Communication Ethics

Graduate Certificate in Communication Ethics

Any student who is unconditionally admitted to the Graduate School may earn a certificate in communication ethics as an enhancement to a graduate degree. However, the certificate may be of particular interest to the journalism school’s graduate students.

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 the 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. 

Communication Ethics Graduate Certificate Requirements

J 644Philosophy of Communication4
Select three of the following: 112
Issues in Communication Studies: [Topic]
Communication Ethics and Law: [Topic]
Political Economy of Communication
Cultural Approaches to Communication
International Communication
Approved courses in other departments 28
Other journalism or outside courses 3,44
Total Credits28

Students, particularly at the doctoral level, are 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.

  • Issues in Communication Studies: [Topic] (J 512) (Communication and Democracy)
  • Communication Ethics and Law: [Topic] (J 596) (Ethics of Strategic Communication; Persuasion and Ethics; Photo Fiction; Visual Truth)
  • Political Economy of Communication (J 646)
  • Cultural Approaches to Communication (J 648)
  • International Communication (J 649)

Approved courses are decided in consultation with the student’s certificate advisor and are based on relevance to the particular interest area of the student (e.g., political communication, environmental communication, philosophy). The advisor consults with the course instructor before approving a course. Ultimately, program coherence is gained through the core offerings in the school, but may be greatly enhanced through careful choices of outside course work. In most cases, courses in the philosophy department are encouraged as outside choices.


No more than 4 credits of Reading and Conference: [Topic] (J 605) may be applied to the certificate.


All students pursuing the communication ethics certificate (except PhD students in journalism) must take Mass Communication and Society (J 611). However, it does not count toward the 28 credits required for the graduate certificate.

Additional Requirement

Course work must be taken for letter grades.

The required journalism courses from which students select two 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.


Application for granting of the certificate must be made to the Graduate School before graduation. For details, contact a staff member in the journalism school Graduate Programs office.

Application to the certificate program should be made in writing to the journalism school graduate director. For more information on the program and application procedure, contact Tom Bivins, John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics and Responsibility, 541-346-3740,