MSTC Thesis Details
Master of Science in Technical Communication Final Experience Options
In order to complete the degree, MSTC students must complete one of four final experience
options. Students are able to choose the final experience that interests them most
and fits best with their interests, career goals/development, educational goals, and
work/life balance. Please review the details on each option below.
Writing a thesis enables students to refine their research and writing skills while exploring a topic of individual interest. It also results in the production of a document which can support an application to a Ph.D. program and may have the potential for publication.
A thesis typically introduces the purpose, scope, and significance of a chosen topic; situates the topic within the context of the available literature in the field of technical communication, explains the research method employed and the rationale for the research, examines the results of the research, and summarizes the importance of the project.
After completing at least 15 semester credit hours in the MSTC program (and maintaining
a 3.0 GPA), students opting for the thesis should first discuss their ideas with a
professor to gauge their interest and availability to direct the thesis. Students
should then register for directed research (TCOM 6390) in order to propose/develop
their thesis. After approval from the Graduate Advisory Committee, students must then
register for TCOM 6391 to write the thesis and sit for an oral defense in the semester
in which they intend to graduate. Students may register for TCOM 6391 for more than
one semester if they need additional time to complete the thesis. For more information
on the timelines, guidelines and forms visit the MSTC Thesis Details page
This option allows students to gain practical experience in the design, management,
and completion of a professional writing project (deliverable). This may include,
for example, the production of a workplace manual, public relations materials, a website,
a usability assessment, or other documents for a workplace. A capstone project may
result in a document that is a significant contribution to an employment portfolio
or supports an application to a Ph.D. program. In addition to the deliverable, students
will also write and defend a rationale report that explains how the document was produced
and how it met the specific needs of the workplace.
After completing at least 15 semester credit hours in the MSTC program (and maintaining a 3.0 GPA), students opting for the capstone project should discuss their ideas/plans for the capstone project with the Director of the MSTC program. After discussion with the Director, students should register for either directed research (TCOM 6390) or field experience (TCOM 6380) as a route to completing their capstone project. Both options require students to submit a proposal to the Graduate Advisory Committee explaining their project and showing how the work they will produce through directed research or a field experience (which may be an independent experience or an official internship) reflects the application of ideas and skills learned in MSTC courses and/or meets the specific needs of a workplace. Upon approval of the proposal, students register for capstone project (TCOM 6392), complete the project, write their rationale report, and then sit for an oral defense of the project in the semester in which they intend to graduate. Students may register for TCOM 6392 for more than one semester if they need additional time to complete the project. For more details and information, visit the Capstone Project Details page.
This final experience option asks students to prepare for and pass a final comprehensive
exam in order to complete the program. After completing at least 18 semester credit
hours in the MSTC program (and maintaining a 3.0 GPA), candidates opting for the final
exam must complete an additional 3 hours of an elective from the courses listed under
“Electives" in the degree curriculum, take directed research (TCOM 6390) during which
they will study for the exam, and then enroll in the comprehensive examination course
Students meet with the MSTC Program Director at the beginning of the semester and prepare for the exam on their own by reading and annotating a list of sources. Students propose an exam specialty area and an exam date between the 11th and 14th weeks of the semester. Students are given the exam on their proposed date and are required to return the complete exam within 24 hours. The exam is evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Students who fail the exam the first time will receive an Incomplete and will have an opportunity to retake the exam one more time.
For more information on the comprehensive exam, exam procedures, reading list, and
evaluation rubric, please review the Comprehensive Exam Guide.
Additional Coursework (formerly Graduate Seminar Paper)
Students may fulfill the final experience by registering for TCOM 6095 and taking
two additional elective courses.