, careful mentors, competitive funding, and excellent professional development opportunities, including a co-op option.
  • Our graduates are our program’s success stories. They pursue doctoral degrees and launch meaningful professional communication careers in a variety of public-sector, non-profit, and private-sector organizations.

Program Details

Research and Theory in Communication Studies

Our program is a critical “Communication Studies” one, in contrast to a business/administrative “Communications” one. The courses and structure of the program focus on learning academic research skills and critical theory, rather than on business aspects such as learning the skills of marketing and public relations.

While critical theory can, and does, inform numerous diverse career paths, including those in business/administrative communications, please read prospective course descriptions and Major Research Paper titles to better understand our program’s approach to analyzing the important role of communication in society.

 

Program Structure

Normally completed in 12 months, the MA in Communication Studies offers three options of study: major research paper and coursework; thesis and coursework; coursework only.

The Major Research Paper (MRP) option is the default for admission. All students are accepted to this option and may apply to change to the thesis or coursework option after consultation with the graduate coordinator.

All students must complete two required courses: CS600: Graduate Seminar in Communication Studies and CS601: Communication Studies Research Methods.

A cooperative education program, with limited enrolment, is open to full-time students.

Research

Recent Papers

Here’s a small sample of Major Research Papers (MRPs) completed by our graduates:

  • The Appification of Work
  • vitaminwater® Uncapped: Better Lives through Better Self-Regulation
  • The Commercialization of Facebook: The Exploitation of Free Labour and the Commodification of Sociability
  • WikiLeaks: A Vehicle for Pursuing Accountability for Public Bodies, Transparency, and Fact?
  • Facebook Me! Corporeality, Identity, and Gender on Facebook
  • Reveling in Urban Transformation: Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
  • Multiculturalism in the Canadian News Media: Analyzing the Shariah Law Debate in Ontario
  • Nonverbal Communication in Disney Pixar Films
  • Exploring the Threshold: Investigating Space and Place in Toronto’s Doors Open Event
  • Policy Communication and Zoning Processes: A Case Study of the City of Kitchener’s Warehouse District
  • Being International: Cosmopolitan Identities and International Students at a Canadian University
  • Getting Lost En Route to Adulthood: Problematizing and Reinventing the Millennial Generation in Quarterlife Crisis Self-Help Literature
  • Discourses of Liminality in Afrofuturist Hip-Hop Albums of MF Doom, Dr. Octagon, and Deltron Zero
  • Positions on Anonymous: Tricksterism, Autonomist Marxism, and Online Dissent
  • Click, Converse, Consume: How Corporate Fans are Produced at the Click of a Button
  • Assessing Unpaid Internships in Canada’s Magazine Industry

Course Offerings

Required Courses

We offer six courses each year. CS600 and CS601 are required courses. You must also register for CS695 or CS699 while working on your major research paper or thesis.

You are allowed to take up to 1.0 credit from other graduate programs with approval from the graduate coordinator. In the past, Communication Studies MA students have taken graduate courses in programs such as Cultural Analysis and Social Theory, English and Film Studies, and Applied Politics.

2022/23 Course Offerings

  • CS600: Graduate Seminar in Communication Studies
  • CS601: Communication Studies Research Methods
  • CS617: Risk, Media and Science
  • CS640m: Free Speech and Moral Panics
  • CS640n: Self-tracking: Quantification, Embodiment and Fitness
  • CS640q: The Masses

If you would like to learn more, full course descriptions are available.

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"Through the program, I was able to refine my research, analytical and communications skills while developing collegial relationships with faculty and classmates, that helped secure my current position as a doctoral candidate in the Social and Behaviour Health Sciences Program at the University of Toronto."

Laura Neil (MA '17)

Admissions

Take the first step in your graduate education and apply to one of our graduate programs. Follow our three-step admission process — we’ll walk you through how to apply and prepare for your first day as a graduate student.

  • Start: Fall (September)
  • Format: Full-time
  • Application deadline:
    • Co-op Option: Jan. 15 (first consideration) or April 30 (both domestic and international applicants)
    • Major Research Paper or Thesis: Jan. 15 (first consideration), April 30 (international applicants) or June 1 (domestic applicants)

Your Next Steps

Questions? Contact Nathan Rambukkana, graduate coordinator at nrambukkana@wlu.ca. For general inquiries, email shoang@wlu.ca or call 519.884.0710 x2806.

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"The MA program in Communication Studies at Laurier helped prepare me for my academic and professional goals in numerous ways, thanks to immensely supportive faculty who contributed to my learning and development."

 Kathy Dobson

Waterloo Campus

This program is available on Laurier's Waterloo campus.

Laurier's Waterloo campus is home to more than 19,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Tucked into several city blocks, this campus is walking distance to your classrooms, food, and various campus amenities.

Laurier is a leading force in research among Canadian universities, and many of our research centres and institutes are housed in Waterloo.

Learn more about Laurier's campuses.

Tuition and Funding

Winners of major external awards (OGS and Tri-Council) may be eligible for top-up funding which includes the Dean’s Graduate Scholarship (total value exceeds $10,000).

Eligible domestic students admitted to study on a full-time basis are entitled to one year of funding totalling, on average, $14,500. This support may be made up of teaching assistantships, internal/external scholarships, and/or faculty-funded studentships or research assistantships.

A list of all funding opportunities available to Laurier graduate students, including information about OGS, and Tri-Council, is available on our graduate funding webpage.

