Course Catalog

Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies

Chair: Pavel Shlossberg
Associate Professors: C. Cunningham, M. Hazel, P. Shlossberg

The Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies (COML) is designed to provide graduate-level expertise for solving communication problems in modern organizations and social systems from a communication and leadership perspective, and also prepare effective, ethical communicators who use critical thinking for positive local and global change. Organizations depend upon complex formal and informal communication for effective operation in increasingly technologically based, communication networks. What distinguishes the 21st century from the 20th is the unprecedented degree to which communication and information technology enable creation of active networks linking individuals, functions and organizations. The program is grounded in practical, scientific and humanistic theory and methodology, global communication and ethics, and is relevant for those seeking to enhance their communication and leadership knowledge and skills in corporate communications, public relations, media management, media studies, human resources, marketing, strategic planners, training and consulting, media literacy, community college teaching, or Ph.D. work in communication.

The degree builds upon the historic tradition of communication as part of the cornerstone of a Jesuit education and lays the groundwork for high leverage knowledge and skills in communication and leadership in today’s complex world. This program combines relevant theories and experiential learning applicable to the latest workplace developments.

The COML master’s degree is designed to meet the needs and schedules of working adults. The online program consists of 30 credits; one short-term, on-campus immersion is required.

Distinctive features: include a unique blend of communication and leadership theory and their practical application, a range of visiting scholars and professionals who visit to discuss cutting-edge work in communication and leadership, internship and service-learning opportunities, and optional study abroad experiences.


Applicants submit a complete packet containing the following materials to the Department of Communication and Leadership Studies:

  1. A completed online application and a non-refundable fee.
  2. A written statement from the applicant which:
    1. describes the applicant’s own interest in the Communication and Leadership Studies degree, and
    2. Assesses the applicant’s strengths and describes what the applicant hopes to gain from a graduate degree.
  3. One letter of recommendation from an employer, professional colleague, or prior/current professor, which evaluates the applicant’s capacity to complete a graduate degree.
  4. Official transcripts from each college and university attended; (international applicants must submit foreign transcripts in the original language and an English copy). Only degrees and courses from a regionally accredited institution will be accepted.
  5. Current resume
  6. International applicants must also submit:
    1. An official TOEFL score of at least 88 or IELTS score of 6.5 if applicant has graduated from a foreign college or university, whose native language is not English.
    2. A financial declaration and supporting documentation


A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university is required.

Program Outline: 30 credits

Core: 12 credits

Electives: 12 credits from communication (COML) and/or organizational leadership (ORGL) electives

Capstone Sequence: 6 credits

Required Courses: 18 credits

COML 595 Theorizing Communication 3 credits
COML 596 Masters Level Writing 0 credits
COML 597 Communication and Leadership Ethics 3 credits
COML 598 International and Intercultural Communication 3 credits
COML 599 Content Creation and Strategy 3 credits
COML 601 Applied Communication Research 3 credits
COML 602 Communication and Leadership Capstone Seminar
 (content specific to any concentration)
3 credits

Change Leadership Concentration: 12 credits

ORGL 515 Leadership and Human Potential 3 credits
ORGL 516 Human Relations and Organization Development 3 credits
ORGL 517 Organizational Change and Transformation 3 credits
One of the following elective courses: 3 credits
ORGL 518 Transforming Leadership
ORGL 523 Psychology of Leadership
ORGL 550 Team Building and Leadership
ORGL 551 Advanced Team Building and Leadership
ORGL 690 Contemporary Leadership Strategies to Combat Hate


College Teaching of Communication Concentration: 9 credits

COML 510 Communication Teaching and Pedagogy 3 credits
COML 520 Internship 3 credits
One of the following four courses: 3 credits
COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis 

COML 515 Relational Communication 

COML 516 Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship

COML/ORGL Study Abroad Courses


Digital Media Strategies Concentration: 12 credits

Two of the following three courses: 6 credits
COML 505 Digital Storytelling
COML 540 Digital Media Analysis
COML 545 Internet Impact, Policy and Tactics
Two of the following seven courses: 6 credits
COML 504 Organizational Communication and Leadership

COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis

COML 512 Strategic and Crisis Communication

COML 516 Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship

COML 550 Visual Data Communication

COML 570 Globalization and its Impacts
COML 572 Communication and Community Development


Global Leadership Concentration: 12 credits

ORGL 570/COML 570 Introduction to Global Systems 3 credits
Required Study Abroad Immersion or Internship: 3 credits
ORGL 609 Development Communication

ORGL 577 Methods of Inquiry and Strategy for Contemporary Global Issues

Two of the following elective courses:*  6 credits
ORGL 517 Organizational Change and Transformation

ORGL 518 Transforming Leadership

ORGL 520 Conflict Resolution

ORGL 535 Listen, Discern, and Decide

ORGL 689 Leadership & Hardiness

ORGL 689 Global Citizenship

Note: *Other COML courses may be substituted on a case by case basis as approved by the COML Department Chair.


Servant Leadership Concentration: 12 credits

ORGL 530 Servant Leadership 3 credits
ORGL 537 Foresight and Strategy 3 credits
Two of the following five courses:*  6 credits
ORGL 510 Renaissance Leadership for the 21st Century

ORGL 522 Leadership, Community Empowerment, Collaboration, and Dialogue

ORGL 532 Leadership Justice and Forgiveness

ORGL 535 Listen, Discern, and Decide

ORGL 689 Leadership and Hardiness

Note: *Other ORGL or cross-listed courses may meet the Servant-leader criteria and must be approved by the advisor.


Strategic and Organizational Communication Concentration: 9 credits

COML 504 Organizational Communication 3 credits
Two of the following four courses: 6 credits
COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis

COML 511 Communication Consulting and Training

COML 512 Strategic and Crisis Communication

COML 515 Relational Communication

Note: Other COML courses may be substituted on a case by case basis as approved by the COML Department Chair.

