Communication and Leadership

Please note that this program is being discontinued and is not accepting new students. 
The information below is
provided for students who are already in the program.

Program Director: Rosanne Hartman
Faculty in the Department of Communication Studies: John Dahlberg, Catherine Foster, Melissa Wanzer
Faculty in the Richard J. Wehle School of Business: Gordon Meyer, Howard Stanger, Ian J. Redpath, Paul L. Sauer, David J. Snyder, Gregory Wood
Adjunct Faculty: David Aragona, Nancy Lynch, Bernard Olszewski, Ray Pipitone

Degree: Master of Science


The master’s degree in communication and leadership provides a blended approach to organizational leadership. Leaders of Fortune 500 companies cite communication as their number one function, spending approximately 70-80 percent of their efforts communicating. A growing number of corporate and organizational CEOs point to organizational effectiveness, intellectual capital and people as the critical elements required to compete and survive in today’s global economy. Effective leaders in the 21st century must have the ability to formulate and effectively communicate their ideas with conviction and power to inspire, motivate and persuade. Leaders must also empower, foster creativity, and promote collaboration and relationship building in order to effectively meet goals.

The MS in Communication and Leadership program is designed to address how communicative behaviors create and alter organizational processes and how organizations in which individuals interact affect communicative behaviors. Persuasion and other communication skills are strong predictors of performance, often more significant than both intelligence and personality traits. Courses provide  insight into the complex relationship between leadership and communication in areas such as building and bridging networks of relationships, communicating expectations and goals, team building, motivating, and listening. The program blends functional knowledge and analytical skills with the ability to interact with others, understand and interpret behavior to communicate effectively. Organizational leaders persuade, motivate, communicate a shared vision and create an environment that enables them to lead effectively.  

The master’s degree program in Communication and Leadership exists to meet the emerging need for a blended approach to organizational leadership. It provides persons working in the private, public and non-profit sectors with the opportunity to understand their strengths as leaders and build on these strengths. The multidisciplinary program is directed toward current and future professionals in any facet of organizational communication, organizational development, human resources or general management, management of not-for-profits, and integrated marketing communication. The program combines theory and practical experience where students directly apply their knowledge in partnerships with organizations. The MS in Communication and Leadership is uniquely positioned to make more effective and more humane leaders in the changing work environment.

For more information about the program please visit our website.


Applicants for admission to the Communication and Leadership program may be accepted as matriculants (master’s degree candidates) or as non-matriculants (graduate course credit students). In either instance, the same admission standards will apply. Prospective students must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, regardless of major field of study, and must present evidence of their qualifications to participate fully in a graduate level endeavor. The Admissions Committee evaluates applicants on the basis of academic records with a minimum undergraduate GPA 3.00, scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), professional accomplishments and subjective appraisal of motivation and the likelihood of successful program completion.

To qualify for admission, the student needs the following:

  • Completed either a GRE exam or GMAT exam. Individuals graduating from undergraduate school at Canisus College with a 3.25 or higher have this requirement waived;
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or higher;
  • Proof of successful completion of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, regardless of major field of study; and
  • For international students and/or for applicants whose native language is not English, a completed TOEFL examination or IELTS exam is required (as well as the appropriate undergraduate credentials).

The Admissions Committee recognizes that an applicant’s background and experience may enhance the ability to succeed in this program. Those individuals who wish to have these experiences considered in the admission decision may submit letters of reference and/or information pertaining to such experience with the application form.

The Admissions Committee recognizes that some applicants may wish to begin the program prior to taking the GMAT or GRE. A program candidate whose QPA is 3.00 or higher may be admitted to the program as a provisionally accepted student for one academic semester. A student may take no more than nine semester hours of course work on a provisional basis. Candidates may also be accepted as a non-matriculating student eligible to complete nine credit hours of course work.

In order to apply, applicants need to complete an application form, have their GMAT, GRE and TOEFL scores or IELTS scores if applicant is an international student or a non-native English speaker forwarded from the testing service, provide two official transcripts of all college work, write a brief essay describing their interest in the Communication and Leadership program, and submit such other information as requested by the Graduate Admissions Office.
Eligible students may enter in the fall, spring or summer semester. Preferred consideration will be given to those who complete the application process by June 15 for the fall, November 15 for the spring and April 15 for the summer.

