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Course Catalog

Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies

Chair: Carolyn Cunningham

Professor: C. Cunningham, M. Hazel

Associate Professors:  P. Shlossberg

Assistant Professor: T. Hayes

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 planning, training and consulting, media literacy, 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 or virtual immersion is required.

Distinctive features: includes 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.


  1. Students applying to Gonzaga University must submit Gonzaga’s Graduate Application, which can be accessed online at
  2. with the application for graduate study, each program at Gonzaga has distinct admission requirements. Please refer to the table below to view that detailed information.

Program Name

How To Apply Link
Master of Arts in Communication & Leadership (Online)  


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

Program Outline: 30 credits

Core: 12 credits

Electives: 15 credits from communication (COML) and/or organizational leadership (ORGL) electives

Capstone Sequence: 3 credits

Required Courses: 15 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 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 courses: 3 credits
COML 504 Organizational Communication
COML 511 Communication, Consulting, and Training
COML 598 Intercultural Communication
ORGL 506 Leadership and Diversity
ORGL 518 Transforming Leadership
ORGL 523 Psychology of Leadership
ORGL 550 Team Building and Leadership
ORGL 551 Advanced Team Building and Leadership
ORGL 689 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 eleven courses: 3 credits
         COML 505 Digital Storytelling  
COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis 

         COML 511 Communication Consulting and Training    
         COML 513 Advanced Topics    
COML 515 Relational Communication 

COML 516 Disinformation in the Digital Age

         COML 518 Online Course Design & Teaching    
         COML 522 Renaissance Rhetoric    
         COML 530 Women, Communication, Leadership    
         COML 550 Visual Data Communication     
COML 572/ ORGL 690 Communication and Community Development


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 Digital Surveillance, Algorithms, and Ethics
Two of the following nine courses: 6 credits
COML 504 Organizational Communication and Leadership

COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis

COML 512 Strategic and Crisis Communication

COML 516 Disinformation in the Digital Age

         COML 518 Online Course Design and Teaching    
         COML 541 Advanced Digital Media Analysis     
COML 550 Visual Data Communication

COML 570 Introduction to Global Systems 
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 690/COML 572 Communication, Leadership, Community Development

ORGL 577 Methods of Inquiry and Strategy for Contemporary Global Issues

         ORGL 689 Special Topics: Understanding Europe in the Age of Uncertainty - includes     
            study abroad in Czech Republic    
Two of the following seven courses:*  6 credits
ORGL 517 Organizational Change and Transformation

         ORGL 510 Renaissance Leadership for the 21st Century - includes 14 day study abroad    
            in Italy     
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 eight courses:*  6 credits
         COML 504 Organizational Communication 
         COML 507 Mindful Leadership and Communication    
         ORGL 510 Renaissance Leadership for the 21st Century    
         COML 515 Relational Communication    
ORGL 522 Leadership & Community

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

One of the following two courses:

3 credits

COML 504 Organizational Communication
COML 512 Strategic and Crisis Communication    
Two of the following nine courses: 6 credits
         COML 505 Digital Storytelling  
COML 509 Social Media Engagement and Analysis

COML 511 Communication Consulting and Training

         COML 514 Strategic and Applied Public Relations    
COML 515 Relational Communication

         COML 530 Women, Communication, Leadership    
         COML 540 Digital Media Analysis     
         COML 541 Advanced Digital Media Analysis     

Note: Other COML courses may be substituted on a case by case basis as approved by the COML Department Chair. Students can also take both courses listed as required course options and one additional elective course. 

