College of Social Sciences
School of Communication and Information
Crawford 320

2550 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8715
Fax: (808) 956-5396


*Graduate Faculty

*H. Kramer, PhD (Program Director)—intercultural communication
*W. Buente, PhD (Graduate Chair)—information and communication technologies
*R. Neo, PhD (Undergraduate Chair)—social media, political persuasion
*P. Buskirk, MFA—media arts, communication for civic engagement
*J. Y. Kim, PhD—strategic communication, public relations
*H. Kramer, PhD—intercultural communication
*J. Winter, PhD—emerging communication technology and policy

Participating Graduate Faculty From Journalism

J. Gorbach, PhD—multimedia journalism, media history

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

D. Lassner, PhD—telecommunication, public relations
N. Okamura, PhD—telecommunication

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

F. Dalisay, PhD—mass communication
K. Kawamoto, PhD—digital media, health communication
R. Taylor, EdD, JD—telecommunications law and policy

Degrees Offered: BA in communication, MA in communication, PhD in communication and information sciences (interdisciplinary), Graduate Certificate in Telecommunications Information Resource Management

The Academic Program

The Communication (COM) program provides undergraduate and graduate students an academic climate consistent with the mission of the College of Social Sciences and adheres to standards set by leaders in the communication field. The program focuses on active learning and inquiry into fundamental communication processes. Our students study communication techniques and technologies that shape our culture and the culture of others with the aim of preparing them for fruitful careers, civic engagement, and a life of learning. The goal of our program in terms of student learning is to help our students build and exchange knowledge in areas relevant to the broad field of communication and to our specific areas of specialization. The program is organized into three focus areas: communication in communities (local, organizational, global), information and communication technologies (ICTs) & policy, and media arts. The Communication program offers well-defined skills that are directly applicable to current-day occupations. Our students have built careers in areas such as government, law enforcement, hospitality, education, social services, real estate, public relations, social media management, film production, and international business.

The Communication program distinguishes itself from mainland counterparts by being one of the few programs to highlight the importance and validity of the Hawai‘i/AsiaPacific region as an area for research and endeavors to address the needs unique to the Hawaiian Island Chain and the rest of Oceania. The Communication program is one of five autonomous units within the School of Communication and Information.


The East-West Center, Pacific Telecommunications Council, Telecommunications and Social Informatics Research Program (TASI), and the many international conferences dealing with Asian/Pacific affairs provide a stimulating environment for international and intercultural communication.


Each undergraduate major is assigned a faculty advisor. In addition, an undergraduate chair provides a general point of contact for aspiring and declared majors. The graduate program parallels the undergraduate advising structure. However, once a student is admitted to candidacy, the student chooses a permanent advisor for the remainder of their program.

Undergraduate Study

The undergraduate program offers courses that provide students with a sound understanding of fundamental communication processes in contexts ranging from small groups to large organizations be it in person or through computer mediated communication (CMC). The program provides students the opportunity to select courses that allow them to specialize in one or more of three focus areas: communication in communities, and ICTs & policy, and media arts.

Bachelor’s Degree

Prospective students must be enrolled in COM 201, or have previously completed COM 201 with a B (3.0) or better, to be eligible for the Communication major. Students will not be accepted into the program until they have earned 12 credit hours or more with a 2.5 grade point average (GPA). All students accepted into the major are assigned an advisor to assist them in their progress through the program; that is to say, once the major declaration form is processed students will have someone to guide them through the program. Prospective students should contact the Undergraduate Chair with their inquires and requests for assistance.


Communication majors must complete 33 credit hours of communication courses, including the mandatory courses listed here:

  • the introductory course to the communication field (COM 201)
  • all three foundation courses (COM 310, 320, and 330)
  • one of the following 400-capstone courses (COM 477, 478, or 479)

All Communication majors must take 15 credit hours of required courses. The remaining 18 credit hours may be chosen by personal interests, intellectual proclivities, and career goals. Communication majors are also responsible for meeting the prerequisite requirements for at least one of the capstone courses in order to graduate in a timely manner. Communication majors must earn a grade of C (2.0) or better in every course that counts towards their degree.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The Communication program offers a graduate MA degree in communication. The program’s areas of specialization reflect the mission of the program: communication policy and planning, global communication, information and communication technologies, intercultural communication, public relations and social media. Both individual faculty members and the program as a whole work within sociocultural and sociotechnical perspectives. The goal of our program in terms of student learning is to help our students build and exchange knowledge in areas relevant to the broad field of communication and to our specific areas of specialization.

