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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Communication Studies

Graduate Handbook

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/cmst/programs/gradhandbook.html

Table of Contents


Admission to the University—College of Graduate Studies

Undergraduate Degree

Students holding a Bachelor's Degree or an equivalent degree from a foreign country can be admitted to the graduate program.

Application Deadlines

New students must apply for admission to a program at least six (6) weeks prior to the beginning of a new semester (July 1 for fall, November 1st for spring).

Application Forms

Students seeking to earn a graduate degree must complete the Application for Admission to a Graduate Degree Program (see Appendices Form #1) and supply two official copies of their undergraduate transcript. Application forms and transcripts are sent to the College of Graduate Studies.


Requirements for admission to the Communication Studies Graduate Program

  1. Minimum GPA requirements for admission to the Communication Studies Master's Degree programs are as follows:
    1. Scholastic requirements:
      • 2.75 GPA or better on overall undergraduate work
      • 3.00 GPA or better on overall undergraduate work in the last two years.
    2. Documentation requirements: All documentation materials must be submitted in one completed packet.
      • Three (3) completed Recommendation for Master's Program forms from individuals qualified to judge the student's competence as a Communication Studies scholar.
      • A writing sample demonstrating research, sound analysis, organization and evidence, e.g., term paper, convention paper, professional report, etc.
      • A statement of personal, educational and professional goals
  2. Retention requirements: Admitted applicants to the Communication Studies Master program must maintain a Scholastic Standing of: 
    1. 3.00 GPA in overall graduate coursework

    Admission process to the Communication Studies Master program

    Admission process

    The Graduate Coordinator examines applications for admission and determines if the GPA (overall undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale and/or a 3.0 for the last 2 years of undergraduate work) requirements are met. If the applicant does not meet the requirements, admission may be provisional.

    Provisional admission

    Probationary Status will be provided for applicants with an undergraduate degree whose GPA is below regular admission standards under the following conditions:

    1. An applicant may be admitted on the basis of their performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Acceptable performance is a composite score of 1380 and at least one subtest of 500, or
    2. An applicant may petition the graduate faculty for provisional admission. In such cases, admission will be contingent upon the student's adherence to contract terms formulated by graduate faculty stipulating specific performance requirements.
    3. Completion of the contract requirements will result in a change to a regular admission status.

    Criteria for Funding of Teaching/Research Assistants

    The following criteria establish a hierarchy in descending order for the funding of Graduate Assistants in the Department of Communication Studies:

    1. Graduate students applying for a third year of funding to earn an MFA in Communication Studies
    2. Graduate students applying for a second year of funding to earn a Master's degree in Communication Studies
    3. Graduate students applying for a first year of funding to earn a Master's degree in Communication Studies.
      First-year funding has the following additional hierarchical criteria:
      1. Full admission to Communication Studies graduate program
      2. Undergraduate major/minor in Communication Studies
      3. Undergraduate major/minor in related/supporting field to Communication Studies
      4. Background in teaching and/or forensics
      5. Probationary admission to Communication Studies graduate program
      6. Admission to multi-disciplinary graduate program (with Communication Studies as one of the areas)
      7. Admission to graduate program other than Communication Studies
    4. Graduate students applying for a third year of funding to earn a Master's degree in Communication Studies (MA/MS only)
    5. Graduate students in multi-disciplinary programs with Communication Studies as one of their emphases (1st or 2nd year of funding)
    6. Students with a background in Communication Studies enrolled in other graduate programs (1st or 2nd year of funding)
    7. Graduate students in multi-disciplinary programs with Communication Studies as one of their emphases (3rd year of funding)
    8. Students with a background in Communication Studies enrolled in other graduate programs at the university (3rd year of funding)

    Summer Teaching by Non-Faculty (procedure)

