Communication MA Guidelines

Mail, Email, and the ComGrad Lounge

Students are expected to provide a valid current home and email address to the School of Communications main office and to frequently check their mail at home and in the main office for program updates and supplements to the Graduate Division and the university requirements. A university email account can be opened by visiting the University of Hawaiʻi System website and clicking on “Get a UH Username!” You must then inform the School of Communications office of your email address (by emailing it to At least once a week, you must also visit the ComGrad Lounge on Laulima, accessed through your MyUH log-in. This is a place to exchange the information, concerns, suggestions, encouragement, and support we all need to make the most of our MA program in communication. The Lounge is our primary means of making important program announcements and of reaching you quickly.


Students are required to take at least one 3-credit course or seminar each semester. All substitutions, exceptions, and/or external courses must be approved by your thesis or practicum committee chair and noted in your official records. Students who are not enrolled for courses during any semester must apply for an official leave of absence. In order to be granted leave of absence, the student must:

  1. Be currently enrolled in good standing with at least a 3.0 GPA.
  2. Have completed at least one semester of coursework relevant to the degree as a classified graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Leaves are granted upon the recommendation of the chair of the graduate field of study and approval by the Dean of Graduate Division. The date of return from a leave must be set at the time the leave is requested.

Students who do not return from leave on time are required to petition for readmission to the university in accordance with the established regulations. Students who are readmitted are subject to the degree requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Students on approved leave do not pay tuition or fees. Leave should not be requested if the student will be using university facilities or faculty or staff services. Time on approved leave is not counted against the eight-year limit for completion of degree programs. Students returning from an approved leave are automatically sent the biographical information form, residency declaration form, supplementary information form (if a non-US citizen), and health forms by the Graduate Student Services Office.

Students who must maintain full-time enrollment because of their status as veterans, foreign students, East-West Center grantees, or guaranteed student loan recipients, must register for the required minimum number of credits each semester. Leaves of absences may be considered for such students if approved by the respective office(s) and the Graduate Division.


Each classified student admitted into the MA program is assigned an interim advisor who assists in the initial planning of the degree program. Students may change their advisor at any time by informing the program staff of the change. Once a student has selected their thesis or practicum committee chair, that faculty member becomes their permanent advisor.

Advisors are expected to help plan programs, but the students themselves are primarily responsible for ascertaining that all program requirements are met in a timely fashion.

Student Progress

As you progress through our MA program, both you and the school must submit a number of forms in order to record events in both our graduate office and in the Graduate Student Services Office of Graduate Division. To complete each event and its related form, you must:

  • Confer with your interim advisor or committee chair, depending on how early or late you are in your program. We highly recommend that you meet with your advisor at least once each semester and continue completing the required forms in a timely manner as you progress through the program. You must complete Form I and Form II in order to register for any thesis or practicum credits, and you will not be able to graduate without all signed forms on file with the Graduate Student Services Office.
  • Keep in mind that all transfer credits and UH-earned unclassified credits that may apply toward your MA must be formally approved during your first semester. Indicate your plans on transferring courses from another university or from unclassified status immediately upon becoming a classified student. Be sure that the School of Communications has official transcripts of these courses.
  • Inform the communication graduate secretary immediately of any change in your mailing address, email address, or phone number, as well as changes to your active status, current interim advisor, committee chair, or members of your Plan A or Plan B committee. If your records are not up-to-date, you cannot expect to receive the quality of service you deserve from the school's faculty and staff.
  • Check your email frequently for program announcements sent via the COMMGRAD-L listserv.

Advancement to Candidacy

Upon completion of COM 611 and achieving a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in all completed coursework, you are eligible for admission to candidacy. You must then choose your degree plan and capstone activity from two available options:

  • Thesis (Plan A): COM 700
  • Practicum (Plan B): COM 695

When choosing a plan and capstone, you must also select your capstone chair and members of your thesis or practicum committee. The selected committee is responsible for supervising and evaluating your thesis or practicum activity.

