Capstone Project

An important part of the MA program, for those who are not writing a formal thesis, is the Research Seminar/Practicum or the Guided Research Project.

Students may fulfill the requirements for the Master’s degree either by completing a Research Seminar/Practicum (COM 698) or by completing a Guided Research Project (COM 697A/697B). Both options are worth 6 credits toward the degree. Students should discuss these options with their advisor to ensure the selection of the option that best suits their interests and circumstances.

Research Seminar/Practicum

The completion of a research seminar/practicum provides a student with experience in applying communication theory and research in business, government, or a not-for-profit enterprise. The knowledge and skills gained by engaging in a practicum are relevant to professional employment. The research seminar/practicum comes near the end of the program, after a student has completed at least 24 credits (6 credits of program core courses, 12 credits of substantive courses, and 6 credits of an elective). The practicum component of the program includes a twenty hour a week placement in a communication internship lasting for a minimum of 12 weeks and a research project related to the placement. Students do a variety of types of internships, depending on their interests. Some are interning in state agencies, the state legislature, public relations, radio, television, advertising, personnel work, counseling, student affairs work, and fund-raising. Opportunities for internship placements are enhanced by the University's proximity to New York State government as well as by its location in the burgeoning Tech Valley region. A research seminar meets once a week to discuss the final analytic paper, which is a formal academic document on the scholarly research project carried out during the semester. Students are encouraged to bring research and other scholarly problems to the seminar and to critique the work of other students.

Guided Research Project

The completion of a guided research project provides a student with the experience of conducting an original research project. The knowledge and skills gained by completing a project are valuable in doctoral studies. Students interested in conducting a guided research project should consult their advisors as soon as possible. Students who take 12 credits a semester generally need to start their guided research project in their second semester. The guided research project is typically a 2 semester sequence (COM 697A the first semester, and COM 697B the second semester).