    1. The chair sends out a "call" to all current Teaching Assistants (TAs) requesting interest in summer teaching.
    2. All interested TAs must submit a letter of interest, current teaching evaluations, and a vita. The letter of interest should indicate any advanced education to teach the available courses (e.g., Advanced Interpersonal Communication, Advanced Public Speaking, Teaching Communication Studies).
    3. The applicants are reviewed by the Director of Teaching Assistants. The Director of TAs sets a baseline to: (1) remove from consideration any TA who may be struggling as a classroom teacher; (2) determine TAs able to teach a summer stand-alone course. The Director of TAs is free to consult with any other faculty member in the department. The review does not establish a hierarchy of TAs to determine who is the "best" teacher, just a baseline for who shall be considered.
    4. Any forensic TAs still in consideration after the review in step 2 is completed are given first opportunity for summer teaching.
    5. If no forensic TAs are still in the pool (or more summer teaching slots are available than forensic TAs), the Department selects from non-forensic TAs.
    6. If there are more TAs than positions (in either steps 4 or 5), we use a random selection process (e.g., flip a coin, draw straws).
    7. If there are more positions than TAs interested in summer teaching, the Department may select from the current adjunct faculty pool.

    Program Process

    A. Advisor: When the student is admitted into the Communication Studies Graduate program, the Department's Director of  Graduate Studies will automatically be assigned as an Advisor. An appointment should be scheduled with the Advisor to discuss the student's program, interests and course options. The advisor is available to answer any questions as the student moves through the graduate school experience.

    B. Coursework Checklist: Student should review the appropriate coursework checklist for their program each semester. The checklists are available at http://www.mnsu.edu/cmst/programs/graduateprograms.html

    C. Paperwork Checklist: Student should review the appropriate paperwork checklist for their program each semester. The checklists are available at http://www.mnsu.edu/cmst/programs/graduateprograms.html

    At the appropriate time (check your paperwork checklist!) in the process, the student selects a Committee Chair/Advisor to supervise the program thesis, alternate plan or project. A Change of Advisor/Change of Program form must be completed.

    D. Selecting a Capstone Advisor and Committee

    When the student is admitted into the Communication Studies Graduate program, the Department's Director of  Graduate Studies will automatically be assigned as the admission-advisor.
    Your admission-advisor is different than your capstone advisor.

     

    1. Capstone Committee Requirements
      1. Internship Project Report: Two graduate faculty members from within the department
      2. Alternate Plan Paper: Two graduate faculty members from within the department
      3. Thesis: Two graduate faculty members from within the department; one graduate faculty member from outside the department
      4. MFA Thesis: Two graduate faculty members from within the department; one graduate faculty member from outside the department
    1. Selection of Thesis or Alternate Plan Advisor/Committee: When choosing a Chair/ Advisor and committee members, the student needs to consider the following:
      1. All committee members must have graduate faculty status.
      2. Does the student feel comfortable and confident with the Chair/Advisor and/or committee members they are considering?
      3. Do the Chair/Advisor and/or committee members have expertise in the subject area the student plans to study?
      4. Do the Chair/Advisor and/or committee members have expertise in the methodologies the student plans to use?
    1. Requesting Faculty to Serve as Advisor or Committee Members
      1. Taking on a graduate student as a capstone advisee or serving on the committee is at the discretion of the graduate faculty member. The faculty may decline to serve for a number of reasons (e.g., area of study is outside of interest and/or methods, number of other advisees/committees already committed, other professional obligations).
      2. The graduate student should contact the faculty member and inquire if the faculty is interested and willing to serve as advisor/committee member.

    2. Completing the Paperwork
    1. Once the advisor and committee is in place, the student must prep, secure signatures, and submit a Change of Advisor/Committee form (http://www.mnsu.edu/cmst/programs/changeadvisorcommittee.pdf
    2.  Send a request to the Director of Graduate Studies for permission to enroll in CMST 650
    3. You will be notified when the permission has been entered.

    E. Colloquium Presentation: Prior to graduation, all students must present at least one time at the Department Colloquium. These presentations will be oral reports based on thesis or alternate plan research, or on internships completed as part of the project option.


