We offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Communication minor and the Health, Risk, and Crisis Communication graduate program.

We also offer a PhD. in Communication with an emphasis in Health and Strategic Communication.

We are home to many active student organizations, including the nationally-recognized George Mason Forensics Team and the George Mason Debate Team.

OnAir Post: GMU Department of Communication



Phone: 703.993.1090
Fax: 703.993.1096
Address: Robinson A, 307
4400 University Drive, MSN 3D6
Fairfax, VA 22030

Dr. Anne M. Nicotera
Robinson A, 307B

Associate Chair
Dr. Tim Gibson
Robinson A, 313

Undergraduate Program Director
Dr. Kathy Rowan

Undergraduate Advising
Dr. Catherine Wright
Robinson A, 335

Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Megan Edmondson
Robinson A, 307

Graduate Programs Coordinator
Brittany Sanders
Robinson A, 307

Director of Master’s Program
Xiaomei Cai
Robinson A, 315

Director of Doctoral Program
Dr. Carl Botan
Robinson A, 307

Director of Forensics
Peter Pober
Robinson A, 331

Assistant Director of Forensics
Jeremy Hodgson
Robinson A, 326

Director of Debate
Warren Decker
Robinson A, 333

Undergraduate Programs

BA in Communication
The bachelor’s degree in communication prepares students for graduate study or entry-level positions in such fields as interpersonal and organizational communication, journalism, media production and criticism, political communication, and public relations.

Interpersonal and Organizational Communication concentration in the BA in Communication
Journalism concentration in the BA in Communication
Media Production and Criticism concentration in the BA in Communication
Political Communication concentration in the BA in Communication
Public Relations concentration in the BA in Communication

Minor in Communication
The minor in communication provides students with useful knowledge of human resources management, advertising, marketing, public relations/political campaign management, events management, speech writing, or media production. It encourages students to develop a broad understanding of communication theory and research while honing oral, written, and production skills.

Minor in Journalism
The minor in journalism teaches students about the writing style and research techniques unique to broadcast, online, and computer-assisted reporting. Students in this minor also develop a solid understanding of copyright, ethical, and First Amendment issues and how they relate to new technologies.

Minor in Political Communication
Political communication explores the interaction among members of the public, the media, advocacy groups, and politicians in a democratic society. This minor uses a diverse approach to questions of how mass and interpersonal communication influence democratic functioning.

Minor in Sport Communication
The minor in sport communication offers students the opportunity to examine important and timely sports-related issues in an ethical context as well as analyze sports from cross-cultural perspectives. Students will gain an understanding of sport mass media, sport communication, sports reporting, interpersonal and organizational communication, and the impact each has in our global society.

Minor in Health Communication
Health communication, one of the fastest growing fields in the broader communication discipline, addresses how communication intersects with all aspects of health (social, mental, and physical).

Graduate Programs

PhD in Communication
The doctoral program in communication focuses on health and strategic communication. It prepares students for increasingly complex public and private communication environments. Students receive a strong theoretical and multi-methodological foundation, which enables them to examine the critical role communication performs in health promotion, disease prevention, quality of care, risk assessment, and crisis management. Students may also emphasize science communication in conjunction with either of these areas of focus.

MA in Communication
The master of arts program in communication has three major areas of emphasis: strategic communication/public relations, health communication, and science communication. Through their coursework, students in this program examine the powerful role played by communication practices in contemporary society. They are prepared to be practitioners in the community or to go on to advanced graduate studies in communication.

MPH in Public Health Communication
In partnership with the GMU Department of Global and Community Health, the Public Health Communication concentration prepares students to effectively use communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that affect health. This highly specialized concentration links the fields of communication and public health and is increasingly recognized as a necessary element of efforts to improve personal and public health. The public health communication concentration emphasizes designing, evaluating, and implementing effective communication strategies and messages to address the health needs of diverse audiences.

Graduate Certificate in Science Communication
This certificate is designed for graduate students with or without an academic communication background to upgrade their knowledge of the field. It is geared to meet the needs of both communication professionals and science professionals who want to emphasize science communication work in their future careers.

Research and Research Centers

The communication faculty have combined expertise in a number of substantive and methodological areas. Faculty members receive many research awards from governments and foundations. Please see individual faculty pages for information on current projects.

Center for Climate Change Communication

Our mission at 4C is to develop and apply social science insights to help society make informed decisions that will stabilize the earth’s life-sustaining climate, and prevent further harm from climate change.

