About Dr. John Lynch, Ph.D.: John Lynch is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati. As Director, he manages the graduate program, recruits new students, and advises current students who are in the Department’s Master of Arts in Communication program. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in science communication, narratives in medicine, gender communication, communication & sexuality, and rhetorical methods. His research addresses the rhetorical and communicative aspects of medicine and science, including debates about stem cell research, how people communicate about genetic testing, PR practices around medical research, and the representations of medical ethics and problematic research.
Dr. Lynch earned his B.A. degree from the University of Dayton in 1998. He then received his M.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000, and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 2005.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Master of Arts in Communication program, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum and electives, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?
[Dr. Lynch] Students in UC’s MA program take 12 hours of required courses (Advanced Communication Theory, Rhetorical Theory, Qualitative Methods and Empirical Methods). Students learn theories from the entire spectrum of communication subdisciplines in their theory courses. They also learn a broad range of methods including survey development, ethnography, interviews/focus groups, and rhetorical/textual analysis. They take at least 12 hours of elective courses, which generally include choices among organizational communication & PR, media and technology, health & environmental communication, interpersonal communication, as well as courses addressing identity, culture, globalization, and difference. The department makes sure that courses from each area are taught during every student’s time in our program, and students work with the Graduate Director and their faculty advisor to identify courses that best address their interests and career goals.
Full-time students also enroll in Introduction to Graduate Studies and Advanced Professional Preparation, which are very helpful courses that introduce students to the field of communication, guide them through important decisions about whether to write a thesis or conduct an applied Praxis project, and then helps them prepare for attaining professional work or applying to doctoral programs.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students of the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Arts in Communication program can choose between a master’s thesis or a praxis research project (an applied study based off of internship or work experience). Could you elaborate on these options, and what they entail?
[Dr. Lynch] Students have a choice of conducting a thesis or a Praxis Project. The thesis is an original research project. This project may entail qualitative, quantitative or rhetorical methods, and it may be more theoretical or applied in nature, depending on the student’s interests. Thesis projects have been as diverse as our students.
A Praxis Project entails completing an advanced internship and then writing a paper that discusses the connections between the internship experience and students’ communication coursework. Students identify an internship opportunity with input from the Director of Graduate Studies and the department faculty. The paper also might evaluate a project that the student implemented from a communication perspective.
Both options are conducted with the help of an advisor and committee member/s selected by the student.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Arts in Communication program, and how can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems? Additionally, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program?
[Dr. Lynch] Our program provides extensive mentorship and advising, including the following:
- In addition to advising and mentorship from the Director of Graduate Studies, our program assigns new students a temporary advisor.
- Students select an advisor for their thesis or praxis project.
- All students present their thesis and praxis proposals at a roundtable presentation for students and faculty in order to get early feedback on their projects.
- Students receive extensive career development resources by taking COMM 8093 Introduction to Graduate Studies and 8094 Advanced Academic and Professional Preparation. These courses introduce students to the field of communication and the department, describe professional associations and conferences, help students prepare conference submissions, and help students work on advanced writing skills. The courses also help students research whether they want to pursue a PhD or professional work, and then helps them prepare for those paths through networking opportunities, resume and CV assistance, and more.
- In addition to career support in these classes, students can use resources from UC’s Career Center including internship and career fairs.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Arts in Communication program?
[Dr. Lynch] Start by reading through the material on our website. Reach out to the Director of Graduate Studies if you have any questions. Plan a visit if you’re able. Pay attention to the deadlines so you are sure to have your material in on time. When you write your goal statement, be sure to explain why you think you have the potential to succeed in graduate school, and why you think this specific program (coursework, faculty, programs, etc.) can help you meet your professional and academic goals. It is okay if your goals are not fully formed, but you should discuss why you are a good fit with this specific program. Be sure that your recommenders can speak to your academic ability and turn in their responses before the admissions committee meets to review files.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Arts in Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?
[Dr. Lynch] Our program has unique features that make it an excellent choice for a range of students. These include:
- We are MA only, so MA students are the focus of the graduate program.
- We have small class sizes that give students individual attention.
- Our program features strong mentorship from nationally and internationally recognized communication faculty.
- We provide support to help students choose between a doctoral or professional path.
- Students frequently present research at conferences and have opportunities to research and publish with faculty members.
- Pre-doctoral students have been placed at top programs throughout the country. In 2018, students who applied were accepted with funding at multiple schools.
- Pre-professional students gain experience through an advanced internship with the Praxis, and gain real-world experience through our graduate-student led communication consulting firm, UCommunicate, that works with real clients. UCommunicate offers quality communication services at affordable prices to clients while also becoming a “must experience” opportunity for UC students wanting to prepare for their future careers. Its aim is to build, engage, and inspire.
- Our students attain work in Marketing, Communication & Digital Marketing positions, Employee Communication, Higher Education Administration and Teaching, and Non-Profit Management, as well as other areas.
- We fund a high percentage of our students with a graduate assistantship (GA) that provides a stipend for living expenses (the amount is highly competitive with other programs) and covers your tuition costs. Many of our GA students have the opportunity to teach, and greatly value their teaching experience.
Thank you, Dr. Lynch, for your excellent insight into the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Arts in Communication program!