Journalism & Media Studies

Journalism & Media Studies
140 7th Avenue South
St. Petersburg Florida 33701
Phone: 727-873-4850
Fax: 727-873-4034

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Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Program

(questions faculty frequently wish graduate students would ask )

How do I get in to your program?

Follow this link to apply. Formal application to the M.A. program in journalism requires an online application form, application fee, admissions test score and supplementary application materials.

What's the minimum GRE score do I need to apply?

GRE scores in the 75 percentile or above in verbal (or 520), 4.5 in analytic writing, with a total GRE score of more than 1,000, or the equivalent score on the MAT, LSAT, or GMAT, or sufficient evidence in the overall packet that will allow faculty to put less weight on the admissions test scores.

Who is qualified to write a reference letter for me?

Your current or former professors, employers, or people who can speak to your ability to undertake the rigors of graduate studies.

How long will it take me to do the M.A. degree in Journalism?

It depends on the student’s other time commitments. The degree requires 36 hours of work, which translates into 11 3-credit courses and an Applied Research Project or 10 3-credit courses and a thesis. Students who can devote most of their work life to the degree can be done in two academic years.

Do I have to take all of my classes as grad classes in the department?

No. You may take up to 12 credits outside of the department with advisor approval. You may take up to 6 hours at the undergraduate level outside the department with advisor approval. You will begin to notice a pattern here of advisor approval. You shouldn’t do anything, academically speaking, without advisor approval. You and your advisor are expected to use departmental resources, and campus as a whole to design a program that meets your special interests. At least 20 of the 36 hours must come from regular classes (not professional practicum/ Internship).

What about transfer credits?

At the department’s discretion, you may transfer up to three courses (9 credit hours). All courses transferred must have been completed with the grade of B or better.

What about credits that I take as a graduate, non-degree student?

You may transfer (with adviser approval) up to 12 hours of credit taken as a non-degree student.

Why would I want to take courses as a graduate, non-degree student?

Professionals or members of the community who have undergraduate degrees may want to take a course at the graduate level and have no interest in seeking a graduate degree. These students will be permitted by the course instructor, based on the instructor’s judgment of the suitability of the class to the student and based on availability.

Students from other institutions might wish to enroll in our courses and transfer those credits to their home institution. These students will be permitted by the course instructor, based on the instructor’s judgment of the suitability of the class to the student and based on availability.

Occasionally, the department will allow a student who has an application for enrollment in the graduate program pending, or partially completed, to enroll in our courses as a non-degree student (however students will have to complete a non-degree seeking application and pay the application fee). Permits in these cases will be signed either by the Graduate Coordinator or the Department Chair and will be allowed based on the following criteria:

  • progress the student is making in completing his or her application,
  • a grade of B or better in all classes taken as a non-degree student,
  • instructors’ judgment that the student has shown an acceptable level of participation in classes taken, and availability of space in the requested class.

Successfully completing 12 hours s a non-degree student does not imply admission to the graduate program in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies.

Are there any required courses I should take for the degree?

If you don't have an undergrade journalism degree or haven't worked as a journalist, you must take

JOU 5105 News Writing and Editing;

And all graduate students must take three required courses to complete the degree:

MMC 6400      Media Theory;

MMC 6612      Law and Mass Media;

MMC 6206      Media Ethics;

If you are writing a thesis, you must take

MMC 6421      Research Methods (Other students are strongly encouraged to take this as well.)

Next, no course or activity will count toward your degree unless you have adviser approval to take it.

Is there a minimum GPA to maintain good standing in the program?

Graduate students must maintain an overall average of 3.0 (B) in all courses, and must meet the requirements of the degree program to be considered “in good standing.”  No grade below “C” will be accepted toward a graduate degree. This includes “C-“ grades. All grades will be counted in computing the overall grade point average (GPA).

Can I get credit for an internship?

Yes. Graduate internships are called practica. Paid and unpaid internship opportunities can result in up to 3 credit hours toward your degree. However, you must

    • complete 12 hours of coursework first;
    • have advisor approval;
    • have approval from the Internship Coordinator for your expertise and the worksite expectations;
    • register for MMC 6945 Porfessional Practicum.

Your internship experience will be monitored by the Internship Coordinator. For detailed information please see the Internship Policies (.doc) .

Does the program require comprehensive exams?

Yes. All graduate students must take comprehensive exams. You will need to understand the material from the core classes well enough to pass comprehensive exams. If you cannot achieve a B in the core classes, it is not likely that you understand the material well enough to pass comps.

