The graduate program in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin is divided into three primary areas of study.
Interpersonal Communication involves the study of both the processes and effects of social interaction, usually in face-to-face situations. Both verbal and nonverbal behaviors are studied in laboratory and naturalistic contexts. Cognitions, emotions, and discourse patterns occurring during conflict, lying, and persuasion are some of the factors commonly studied. Communication in health-related contexts as well as personal and family relationships are two important contexts in which theories are applied.
Interpersonal Graduate Coursework
Organizational Communication is the study of human interaction within complex organizations, and the management of organizational behavior. Course work in organizational communication offers both qualitative approaches to data analysis (category development and descriptive observation techniques) and quantitative approaches (measurement, psychological categories, and behavioral science research designs). The faculty views these approaches as complementary; many students attempt to achieve mastery in both modes.
Organizational Comm and Technology Faculty
The Rhetoric and Language Studies area focuses on how human symbols affect social and political change. Although rhetoric has been a popular area of study since antiquity, the Department focuses on such contemporary matters as political campaigning, culture and communication, social movement rhetoric, ethics and persuasion, the nature of public argument, discourse and knowledge, the formation of language communities, cognitive linguistics, etc. These matters are treated in three distinct sub-areas: (1) Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, focusing on how public discourse is conceived and executed, with special attention to the analysis of persuasive and cultural texts; (2) Political Communication, examination of how political leaders and the mass media change public opinion and fashion legislative policy; and (3) Semiotic Studies offers training in the naturalistic study of human symbol systems and consideration of how linguistic and gestural behaviors affect everyday social interaction.
Rhetoric and Language Studies embraces a variety of research methodologies, including historiography, archival studies, textual criticism, conversation analysis, content analysis, etc. Interdisciplinary opportunities to study Rhetoric and Language also abound at U.T., including work with internationally famous scholars in the Departments of English, Linguistics, Anthropology, etc.