    Planning and completing the Masters Project
    (Thesis, Alternate Plan, Project Option)

    Making a decision: Choosing the correct program

    1. Thesis: A demonstrated independent work of a creative and/or investigative type related to a student's major field of study. The thesis and/or creative option shows independent thought in the recognition, investigation and analysis/interpretation of a communication problem or phenomena. The thesis research project is oriented towards original research which makes a contribution to new knowledge.
    2. Alternate Plan: A less extensive research endeavor than the thesis. The investigative work primarily utilizes secondary research sources. The alternate plan research quality and quantity is greater than a course term paper. The alternate plan can be:
      1. an expanded work of a term paper or papers prepared for a course. An extensive review, analysis and/or synthesis of secondary sources are required. The faculty member teaching the course traditionally serves as the Alternate Plan Advisor.
      2. a part of an internship or practicum. Experiences are cataloged, evaluated and presented in the form of an alternate plan paper.
    3. Project Option: An applied communication program which combines scholarship with extensive experiences in a non-academic workplace. The project option is designed for those students who wish to apply communication theory and skills in the workplace. The written component of the project involves a combination of review, analysis and/or synthesis of secondary sources, and application of that material to a workplace situation. The project option requires a 9-credit internship experience.

    Selecting the Thesis Option

    Candidate will prepare a Thesis Proposal. A scheduled Candidate Thesis Proposal Review and Endorsement meeting involving all Committee Members will take place with the candidate before significant research begins. All Committee Members shall be fully informed and in agreement regarding the candidate's planned study, (e.g., topic selection, data collection and analysis procedures).

    Selecting the Alternate Plan Option

    All Committee Members shall be fully informed and in agreement regarding the candidate's planned study, e.g. topic selection and project goals.

    Selecting the Option

    A proposal or outline of the project should be prepared for all Committee Members. All Committee Members shall be fully informed and in agreement regarding the candidate's planned study and project goals. The Internship Option requires:

    1. 9-credits of internship; each credit is 30 hours of work on the internship (minimum of 360 hours); time spent writing the paper (item #4) does not count toward the 360 hour minimum
    2. a two-person committee (advisor and in-dept member)
    3. an onsite supervisor
    4. a paper demonstrating theoretical density and application of communication principles during the internship
    5. an oral defense before the Committee
    6. presentation of the internship paper during a department colloqiuim

    IRB Studies involving human subjects

    An Institution Review Board (IRB) form must be completed and attached to the Thesis Proposal form for any research involving human participants. The Thesis Proposal form outlines the proposed area of study, methodology and analysis procedures.

    If human participants are included in the Alternate Plan Paper research, a clear explanation of the proposed project approved by the candidate's advisor/examining committee and an IRB approval form must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

    Completed draft (thesis/alternate plan paper)

    A draft of the research document must be in the hands of all committee members a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the scheduled oral defense of the work.

    Scheduled Oral Examinations

    The oral defense of Thesis and Alternate Plan Papers should occur at least 3-4 weeks before anticipated graduation to allow time for revisions and/or rewrites. Oral exams are regularly scheduled during Fall and Spring Semesters. The student will be responsible for coordinating the defense day and time with all Committee Members.

    Summer Session Oral Examination Petition

    A petition requesting the scheduling of an oral examination in the summer must be submitted and approved five (5) weeks prior to the end of the Spring Semester. Oral examinations scheduled during Summer Sessions must be done so with the approval of the student's advisor, departmental and outside committee members and the Graduate Coordinator of the Department.

    Final draft (thesis/alternate plan paper) deadline

    The student's final document draft must be in the Graduate Dean's Office at least one (1) month before anticipated graduation.

    Graduation

    1. An Application for Graduation form must be completed and signed by all committee members and sent to the Graduate Office six (6) weeks before the end of the semester in which graduation is to take place. No graduation ceremonies are scheduled in the Summer. All graduate work must be completed before the student can participate in the graduation ceremonies.
    2. A Recommendation for Awarding the Degree form is submitted by the Chairperson of the candidate's examining committee at least 2 weeks before the anticipated date of graduation.

