Frequently Asked Questions

How does this work with my undergraduate degree?
First and foremost, you need to be enrolled as a Journalism—Strategic Communication major to apply to the MA program. Learn more about the major and the application process.

As soon as you have identified an interest in the Health Communication MA (either before you have applied to the major, or if you are already in the major), you should meet with an SJMC advisor to map out your undergraduate courses for the BA degree, and to plan for taking three additional courses your senior year that will count toward the M.A. program.

You will complete all the requirements for the BA in Journalism-Strategic Communication, and can complete up to 3 courses (9 credits) during your senior year that will apply to the MA in Strategic Communication: JOUR 5541 in the fall, JOUR 5542 in the spring, and an elective course. This means that you pay for 9 credits that can apply to a graduate program at the undergraduate tuition rate.  

Why a BA/MA combination—why is an MA needed?
The undergraduate degree in Journalism–Strategic Communication will provide skills and context courses, as well as supporting coursework, which will provide the foundational knowledge about strategic messaging. The MA program will provide sophisticated academic and practice-based courses, which will provide students with the specialized health communication knowledge that will enable students to fully contribute to their workplace from day one.

What happens if I can’t take the three courses for the MA program while I’m an undergraduate?
You can take these courses in the fifth year, during the MA program. You will, however, pay the increased tuition cost for these credits, and you will have a more demanding courseload in your MA program.

What if I’m a senior or have already graduated with a BA in Journalism–Strategic Communication?
If you have earned a degree with a Journalism major–Strategic Communication track, you can apply to the MA program. However, you will have to complete all 30 graduate credits during the year-long program (which is a manageable courseload).

What if I took one or more of the courses for the MA program at the undergraduate level?
You can work with the Program Director to identify a replacement course to be taken at the graduate level.

What will the 5th year be like?
You will take part in the practicum course and internship the June after your senior year, and will take courses in the fall and spring of the year after you earn your BA degree. You will earn your MA in May of your fifth year of study.

Do I have to do a master’s thesis?
No, instead of a master’s thesis, you will do a Capstone project that will allow you to focus on aspects of health communication relevant to your interests. Students will prepare a final project—a publishable article, a multimedia projection, an original research paper, or other options—aimed at a particular audience.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in Journalism–Strategic Communication track?
The MA program is built on knowledge and skills, such as message strategy and content development, that is specific to the curriculum of the BA in Journalism–Strategic Communication track. As a result, only students who are enrolled in the Journalism BA–Strategic Communication track can apply and be admitted to the MA in Health Communication program. (Students in a different college who are pursuing Journalism as a second major are also eligible.)

What if I decide I don’t want to pursue the MA in Health Communication?
You must complete the BA in Journalism–Strategic Communication before beginning the MA in Health Communication, so if you would decide not to pursue the MA, you can still earn the BA in Journalism—Strategic Communication.

When should I apply?
You should apply by February 1st of your junior year. Students who apply in their senior year or as graduates who have already earned a BA in Journalism–Strategic Communication may be considered if they have taken the GRE and understand that they will have to take additional courses during the MA program to catch up on the courses they were not able to take in their senior year.  

Do I have to take the GRE?
To be admitted to the MA in Health Communication, you will need to take the GRE by mid-January of your senior year and have the scores reported by the Educational Testing Services (ETS) to your Graduate School application.  It is expected that students successful in the MA program score 155 or higher on verbal and quantitative reasoning, and a 4.5 on analytical writing.  More information can be found here:  http://www.grad.umn.edu/admissions/application_instructions/gre/

To take the GRE, you must create an account on the ETS website to choose a location, date, and time to take the computer-based test.  There are typically multiple times a day, but it does fill up, so you should register early. The University of Minnesota Grad School code is 6874. You will need to enter this code at the time of the test to have official scores reported to the grad school. Official scores are available and reported to institutions after 10-15 days, although you can see unofficial scores for verbal and quantitative reasoning on the computer screen at the end of the test. You do not get the analytical writing score until the official scores are available.

Currently, the test costs $195; it takes about four hours to complete. You can get information about the different sections (verbal, quantitative, analytical) and the format of the GRE through ETS. ETS also offers a few practice materials for purchase. There are also a large number of practice books available at the bookstore, and there are professional test preparation services, although these services can be expensive.

What if I don’t get the required GRE scores, but I’ve been provisionally admitted to the program?
If your scores are lower than expected we will have a conversation with you to discuss why your scores were lower than the rest of your application materials had suggested when you were provisionally accepted. If this conversation leads you to not be admitted to the MA program then any courses you took at the graduate level in preparation for the program will become electives for your undergraduate degree.

What if I don’t end up taking the GRE?
You will not be admitted to the MA program if you don’t take the GRE. Any courses you took at the graduate level in preparation for the program will become electives for your undergraduate degree.

How soon will I find out if I’m accepted?
You will find out before you register for fall semester courses (early April) if you have been provisionally accepted to the program, which is contingent on GRE scores.

Are the courses available online?
No, students must take all courses in the classroom.

Can I do this part-time?
No, the MA program is a cohort program where all students start at the same time and take a full courseload of credits both fall and spring; the summer internship and internship course are also a fulltime commitment.

Who can I speak to learn more about this program and understand how it might work for me?
SJMC advising is ready to meet with you to answer your first questions about the program and can then direct your to a health communication faculty member.