Thesis or Practicum

The committee must have at least three members, including:

  • Committee chair: The chair must be a full or associate faculty member (regular or cooperating) in the graduate communication program. A full affiliate graduate faculty member or an emeritus faculty member may serve as chair with approval from Graduate Division.
  • Two or more committee members: These members must be from the UH graduate faculty, and at least one must be a full or associate member of the regular graduate faculty of the School of Communications.
  • Additional committee members: Any additional committee members may be full or associate of the affiliate graduate faculty, a full or associate member of the cooperating faculty, or any full or associate member of the graduate faculty at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

You can petition to Graduate Division to have a person serve on your committee who has special expertise in your topic area but does not otherwise qualify in terms of the categories above. The committee members and the topic of activity must be approved by the Graduate Division.

The committee chair is responsible for supervising the completion of your program and should be chosen based on:

  • Their area of expertise in relation to your interests.
  • Availability in terms of workload, sabbatical leave, or leaves of absence.
  • Ability to work well together.

No faculty member is obligated to serve as a member of any student's committee. All faculty are on contract only from mid-August through mid-May and thus their availability outside that time frame should not be presumed.

Arrangement of a committee chair and other committee members should be done collaboratively. Normally, the process involves:

  1. Submitting a short concept paper describing your intended activity to each prospective chair or member.
  2. Completing the Advancement to Candidacy form with the chair and members.
  3. Submitting the Advancement to Candidacy form to the School of Communications Office.

You will then be eligible to enroll for Thesis (COM 700) or Practicum (COM 695) credits. Any degree plan or committee revisions (deletions, substitutions, or additions) must be noted on a Petition to Revise Thesis Committee form, signed, and forwarded to the Graduate Student Services Office.

If your proposed thesis research involves the use of human subjects, the UH Institutional Review Board (IRB) must approve the project in terms of its procedures for the protection of the subjects prior to completing the Advancement to Candidacy form.

Final Oral Examination and Submission of Capstone

All thesis and practicum reports must conform to the APA style guidelines and the style policies of Graduate Division. You must establish the date, time, place, and procedures for their final oral examination with your committee once your thesis or practicum activity nears completion, and you must notify the School of Communications Office of the details. Submit final copies of your thesis/practicum report to committee members at least two weeks prior to the date of their final examination.

You should collaborate with your chair on the format of your oral examination. While the oral examination is most commonly conducted face-to-face, online or blended formats can be used with the approval of the graduate chair when accommodated to the requirements of the exam and the location/resources of the student and committee members. Except in emergencies, approval must be given prior to the exam.

For Plan A (Thesis) students only: Following approval by your committee, follow the Graduate Division procedures for submitting your final thesis along with Form IV (Thesis Submission) to the Graduate Student Services Office by the deadline specified on the graduate calendar. You will receive credit for COM 700 once your thesis has been approved by Graduate Division.

In addition to the digital copy submitted to Graduate Division, submit a PDF version of your thesis to or to the School of Communications main office. Typically your chair and committee members will want either a hard copy or digital copy of your thesis or practicum as well.

Summary of Final Semester

MA students must fulfill the following in their final semester before graduation. Graduate Division deadlines can be found in the UH Mānoa catalog and/or on our graduate bulletin board.

  1. Enroll for a minimum of one credit.
    • For Plan A students, this must include at least one credit of COM 700. Students who have already successfully defended their thesis but have missed a deadline for submitting the thesis to Graduate Division must register for at least one credit of COM 700F to graduate the following semester. A student can be considered full-time with one credit of 700F if they have completed all other program requirements. The appropriate petition (GRAD 700F) must be filed to gain approval. International students may be required to submit a form for approval to the International Student Services Office.
    • For Plan B students, this must include at least one credit of COM 695.
  2. File a Graduate Application for Degree and pay graduation fees.
    • Deadlines for the application and fees are typically early in the semester of graduation.
  3. Make an appointment with your committee chair for final check of credits and to determine the dates for the final oral examination.
  4. Notify the communication graduate secretary of the time and date of your oral examination.
  5. Submit final copies of your thesis/practicum report to your committee.
    • These must be submitted two weeks prior to the date of your oral examination.
    • You must complete your oral examination by the deadline in order to graduate in that semester unless there are extenuating circumstances, i.e. any documented reason beyond the student's control such as illness or absence of a committee member.
    • Any student requesting a deadline extension to submit a thesis must file a request supported by the School of Communications graduate chair to gain permission for the extension from the Associate Dean of Graduate Division.

