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Masters Program

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Master of Arts in Communication

The following core curriculum (6 hours) is required of all Master’s students to insure uniformity and consistency in the quality of the Master’s program.

  • COMM 5003: Quantitative Research Methods OR COMM 5313: Qualitative Research Methods
  • COMM 5013: Introduction to Graduate Study

The Master’s student may follow one of two options in planning his or her program:

  1. A minimum of 32 coursework hours and a comprehensive examination, or
  2. The thesis program, which requires a minimum of 26 coursework hours, a thesis and an oral examination over the thesis (COMM 5980), four hours.

Students are encouraged to take some course work outside of the department. However, a minimum of 24 coursework hours of the student’s M.A. must be in communication courses.

Upon entry, M.A. students are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies during orientations meetings and until they select a permanent advisor. Students may also contact the Academic Counselor to discuss their enrollment options and ask any questions. On-campus M.A. students are assigned a first-year mentor by the graduate committee. Students should select a permanent advisor from the department’s graduate faculty by the second semester at the latest. Students must secure agreement with the faculty member prior to listing that person as their advisor.

The student, advisor, and Director of Graduate Studies must sign the Request for Appointment of Committee Chair form included at the end of this handbook and turn it in to the department office for inclusion in the student’s file.

No more than 25% of the credit hours required for the Master’s degree may be transfer credit from another department at the University of Oklahoma or from another university.

In order for transfer credits to be accepted toward a graduate degree, the transfer credit must:

  1. Represent valid graduate credit earned in graduate level courses at an accredited university
  2. Carry a grade of A, B, or Satisfactory (B- does not transfer)
  3. Not be more than five-years old at the time of admission
  4. Be applicable to the degree program
  5. Be approved by the department and the Dean of the Graduate College

If a transfer course has the same title as a course taken at OU, the content of the course must be substantially different to count both for credit. To make this case, the student must provide a syllabus and a letter from the Director of Graduation Studies illustrating that the classes covered different content. This letter must be submitted to the Graduate College with the Program of Study.

Transfer credit is considered neutral in computing the University of Oklahoma grade point average. No graduate credit may be earned by correspondence courses or advanced standing examinations. However, credit from a professional degree may be applied toward a graduate degree if it meets the criteria listed above. Credit hours may be counted toward satisfying the requirements for one Master’s degree only, with the exception of approved dual-degree programs.

A student registered in the Master’s program should complete all of the degree work within five calendar years after his or her first graduate enrollment at OU. When an additional year is needed to complete the degree, the student and advisor may petition the department for a one-year extension. The student, advisor, and Graduate Dean must be notified in writing of the department’s decision. If the decision is denied, the student will be dismissed. An extension of time beyond one year will require approval from the Graduate Dean. The department is required to describe how it will determine that the student is current in the field at the time the degree is awarded. This may involve re-examination or additional course work.

No more than six hours of the course work for a Master’s degree (excluding thesis, 5980) may be in Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory graded courses. Students may exceed the 6-hour limit on these courses only if they take hours beyond the minimum hours required for their degree. M.A. students should not take more than three hours in Directed Readings, which is letter graded.

All Master’s degree students are required to maintain an overall 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses attempted. One grade of C or a GPA under 3.0 will cause the student to be placed on academic probation. The student will then have a 12-hour probationary period. The student must not make lower than a B or a grade of U during this time. At the end of the 12-hour probationary period, the student must have raised his or her overall GPA to 3.0. Failure of either of these two conditions will result in the student being unable to continue enrollment in graduate classes. Should a student receive two or more Cs, an automatic stop will be placed on enrollment. To have this stop lifted, the student must submit a plan for improving his or her performance and petition the Director of Graduate Studies to stay in the program. If the student is permitted to reenroll, the student must still obtain an overall GPA of 3.0 by the end of 12 hours after the first C.

Master’s Thesis Option

For the thesis option, the thesis committee must be comprised of at least three members from the Department of Communication. The committee members must be members of the graduate faculty. The student must, with the cooperation of his or her advisor, select a thesis subject no later than the semester in which the student plans to start thesis work.

The student then prepares a prospectus and submits it to the thesis advisory committee that will meet with the student to discuss the proposed study. The prospectus must be signed by committee members and filed in the student’s departmental folder. Once the prospectus is approved, the student must obtain a Thesis Title Card from the Graduate College. The card must be completed and signed by all members of the student’s thesis committee. The signed card must be returned to the Graduate College. If a change in thesis becomes necessary, a new Thesis Title Card must be processed.

