College of Communication > Academics > Communication and Media > Student Resources > Master's Thesis/Project/Exam > Master's Project

Master's Project

The MA project allows the student to combine a significant creative or an applied project with a substantial (30-40 pages) written analysis or report. This project is an opportunity for the student to produce a shareable project with theoretical engagement of the program content. Students who choose to use the project as their completion option of the program may choose, for instance, to shoot a documentary, take on a website project, create a training manual, assess organizational effectiveness for a for-profit or non-profit organization, provide consulting for individuals, teams or organizations, or work with a community organization to create a media-related project. The project allows the student to integrate his/her studies with more practical applications.


A final project option is available to students holding a 3.75 GPA or higher upon completing 24 credits hours (six courses).

A student who does not meet the 3.75 GPA requirement must submit two letters of recommendation from faculty members with whom they have project option.

Project Timeline

Students are advised to begin work on their project 6-9 months prior to the time they hope to present/defend their project.

Procedure for Project

  1. Choose a topic that interests you.
  2. Choose two faculty members who can best guide you on your intended topic, one of which will be your project chair. They can help you develop your ideas based upon their ability and willingness to serve on your committee. The project chair selected must come from within the area of Communication and Media. If the project chair is not also from the specific concentration area as declared by the student, the second member of the committee should be chosen from the student’s declared concentration area within Communication and Media. In instances where the project chair is from the student’s specific concentration area, then the second committee member can come from Communication and Media or, in some instances and with graduate program director approval, outside of Communication and Media.
  3. Once your topic has been approved by your project chair, you will write an 8-10 page proposal that explains your project, your proposed process and timeline, your rationale for the importance of this project, and any scholarly foundation that you may need to establish in conjunction with the proposed topic.
  4. The proposal must be approved by your project chair and then the program director. After gaining approval from both individuals, you will need to complete a Thesis/Project Approval Form and have your project chair and program director sign the form. You can then submit the form to the graduate advisor.
  5. Once the proposal has been accepted by the advisor, continue to work on the project as specified in the proposal. You will be in regular contact with your committee members, and they will tell you what needs to be done at each step.
  6. You will enroll in CMNS/RELC/MCS 599 (Research Project/Thesis Course) in the quarter you plan to complete your project. In order to enroll in this class, you must receive permission from your project chair (i.e. your chair needs to confirm that you will actually complete the project in the quarter you register for 599).
  7. Upon completion of your project, you need to schedule a date with your committee for oral defense or public presentation. The final completed project and written report must be turned into the committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the scheduled defense or presentation. You will print out the Thesis/Project Defense Form and bring it to the defense or presentation. After a successful defense or presentation, the committee members will sign the form (you may be required to do a few additions or modifications). Your project chair will submit your 599 grade. The grades are: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.

Guidelines for Professional Project

The original idea for a project and its development are the responsibility of the student. Once the student defines the specific purpose of the project, and after securing necessary resources, such as the approval of the organization the student wants to work with, access to archival data, or specific technologies, the student must prepare a project proposal.

The project proposal should describe the purpose and significance of the project; include the project’s objectives, provide a brief overview of the procedure to realize it, and provide a timeline for completion. Proposals should be about 8-10 pages in length. If an organization is involved, the proposal should include a signed statement from the organization’s representative who has the authority to provide permission for the student to carry out the project on behalf of the organization. If the project requires research involving human subjects, the student needs to check the Institutional Review Board website to apply for IRB approval.

Although every project is unique, there are some common components to include in the final report: introduction, background on the subject addressed and/or organization involved, objectives of the project, literature review, research involved for the production of the project and account of production process and conclusions. The final written report should run approximately 30-40 pages, excluding bibliography and appendices.

The final step in the completion of the project is a formal defense or public presentation of the project. The student should work with his/her two committee members to schedule the place and time of the defense or presentation, which must be completed no later than the ninth week of the term in which the student hopes to complete his/her degree. Presentations are held during regular business hours during the regular academic year (Autumn, Winter or Spring). Following a review of the final project (and written report) and the formal defense or presentation, the committee members will determine whether the student has successfully completed the project requirements. Any revisions required by the committee must be made prior to acceptance of the project for graduation. The committee members must agree and sign off on a final project form stating that the student has met all the requirements and passed both the written and project portions of the project.

The student must provide committee members sufficient (i.e., typically two weeks) time to review their work during each phase of the project. These “review” periods should be factored into the project timeline. The final “draft” of the project (both production and written portions) must be submitted to committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense or presentation.

Although students may work on their projects during summer months, the defense or presentation must be held during the Autumn, Winter, or Spring terms. Students should not expect committee members to be available for consultation outside the regular academic year calendar.

If at any point the student is not making sufficient progress in terms of the project based on the original timeline, then the committee can decide that the student may be rerouted to the comprehensive ​exam track.