What Types of Projects Will I Work on as a Masters in Communication Student?


Debra Davenport, Faculty

Many new graduate students ask, “What types of projects and assignments will I complete during the course of my masters program?” Purdue’s MS in Communication affords students plentiful opportunities to engage in a variety of projects, in both individual and group formats. Here are just a few:

Discussion forums are an integral component of every course. Each week, students engage with one another (and their professors) in stimulating discourse focused on a key concept, case study, and/or relevant theory. Discussion forums are a wonderful way for students to share ideas and feedback, and to engage in scholarly discourse. On a more personal level, the forums also stimulate camaraderie and friendships. I’ve even seen students get together to form their own strategic communications firms. From my own experience, I find the discussion forums one of the most enriching aspects of each course.

Writing assignments enable students to examine key concepts in-depth, and to demonstrate their critical thinking, analysis, and research skills. Students also learn how to substantiate their analyses and commentary by citing theories and the scholarly literature. These assignments are typically presented in APA format and include references and citations.

Many students do not realize that clients appreciate – and often expect – well-cited reports, proposals, web content, and other communications materials. Further, the ability to craft strategic communication campaigns that are solidly grounded in theory and research sets these practitioners far and above the competition. Clients today want strategic communicators who are savvy, expert, and well-versed in research, data interpretation, and campaign metrics.

And just a note here with regard to writing in the APA format: this is a requirement in most graduate-level programs – and for very good reason. Writing in APA requires students to think differently – about their topic, their approach, and the quality of their content. Additionally, APA formatting standards help students hone their attention to detail. These are extremely important skills that employers and clients are seeking, particularly in communication professionals.

Individual and group projects are often focused on real-world application of course learning material and may include the creation of news releases, media kits, proposals, reports, mock crisis drills, PR campaigns, online blogs, social media messages, surveys, and more. Some projects culminate in the creation of a MediaSpace video presentation in which the students discuss their topic, findings, and recommendations. Group projects facilitate leadership, team-building, collaboration, problem-solving, consensus-building, and interpersonal communication skills. The goal here is to mimic today’s virtual workplace team environment so that students are better prepared to excel in these kinds of organizational cultures.

These are just a few of the many types of projects you will experience in Purdue’s MS in Communication program. As a faculty member, it’s always exciting for me to see how students approach their projects from different perspectives and vantage points.

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Debra Davenport Ph.D. is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.