Graduate Certificate in Communication Ethics

The certificate program is designed to provide students with the ability to apply and teach both theoretical and applied ethical decision-making strategies covering a variety of media—from print and broadcast journalism to advertising and public relations, including both message construction and the multiple delivery systems associated with modern mass media (print, broadcast, electronic, and digital).

Students should be able to fulfill the program requirements within a two-year period, normally in conjunction with their primary graduate emphasis.

Requirements – 28 credits in courses approved by the SOJC Graduate Committee.

  • Minimum 16 credits in courses in the SOJC, including:
    – J610 Theoretical Foundations of Communication Ethics (4); and
    – one of the J496/596 topics courses in communication ethics
  • Minimum 8 credits taken in approved graduate courses offered in other departments. Approved courses will be decided in consultation with the student’s certificate advisor, and will be based on relevance to the particular interest area of the student (e.g. political communication, environmental communication, philosophy, etc.)
  • Remaining credits may be taken in either SOJC coursework or outside coursework.

No more than 4 credits of Reading and Conference (J605) may be applied to the certificate.
All coursework will be taken graded.

SOJC Courses

J611 Mass Communication and Society (4) is required for all but SOJC PhD students. However, it does not count toward the 28 credits.

The following list represents the courses resident in the SOJC from which the remaining core credits must be taken. Students, particularly at the doctoral level, will be encouraged to make the 600-level courses a priority. The following list represents courses that have been identified as having a strong or exclusive focus in communication ethics, including topics highly relevant to ethics study.
J546 Advertising and Society (4)
J596 Communication Ethics [Topic] (Photo Fiction) (4R)
J596 Communication Ethics [Topic] (Visual Truth) (4R)
J596 Communication Ethics [Topic] (Persuasion and Ethics) (4R)
J644 Philosophy of Communication (4)
J646 Political Economy of Communication (4R)
J650 Advertising as a Social Institution (4) (may substitute J446/546)
J652 Communication and Politics (4)

The above courses are generally taught at least once a year. Substitutions may occur if courses are not available. Other, relevant courses may also be substituted for courses on this list as they are developed or are considered germane to an individual student’s program.

Outside Coursework
With advising, students must choose at least two courses (8 credits) from one or more departments or programs outside the SOJC, depending on professional goals. Courses will be approved based on relevance to the individual student’s goals for the program, be vetted by their advisor in consultation with the instructor of the suggested course, and approved by their advisor. Ultimately, program coherence is gained through the core offerings in the SOJC, but may be greatly enhanced through careful choices of outside coursework. In most cases, courses in the Philosophy Department will be encouraged as outside choices. Examples of these courses might include, but are not limited to, the following:

Philosophy Courses
415/515 Continental Philosophy (4)
417/517 Topics in Critical Theory (4R)
420/520 American Philosophy (4)
425/525 Philosophy of Language (4)
444/544 Feminist Ethics (4)
455/555 Philosophy of Logic (4)
463/563 20th-Century Philosophers: [Topic] (4R)
498 Theories of Race and Ethnicity (4)614 Issues in Ethics (4)


Application to the certificate program should be made in writing to the SOJC graduate director. For more information on the program and application procedure, contact:

Tom Bivins, John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics
(541) 346-3740