Enrollment in Research

Following initial enrollment in COMM 5980, which must be for a minimum of two hours, the Master’s student must maintain continuous enrollment during each fall and spring semester until the degree requirements are completed or candidacy is discontinued. If a student is actively working on a thesis, seeking committee advice, or using university facilities, thesis enrollment must be maintained during the summer semester as well. Requirements for full-time enrollment status are in effect while the student is engaged in thesis research. Taking no other course work and enrolling in only two hours of COMM 5980 does not constitute full-time status.

If a Master’s student does not comply with the continuous enrollment policy, the student must enroll during the semester in which graduation is expected in the exact number of hours of COMM 5980 that would have been completed with continuous enrollment. In addition, a late enrollment fee must be paid for each missed semester. The final determination of the number of COMM 5980 hours in which the student must enroll in the final semester in the degree program, along with the collection of the appropriate fees, is the responsibility of the Graduate College and Office of Admissions and Records.

Admission to Candidacy

The Master’s student must submit the Admission to Candidacy Form to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval prior to submitting it to the Graduate College.

A Master’s student who has done satisfactory graduate work and has maintained an overall GPA of 3.0 on all residence graduate level courses may be admitted to candidacy for a Master’s degree as soon as

he or she has enrolled in sufficient hours for the degree and has a committee selected. To apply for admission to candidacy, a student must complete and submit the Admission to Candidacy form provided by the Graduate College. An Admission to Candidacy form must be filed in the Graduate College no later than the first Monday in March (for summer graduates), the first Monday in April (for fall graduates) and the first Monday in October (for spring graduates). All listed coursework must have satisfactory grades and no incompletes. When appropriate, use the program-specific form.

One must obtain signatures from all committee members and the Director of Graduate Studies on the Application for Approval of the Master’s Thesis Topic and Committee Membership. This form is turned in to the Graduate College at the same time as the Admission to Candidacy form. Any changes in the topic or committee composition results in a new copy of this form being completed and turned in to the Graduate College. This must be approved at least 14 days before the defense by the Graduate College.

Change of Thesis Title Needs Approval of the Graduate Dean

Change of thesis topic or committee membership needs signatures of all old (if relevant) and new members of the committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Defense and Graduation

Students must file for graduation by the deadlines listed by the Graduate College each semester. When the student has completed the thesis to the satisfaction of his or her advisor, a copy of the thesis should be provided to every committee member at least two weeks before the defense to allow committee members sufficient time to read the thesis in preparation for the oral defense. Committee members may request a paper or electronic copy. The student must request authority from the Graduate College for the thesis defense. At the time the authorization is requested, the student presents a copy of the completed thesis (a final draft will be acceptable) to the Graduate College for review at least a week before the defense. If the thesis is acceptable, the student will be issued the Authority Report Form of the Thesis Defense. The student cannot defend until he or she has obtained this form. As each thesis defense is public, the student is also responsible for posting a notice announcing the impending defense several days before it is to be held.

The M.A. thesis defense meeting cannot be held when a student’s committee members are unavailable. Most faculty members are on 9-month appointments; therefore, summer thesis defenses will generally not be scheduled. Under extreme extenuating circumstances it may be possible to schedule a summer dissertation defense if the advisor and all the committee members are willing to do so. For example, exceptions may be possible if a student is being deployed for military service and needs to complete the degree requirements before the deployment date. In such cases, the student may make summer arrangements only after first receiving written permission from the Director of Graduate Studies and each member of his or her committee prior to the summer semester during which he or she wishes to schedule thesis defense meeting.

A unanimous vote of the examining committee is expected. However, on occasion some dissenting reports are received. If one member of the examining committee dissents, the dissent is recognized as a minority report, and the student is still considered to have passed the defense. When a committee consists of more than three members and two dissents, the Graduate Dean will investigate and make the final decision on the student’s performance. If two of a committee of three dissent, or more than two of a committee of more than three members dissent, the performance will be seen as a failure. Only one attempt is afforded the candidate in defending the thesis.

Within 72 hours after the thesis defense, the Authority Report Form of the Thesis Defense must be returned with the results and signatures of all committee members to the Graduate College. Within 60 days of the defense or by the deadline of the desired graduation semester (whichever is earlier), the student must deliver to the Graduate College a final version of the thesis in the form described in the instructions provided by the Graduate College to the SHAREOK system. If all is in order, the student can then be cleared for graduation.