Academic Standards

To receive the MS degree in Communication and Leadership, students must maintain a 3.00 QPA.

Students must maintain a 3.00 grade point average (a B average) to remain in good standing.

Students must be in good standing with a 3.00 cumulative average to be eligible to take the capstone course.

Any student receiving less than a C+ grade in two or more courses will be dismissed from the program.

Academic Standing

A student is placed on academic probation if:

  • After completion of nine hours of course work, the student’s cumulative grade point average falls below a 2.70; or
  • Any time after completion of nine or more hours of course work, the cumulative grade point average is less than 3.00.

A student may not be placed on academic probation more than twice.

A student may be dismissed from the program if:

  • After completion of six hours of course work subsequent to being placed on academic probation, the cumulative grade point average is less than 3.00; or
  • After completion of a second semester on academic probation, the student fails to meet the minimum QPA of 3.00. Two semester of academic probation include both consecutive and non-consecutive semesters.

Requirements for All Students

Meet the requirements stated in the graduate handbook for entry into the program.

Assume the responsibility of acquainting themselves with all requirements pertaining to the program of study and adhering to them.

Assume the responsibility of being familiar with their academic standing and the consequences connected to academic policy and procedures.

Note: For the purpose of these policies, an average, which includes all graduate coursework, is computed according to the values listed in the Academic Procedures section.

Transfer Credit

Graduate course work completed by a student at another accredited college or university may be accepted for transfer credit. Students desiring transfer credit should submit a written request to the program director for evaluation. The courses will be evaluated on content relevancy to the Communication and Leadership program and to specific coursework. No transfer credit will be awarded for grades below a “B” and not more than 6 credit hours of transfer credit will be accepted for the Communication and Leadership program.
All graduate work must be completed within five years. A student who has not taken a course in two successive fall and spring semesters is considered to have withdrawn from the program. Extensions to these time limits may be granted upon petition of the student to the director.

In keeping with the Jesuit tradition and the Canisius mission and goals, the MS graduate program in Communication and Leadership provides quality education with a strong commitment to academic excellence. We work to create opportunities for personal growth experiences. Such an environment actively engages faculty and students in the continuous process of teaching, learning and service to others. The Communication and Leadership curriculum encourages critical thinking and intellectual growth within a spiritual, moral and ethical frame.

Academic Excellence

The faculty in the Communication and Leadership program are committed to academic excellence, providing students with a quality education and creating personal growth opportunities.

Care of the Individual

Small class sizes facilitate an environment in which a dedicated faculty maintains focus on individual needs in order to attain success.

Expert Faculty

A combination of respected full time faculty, with academics and recognized business professionals as adjuncts provide each student with the maximum learning experience.

Canisius Network

Alumni are devoted to the success of Canisius and its students while the college focuses on continuing to develop strong relationships with classmates, faculty and administration.


The program reflects Canisius’ objectives of combining functional knowledge and analytical skills in order to effectively conceptualize, manage, communicate and enhance skills within the corporate world.


Total credit hours: 36

Required Core Courses

COM 602Organizational Communication3
COM 604Persuasion and Social Influence3
COM 610Leadership3
COM 605Research Methods: Measurement and Analysis3
MBA 502Leadership in Organizational Behavior3
COM 699Capstone Project3
Total Credits18

Concentration #1 Organizational Leadership

Leaders within organizations must be able to effectively communicate organizational vision, mission and goals in relation to expectations for individual behaviors. These key elements of an organization are understood within a society’s beliefs, values, structure and practices. This concentration bridges theory and practice of communication and leadership within an organizational setting.

COM 630Interpersonal Communication in Organizations3
COM 620Conflict, Facilitation and Communication3
MBA 641Human Resource Management3
MBA 647Organizational Change and Leadership3
6 credit hours elective6
Total Credits18

Concentration #2 Managing Not-for-Profits

Leaders in not-for-profit organizations must meet the challenges of fundraising, long-range planning and development in a time where competition for resources is increasing. This concentration blends theory and practice to promote learning.

