Integrated B.S. in Communications Arts and Sciences and M.S. in HRER

Integrated B.S. in Communications Arts and Sciences and M.S. in HRER

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-210 Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree Programs.

The integrated Communication Arts and Sciences (CASBS) B.S. and Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) M.S. is designed to allow academically talented Penn State students to obtain both the B.S. degree in CAS and the M.S. degree in HRER after five years of study rather than six. Students will develop expertise in the human resources and employment relations field beyond that provided by their CAS B.S. degree.

The undergraduate communication arts and sciences curriculum potentially introduces students to (1) fundamental facets of human communication, (2) practical applications of communication research to organizational contexts, and (3) effective communication in personal, social, professional, and multicultural situations. The graduate curriculum provides for a more intensive, individualized, and focused examination of the human resources and employment relations field, including  (1) the roles employers, employees, employee organizations, and public policy makers play in the employment relationship, (2) the complex personal and organizational issues inherent in the employment relationship, (3) the laws that form the legal framework for the employee-employer relationship, (4) the tools needed to systematically analyze those complex issues and evaluate research relevant to those analyses, and (5) human resource management policies and practices that contribute to individual and organizational success. It also provides an opportunity for students to explore a concentrated sub-area of the HRER field in depth, choosing between an HR and an ER option. The program culminates with the student either completing a thesis or capstone class.

Upon completion of the integrated degree, students will be well-positioned to assume positions of greater responsibility in Communications, Human Resource Management, Employment Relations, and related careers as a result of the advanced knowledge and expertise gained through the program.


The first two to three years of undergraduate coursework follow the same undergraduate curriculum that other students follow in the CAS B.S. program. The final two years of study typically include graduate program requirements. Students may double-count a maximum of 12 specified credits toward their graduate and undergraduate degrees, thus making faster progress toward each degree.

Student performance is monitored on an ongoing basis by the Graduate Program Director and the Graduate Programs Office. Each student is expected to maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on all courses used toward the M.S. degree in order to maintain good academic standing and meet graduation requirements. Students are allowed only one “C” on their graduate transcript, regardless of their grade point average.

IUG students must complete a minimum of 39 graduate credits. Twelve credits can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees; at least six of these credits must be at the 500 or 800 level. No more than six 400-level credits can be double-counted, and no more than twelve 400-level credits in total can count toward the graduate degree. The twelve credits for double-counting must be chosen from the following list of approved courses (all courses are 3 credits):

  • CAS 403 Interpersonal Communication and Theory
  • CAS 404 Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
  • CAS 422 Contemporary African American Communication
  • CAS 426W Communication Ethics
  • CAS 450W Group Communication Theory and Research
  • CAS 452W Organizational Communication Theory and Research
  • CAS 453 Health Communication Theory and Research
  • CAS 455 Gender Roles in Communication
  • CAS 471 Intercultural Communication Theory and Research
  • CAS 483 Communication and Information Technology II
  • HRER 502 Human Behavior at Work
  • HRER 504 Seminar in Employment Relations
  • HRER 512 Research Methods in Human Resources and Employee Relations
  • HRER 523 Seminar on Work-Life Dilemmas, Practices, and Policies
  • HRER 536 Diversity in the Workplace

A minimum of 50% of the double-counted credits must be at the 500 or 800-level. Independent study courses and credits associated with the culminating experience for the graduate degree cannot be double counted.

To earn the Master of Science degree in HRER, students in the IUG program must complete all the degree requirements for the Master of Science.

Students must sequence their courses so all undergraduate degree requirements are fulfilled before taking courses to count solely towards the graduate degree. Students must complete the undergraduate degree requirements within the typical time to degree for the undergraduate major. In the semester in which the undergraduate degree requirements will be completed, IUG students must apply to graduate, and the undergraduate degree should be conferred at the next appropriate Commencement. If students accepted into the IUG program are unable to complete the M.S. degree, they are still eligible to receive their undergraduate degree if all the undergraduate degree requirements have been satisfied.


Students must apply to the IUG degree program by October 1 to begin in the spring semester and March 1 to begin in the fall semester (typically the spring semester of a student’s third year). Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores normally required of graduate school applicants are waived for applicants to the IUG program. For more detailed information about all of Penn State’s IUG programs, please see The Graduate School’s website.

Requirements for admission include:

  • Applicant shall be admitted no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer of AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree, as specified in the proposed IUG plan of study;
  • Applicant must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) in undergraduate coursework and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the major.
  • Must be enrolled in the B.S. program in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Must have completed entrance to their undergraduate major and completed no less than 60 credits. Students must be admitted no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree. Transfer students must have completed at least 15 credits at Penn State to enroll in an IUG.

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies. Students must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School, as well as the admission requirements for the Master of Science degree in HRER.

The application for admission to the IUG program must include the following materials, all of which need to be uploaded within the Graduate School application:

  • a narrative statement explaining why they want to participate in this program and why they are qualified to do so.
  • three letters of recommendation (at least one from a Department of Communication Arts and Sciences faculty member).
  • a writing sample, a resume, and a 2-3 page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrates the applicant’s written communication skills.

In consultation with an adviser, students must prepare a plan of study appropriate to this integrated program. Students must present their plan of study to the head of the graduate program or the appropriate committee overseeing the integrated program prior to being admitted to the program. The plan should cover the entire time period of the integrated program, and it should be reviewed periodically with an adviser as the student advances through the program.

Interested students should first meet with their CAS Academic Adviser together with whom, they should prepare a plan of study appropriate to this integrated program. After meeting with the CAS Academic Adviser, interested students must meet with the HRER Graduate Staff Assistant prior to applying.

The Graduate School application must be submitted electronically (please mention in the notes section that you are applying to the IUG program). This reduces your processing time and ensures receipt of your application.


The Graduate Admissions Committee reviews IUG applications twice a year. Once after the October 1st deadline and notifies admitted students by the end of October. The second review happens after the March 1st deadline. The applicant will be notified by the end of March.


Undergraduate tuition rates apply as long as the student is an undergraduate. There is no guaranteed financial support in the IUG degree program.