Why Advocacy at JMU?

James Madison University invites members of its campus community to “Be the Change.” Our M.A. program in Communication and Advocacy provides you with the skills to be a voice for change in the world. The graduate curriculum provides students with an in-depth examination of  communication and advocacy that highlights practical applications.

So whether it is through interpersonal advocacy as an ombudsperson in the workplace or a patient advocate in a hospital, working at the community level as an outreach program coordinator with elderly populations, or advocating at the national and global levels as a public relations manager for an environmental non-profit, our graduates are prepared to be a voice for change.

Advocacy is a communication process oriented toward understanding and producing a desired change in practice or policy on behalf of another person, organization or community.

Advocates, whether they are lawyers, public relations managers, parents, or community organizers, share one thing in common: they speak on behalf of the interests of others. Skilled advocates are trained in the variety of communication practices that allow them to work with and for the people they represent.

This program provides students with the competencies necessary to be skilled, effective and ethical advocates in the face of rapidly changing 21st century issues, communication environments, publics, and new media technologies, while preparing students interested in advancing to doctoral programs with the theoretical and methodological training needed to be competitive in nationally recognized doctoral programs.

Advocates speak for the interests of individuals and groups, and assist in all phases of communication development toward the fulfillment of interpersonal and organizational goals. Skilled advocates adopt diverse communication strategies that assist clients in articulating interests and desired outcomes, develop plans for implementing change, and design effective messages for target audiences.

The unique combination of theoretical rigor, research skills training, and focus on practical advocacy skills situates the communication professional as competitive in the professional marketplace. Specifically, graduates are prepared for a variety of positions, such as Communication Specialist, Public Relations Manager, Advocacy Coordinator and Program Manager, Director of Advocacy and Research, Project Manager, Program/Campaign Manager, Advocacy and Strategic Communication Specialist, Advocacy Consultant, Outreach Coordinator, and Community Ombudsperson. Graduates are also prepared for specialized work within advocacy organizations and consulting firms, including positions in media relations, research and program development, community outreach/relations, and education. Further, because students are trained in the communication competencies of advocacy broadly, they are prepared for a variety of positions in any number of advocacy related organizations ranging from non-profit companies to large international non-governmental agencies (NGOs).

Our program offers the benefits of both a general communication master’s program and a specialized program. In addition to a strong foundation in Communication Studies, this program offers concentrations in health and environmental communication.

The M.A. is a 36 credit hour program that includes:

  • 18 hours of core course work in advocacy studies, applied interpersonal and organizational communication, and communication research methods.
  • Nine hours of concentrated study in advocacy topics salient in both academic and professional contexts, choosing from concentrations in health and environmental communication.
  • Three hours of elective course work.
  • Six hours of thesis or internship credit designed to facilitate specific vocational and academic qualifications in the field.