General Requirements for Thesis & Non-Thesis Degree Plans
1. DEGREE PLANS: Graduate students may elect to follow one of three options for completion of the MA degree: (1) The Thesis option involves the satisfactory completion of 24 hours of coursework (15 hours minimum at the 5000 level) plus 6 hours of thesis; (2) The Professional Paper or Project option involves the completion of 33 hours of coursework (18 hours minimum at the 5000 level) plus 3 hours for the execution of a professional paper or professional project; or (3) The Professional Internship option involves the completion of 33 hours of coursework (18 hours minimum at the 5000 level) plus 3 hours for the completion of a business or media related internship.
2. 5000 LEVEL COURSEWORK REQUIREMENT: As noted above, at least half of all graduate coursework (i.e., non-thesis or professional paper/project hours) earned for the overall degree plan must be completed at the 5000 level.
3. INDEPENDENT STUDY: As part of their overall graduate degree plan, graduate students in the Department of Communication may take up to six hours of independent study with a faculty member in the department directing the study. Independent study hours from outside the Department of Communication Studies are not allowed. When approaching faculty members to direct independent study projects, students should have a coherent and persuasive rationale for their idea or project. Students must be aware that independent study hours are not substitutes for seminars being offered in the department. Students should take independent study hours to pursue topics and interests not covered in the regular course offerings of the department. Furthermore, graduate students should plan to take independent study hours primarily in the summer when few, if any, graduate seminars are offered. Before an independent study will be allowed to begin, the following items are required: (1) a contract detailing all assignments, work-load expectations, and deadlines; (2) signatures of all parties (i.e., faculty and student) involved on the contract indicating agreement; and (3) copies of the contract for all parties involved and the Graduate Program Director.
4. 4000 LEVEL COURESWORK: As part of their overall graduate degree plan, graduate students in the Department of Communication should not take more than six hours of 4000-level course work. Exceptions may be granted by the Graduate Program Director, but only in unusual circumstances. Furthermore, the 4000 level course must be approved for graduate credit by the BU Graduate School. All approved courses are listed in the current BU graduate school catalogue.
5. OUTSIDE DEPARTMENT COURSEWORK: As part of their overall graduate degree plan, graduate students in the Department of Communication are allowed to take three hours of coursework outside the Department of Communication Studies. Outside courses should be related to the student’s thesis project, overall degree plan, and/or future professional plans, must be located at the 5000 level or higher, must be taught by a member of Baylor’s graduate faculty, and must not be independent study hours. Courses are subject to approval by the Graduate Program Director and the student’s faculty mentor. Finally, the student must accept responsibility to insure that courses taken outside of the department are approved for graduate credit with the BU Graduate School. All approved courses are listed in the current BU graduate school catalogue.
6. INTERNSHIPS: As part of their overall graduate degree plan, graduate students in the Department of Communication are allowed to take up to 3 hours of internship course credit.
7. REQUIRED COURSEWORK: As part of their overall graduate degree plan, graduate students in the Department of Communication are required to complete one theory course and one methodology course. For the theory requirement, a student may choose between CSS 5310 Modern Communication Theory or FDM 5356 Contemporary Film Theory. For the methodology requirement, a student may choose between CSS 5351 Methods of Graduate Study or CSS 5352 Methods of Rhetorical Criticism. A student must earn a final course grade of “C” or better in both the theory and method courses selected for fulfillment of this requirement.
8. COURSEWORK LOAD: The maximum number of semester hours a graduate student in the Department of Communication may register for in a given regular academic semester is twelve (12) semester hours. However, the graduate faculty strongly endorses a course-load of nine (9) semester hours.
9. INCOMPLETES: At the graduate level, a professor usually does not allow a student to take a grade of “incomplete” for any coursework. Occasionally, however, circumstances might dictate that such a grade be given. When an “I” is assigned because of incomplete coursework, the student is required to complete the coursework in question before the end of the following semester. If the student does not finish the incomplete coursework by the end of the following semester, the grade for the class automatically changes from an “I” to “F”. Furthermore, a student will not be allowed to defend his/her thesis or professional paper/project with any outstanding incompletes on his/her transcript.
10. ACADEMIC DISHONESTY: Graduate faculty members will not tolerate academic dishonesty. Graduate students caught cheating on an examination, plagiarizing a paper or assignment, falsifying academic documents, or engaging in other activities that violate the Baylor University Honor Code will automatically receive an “F” for the course in which the dishonesty took place and will be immediately removed from the graduate program in Communication Studies. Faculty members will use the program “Turn It In” (or other similar programs) to ensure no graduate student work is associated with any form of plagiarism or academic dishonesty.
11. FIVE YEAR TIME CLOCK: Most graduate students in the Department of Communication complete the MA program in two years; however, the maximum time limit for completion of the master’s degree is five years from the time the student first matriculates into the program. If the five year time limit expires, the graduate student must restart the graduate program from the beginning.
12. GPA REQUIREMENT: To qualify for graduation, graduate students must have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0, and must have satisfied all coursework, thesis, professional paper, internship, or other academic/professional projects associated with the MA degree in Communication Studies.
13. FILE FOR GRADUATION: Students must file for graduation with the BU graduate school early in the semester in which the degree is expected to be conferred, usually before October in the fall, before February in the spring, and early June in the summer. Consult the most current graduate school calendar in order to insure the graduation filing deadline is met.
14. GRADUATION ENROLLMENT REQUIRMENT: The BU Graduate School requires all students to be enrolled in at least one hour of graduate level credit in the semester that he/she intends to graduate. Failure to meet graduation deadlines and/or requirements does not obligate the Department of Communication to pay for any additional hours of tuition, even for those graduate students serving as teaching/research assistants.
15. ORAL EXAMINATION/DEFENSE: Graduate students must file the Announcement of MA Thesis Oral Examination form at least ten working days prior to the scheduled oral defense meeting. This form is online at the graduate school webpage under “Forms.”