Any student who has filed a Graduate Application for Degree during a given semester is able to walk in the graduation ceremonies at the end of that semester. This does not mean that the student has obtained the degree. A student formally graduates once they complete the formal requirements for graduating, i.e. passing the oral examination, acceptance of the final thesis by Graduate Division, receiving credit from Graduate Division for COM 700. If these requirements are not completed by the end of that semester, the student must register and pay fees for every subsequent semester until they are completed.

Policies and Procedures

Students must complete all coursework in each course for which they are enrolled during the time-frame of the semester enrolled. In exceptional cases only, at the discretion of the course instructor, incompletes may be granted if a minor part of the coursework remains. Obtaining an incomplete may, however, require repayment of a tuition waiver for that semester or impact the student's full-time status. Failure to remove an incomplete may prevent the subsequent offer of a tuition waiver, graduate assistantship, or leave of absence.

Any student who has passed the seven-year point in their master's program will be placed on probation at the beginning of their eighth year. If the student completes the master's program by the end of their eighth year, the probation will be removed. Otherwise, at the end of eight years, the student may be subjected to dismissal.

UH Mānoa Campus Policies

University policies affecting students, faculty, and staff are described in the University of Hawaiʻi Catalog. They address academic rights and freedoms of students, student conduct, cheating, plagiarism, disciplinary action, academic grievance, class attendance, and excused student absences for official university-sponsored events. All students should become familiar with these policies. All participants in our academic community should become familiar with these policies.

Classroom Code of Conduct

We appreciate the role of new communication technologies in society but feel that professionalism and common courtesy call for these technologies to be used in appropriate ways and places. We ask that when you are in class, you fully engage with the subject matter at hand with your classmates and with the instructor. An important part of effective communication and collegiality involves giving the class your complete attention without distractions and without distracting others. Please do not make phone calls, text message, or use laptop computers in class unless they are being used exclusively for class-related purposes, such as note-taking. Show up for class on time, if not early, and stay for the duration of class unless previously arranged with the instructor. Adhering to a classroom code of conduct prepares students for exemplary deportment in the professional world.

Financial Aid

The School of Communications is able to offer a limited number of Achievement Scholarships for student tuition. All graduate students in our program with at least a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply.

Students selected for this scholarship must register full-time (at least eight units) and not have more than 27 credit-hours in communications for each semester of the scholarship. It is the applicant's responsibility to submit all required application materials to the School of Communications by deadlines announced through COMMGRAD-L. The School of Communications will not be held responsible for an applicant not knowing about application procedures and timelines.

Scholarships are granted primarily on the basis of academic performance and seniority within the program and are awarded solely on a semester-by-semester basis and for a cumulative maximum of four semesters only.

It is expected that the potential recipient of an award will confirm their ability and desire to use the waiver during the intended semester within ten days of receiving notification of the offer. The school reserves the right to reassign waivers if such confirmation is not received in a timely manner.

Graduate Assistantships

To qualify for an appointment as a graduate assistant, you must have a satisfactory scholastic record, an adequate undergraduate background in communication, and in the case of international students, evidence of a high level of English proficiency (minimum TOEFL score of 600). In order to be considered for appointments, all applicants for graduate assistantships must be admitted as potential classified graduate degree candidates. Appointees must carry at least six units of credit each semester and maintain at least a B (3.0) grade point average.

Student Activities

Graduate students are encouraged to participate in local, national, and international conferences to present academic papers or to volunteer as a conference organizer, staff, or to represent the School of Communications.

Supplementary funds are available on a competitive basis for travel to conferences through the Graduate Student Organization and the Louise Hess Miller fund.

Graduate Student Organization

The Graduate Student Organization provides graduate students, through the graduate fields of study, with official representation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Its four primary functions are to:

  1. Provide representative input on policies affecting UHM graduate students.
  2. Provide an advisory body for the Dean of Graduate Division.
  3. Provide an organization from which graduate student representatives can be selected for recommendation to serve on campus-wide committees.
  4. Initiate and maintain co-curricular programs that are relevant to UHM graduate students.

International Students

The International Student Services (ISS) office provides assistance to approximately 1500 foreign students who come from about 80 countries to study at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and recognizes the special needs of students holding F-1 and J-1 visas.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a complex database controlled by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). SEVIS is designed to collect information from schools, INS ports of entry, and even the US State Department relating to foreign students and scholars. SEVIS tracks and monitors the programs of F-1, M-1, and J-1 international students and scholars and their dependents.