Paperwork and Time Table at A Glance

StepDueRequired Paperwork
Selection of Advisor and Committee
2nd Semester (full time) or Equivalent (part time)
Request for Appointment of Committee Chair (Dept. Office)
Present Prospectus
Semester prior to beginning research
Prospectus signed by all thesis advisory committee members (Dept. Office)
Thesis Topic Approval
After prospectus approvalThesis Title Card (Grad College)
Apply for Graduation1st Monday in March (summer grads), 1st Monday in April (fall grads), and 1st Monday in October (spring grads)
Graduation Application
Admissions to Candidacy1st Monday in March (summer grads), 1st Monday in April (fall grads), and 1st Monday in October (spring grads)
Admissions to Candidacy Form and Application Approval of the Master's Thesis and Committee Membership (Grad College)
Thesis Defense Request
Along with Requiring Authority Form
Authority Report Form of the Thesis Defense (Grad College)
Submission of ThesisAlong with Requiring Authority Form
Three copies of final daft submitted to Graduat College Dean for review. Receive Thesis Receipt ard which must be signed by LIbrary Acquisitions and returned to the Graduate College.

Master’s Nonthesis Option

Nonthesis Master’s students follow the same Admission to Candidacy Form procedure described under the Thesis Option, but they are required to take a comprehensive examination instead of writing a thesis. The exam requires the student to undertake a general review and integration of all studies. The exam is organized around fields of study rather than around courses and is not intended to repeat the final exams of actual courses. Eight hours are scheduled for the exams, which are usually divided among two 3-hour areas and one 2-hour area as approved by the student’s committee. One exam area must relate to a core course. All exams are closed book. In preparation for the exam, students are expected to read and study beyond their course requirements. A student must be enrolled in at least two hours the semester he or she takes the exam. The examination typically consists of a written exam and may also include an oral portion if requested by any member of the examining committee.

To schedule the examination and obtain the proper paperwork, the student needs to contact the Academic Counselor, or Kristi Wright, Assistant to the Chair. The student requests the Authority Report Form for the Comprehensive Examination from the Graduate College at least one week prior to taking the exam. This form will be used by the student’s committee to show a satisfactory or unsatisfactory result on the exam. No form will be issued if the student has not filed an Admission to Candidacy Form. The student must have completed all required courses and 75% of coursework before taking the comprehensive exam. No Master’s comprehensive exam may be taken until all I’s (incompletes) have been resolved or while the student is on academic probation. Once authorization is secured, the student and advisor will set the date of exams. All exams are taken on the University of Oklahoma campus. Notify the Academic Counselor, or the Assistant to the Chair, Kristi Wright, to schedule a room to take the exam as soon as possible.

The comprehensive exam may not be held during the period of final course exams, when the university is not in session, or when a suitable committee cannot be assembled. The M.A. comprehensive exam cannot be held when a student’s committee members are unavailable. Most faculty members are on 9-month appointments; therefore, summer exams will generally not be scheduled. Under extreme extenuating circumstances it may be possible to schedule a summer dissertation defense if the advisor and all the committee members are willing to do so. For example, if a student is being deployed for military service and needs to complete the degree requirements before the deployment date. In such cases, the student may proceed to make summer arrangements only after first receiving written permission from the Director of Graduate Studies and each member of his or her committee prior to the summer semester during which he or she wishes to schedule the exam.

The examining committee consists of at least three members from the faculty of the Department of Communication. All committee members must be present if an oral portion is requested. Just as for the thesis option, the back of the Authority for Comprehensive Examination form must be returned to the Graduate College with the results and the signatures of all committee members within one week after the comprehensive exam is held. The same dissenting procedures apply to the nonthesis option. Unlike the one-shot chance at a thesis option, if a student fails the comprehensive exam, the exam may be repeated once in the following semester (at the earliest) at the discretion of the examining committee. The comprehensive exam may not be given a third time.

Paperwork and Time Table at A Glance

StepsDueRequired Paperwork
Selection of Advisor and Committee
2nd Semester or equivalentRequest for Appointment of Committee Chair (Dept. Office)
Apply for Graduation1st Monday in March (summer grads), 1st Monday in April (fall grads), and 1st Monday in October (spring grads)Graduation Application
Admission to Candidacy1st Monday in March (summer grads), 1st Monday in April (fall grads), and 1st Monday in October (spring grads)Admission to Candidacy (Grad College)
Schedule Comprehensive Exam
Final Semester
Memo from Graduate Liaison requesting permission to administer examination (Department) Authority Report Form for Comprehensive Exam (Sent to the department from the Grad College).
ExamFinal Semester 
Oral Exam DefenseIf requested by at least one committee member
 
Pass/FailImmediately Following Defense
Return Authority Report Form for Comprehensive Exam within one week of completed exam or oral defense to the Grad College.