Comps demonstrate to you and to the department that you have achieved a graduate-level understanding of foundational material in our field and are ready to embark on your final project or thesis.

When do I take comps?

You must have completed 21 hours of coursework, including MMC 6400 Media Thoery, MMC 6612 Law & Mass Media and MMC 6206 Media Ethics, and have advisor approval to sign up for comps.

I am planning to take comps in fall 2009. How can I prepare?

Please refer to the information in this document.

How are our comps graded?

Each question will be judged pass, revise for oral defense, or no pass. Pass means that you have demonstrated adequate knowledge for the question; revise for oral defense means that you will be given a list of further questions to explore and will respond to oral questions from the faculty member with relevant expertise; no pass means that you try again next semester. If you receive a "no pass," you may request a reading list to help you prepare.

How many attempts do I have to pass the comps?

Students have three attempts to pass all comprehensive exams. All comprehensive exams must be passed before students receive preliminary project or thesis approval from their committee.

Should I do a Applied Research Project or a thesis?

It depends on whether you want to do exploration that is primarily a journalistic activity (project) or an academic activity (thesis). The project is produced for a lay or trade audience; the thesis is written for an academic audience.  Curriculum design is a type of project.

Applied Research Projects are creative activity – they do not count as research in the academic sense and, therefore, do not require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Applied Research Projects can include photo essays, major print design projects or major Web design projects as well as newsletters, or a series of investigative, in-depth, or feature stories on a  particular topic.

A thesis is academic research and should be written with the plan of publishing some or all of the material in an academic venue. Acceptable research methodologies include clinical (in-depth case presentation and analysis), historical (examination and analysis of primary documents regarding long-past events), legal (examination of existing law, statutes, regulations in consideration of some topical media puzzle), philosophical (analysis of conceptual understandings that govern journalistic work), qualitative (critical analysis based on narrative or aesthetic theory), or quantitative (survey research, content analysis, statistical studies or computer based analysis). Many theses require the use of two or more methodologies.

All theses will be produced in APA style and must have, at least, department-level IRB approval BEFORE research is begun.

Please ask for Thesis and Applied Research Projects Description and meet with your advisor before embarking on either one.

Do I need a committee for my Applied Research Project or Thesis?

Yes. When you are ready to embark on your Applied Research Project or thesis you will do the following:

    • With adviser’s approval, you will select and secure a committee. The committee must be chaired by a regular (not adjunct) member of the Department of Journalism.

    • If you are doing a project, the second member of the committeee may come from the Department or may represent another relevant field at USF, and may be adjunct.

    • If you are doing a thesis, you need two more faculty members, in addition to your faculty chair. You are encouraged to bring in one member from outside the department who works in a relevant discipline.

Do I have to choose my faculty adviser to be my committee chair?

No. In fact, once you have a committee, your committee chair will become your faculty adviser at that point.

Do I need a proposal for my Applied Research Project or Thesis?

Yes. Once you have a committee, write a 3-5 page (typewritten, double-spaced) proposal that describes your project or thesis.

The Project Proposal includes a

  • Statement of Purpose,
  • Justification,
  • Approach,
  • Outline and Summary, and
  • Sources.

The Thesis Prospectus includes a

  • Statement of Purpose,
  • Justification,
  • Statement of Problem,
  • Methodology,
  • Review of Literature,
  • Definition of Terms,
  • Limitations,
  • Outline and chapter summary, and
  • Bibliography.

Distribute your proposal to your committee members.

Schedule a committee meeting for preliminary approval. This one-hour meeting provides you with assurance that the committee approves the work about to be done and gives the committee members an opportunity to provide input for the project. A timeline for the work should also be determined at the time of the meeting.

After the meeting, you should summarize your understandings in writing, get your committee chair’s signature on the MOU (memo of understanding) and then you are ready to start your work. At this point, your committee chair becomes your faculty adviser.

Can I get an assistantship?

Maybe. You will need to be accepted into the program, be enrolled full-time (9 hours), and be academically competitive for a limited number of assistantships. Assistants work either 10 hours each week (1/2 assistant) or 20 hours each week (full assistant) doing a range of research or teaching activities. Assistants are paired with faculty supervisors based on mutual interest. Assignments (and supervisor) may change term to term depending on the department’s needs. Students are offered full in-state tuition waiver.

How long do I have to finish my degree?

You have five years from your first semester’s enrollment as a graduate student. In addition you must be continuously enrolled. You must take 6 credits over three continuous semesters (including summer). You are also required to enroll for at least two graduate credits in the semester in which you plan to graduate.

Revised May 12, 2010


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