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Master of Science in Journalism

MSJ Thesis or Professional Project

All students in the Master of Science in Journalism (MSJ) degree program must complete a thesis or professional project involving original work in the student’s area of interest.

Students in the teaching-research track normally take research and theory courses both inside and outside of the Reed College of Media, statistics and social science courses. The student’s program culminates in a thesis, which is a scholarly study of an important aspect of mass communication.

Students in the professional track typically take communication and outside area courses that will help them become better practitioners. Students eventually research and write a professional project, which helps a student expand his or her knowledge about a given aspect of mass communication and is a large-scale project on which the student might work as a professional.

There are many steps to writing a thesis or producing a professional project. Students should refer to the overview below and review the Thesis Process or the Professional Project Process documentation for complete details.

Early in the program, students begin to formulate ideas for the thesis or professional project and assess College of Media faculty interests and areas of expertise. Each student must select a Graduate Committee Chair, who will provide guidance on developing the initial idea into a preliminary thesis or project proposal.

Once the proposal is complete, each student must assemble a Graduate Committee, the governing body of the student’s thesis or project. Students should review the specific details regarding Graduate Committee Composition.

The Graduate Committee reviews the proposal and provides feedback for revisions. The student works with the Chair to prepare the proposal for formal defense before the Committee. Once the student’s proposal is approved by the Graduate Committee, the student may begin further research on the formal thesis or project.

Typically during the second year of the program, the student works toward a final draft of the thesis or project with the Chair and his or her Committee. The student then defends the thesis or project before the Committee.

After the final thesis or project is approved, the Committee signs the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) signature form. The student then uploads the final thesis or project to the ETD site. Directions and information are available on WVU’s thesis website.