COM 615Partnerships and the Not-for-Profit Organization3
COM 616Fund Raising and Development at Not-for-Profit Organizations3
COM 618Seminar: Special Topics and Not-for-Profit Organizations3
COM 621Integrated Marketing Communication3
6 credit hours elective6
Total Credits18

Concentration #3 Integrated Marketing Communication

In today’s environment, each marketer increasingly needs to differentiate its product or service through its reputation and within the consumers’ relationship with the brand. This new two-way communication integrates marketing tools into continuous, consistent messaging to and from customers. This IMC concentration employs theory and practice to examine how communication drives issues of branding, marketing, persuasion and consumer behavior.

COM 621Integrated Marketing Communication3
COM 622Case Studies in Integrated Marketing3
MBA 506Foundations of Marketing Management3
MBA 634Consumer Behavior3
6 credit hours elective6
Total Credits18


Six credit hours from either two COM courses or one MBA course and one COM course.

Students can also take courses offered in other concentrations to meet this requirement.

Other suggested offerings:

COM 607Health Communication3
COM 608Risk Communication3
COM 630Interpersonal Communication in Organizations3
MBA 509Legal Environment and Ethics3
MBA 510Managerial Environment and Ethics3
MBA 631Marketing Research3
MBA 649Labor Relations3
MBA 653History of American Capitalism3

For more information on the program please visit the program's website.

Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning Goal 1

Students will develop a capacity for thinking critically about leadership behaviors and understanding how leadership theories relate to life.

Students will:
  • Objective A:  Demonstrate knowledge of classical and contemporary theories of leadership and demonstrate the application of these theories to everyday life.

Learning Goal 2

Students will enhance their understanding of the communication process and be able to construct effective messages.

Students will:
  • Objective A:  Demonstrate communication competency in written format;
  • Objective B: Demonstrate communication competency in oral format;
  • Objective C:  Demonstrate an understanding of communication theory;
  • Objective D: Connect communication theory to everyday practice.

Learning Goal 3

Students will develop enhanced critical thinking skills.

Students will:
  • Objective A:  Synthesize a body of knowledge in the communication field and illustrate an understanding of that body of knowledge;
  • Objective B: Design a new area of inquiry based on a body of communication research;
  • Objective C: Analyze communication research; make inferences about the analysis using supporting evidence;
  • Objective D: Apply knowledge by judging the value of the information.


Note: additional courses relevant to this program are on the MBA courses page.

COM 599 Directed Study 3 Credits

Student conducts original project and research paper directly connected to their area of concentration. Student also received practical experience within an organization related to their concentration. This course must be approved by the program director.

Restriction: must be approved by program director.

COM 602 Organizational Communication 3 Credits

This course focuses on the challenges of communication within organizational settings. Organizational communication theory, methods and practices are discussed and related to organizational life. Specific topics include the organizational mission, goals, change processes, conflict management, organizational culture, structure, leadership, team dynamics.Current research is used to explore organizational communication processes.

Offered: every fall.

COM 604 Persuasion and Social Influence 3 Credits

The nature of social influence is discussed using persuasion theories and tactics, social influence and compliance gaining. Topics covered include: relationship between attitudes and behaviors, methods of conducting persuasion research, classic and contemporary persuasion and social influence theories, communicator characteristics and persuasability, verbal and nonverbal messges, structuring and ordering persuasive messages, and improving one's ability to persuade others.

Offered: every spring.

COM 605 Research Methods: Measurement and Analysis 3 Credits

This course examines quantitative approaches to theory building and methods of inquiry. The course will describe research issues and main methodologies used to study communication processes and provides the foundation material for the capstone project. Therefore, the end goal is to enable students to research, design and carry out a research project. COM 605 should be taken during the fall semester of the student's final academic year.

Restriction: must be taken during the final fall semester in the program.

Offered: every fall.

COM 607 Health Communication 3 Credits

This is an ideal course for students with an interest in health, communication, decision making related to healthcare, or improving healthcare delivery. Additionally, the health-related concepts, theories, models, research and guidelines discussed in this course are applicable to experiences in any type of work setting. Students who want to succeed in their professions should be able to extrapolate relevant concepts from this course and accurately apply them to their unique work experiences.

Offered: occasionally.

COM 608 Risk Communication 3 Credits

Risk communication is the process of treanferring information from experts to non-experts, and back again, so that participants making a decision fully understand the nature and impact of their decision on factors important to them. Whether the issue at had is one of health, safety, the environment, financances or any other decision involving uncertain outcomes, the procss of rish communication is a key factor in building transparency and public trust for organizations and governmental entities. This course examines the communications science needed to meet the challenge of complex, uncertain, significant an dlong-range risks in a variety of settings.

