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M.A. in Communication and Leadership Studies (COML)

The online or on-campus Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies Program is designed to provide graduate-level expertise for solving communication problems in modern organizations and social systems from a communication and leadership perspective. By their very nature, organizations depend upon complex communication functions for effective operation using formal and informal–and increasingly technologically-based–communication networks.What is likely to distinguish the 21st Century from the 20th is the unprecedented degree to which communication and information technology enable creation of active networks linking individuals, functions and organizations that exchange messages and data on a regular basis.

This degree builds upon the historic tradition of rhetoric as the cornerstone of a Jesuit education and lays the groundwork for high-leverage skills in communication and leadership that work in today’s complex world. This program combines classic theories with applied learning that is relevant in its depiction of the latest workplace developments. The program is grounded in scientific and humanistic theory and methodology, global communication and ethics.

Over 50% of Gonzaga COML graduates report that they took on new work responsibilities, and 32% indicated that they were promoted within the first year of earning their degree. Gonzaga graduates excel, and it doesn’t take long for employers to see the value of a Gonzaga degree.

The COML degree is ideal for those seeking leadership in the following fields:

  • Corporate communications
  • Public relations
  • Public service
  • Military
  • Media management and media criticism
  • Broadcasting and news media
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Health care
  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Strategic planning
  • Training and consulting
  • Media literacy
  • Community college teaching or
  • Doctoral work in Communication

The program is designed for individuals such as recent graduates, small business owners, managers, directors, specialists, program managers, account managers, owners, and associates. Gonzaga graduates are employed in a variety of capacities by organizations such as Boeing, Target, Caterpillar Inc., Google, NBC Universal, Fox TV, IKEA, Microsoft, Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, Disneyland, Verizon, T-Mobile, United Airlines, Red Cross, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Kaiser Permanente, and all branches of the U. S. military.

Named “Most Innovative Program” by the National Communication Association, this flexible comlncaprogram allows students the ability to gain an advanced education on their own terms: online, on campus or a combination of the two.

The Communication and Leadership Studies master’s degree is designed to meet the needs and schedules of working adults as well as continuing students from undergraduate programs. Flexible scheduling, weekend, evening, and internet courses are offered. The program consists of 36 semester credits. Distinctive features of the M.A. in Communication and Leadership Studies are as follows: a unique blend of communication and leadership theory, a thesis option for those seeking to go on to doctoral work in Communication, the new Center for Media Literacy Excellence, a range of Visiting Scholars and Professionals who visit to discuss cutting-edge work in communication and leadership, intensive periods where workshops are held to develop practical communication skills in speaking, writing and multi-media design, internship and service-learning possibilities for students who need practical experience, and opportunities for foreign study for students to gain global media and communication experience.

Gonzaga’s Communication & Leadership Studies Department is a proud partner in the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media – an organization committed to monitoring the influence of news and entertainment media on our society, educating the community about this influence, and working with media professionals to influence the industry to act responsibly in helping create a thriving cultural environment for all. For more information on the NW-ARM, upcoming events, and how to support the organization visit the website or join the discussion on their Facebook page.

At a Glance




Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities


Online or On-Campus (Spokane, WA)

Admission cycles

Rolling 8-week


One, three-day immersion required in Spokane, WA. Study abroad opportunities in Florence & Cagli, Italy and Derry, Ireland.


Top 4 Regional University in the West by U.S. News & World Report

Named “Most Innovative Program” by the National Communication Association, 2010

What is the COML curriculum?

The curriculum is built on the foundation of Gonzaga University’s Jesuit tradition of exhorting students to become “people for others.” Students who graduate from the COML program are prepared to advance their careers and positively impact their communities.

The COML program has a variety of offerings which can be tailored to fit the individual needs of students. Explore COML course offerings here.

What are the options for course delivery for COML students?

This program is flexible; students can take courses primarily online or face-to-face, or combine the two methods of delivery in hybrid classes.

Both online and face-to-face courses foster engagement, collaboration, and networking. There is one required three-day immersion course for all students at Gonzaga’s beautiful Spokane campus.

What are the personal and professional benefits of a COML degree?

The COML program helps students gain confidence in many areas, and this translates into enhanced credibility in the workplace.

For students with a COML degree, the following results are possible:

  • Defining and achieving goals in a variety of organizational settings
  • Obtaining a promotion
  • Assuming additional responsibilities
  • Overcoming communication barriers
  • Navigating the relationships between communication, media, cultural context, language and human perception
  • Developing a critical eye for the media and communication landscape
  • Creating strategic and corporate communication plans
  • Improving processes and products
  • Achieving a new position of respect and influence
  • Applying new tactics and strategies to real-world problems
  • Steering an organization in a new direction
  • Influencing organizational effectiveness and culture
  • Accessing a network of peers and faculty
  • Obtaining job leads
  • Positively impacting the world
  • Gaining a renewed sense of purpose

What are the COML study abroad and domestic immersion opportunities?

Although not a required aspect of the COML program, the study abroad and domestic immersion opportunities allow students to expand their world-view by being introduced to new cultures and ways of thinking. These programs are carefully designed to allow working professionals the opportunity to enhance their Gonzaga educational experience in a unique way.

The COML Program offers two-week study abroad and one-week domestic excursions that teach students to work cross-culturally while developing the ability to see leadership and communication skills from a global perspective.  Experience the program in places like Florence and Cagli, Italy and Derry, Ireland. Visit the study abroad and immersions area of our site to learn more.

How does the COML degree compare to a Business degree?

The Communication and Leadership Studies Master’s degree is focused on how to develop and practice leadership that inspires others, builds teams, and effects positive change.  Many students enter the program having the skills to perform their jobs well, but are seeking a degree of development to take them to the next level. The focus of the degree is to make all leaders more effective, but it differs from a Business degree in that there are no Finance, Accounting, or Statistics courses in the COML program.

Gonzaga’s campus-based MBA & MAcc Programs have been producing outstanding business leaders for over 50 years. Gonzaga’s MBA program provides a solid management foundation through its core curriculum while allowing students to complete a third of their program in elective coursework. See more here.

Quick facts about the COML program

  • 36 credits
  • Spring, fall, and summer sessions
  • Online 8-week courses
  • Campus 16-week courses
  • Average 2-year completion time
  • Online, campus, or hybrid options available
  • One required 3-day immersion course in Spokane, WA
  • $900 per credit hour

Some employment projections for the COML field

The following employment projections have been published for this field by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Employment for advertising and promotions managers will grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020. The median income in 2012 was $115,750 per year/$55.65 per hour1
  • Employment for marketing managers will grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020. The median income in 2012 was $115,750 per year/$55.65 per hour1.
  • Employment of public relations managers and specialists will grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2022. The median income in 2012 was $95,450 per year/$45.89 per hour2.

A COML degree from Gonzaga University enables students to show that they can handle the demands and challenges of strategic communication in a business landscape where constant change and innovation are the status quo.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook,

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook., http://