Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

The Science Communication Graduate Certificate and interdisciplinary minor is available to all MS and PHD students in the College of Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The certificate and minor require three electives to be taken at any time before graduation. The goal of this program is to train future science professionals in the skills needed to communicate effectively. This program is also open to postdoctoral fellows, who can use the Qualified Tuition Reduction (QTR) benefit to take courses at a discounted rate.

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Nine credit hours are required, comprising three classes of three credit hours each. Students select classes from the lists below, with at least two classes from Group I, and the third class from Group 2 (all are three credits). Most classes are offered once a year. Those being offered in Fall 2018 are in bold:

Students must choose at least two courses from Group I:

Group I

SCI 501 Science Communication Suitable for all
JOUR 506 Introductory/Advanced Reporting Suitable for all
JOUR 572 Science Journalism Suitable for all

Students must choose one course from Group II:

Group 2

ENGL 514 Advanced Scientific Writing Suitable for all
MCB 575 Scientific Communication Suitable for all
SLHS 649 Survival Skills and Ethics Suitable for all
JOUR 507 Reporting with Multimedia Suitable for all
JOUR 555 Environmental Journalism Discipline-specific
ENVS 508 Scientific Writing for Environmental, Agricultural & Life Sciences Discipline-specific
ENVS 515 Translating Environmental Science Discipline-specific


Students apply for the certificate online using GradApp, with approval of their Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Advisor. They then use GradPath to add the minor to their Plan of Study and list courses they plan to take for the certificate/minor. If course substitution is not permitted by their department, or if a student has already completed their plan of studies and progressed to PHD candidacy, they can earn the certificate by taking the relevant classes as an overload. All admission requirements for the certificate are satisfied by students in their home department.


What is this program?
This program is designed to give future science professionals the skills to communicate with the general public. 

Who can earn the certificate?
MS and PHD students and postdoctoral fellows in the College of Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Why was the certificate created?
Science communication is a critical societal need, yet most graduate students have no formal training in how to communicate science to public audiences and non-scientists. Employers of science graduates rate written and verbal communication skills as more important than any others, including technical knowledge of their core discipline.  

What kind of classes can I take?
The core classes for the certificate include general classes in science communication and science journalism, and more specific options in biology, environmental science, and space science. They are all taught by experienced UA faculty and instructors.

What will I learn in these classes?
Certificate classes are skills based. You will learn how to explain your research to any scientist in an unrelated field, give a talk on your research to a public audience, write a popular article or press release on a recent discovery in your field, and explain to a non-scientist a discovery from an unfamiliar field. Marketable skills are the ability to convey technical information in plain language and the confidence to do public outreach.

What requirements do I have to satisfy?
You must take three approved electives before graduation. They can be taken as an overload if your program does not allow them to be taken as electives. It is possible to apply three units of transfer credit to the certificate if your program approves it.

How do I sign up?
Students first get approval from their Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Advisor. They then apply via GradApp and create their Plan of Studies in GradPath, selecting the multidisciplinary minor. The certificate is awarded by the Graduate College.

How is advising handled?
Advising for students in the certificate program is done by instructors of the classes that contribute to the certificate, along with any faculty with communication expertise in their home department. A member of their prelim or PHD committee serves as advisor for the minor and certificate. If department rules and policies allow, this minor committee member can be the instructor for one of the classes counting towards the certificate.


Administrative: Camille Celaya, Program Coordinator, 520-621-4091

Program Director: Chris Impey, Associate Dean

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