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"I credit my professional success to the interdisciplinary curriculum of the MA program, its research and professional opportunities, acclaimed faculty, and the challenging yet supportive environment that Laurier offers."

Francesca Saraco (MA '14)

Careers

Our graduates have gone on to work in education, public relations and communications. Examples of jobs held by our graduates include:

  • health marketing communications specialist
  • social content strategist
  • product content copywriter
  • communication and education manager
  • marketing and communications coordinator

Your Path to Post-Degree Success

ASPIRE is Laurier's professional skills development training program for graduate students. The program helps you craft an individualized, extracurricular learning plan tailored to your professional journey and entry to the workplace.

Faculty

Learn about the interests of our faculty members. If you are looking for more information about this program, have questions, or want to set up a meeting, contact a member of our team

Alexandra Boutros
Associate Professor

  • Diaspora and globalization
  • Critical cultural theory
  • Religion and media
  • Digital, social, alternative media studies
  • Social movements
  • Popular culture
  • Popular music
  • Critical race theory

Shaunasea Brown
Assistant Professor

  • Black (Canadian) Studies
  • Black Feminism and Womanism
  • Arts Praxis
  • Black Women’s Hair Politics
  • African Diasporic Aesthetics
  • Radical Care Ethics

Colleen Kim Daniher
Assistant Professor

  • Communication Arts
  • Feminist and decolonial media studies
  • Theatre and performance studies
  • Critical race and critical ethnic studies
  • Race and visual culture
  • Perception, Sensorium, and Embodiment
  • Cultural memory, history, historiography
  • Popular culture (including food, fashion, and dance)
  • Nationalism and Imperialism
  • Regional foci: transnational Americas, global Asias

Greig de Peuter
Associate Professor

  • Political economy of communication
  • Cultural and creative industries
  • Cultural work
  • Digital labour
  • Collective organizing
  • Co-operatives

Jonathan Finn
Professor

  • Sport and media
  • Self-tracking
  • Surveillance
  • History and theory of photography
  • Visual communication and culture

Jenna Hennebry
Professor
Director, International Migration Research Centre

  • International migration
  • Mobility, transnationalism
  • Labour migration and temporary foreign worker programs
  • Immigration policies and migration governance
  • Migration flows and trends
  • Migrant rights, health and social protection
  • Remittances, ICTs and development
  • Political economy of migration
  • Regional expertise: Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Spain

Andrew Herman
Associate Professor

  • Social theory/media theory/cultural theory
  • Qualitative research methodologies of the Internet and digital media
  • Sound Studies
  • Radio Studies
  • Materialist media studies
  • Critical Internet studies
  • Cultures of production, creativity, and innovation in the digital economy

Jeremy Hunsinger
Associate Professor

  • Cultural politics and cultural theory
  • Internet politics and policy
  • Internet theory and culture
  • Infrastructures and their governance
  • Interpretive methods
  • Social media, social software and virtual worlds

Penelope Ironstone
Associate Professor

  • Health, science, and risk communication
  • Cultural studies of science and medicine
  • Pandemics and culture
  • Social, cultural, and political theory
  • Queer and feminist media studies
  • Biopolitics, communication, and culture

Barbara Jenkins
Professor

  • Cultural economy
  • The Creative City
  • Smart Cities
  • NFTs and CryptoArt
  • Cultural policy
  • Critical museum studies
  • Psychoanalytic theory

Sara Matthews
Associate Professor

  • Critical security studies
  • War, memory and visual culture
  • Museum studies
  • Public pedagogy
  • Critical race theory
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Dystopias/utopias and social futurities

Jade Miller
Associate Professor

  • Global media flows
  • Media industries
  • Media capitals
  • Global cities
  • Urban and regional agglomeration in creative production
  • Global networks in media industries
  • Distribution studies

Judith Nicholson
Associate Professor
Chair, Communication Studies

  • Mediated mobilities
  • Smart mobbing
  • Flash mobbing
  • Lynching imagery

Hillary Pimlott
Associate Professor

  • Democracy and communication (language, media)
  • Public advocacy
  • Culture wars
  • 'Cultural Marxism'
  • Free speech and moral panics
  • Inequality, social movements and communication
  • Alternative media
  • Political and economic rhetoric

Nathan Rambukkana
Assistant Professor

  • Digital and platform intimacies
  • Hybrid and mixed identities
  • Robotic and AI intimacies
  • Haptics and digital touch
  • Hashtags and hashtag publics
  • Socio-political aspects of videogames, VR and AR worlds
  • Representation of non-monogamies (e.g., polyamory, polygamy, adultery)
  • Discourse analysis
  • Queer theory
  • Cultural studies
  • Critical intimacy theory
  • Public sphere theory

Ian Roderick
Associate Professor

  • Technology and society
  • Visual discourse analysis
  • Visual communication and disciplinary vision
  • Multimodal discourse analysis
  • Critical military studies

Karen Stote
Assistant Professor 

  • Intersectional feminism(s)
  • Reproductive rights and justice
  • Coerced sterilization
  • Colonialism, Indigenous-settler relations and decolonization
  • Environmental (in) justice
  • Genocide studies and eugenics in Canada

Peter Urquhart
Associate Professor


  • Canadian film and television industries
  • Documentary film and television
  • Cultural policy
  • Contemporary Canadian, British and American popular culture
  • Media history
  • Visual communication and culture