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By Degrees

Resilience, Relationships, and Success in Communication Graduate Studies (First Edition)
Betsy Wackernagel Bach, Dawn O. Braithwaite, and Shiv Ganesh, Editors
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By Degrees: Resilience, Relationships, and Success provides readers with an indispensable guide to navigating the graduate school experience in Communication Studies programs. The book helps current and future graduate students consider their options, make wise choices, and thrive within their master’s or doctoral programs and beyond.

The text’s 15 contributed chapters discuss such topics as how to select the right program, build strong advisor-advisee relationships, navigate roadblocks, find community, share work, develop into competent scholars and teachers, and pursue careers inside and outside the academy. The diverse and global nature of communication research and pedagogy and finding and pursuing your passion within the discipline is evident throughout the book.

Designed to resonate with today’s learners, each chapter is co-authored by leading scholars and current or recent graduate students and features unique perspectives from students’ experiences. This approach provides readers with an enlightening window into graduate students’ insights, challenges, and lived experiences.

The text also features a distinct emphasis on diversity, inclusion, equity, and access, and reflects upon the international character of communication research and pedagogy. Readers will engage in robust discussions related to justice and equity and learn how the Communication discipline has developed and continues to develop around the globe.

By Degrees is an exemplary resource for introduction to graduate studies courses and for individuals considering master’s or doctoral programs.


Chapters and contributors include:

Introduction for Students: “Completely Altered the Way I Viewed the World”– Betsy Wackernagel Bach, Dawn O. Braithwaite, and Shiv Ganesh

Chapter 1: “Providing the Intellectual Tools”: Getting to Know the Discipline of Communication – Dawn O. Braithwaite, Tina M. Harris, Jessy Ohl, and Trevor Kauer

Chapter 2: "How Do I Find a Good Fit?": Applying to Master's and PhD Programs – Betsy Wackernagel Bach, Kendyl Barney, and Mackensie Minniear

Chapter 3: “I Have to Re-choose to Do This Every Single Day”: Beyond Narratives of Success in the Pursuit of Graduate School – Shiv Ganesh and Andrea Zorn

Chapter 4: “Spanning the Abyss”: Graduate Student Steps and Tasks - Randall A. Lake, Emma Frances Bloomfield, Beth L. Boser, Allegra Hardin, and Barbara A. Pickering

Chapter 5: “Work with Someone Who Seems Excited About Your Success”: Building Advisor/Advisee Relationships - C. Kay Weaver and Bridget Reynolds Sheffer

Chapter 6: “Do Something You’re Passionate About”: Planning and Carrying Out Research - Sarah J. Tracy, Cris J. Tietsort, and Laura Martinez

Chapter 7: “A Process of Discovery”: Finding Your Groove as a Writer - Lisa Keränen and Andrew Gilmore

Chapter 8: “Yikes! What Do I Do Now?”: Advice for Graduate Students Sharing Their Work - Ronald Jackson II and Celnisha Dangerfield

Chapter 9: “From Sitting in the Classroom to Facing It”: Becoming and Growing as a Teacher - Kirstie McAllum, Simon Mallette, Tyler Rife, and Uttaran Dutta

Chapter 10: “Without People in My Corner, I Will Fail”: Personal Resources for Graduate Students - Vincent R. Waldron, Brianna Avalos, Dayna N. Klober, and Jameien Taylor

Chapter 11: “One Mountain, Many Paths”: Navigating Roadblocks and Succeeding in Graduate School - Jordan Soliz and Megan E. Cardwell

Chapter 12: “Graduate School is a Human Experience of Struggling, Celebrating, and Striving Together”: Graduate Life as a Collective Endeavor - Jenna N. Hanchey, Samantha Gillespie, and Ana-Luisa Ortiz-Martinez

Chapter 13: “It Was Within My Control to Max My Possibilities”: Academic Life After Graduate School - Patrice M. Buzzanell, Zhenyu Tian, and Timothy Betts

Chapter 14: “A Roadmap to Career Success”: Pursuing Careers Outside of the Academy for MA Graduates - Stephen K. Hunt, Aimee E. Miller-Ott, and Viraj Patel

Chapter 15: “Translate Your Talents”: Pursuing Careers Outside of the Academy for PhD Graduates - Katlyn Gangi and James Stiff


Betsy Wackernagel Bach (Ph.D., University of Washington) is Professor Emerita at the University of Montana, where she spent most of her career. She is a Past President of the National Communication Association and of the Western States Communication Association, and also worked for two years as Director of Research Initiatives at NCA. She studies organizational socialization/identification, has published one book, 40 articles and chapters, and received WSCA’s Distinguished Service Award and NCA’s Eckroyd Award for Teaching Excellence.
Dawn O. Braithwaite (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a Willa Cather Professor of Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She studies discourse dependent relationships, dialectics of relating, and communication in step- and voluntary families. She has published six books and 125 articles and chapters. A Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association and Western States Communication Association, Braithwaite received NCA’s Brommel Family Communication and Becker Distinguished Service Awards. She is a Past President of the National Communication Association and of the Western States Communication Association.
Shiv Ganesh (Ph.D., Purdue University) is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes about communication and collective action issues in the context of global and technological processes. He has worked in the United States, Aotearoa New Zealand, and India, and has held leadership positions in the National Communication Association as well as the International Communication Association.
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