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Communication & Performance

College of Arts & Sciences


Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies 

Connecting cultural understanding and critique, oral performance, 

communication knowledge, and marketable skill.


Read the news article here:  ETSU OFFERS ONE-OF-A-KIND MA PROGRAM

The Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies is an advanced platform for understanding and practicing the powers of communication, story, and narrative. The program is an edgy, emerging, and practical program that focuses on three interrelated areas:

First, our students hone their craft as professional communicators and storytellers, with an emphasis on practical performance in a variety of settings. Additionally, they critically examine personal narratives, folktales, organizational stories, and pop culture narratives.  Second, our students examine how communication and story shape social meaning as well as foster social transformation, how they can be used to facilitate stronger connections within and across populations, and how we might draw richly from and give generously back to the communities we study.  Third, our students develop workplace-ready skills to build careers as professionals and practitioners in a variety of fields, businesses, and nonprofits. Our graduates are well-positioned in the workforce as more organizations use storytelling and narrative internally as a way to recruit, train, and strengthen corporate identity, and externally as a tool for branding, facilitating client experience, and educating communities.

We offer a two-year program with option for longer spans for part-time students. Students have opportunities to learn from practicing professionals and have the option to create a capstone project, write comprehensive exams, or write a thesis. Our faculty bring diverse talents, experiences, and credentials to our teaching environments to bridge theoretical and applied knowledge. As mentors, we work individually with every student to craft a program of study that helps each one meet their personal, professional, and intellectual goals. Please take a look at the "Course Requirments" tab below.

Begin Your Application!


Prior to submitting any application materials, all prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to talk with the graduate coordinator and department chair, Dr. Amber Kinser at (423) 439-7577,

Each applicant is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • At least a 3.0 overall undergraduate grade point average.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores predictive of success in the program.
  • Three letters that recommend admission to graduate study and that sufficiently evidence the applicant's potential for success in the Communication & Storytelling Studies program. When selecting persons to write recommendation letters, please choose people who can address your academic/intellectual abilities. Optimally, applicants should supply at least two letters from former or current professors. Letters from professionals should address the applicant's applicable academic skills (e.g., research and writing abilities), potential for intellectual growth, ability to work on multiple projects, under pressure, and autonomously, and overall work ethic.
  • The strength of an application essay that discusses both interest and fit. The graduate school requires150-300 words; the Master’s Program in Communication & Storytelling Studies faculty strongly encourage applicants to write in the high end of that range. The essay should explain why the applicant is interested in our particular graduate program.  Additionally, the essay should discuss why the applicant is a good fit for our program, the courses we require, and the research or creative activity of our faculty. If there are weaknesses in the applicant’s materials (e.g., low grades or GRE score), these should be addressed in the essay as well.

For information about ETSU Graduate Admissions, contact the School of Graduate Studies at: (423) 439-4221, 

For information about the Master's in Communication & Storytelling program, please contact the Communications & Performance graduate coordinator and department chair, Dr. Amber Kinser at (423) 439-7577,

Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies 

CORE COURSES:  15 hours

COMM 5300 Qualitative Research Methods                            
COMM 5330 Communication Theory                          
STOR 5140 Foundations of Storytelling Performance                       
STOR 5230 Advanced Solo Performance               
STOR 5890 History of Performance Traditions                     


One course from each of the following blocks:

Discourse and Meaning

COMM 5065 Communication Ethics 
COMM 5200 Gender & Communication
COMM 5250 Issues in Communication & Culture
COMM 5317 Rhetoric & Public Address
COMM 5327 Popular Communication

Professional Applications

COMM 5377 Health Communication
COMM 5350 Organizational Communication & Consulting 
STOR 5647 Applied Storytelling
STOR 5840 Story Dramatization
STOR 5850 Story Performance



Choose any courses in the program not used to meet another requirement.
You may take up to 9 elective hours outside the department.


One culminating experience chosen from the following options:

COMM/STOR 5960 Thesis, taken in both 3rd and 4th semesters 
STOR 5241 + 5961 Storytelling Practicum + Capstone Project
Comprehensive Exams + 2 additional Directed Electives

For information about the Communication & Storytelling Studies graduate program, please contact the graduate coordinator and department chair, Dr. Amber Kinser at (423) 439-7577, .  The department strongly recommends contacting Dr. Kinser prior to writing or submitting your application.

For course descriptions and schedules, see Communication Studies courses and Storytelling courses in the graduate course catalog

For students interested in a shorter program (21 credit hours), see the Graduate Certificate in Storytelling in the course catalog.

There are a number of funding opportunities available for full-time graduate students in the Department of Communication & Performance. We offer three types of funding:

Teaching Assistantships (TA)
Work to support a faculty member in teaching specific courses, generally COMM 2025: Fundamentals of Communication.  TA funding pays tuition and pays a part time stipend in exchange for 20 hours of work per week.  These are competitive positions.

Research Assistantships (RA)
Work under the supervision of faculty to advance the research program of the student and faculty mentor.  RA funding pays tuition and pays a part time stipend in exchange for 20 hours of work per week. These are competitive positions.

Tuition Scholarships (TS)
A tuition scholarship is a merit-based award available to graduate students admitted to the program for the first time.  TS funding pays tuition in exchange for 8 hours of work per week.

Storytelling Graduate Assistantships: There are a certain number of Graduate Assistantships available for full-time students in the ETSU Storytelling Program (the number varies from year to year depending on university budgets and external grants). These pay a small stipend of $3000 per semester, plus full tuition reimbursement--a full scholarship. They require 20 hour/per week service work or research assignments. There are certain set duties in the department that need to be assigned through these assistantships--such as booking the school and community tours of the student TaleTellers group, doing publicity for programs and concerts, web work for the program, etc. There are grant-funded research projects that have to be staffed, and which vary from year to year. There are also additional assignments that can be created each semester according to the skills and interests of incoming students. Positions on campus outside of the storytelling program are available through the Graduate School.

Dr. Amber Kinser

Graduate Coordinator, Communication & Storytelling Studies M.A.
Department Chair, Department of Communication & Performance
Office:  Campus Center Building 218
Phone:  (423) 439-7577

Ms. Rickie Carter

Program Specialist, School of Graduate Studies
Burgin-Dossett Hall
Phone:  (423) 439-6165

Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies, Course Requirements for the Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies (pdf). 

  • Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies Course Requirements

Storytelling In The News: 

For information about the Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies, please contact the graduate coordinator and department chair, Dr. Amber Kinser at (423) 439-7577,

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