COML 504 Organizational Communication
3.00 credits
All organizations, from Microsoft, to churches, to social clubs, and universities, rely on communication. Being able to communicate strategically is crucial to meaningful participation. This course explores the meanings and functions of communication in organizations. Organizational communication encompasses not only communication within businesses, but also within large private or nonprofit associations, larger community groups, and governments both large and small. We will cover selected topics in organizational communication research such as culture, socialization, systems theory, communication and technology, and globalization.
COML 505 Digital Storytelling
3.00 credits
The digital age has changed the way we tell stories. Current technology allows users access to a range of digital tools to not only create their own stories, but share them widely through social media. But how do stories make an impact on audiences, given that there is so much more information available? This course teaches students different forms of storytelling using digital media tools. Readings help students better understand different narrative and persuasive styles of storytelling as well as the major theoretical and policy-related issues. Through hands-on assignments, students will acquire technical skills that will help them become more effective communicators in the digital age.
COML 507 Mindful Leadership and Comm
3.00 credits
This course is a multi-sensory, hands-on introduction to mindfulness undergirded by empirical research in neuro-science and outcome research. Learning activities include readings, audio files, and mindfulness practices, discussion board postings (community engagement,) a short, on-campus immersion, and a final paper. Content and learning activities are selected in the service of educating the whole person and nurturing the personal and professional qualities aligned with the Mission of Gonzaga University.
COML 509 SocialMediaEngagement&Analysis
3.00 credits
This course will explore, examine, and analyze the ways in which communication technologies and social media influence the nature of communication, and the manner in which we interact with one another on a daily basis, as well as our socially shared values, beliefs, and attitudes. This course will introduce students to different strategies and techniques for evaluating the effectiveness of digital communication.
COML 510 CommunicationTeaching&Pedagogy
3.00 credits
This course is designed for people considering a career as a communication educator at the college level. The goals for this class have three interrelated dimensions; (a) cognitive learning, (b) affective orientation; and (c) behavioral development. Students will develop curricula, learn teaching strategies, develop goals and assessment, observe college classroom environments, and build a teaching portfolio.
COML 511 Comm Consulting & Training
3.00 credits
In a global economy, it is increasingly important to have the training and consulting skills that will allow you to interact effectively with many different cultures. Understanding and creating effective training programs is vital to you and your organization’s success. This course will explore the unique application of communication skills and models for training, and offer practice in consulting in a variety of settings, developing resources, marketing, workshop development, training, skill building, and evaluation.
COML 512 Strategic & Crisis Comm
3.00 credits
Gone are the days when organizations can afford to just wait it out during a crisis or while their competition moves ahead. Whether a student leads or works for an organization, or is in charge of strategic planning or communication, it is critical to understand how to develop, implement and evaluate effective integrated communication plans. New ideas, trends, issues, projects, and services in our workplaces are all opportunities to plan, strategize, and communicate with the stakeholders. Students learn from real-life examples as well as their colleagues to fully understand and implement campaigns, media relations strategies, and social media tactics.
COML 513 Adv Topics in Communication
3.00 credits
This course explores cutting-edge technologies, theory, and issues. The specific theme of this course varies each time it is offered because communication is constantly evolving.
COML 515 Relational Communication
3.00 credits
This course will enhance your ability to assess the dynamics occurring during conversations, whether one-on-one or in a group, and in different contexts including organizations, families, and in personal relationships. Students will study relevant theory to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities related to human communication. Students will also explore group dynamics and the specific communication actions that can lead to positive social change.
COML 516 MediaLiteracy&DigitalCitzenshp
3.00 credits
Despite our awareness that we live in an age of communication, we are often unaware of how we contribute, define, make, use and are used by various forms of communication media. Communication in our society takes place in many forms, including mass electronic media, telecommunications, transportation, publishing and even our educational system. This course examines the implications of several forms of communication for how we live and what we believe, including the impact of mass media on modern societies, conflicting social interests and the needs of different groups in society, the formation of public opinion, and the diffusion of innovations. Attention will be directed throughout the course to the processes of developing action plans for communication that incorporates principles of media literacy.
COML 520 Comm Leadership Internship
1.00- 6.00 credits
Students will complete an approximately 240-hour internship under the supervision of a communication professor at a local college or university for one semester or quarter. The internship includes the development of a portfolio and evaluations from internship supervisors. Students are responsible for arranging the internship.
COML 521 Travel Writing
3.00 credits
This course is designed to improve your ability to write stories about travel. The genre ranges from the documentary to the evocative, from literary to journalistic, and from humorous to serious. This course will show you how to put your camera aside (temporarily) and engage your experiences more deeply in both strange and familiar places close to home. Text exercises will help you develop the basic storytelling and descriptive skills this genre requires. Selected current readings will serve as examples of good writing.
COML 522 Ren Rhetoric & Contemp Ldrshp
3.00 credits
This course examines rhetoric, written, oral, and visual to understand the humanistic movement of the Italian Renaissance and the role it continues to play in contemporary leadership. Through readings, discussions, and on-site visits to historical settings in Rome, Florence and Siena, we will formulate and explore the critical questions necessary to bring these ideas to our contemporary world. This course will be offered every summer.
COML 530 Women, Comm, & Ldrshp
3.00 credits