Qualified applicants are admitted to the program in the fall semester only. Applicants are not required to have an undergraduate communication degree, but are expected to possess the ability and/or capacity to handle the requirements of the program. All applicants must fulfill the Graduate Division’s admission requirements. Applicants to the program must submit to the program a statement of academic objectives and the planned role of our program in helping meet those objectives. Applicants must also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent to the program. These letters should be written by persons who are familiar with the student’s academic accomplishments. Letters from former professors are preferred. Students applying from non-English-speaking countries must have a minimum TOEFL score of 80 or 6.5 on the IELTS. Applicants whose academic objectives match our program specializations will be admitted as classified students on a space-available basis.

Each classified student admitted into our program is assigned an interim advisor who assists the student in the initial planning of their degree program. The student may, at any time, change that advisor by informing the program staff of the change. Once the student has selected a thesis or practicum committee chair that faculty member becomes their permanent advisor. Students are best served by selecting their topic of study before settling on a plan (thesis or practicum). The thesis route is generally considered the orthodox option, but there are some instances when it is not the optimal one. Students and their committee chairs should discuss the pros and cons of each plan before settling on one. Students are encouraged to weigh their options carefully and expected to work closely with their committee chair moving forward. It is the committee chair’s obligation to ensure adequate rigor whether it be the thesis or practicum route. The student remains, however, primarily responsible to ascertain that all program requirements are met in a timely fashion.

Each student must complete a minimum of 33 credits with at least a 3.0 GPA. These credits are to be distributed by taking:

  • Both foundation courses COM 611 Communication Theories and COM 612 Communication Inquiry (6 credits).
  • Two core courses (6 credits) from our specializations in Organizational and Intercultural Communication (COM 623 and 643), Telecommunication and New Media (COM 633 and 634), or Global Communication and Journalism (COM 644 and 645).
  • One seminar course from either COM 691 or 692 (3 credits) (repeatable up to 6 credits).
  • One capstone activity (6 credits) selected from COM 700 (Plan A-Thesis) or 695 (Plan B-Practicum).
  • The remaining 12 credits are selected from the following: COM 646 Intervention in Multicultural Organizations and COM 660 ICT Policy & Planning; additional core course; courses from the Program’s Graduate Certificate Program in Telecommunication and Information Resource Management (TIRM) 680, 681, 682, 683, 684; Directed Research COM 699; 400-level augmented undergraduate courses, or graduate courses outside the program (both the latter require approval of committee chair; maximum 6 credits).

Each student is expected to take at least one 3-credit course or seminar each semester. All substitutions, exceptions, and/or courses external to the program must be approved by the thesis or practicum committee chair and noted in the student’s official records. If students are not enrolled for courses during a semester they must apply for an official leave of absence. In pursuit of their academic goals students often earn more than the minimum 33 credits. The program can be compressed into 15 months or stretched out over 60 months. Typically, however, students complete the program in 18 to 24 months.

On completing COM 611 and COM 612, with a “B” or better, and achieving a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all completed course work, each classified student is eligible for admission to candidacy allowing them to formally identify a degree plan from the two options available. These options are to complete either a thesis (Plan A) or practicum (Plan B) as a student’s capstone activity. At the same time the student selects the chair and members of the thesis or practicum committee. That committee is responsible for supervising and evaluating the student’s thesis or practicum activity. The committee must be comprised of at least three members of the graduate faculty from the university with at least two of those members, including the chair, from the Communication MA program. Both the committee members and the topic of the activity must be approved by Graduate Division and research to be conducted approved by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). At the completion of the student’s program, they must take a two-hour oral exam on their knowledge of the field and defense of their thesis or practicum report.

For further information please visit our website at

Doctoral Degree in Communication and Information Sciences

The Communication MA program is one of the academic units that participates in an interdisciplinary doctoral program called Communication and Information Sciences (CIS). See the “Interdisciplinary Programs” section for more information on the doctoral program.