Research Opportunities
for Graduate Students

Making presentations on your research at academic conferences is a great way for graduate students to develop as professionals. Employers and academics view conference presentations as a sign of accomplishment and demonstrate that you are doing more than simply completing courses in a program. Because of this, we encourage graduate students to present their research and projects at professional communication conferences and at two research colloquia here on campus that take place annually in the spring: the School of Communication Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium and the University-wide Graduate Research/Creativity Symposium. These events provide special forums specifically for graduate student research.

Graduate student presentations at these events are drawn from research papers and special projects they have been working on in classes, theses or independent studies, providing them with a larger audience for their work and an opportunity to get useful feedback from others that attend these events.

Opportunities for Grants for Travel to Conferences

The University provides some financial assistance to attend professional conferences for graduate students who have submissions accepted for presentation. The Dean of Graduate Studieshas established a program for supporting graduate student travel to conferences through which students can apply for a grant of up to $500 for expenses. Expenses associated with the purchase of presentation materials, travel to the meeting, registration fees, and room charges may be reimbursed up to $500.  There are no deadlines for this award.  These grants are available throughout the year, but the application must be made at least one month before the conference. To apply for one of these grants, complete the form that is available here and send it to Dr. Fred Sweitzer, the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Communication Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium

Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium

The School of Communication Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium showcases students’ research projects and creative works. In recent years, there have been over 20 presentations. Students present their work in a poster format and answer questions from those in attendance reviewing their work. These presentations have included such topics as:

  • media coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign, the Iraq war and the Olympics
  • the representation of gender, sexuality and race in television news and sports, children’s television, shows like Game of Thrones and Modern Family, films such as High School Musical and music videos
  • gender in various social contexts, such as gender differences in intimate relationships, the impact of gender on workplace policies such as parental leave, and gendered violence in relationships
  • the use of text messaging by U.S. college students
  • international issues, such as a critical assessment of the theory of cultural imperialism and what problems have resulted from globalization of the media
  • a trade show presentation for a proposed brand extension of the Frito Lay brand for new kinds of dips

Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium

We also use this event as an opportunity to honor some of our most accomplished graduate students by presenting awards for outstanding achievement in research and teaching. Awards are given for outstanding research by a graduate student in communication, outstanding teaching by one of our teaching interns, and outstanding performance by a part-time graduate student in the Master’s program in communication.

University Graduate Research and Creativity Symposium

Graduate Special Events

Graduate students from across the University present their work at the Graduate Research/Creativity Symposium which takes place every year in the spring. At this event, sponsored by the Dean of Graduate Studies, students present research projects, artistic performances, and exhibits.

Several graduate students in Communication have presented their work at this event over the past few years, including:

  • Riddhi Desi, “An Analysis of the Representation of Family, Gender, Sexuality and Race in Modern Family.
  • Jenna Grzeslo, “Innovative Approaches to Traditional Strategies: The Integration of Humor in Business-to- Business Communication”
  • Hannah Goodall, “Humor in Business-to-Business Integrated Communications.”
  • Shannon Hughes, “Messages of Gender and Consumerism in Season One of MTV’s Hit Program, The Hills

The Regents’ Graduate Honor Awards are announced at this event. These awards are among the highest recognitions of accomplishment that the University bestows on its graduate students. The awards are presented to the year’s best Master’s and Doctoral degree recipients in each college. Graduate students in Communication often have received the prestigious Regents’ Honor Awards for Graduate Students in recognition of their excellent performance in graduate studies.

Communication Graduate Students at Eastern Communication Association Conferences

Graduate students in our program regularly present their research at professional conferences. In particular, we encourage our students to submit proposals for presentation at the annual conference for the Eastern Communication Association, held in cities on the East Coast like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Providence.

Our students have had great success getting their proposals accepted because of the quality of their work and invaluable guidance from faculty. These students are chosen to present their work in a competitively refereed selection process. Many have received professional travel grants, which are described above, from the Office of the Graduate Dean.

At these conferences, Communication graduate students make presentations on panels on a particular theme such as computer mediated communication or portrayals of gender in the media. Faculty members in communication have organized panels at past ECA conferences featuring our own graduate students. Dr. Lynne Kelly organized a panel for the ECA conference in Providence where students presented original research projects focused on communication processes in natural groups in such organizations as a radio station, Board of Education and a town council. Dr. Jack Banks chaired two panels featuring our students whose work examined the representation of gender and race in the media when ECA was held in Boston. Students examined how mainstream media represent female beauty, African-American athletes, and teen celebrities.

Graduate Special Events

The University of Hartford was especially well represented at the conference held in Philadelphia . Our graduate students were featured in two panels, one on global themes in movies and the other on new communication technologies. The panel on movies examined how specific Indian, Telugu and Hollywood films have addressed themes related to globalization and the ways in which these films represent the impact of globalization on societies. The second panel looked at how new communication technologies and media products based on these technologies are shaping and transforming the way we live, interact and communicate with each other.

The papers for both of the panels were developed in courses that the students had taken with Dr. Sundeep Muppidi, who gave suggestions and comments to the students as the respondent for the panels. Dr. Jack Banks acted as the chair for these panels.

Graduate Special Events

Several graduate students spent time at a booth representing the University of Hartford, talking with other attendees at the conference about the Master of Arts program in Communication at Hartford and encouraging prospective students to apply to the program.

Professional Organizations in Communication

Graduate students are encouraged to submit their work for presentation to several major professional organizations in the field of communication, including:

Eastern Communication Association
National Communication Association
International Communication Association
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
International Association for Mass Communication Research
Public Relations Society of America
Union for Democratic Communication

Most of these professional organizations have annual conferences where participants present their work on topics in various fields within the discipline of communication, such as media, organizational communication and public relations. These conferences welcome participation by graduate students who conduct research in these areas. Visit these websites for information about the process for submitting papers, panel proposals, poster presentations, or other forms of presentations. Each organization has regular deadlines for submissions to its annual conference.

Check the events page of our website for the date of this year’s Graduate Student Awards and Research Symposium as well as other events of interest to graduate students. For more information about these events you can also contact Dr. Susan Grantham, the Graduate Program Director at 768-4016 or via email at


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