Offered: occasionally.

COM 610 Leadership 3 Credits

This course focuses on the understanding of leadership processes and behaviors. Students will reflect on past and current leadership situations to gain an understanding of leadership behaviors. Assessments and reflection will be used to create an understanding of personal strengths. There is a strong emphasis on experiential learning and reflective behavioral practices as a basis for self-discovery and change. Students will take several assessments that measure personal style and behavior. Fees for licenses, assessment inventories and feedback reports are required for this course.

Offered: every fall.

COM 615 Partnerships and the Not-for-Profit Organization 3 Credits

Growing and strengthening our non-profit organizations through partnerships is one of the most important strategies available to organizational leaders today. Say the word 'collaboration' and everyone knows it is code for innovation, inspiration, new funding sources and a great deal of hard work. In this course, we will blend practice and theory to gain a deeper understanding and mastery of the process of collaboration. During our time together, we will use the power of our own partnership success stories and lessons learned in order to weave together key content areas of communication, collaboration and leadership in the non-profit.

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

COM 616 Fund Raising and Development at Not-for-Profit Organizations 3 Credits

This course will introduce students to the principles and practices of fundraising and long-term development planning in the not-for-profit organization. Blended into each topic area is the professional code of ethics, advocacy and role and responsibilities. The course combines theory and practice by using case studies, in-class small group exercises, case writing, role plays and experience sharing.

Offered: every fall.

COM 618 Seminar: Special Topics and Not-for-Profit Organizations 3 Credits

The seminar experience concentrates on current issues and trends in not-for-profit organizations. Topics will vary to meet the changing challenges and opportunities not-for-profit organizations face in light of political climate changes and the evolution of public policy. Topics may include community building, the role of a board of directors, women's issues, aging, public policy, and globalization. The seminar will incorporate discussion of relevant theory and topical issues leading to independent research related to the selected topic(s).

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

COM 620 Conflict, Facilitation and Communication 3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the process of conflict, communication and facilitation within organizational settings. It is an introduction to several theoretical frames for studying and explaining the conflict process and applies these ideas to experiences in organizations. Conflict is discussed in relation to building community, mediation and negotiation strategies.

Offered: summer of even-numbered years.

COM 621 Integrated Marketing Communication 3 Credits

This course explores the theoretical and practical implications for managing and integrating marketing communications into commerce. A range of contemporary integrated marketing tactics and how they come together in an integrated plan will be discussed. The focus is on understanding the role and interplay of marketing, advertising and public relations in the IMC mix.

Offered: every fall.

COM 622 Case Studies in Integrated Marketing 3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to explore extant case studies in integrated marketing communication. The course covers major theoretical approaches to integrated marketing and organizational communication which affect the dynamic of corporate communication and marketing. Research tools will be introduced to help with analyzing and developing IMC plans and processes. Students will research and present their own case studies and remendations for an IMC plan for a local or regional company or organization. Prequisites: COM 621 or MBA 506.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

COM 630 Interpersonal Communication in Organizations 3 Credits

This course focuses on theoretical and pragmatic acts of interpersonal communication in different types of relationships. During the semester we examine interpersonal theories, research, and skills anchored in the field of interpersonal communication. The main objectives of this course are to heighten students' self-awareness of their interpersonal communication skills and to understand the role that interpersonal communication plays in identity management and relationship development. Students will also identify specific interpersonal communication skills that can be used strategically to improve work relationships and outcomes.

Offered: every other spring and/or summer.

COM 647 Organizational Change & Leader 3 Credits

This course focused on building a high performing work environment through leadership style and best organizational development practices. The course reviews frameworks and techniques to create strong cultures and teams. Specific topics include sustainable change using design, attitudes and organizational attributes, culture and leadership techniques that inspire sustainable change. Case studies in successful change are discussed.

Offered: tentatively scheduled summer 2018.

COM 699 Capstone Project 3 Credits

This course examines quantitative approaches to theory building and methods of inquiry. The course will describe research issues and main methodologies used to study communication processes and provides the foundation material for the capstone project. Therefore, the end goal is to enable students to research, design and carry out a research project. Admitted with approval of program director only.

Prerequisite: COM 605.

Offered: spring.