Research Track With a Master's Degree Option

The Research Track is designed to provide undergraduate Communication majors with the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary for engaging in primary and secondary social science research in preparation for graduate study and/or research-oriented occupations. It also includes the option of sub-matriculating into the Masters of Communication program.  Students who may be interested in pursuing the Research Track should contact Dr. Kim Woolf, Academic Advisor and Research Supervisor for Undergraduate Studies, as soon as possible, ideally no later than spring semester of their first year. 


Students accepted into the research track must fulfill all requirements of the Communication major, with the following modifications:

  1. Completion of four Communication courses by the end of the semester in which a student applies for the major (typically second semester of sophomore year) with an achieved minimum GPA of 3.75 for these courses. These must include two core introductory Communication courses, and two additional Communication courses. NOTE: Students who plan to apply for the research track are strongly advised to consult with a standing faculty member who is willing to serve as the student’s research track advisor as well as the Director of Student Services & Registrar. This will insure appropriate and timely curriculum planning.
  1. Completion of the research methods requirement by spring semester of a student’s junior year. NOTE: Any course other than COMM 210 that is intended to be used to fulfill the research methods requirement must be approved by the faculty research track advisor, with pre-approval strongly recommended. 
  1. In addition to the five courses described above, the remaining six Communication major elective courses and three Non-Comm elective courses from other departments required for the major should be selected in consultation with a student’s faculty “research track advisor.”  These must include the following four courses (taken in senior year), which collectively fulfill the four advanced courses required of all Communication majors:
  • COMM 522: Introduction to Communication Research (fall of senior year).
  • COMM  5XX (number pending):  A two semester advanced thesis sequence designed specifically for students in the research track.  These guided-research courses will typically be taken with a student’s faculty research track advisor and can be used to fulfill two of the required four “advanced Communication courses.”   
  • One additional 500 level Communication elective. NOTE: this requirement can be filled (with permission of your faculty research track advisor and the course instructor) by taking an existing 500-level course; by taking an advanced undergraduate course in combination with additional readings and a research-oriented paper; or by engaging in guided research associated with a faculty-members’ research project.

Master' Degree Option

Students completing the research track have the option of sub-matriculating into the ASC Masters of Communication (M.A.C.) program.  Accepted students may use the four (or more) 500-level courses taken to fulfill the undergraduate research track towards the 10-course M.A.C., allowing them to earn both a B.A. and an M.A.C. in five or fewer years.

Applying for the Research Track

A limited number of students (3-5) will be admitted into the research track each year. Application to this track should occur at the same time as a student applies for the major (typically second semester of sophomore year) and should include the following:

  • A one page statement describing the student’s reasons for selecting the research track, general research interests, and career goals.
  • Documentation of the student’s SAT scores;
  • A Penn transcript, including evidence that the student has completed two core Communication introductory courses and at least two additional Communication courses by the end of the semester in which the application is made. Acceptance will be conditional on an achieved minimum GPA of 3.75 for all four courses;
  • A letter of support from an ASC standing faculty member including a commitment from that faculty member to serve as the student’s research track advisor.

Applying for the Master's Degree Option

Students in the research track may, if they choose, apply for sub-matriculation into the M.A.C. program. Application would typically occur by the end of the fall semester of senior year and must include the following:

  • A cover letter explaining why the student wishes to enter the program, his/her research interests and qualifications, etc.;
  • A list of the graduate courses already taken as part of the undergraduate research track, along with proposed courses to be taken to complete the M.A.C. program (totaling 10 courses) developed in consultation with the faculty adviser.
  • A Penn transcript;
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores;
  • Three letters of reference, including one from the student’s research track advisor.