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

Master's Thesis Project

The master's thesis project allows the student to combine a significant creative or an applied project with a substantial (30-40 pages) written analysis or report. Students who choose to use the project as their completion option of the program may choose, for instance, shoot a documentary, take on a website project, 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. Students will take two courses to work on their project (taking two of their open electives), one in the School of Design and one in the College of Communication.

A final project option is available to students holding a 3.7 GPA or higher upon completing 24 credits hours (six courses).

A student who does not meet the 3.7 GPA requirement must submit two letters of recommendation from faculty members with whom they have taken classes. The graduate director will review the letters and decide whether the student is eligible to pursue the master's project option.

Procedure for Project

  1. By the end of 24 credits, speak to the graduate director about your desire to do the Master’s Thesis Project.
  2. Decide with the graduate director who from the College of Communication will be your project director.
  3. Before enrolling in CMNS 594, you will write a 10-15 page project 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 advisor 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 advisor sign the form. You can then submit the form to the graduate advisor.
  5. Once the proposal has been accepted by the advisor, enroll in CMNS 594.
  6. In your two final quarters, you enroll in two project courses (CMNS 594 and CMNS 595). These replace two additional open elective classes.  You will enroll in CMNS 594 in the quarter before they enroll in CMNS 595.
  7. By midterm of CMNS 594, choose a second faculty member (at least one from the Digital Communication and Media Arts area) who could best guide you on your intended topic and talk to them. They can help you develop your ideas based upon their ability and willingness to serve on your committee.
  8. In your final quarter, enroll in CMNS 595 (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 advisor (i.e. your advisor needs to confirm that you will actually complete the project in the quarter you register for CMNS 595).
  9. Upon completion of your project, you need to schedule a date with your committee for oral defense. The final completed project must be presented to both members of the project committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. You will print out the Thesis/Project Defense Form and bring it to the defense. After a successful defense, the committee members will sign the form (you may be required to do a few additions or modifications after the defense). Your project advisor will submit your CMNS 595 grade. The grades are: Pass with Distinction, Pass, and Fail.

Guidelines for Professional Project

The student chooses the type of project that he/she wants to develop. The project should have a major audiovisual component (i.e. film, video, audio recording, educational program, website, online media content, etc.) and could be linked to an existing organization. While there is not one set way to define a professional project or what the tangible result will be, the project must include a written document that reports on the work of the student. Students are required to make a professional presentation of the project upon completion.

As examples, a professional audiovisual project could involve the creation of a website or a short film that addresses a particular issue faced by a media-related organization (profit or non-profit), or it could serve to open up questions related to our culture of media convergence. If the project is linked to a media organization, the student should make sure that the decision-makers within the organization will provide support and resources to carry out the 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 the approval of the organization (if that is the case), 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 10-15 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. Once the proposal is approved by all committee members, the student may continue with the production of his/her audiovisual project.

The professional audiovisual project must be research-based, i.e., include research that provides data for the development of the project. The audiovisual project must be accompanied by a final written report. 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 audiovisual 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, public presentation of the project for faculty, students and other interested parties. The student should work with his/her two committee members to schedule the place and time of the presentation. Project presentations 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. Following a review of the final project (audiovisual production and written report) and the formal 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 project is graded on a pass with distinction/pass/fail basis. 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 the audiovisual and written portions) must be submitted to committee members at least two weeks prior to the formal presentation.

Students should keep in mind that the project work must be completed during the regular academic year calendar. Although students may work on their projects during summer months, presentations 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 calend​ar.