As a result of human activity – primarily the burning of fossil fuels – the earth’s climate is becoming dangerously disrupted and destabilized. Our mission is to develop and apply social science insights to help society make informed decisions that will stabilize the earth’s life-sustaining climate, and prevent further harm from climate change. To achieve this goal, our center engages in three broad activities: we conduct unbiased communication research; we help government agencies, civic organizations, professional associations, and companies apply social science research to improve their public engagement initiatives; and we train students and professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve public engagement with climate change.


Center for Health and Risk Communication

Health and risk communication are topics of great interest and expertise within the Department of Communication and there are growing research and education programs at Mason in this area. Health and risk communication are important interrelated areas of study and application. Health communication examines the communication processes central to the delivery of health care and promotion of health, including health care provider consumer interactions, informed health care decision making, the provision of social support, the development and implementation of health promotion campaigns, and the uses of media and information technologies within the health care system. Risk communication examines strategic communication concerning serious health and safety risks to relevant publics, government officials, and first-responders, including media management, risk prevention, preparation, and response to health and crisis situations.

The CHRC provides an important organizational framework for stimulating innovative health and risk communication research collaborations, health promotion intervention projects, and community interventions. The establishment of the CHRC paralleled the development of innovative new health and risk communication graduate programs at both the Masters and Doctoral levels within the Department of Communication, as well as the development of a strong cadre of distinguished faculty scholars with expertise in health and risk communication. Department faculty have received increased national and international recognition for their scholarship and growing external support for health and risk communication research and educational activities from a variety of government agencies and private foundations.

Active research collaborations have been established with leading health and safety scholars across George Mason University and many other national and international research centers. The Department has served as host for several distinguished international health and risk communication scholars who have engaged in collaborative research while at Mason. The CHRC also hosts important meetings and conferences including the DC Health Communication (DCHC) Conference, Community Health Summits, Public Health Roundtables, and Health Promotion Workshops.

The CHRC helps to connect the Department of Communication with a number of relevant external constituencies outside the university, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI’s) Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, the NCI Cancer Information Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the AHRQ’s John M. Eisenberg Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Risk Communication Advisory Committee, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Coalition for Health Communication, and a number of other important federal agencies and private foundations. There CHRC will be a focal point for plans to establish an innovative new DC-area Research Consortium of Health Communication Programs with collaborations between GMU, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Howard University.

Web pages:

Character Assassination & Reputation Politics

The Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) is an interdisciplinary research team of scholars studying character assassination. It was founded in 2016 in cooperation with the International Society for the Study of Character Assassination(ISSCA).

What is Character Assassination?

Character assassination (CA) is the deliberate destruction of an individual’s reputation or credibility through character attacks. CA techniques include negative campaigning, spreading rumors, anonymous online defamation, and many other tactics. All of these are common in contemporary politics, but character attacks can also be used against celebrities, athletes, scientists, and others with a high public profile. Attackers target the private lives, values, and identity of their victims in an attempt to discredit them and subject them to scorn and ridicule. Character assassination has been a widespread method of power struggle for centuries.

Who are we?

We include researchers with disciplinary homes in psychology, history, communication, and public relations. Our research team spans continents, including scholars here at George Mason University and at the University of Amsterdam.
What do we do?

We focus our efforts along 3 main dimensions:
1) Research: we research historical and contemporary examples of character assassination to better understand this timeless phenomenon
2) Teaching: we teach both our university students and members of the public about the phenomenon of CA so that they can better understand and prepare to defend themselves
3) Assessment: we conduct risk assessment to determine vulnerabilities for public figures concerned about their reputations

Web Pages:

Center for Media and Public Affairs

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) is a nonpartisan research and educational organization which conducts scientific studies of news and entertainment media. CMPA’s goal is to provide an empirical basis for ongoing debates over media coverage and impact through well-documented, timely, and readable studies.

Since its formation in 1985, CMPA has emerged as a unique institution that bridges the gap between academic research and the broader domains of media and public policy. Our scientific approach sets us apart from self appointed media “watchdog” groups, while our timeliness and outreach distinguishes us from traditional academic researchers.

Among our many activities, CMPA campaign news studies have played a major role in the ongoing debate over improving the election process. Our continuing analysis of political humor provides a lighter look at major news makers. CMPA is also one of the few groups to study the role the media plays in communicating information about health risks and scientific issues.