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.
ORGL 504 - Successful completion
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
In this course, we look at the development and dynamics of social media platforms. Through course readings and assignments, we will not only better understand how these platforms can be used to communicate, but also how they can increase audience interactivity. Key to this course is an understanding of how social media has changed the way that audiences engage with organizations and networks. Google defines this new group of users as “Generation C,” a global group of consumers who thrive on content creation, curation, connection, and community. Generation C values authenticity and transparency, and they want both personalization and community.
ORGL 509 - Successful completion
COML 510 CommunicationTeaching&Pedagogy
3.00 credits
This course is designed for people considering a career as a communication educator at the college level. Students will develop curricula, learn teaching strategies, develop goals and assessment, observe college classroom environments, and build a teaching portfolio. You will also increase your skills in assessing verbal and nonverbal behaviors to create an engaging classroom experience.
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 Spec 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 514 Strategic & Appl Public Rltns
3.00 credits
This course, to be offered once or twice each academic year, will explore current public relations practices and give students a solid grounding in the most important thing for a successful public relations practitioner – judgment. All major companies and non-profits rely on public relations to influence how they are regarded by audiences that matter to them. We will cover selected topics to help you understand the science and art of this discipline including audience research, strategic planning, how to become a valued counselor, and sell your ideas and plans.
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 Disinformation in Digital Age
3.00 credits
This course offers tools and theoretical frameworks for communication professionals to develop critical thinking about media in all its forms. Topics include news and data literacies, inequalities in media representations, media manipulation, disinformation, and social media activism. At the end of the course, students will better understand how to use media strategically to work toward social justice and counter the spread of disinformation.
COML 518 Online Course Design & Teach
3.00 credits
With a focus on the college classroom and corporate and organizational training setting, this course develops skills for online course design. Topics explored include instructional techniques, syllabus creation, assessment, grading, presence and engagement matters, strategies for building inclusive classroom culture and climate, and navigating student performance and engagement issues. The course will consider how real-time or simultaneous and non-simultaneous teaching modes may be incorporated and combined into effective online instructional design strategies.
COML 520 Comm Leadership Internship
3.00 credits
Students will complete an approximately 120-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 explores communication theory, ethical frameworks, research methodology and cultural literacy as they relate to travel communication. A travel communicator fosters the spirit of exploration using a variety of methods and platforms with the intent of ethically promoting and documenting components of 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 engage your experiences more deeply in both strange and familiar places.
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 541 Adv Digital Media Analysis
3.00 credits
In this elective course, which will be offered once or twice per academic year, students will build upon fundamental concepts of how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of digital communication and apply those principles more fully in the realm of analysis of digital communication campaigns. Part of the class includes preparing a portfolio campaign proposal. The class is grounded in best practices behind the strategy, execution, measurement and analysis of multichannel campaigns.
COML 540 Minimum Grade: C
COML 545 Digital Surv, Algrthm & Ethics
3.00 credits
The internet plays a large role in our lives, but what really happens when you log into social media or search for a job, news, a political issue or even a restaurant online? In this course we will raise the curtain on what is really happening behind the scenes in these digital spaces. Who is collecting your data, how is it being used and stored, should it be used and stored, and how do algorithms really work? We will cover the issues surrounding privacy and surveillance and the ethical questions facing organizations and individuals. Some of the other topics we will study include, algorithmic bias, network neutrality, accessibility, content moderators, intellectual property and surveillance capitalism.
COML 550 Visual Data Communication
3.00 credits
There is a vast quantity of data out there and it is not neutral, so how do you communicate important information gathered from data clearly and efficiently? In this course you will learn how to visualize information in a way that is easier for your audience to use and understand. You will strategize how to move beyond the written word and traditional presentations in order to create engaging graphic representations, that are accessible and ethical and send a clear message. One of the best examples on how data is used today is the visual representations surrounding the COVD-19 pandemic. Part of your course work includes using data visualization, graphic and analytic tools .
COML 570 Introduction to Global Systems
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 is an exploration into the personal, organizational, and social values present in ethical dilemmas. You will develop skills in ethical communication, decision-making and be able to consider multiple ethical perspectives. You will also learn strategies to respond to ethical problems while balancing your personal beliefs with organizational values.
COML 598 Intn't & Intercultural Comm
3.00 credits
You will identify and analyze how communication is affected by culture, identity, gender, race and class. You will explore the effects of those differences in attitudes, social organization, role expectations, language and nonverbal behavior. Principles of communication theory as they apply to the intercultural context are also emphasized.
COML 599 Content Creation and Strategy
3.00 credits
This virtual or campus immersion 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 602 Comm & Leadership Capstone
3.00 credits
This course is the culmination of your communication coursework where you will develop a project that applies communication theory. Your project will be displayed on a digital portfolio and also include a disciplinary grounding, leadership philosophy, ethical considerations, and connections to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The completed capstone will be presented in a public forum at the end of the program. If you choose a concentration, the capstone course requires a topic choice relevant to that concentration. COML 602 is considered a full-time course for the semester in and of itself.
COML 680 - Successful completion
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.