Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

The Science Communication Graduate Certificate or multidisciplinary minor is available to all University of Arizona MS and PHD students and postdoctoral fellows. The goal of this program is to train future science professionals in the skills needed to communicate effectively. The certificate and minor require three electives to be taken at any time before graduation. Postdoctoral fellows can use the Qualified Tuition Reduction (QTR) benefit to take courses at a discounted rate.

To see the original proposal giving the motivation for the certificate, please click here.

Note that the course list for the certificate has changed; the current list is given on this web page.

Requirements

Nine credit hours are required, comprising three courses of three credit hours each. Select courses from the list below (all are three credit courses). Most courses are offered once a year. Please refer to the UA Course Catalog UA Course Catalog to determine which courses are offered in a given semester. The courses can be taken in any order, and in any semester, as long as all three courses have been taken by the time of graduation.

For additional flexibility in completing the certificate, students may substitute 3 credits of Independent Study (599) for one of the three courses. The Independent Study should be faculty-directed and can focus on any aspect of science communication. It must be approved by the Graduate Director of the program in which the student is enrolled.

Students must choose three courses from following list:

ENGL 514 Advanced Scientific Writing
ENGL 596 The Art of Scientific Storytelling
ENVS 508 Scientific Writing for Environmental, Agricultural & Life Sciences
ENVS 515 Translating Environmental Science
FTV 555 Documentary Filmmaking and Science Communication
INFO 578 Science Information and its Presentation
JOUR 506 Introductory/Advanced Reporting
JOUR 507 Reporting with Multimedia
JOUR 555 Environmental Journalism 
JOUR 572 Science Journalism 
MCB 575 Scientific Communication
SCI 501 Science Communication
SLHS 649 Skills and Ethics

Procedures

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 courses as an overload. All admission requirements for the certificate are satisfied by students in their home department.

FAQ

Why was this 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. The number of jobs for science graduates in communication-related fields is growing. 

What kind of courses can I take?
The core courses for the certificate include general courses 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 courses?
Certificate courses 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 include the ability to convey technical information in plain language and the confidence to do public outreach. The Independent Study option gives you a tailored science communication experience under direct faculty supervision.

How is advising handled?
Advising for students in the certificate program is done by the course instructors who contribute to the certificate, along with any faculty with communication expertise in their home department. There is no change to the committee or the comp exam process for a student earning the certificate. For a student wanting to earn the multidisciplinary minor, a member of their prelim or PhD committee serves as advisor for the minor. If department rules and policies allow, this minor committee member can be the instructor for one of the classes counting towards the certificate.

Contacts

Administrative: Brittany Johnson, Program Coordinator, bljohnson@email.arizona.edu, 520-621-4091

Program Director: Chris Impey, Associate Dean, cimpey@email.arizona.edu

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