    MFA-Forensics Comprehensive Exam Policy

    Enrollment Requirements:

    • A student must have completed 36 graduate credits before enrolling in CMST 651-Comprehensive Exams.
    • A student must successfully pass CMST 651 before enrolling in CMST 699-Thesis.

    Procedure:

    1. At least eight (8) weeks prior to the anticipated exam date, a student will notify the advisor and department capstone committee members of intent to take the comprehensive exam.
    2. The committee will prepare three questions for the exam. The questions will relate to the student’s program of study and capstone project. The questions will address the following areas:
      1. Q1: Communication theory relating to the program of study.
      2. Q2: Research methods relating to the anticipated capstone project.
      3. Q3: Specialized content area relating to the anticipated capstone project.
    3. A student will be given the three questions and have 168 hours (7 days) to answer all three questions. The committee may impose specific restrictions (e.g., page length, word length, sources).

    Evaluation:

    • The advisor and department capstone committee member(s) will evaluate the answers.
    • Each question will be evaluated Pass/No Pass.
      • A Pass means the student has successfully met the expectations for the question.
      • A No Pass means the answer did not meet expectations and must be rewritten or supplemented to correct deficiencies.
        • Rewrites will be done with guidance from your committee.
        • The committee will determine the nature and scope of a rewrite.
        • A rewrite must be completed the semester a student is taking CMST 651.
        • Receiving a No Pass on any rewritten question will require retaking CMST 651.
        • CMST 651 may only be retaken once. A No Pass on any of the questions required when retaking CMST 651 will result in a student failing the course and the student will not be eligible to earn the MFA-Forensics degree

    Preparation:

    • The nature and content of the questions is determined by the advisor and department capstone committee members. The committee may, at their discretion, consult with the student or other faculty members when developing the questions.
    • The student has the responsibility to contact the advisor and committee members to determine how to best prepare for the exam. The student should make sure he/she has a clear understanding of what is expected on the exam.

    Completion Time Limits

    All work for a graduate degree must be completed within a six-year period.


    X. Thesis Proposal

    Department of Communication Studies

    • Thesis proposal must be approved prior to data collection and writing of thesis.
    • Research involving human participants must have IRB approval prior to gaining thesis proposal approval.
    • Both approvals, when required, must be granted prior to data collection.

    Proposal should include the following items:

    1. Student Information
      • Date
      • Student's name, tech ID, e-mail, U.S. mail address, and Degree.
    2. Thesis Title (tentative)
    3. Problem Statement: Explain the problem and its significance for the field of study concerned; to what extent does this build upon or add to existing research.
    4. Objective: State the questions which you seek to answer or the hypotheses to be tested.
    5. Involvement of Human Participants: Complete the Application for the Conduct of Research involving Human Participants/Volunteers/Subjects which is available in the Graduate Office. If required, you must attach a copy of the "human participants" application to your thesis proposal.

      Procedures: Detail the design or procedural plan, as appropriate, to be followed:

      • data to be gathered, method of gathering data, source of data, the nature of instruments to be used, anticipated techniques to be used for analysis of data.
      • texts to be analyzed and critical reading practices or methods of textual analysis to be used.
      • a performance-based thesis project includes the nature of the performance text, anticipated performance venue, production timeline, and means of performance evaluation.
    6. The Procedures section includes justifications of procedural choices.

    7. Precis of Chapters in Thesis: Provide brief description of expected chapters and what shall be addressed within each chapter.
    8. Unique Requirements: As appropriate, provide details as to how specific sources of pertinent literature, specific equipment and cooperating agency approval will be handled.
    9. Timeline: Provide a detailed timeline for completion of the thesis (e.g., literature review, data collection, analysis, submission to committee, defense date).
    10. Examining Committee Approval/Signatures:
      • Chair of the Examining Committee Date
      • Examining Committee Member Date
      • Examining Committee Member Date