This course will look at gender differences in leadership styles and efficacy as well as specific communication issues women face in attaining and retaining leadership positions. Through readings, discussions, videos, and projects that critically examine images and gender stereotypes of women leaders, the course is designed to give students practical skills they can use to be better communicators and leaders.
COML 540 Digital Media Analysis
3.00 credits
In this course, students will learn how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of digital communication, including website traffic and social media. Students will gain specific tools for analysis and presentation of data in meaningful ways and develop media strategies based on data insights. The class will use case studies and practical exercises to help students understand analytic techniques.
COML 545 Internet Impact Policy&Tactics
3.00 credits
Students will be introduced to current policy debates that influence digital forms of communication and how these issues impact organizations. Course readings and assignments will look at how communication technologies are shaped by federal and local policies, and social dynamics. Issues covered include privacy, intellectual property, common carrier, network neutrality, ownership, and accessibility.
COML 550 Visual Data Communication
3.00 credits
This course teaches students about digital data visualization, analytic tools, and how to archive information for organizations and make them available, accessible, and easy to disseminate. Employing case and project-based studies, students will learn to move beyond the written word and traditional presentations, in order to effectively employ graphical methods of knowledge production, organization, and digital design when crafting, communicating, and storing complex ideas and arguments.
COML 570 Globalization and Its Impacts
3.00 credits
This course engages students to become familiar with a variety of global issues tied to organizational performance and to analyze those issues using systems-thinking concepts and tools. Students will gain a deeper understanding of social relationships of interdependence and accountability, as well as skills to integrate diverse ideas and perspectives from a variety of sources.
COML 572 Comm and Community Development
3.00 credits
Students in this course contribute to the work undertaken by the Social Responsibility Office at Javeriana University in partnership with various community media and communication organizations active in the Ladera and Aguablanca districts in Cali, Columbia to learn about and participate in community development projects geared to empowering disadvantaged young people.
COML 595 Theorizing Communication
3.00 credits
As an introduction to the field of communication and the COML program, this course investigates theories of communication, emphasizes understanding of how theory is created and tested, and encourages the practical application of good theory to real-world scenarios.
COML 596 Master's Level Writing
.00 credits
This course is a resource for graduate students to improve writing in academic contexts. It is designed to both assess and improve a student's writing skills, and introduce graduate students to the genre of academic writing.
COML 597 Communication Ethics
3.00 credits
This course explores philosophical foundations of interpersonal relations and values in multiple contexts, and emphasizes the applications of ethical systems in organizations and societies.
COML 598 Intn't & Intercultural Comm
3.00 credits
Identification and analysis of processes and problems of communication as affected by differences in culture and identity. It explores effects of differences in attitudes, social organization, role expectations, language and nonverbal behavior, all of which are interrelated. Principles of communication theory as they apply to the intercultural context are also emphasized.
COML 599 Content Creation and Strategy
3.00 credits
This course is grounded in the principle that the best learning is hands-on and occurs in the context of a community. The course is designed to build skills in public speaking, face-to-face conversations, writing, and creating multimedia products. Students will use those skills to create a digital portfolio.
COML 601 Applied Communication Research
3.00 credits
Students learn how to conduct academic and applied research in preparation for the capstone project or thesis. Students work closely with faculty and small groups to develop and refine their capstone or thesis proposal.
COML 602 Comm & Leadership Capstone
3.00 credits
Students will complete a capstone project or thesis using their research from COML 601. The completed thesis/project will be presented in a public forum at the end of their program. Prerequisite: COML 601 and 24 graduate credits.
COML 601 Minimum Grade: C-
COML 607 Certification Credit
3.00 credits
COML 611 Seminar Continuation
1.00 credit
Required of all graduate students to maintain continuous enrollment in the program while completing their final project.
COML 690 Directed Study
.00- 3.00 credits
Arranged with faculty.

In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.

The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.

Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?

  • The First-Year Seminar (DEPT 193, 3 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of FYS courses).  
  • Writing (ENGL 101, 3 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
  • Communication & Speech (COMM 100, 3 credits): This course introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.
  • Scientific Inquiry (BIOL 104/104L, CHEM 104/104L, or PHYS 104/104L, 3 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
  • Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.

Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?

  • Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
  • Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses) .

Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?

  • Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?” 

  • Core Integration Seminar (DEPT 432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by several departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of CIS courses).

The Broadening Courses

  • Fine Arts & Design (VART, MUSC, THEA, 3 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
  • Literature (3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences (3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

The Designations
Designations are embedded within already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.

  • Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Writing (ENGL 101), which carries one of the WE designations, students must take two other WE-designated courses (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Major-specific adaptations to the University Core Curriculum

All Gonzaga students, regardless of their major, will complete the University Core Curriculum requirements. However some Gonzaga students will satisfy certain core requirements through major-specific programs or courses. Any major-specific adaptations to the core are described with the requirements for the majors to which they apply.