Virginia Tech Department of Communication
MA Advising and Graduation Checklist
The Master of Arts in Communication is designed as a two-year degree. This checklist
was developed as a guide to help you as you make progress toward the degree.
____ Meet with Dr. Tedesco to discuss the program and your academic interests. We
will go over the Plan of Study form so you understand the credit requirements and
the degree options available to you.
____ Enroll in the two required courses (Comm 5014: Communication Theory and
Comm 5024: Communication Research Methods) and at least 1 elective course.
Important note: Full-time students must enroll in 9 credit hours. Students
receiving a GTA or GRA appointment must be enrolled in 12 credit hours.
____ Schedule a meeting with Dr. Tedesco within the first month of classes to discuss
your coursework, the program, and any academic management issues that may
arise during your first few weeks in the program.
____ It is highly advisable that you visit office hours, or make appointments, to meet
with each of your course professors. Discussing the course readings, plans you
might have for final projects, feedback on how you are contributing to the class,
and/or any clarification you might need about the course is strongly encouraged.
____ Attendance at all department academic events is expected of all graduate students.
For example, when a speaker visits our department, a job candidate gives a
presentation, the department gathers for a social, or your graduate student peers
host a brown-bag or present their research/thesis/internship, you should plan to
____ Schedule an appointment to meet with any faculty members currently not teaching
in the graduate program whose research interests you. Don’t be afraid to begin
the process of discovering the current research projects or teaching goals of the
various professors in the department. You can do this in pairs or small groups if it
is more comfortable for you. But, the goal should be for you to learn about the
research/teaching of various faculty members.
____ It is highly advisable that you join the Communication Graduate Student
Association and/or other groups on campus. Pre-professional organizations, and
leadership posts in these groups, look good on a resume and they sometimes serve
as important avenues to social and financial support.
____ Make an appointment to visit with Dr. Tedesco before the spring course request
period (usually late October). Course request (essentially pre-registration) allows
you to discuss course for the spring term. We can use this meeting time to discuss
electives outside the department, certificate programs on campus, internship
plans, or other academic issues that are of interest to you.
____ Register for spring courses.
At the completion of 15 hours, MA graduate students should complete their Plan of
Study. In order to complete the Plan, students must work with their advisor and get
signatures from the three members of their advisory committee.
____ Students should maintain an active role in the department through attendance at
department-sponsored academic and social events, individual or small group
meetings with faculty members, and participation in the department’s mission.
____ Select an academic advisor. By the end of your second semester, you should select
an academic advisor. MA advisors oversee your degree option (thesis, internship,
or project) and work with you to complete academic and begin career planning.
____ In consultation with your academic advisor, you should identify the two additional
faculty members who will complete your three-member advisory committee.
____ Discussion of degree options. All students should discuss degree options with their
advisor. This should be done early in the student-advisor relationship in order to
ensure the most time for planning. For example, most internships are completed
during the summer between the first and second year the program, so advance
planning helps students in identifying, securing, and completing the internship.
____ Complete the Plan of Study, including decision about degree option.
____ Submit Plan of Study to Dr. Tedesco for signature and approval. This should be
done at the end of your second semester.
____ Discuss any academic goals with your advisor before you head off for the summer,
especially if you plan to work on your internship, thesis, or project.
____ Update your advisor on any internship, thesis, or project progress. (If completing a
summer internship, please see Internship checklist. If working on a thesis, please
see Thesis checklist)
____ If you completed an internship over the summer, you should arrange your
presentation with your advisor and clear it with Dr. Tedesco.
____ Students writing a thesis should schedule their thesis proposal by November 15 in
the fall term.
____ IRB requests are necessary for theses project involving human subjects. Be sure to
request access for research participants at the beginning of the fall semester.
____ Ensure Plan of Study reflects courses and program options for graduation.
____ Thesis, Thesis, Thesis or Project, Project, Project
____ If taking written exams, meet with your advisor and each committee member early
during semester to begin the process of discussing your exam question topics.
The sooner you begin studying for comprehensive exams, the less stressful they
____ Set up defense/presentation date.
____ Application for Degree due by March 1. Online form from Graduate College.
____ Request to Admit Candidate to the Final Exam (Two weeks prior to exam or thesis
defense date). Online form from Graduate College.
____ Pay graduation fee.
____ Exam Card (signed at defense or after successful evaluation of exams). Picked up
from the Graduate College on the date of your exams or defense.
____ Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Approval Form.
____ Internship consideration. Each student should discuss the possibility of an internship with
____ Since most internships occur during summer, students-advisors should begin
discussions about internships in the spring term.
____ Communicate goals with advisory committee.
____ Locate an internship location and site supervisor.
____ Submit proposal/internship paperwork to graduate director.
____ Complete 150 hours of work for internship.
____ Complete weekly summaries/journal entries of your observations of communication
research and theory at the worksite. Your observations should include not only the
ways you see applied evidence of theory or research in practice, but also ways in which
theory/research could explain practice.
____ Keep copies of all the work you either develop, or work on, for your internship
presentation and/ or portfolio. Most students attach their work as an appendix to their
____ Consider a topic/approach to your internship paper. While it is possible for students
to enter an internship with specific research goals, other students develop
internship topics after a few weeks of work or worksite observation.
____ Keep in close contact with your advisor about internship developments, paper
progress/goals, and preparation for internship presentation.
____ Complete internship paper. Consult with advisor for specific guidelines/goals. Most
internship papers take shape much like a major research project for a course (e.g. about
____ Arrange time and date for internship presentation. (Internship presentations are usually
held in fall or spring terms, even when internships are completed in the summer.
Summer presentations are allowed only on approval from Dr. Tedesco).
____ Clear time and date of internship presentation with Dr. Tedesco.
____ Reserve a presentation room with Geraldine Hollandsworth.
____ Send Geraldine an e-mail with the title of your presentation, and the time, date, and place so
she can forward an invitation to other graduate students, faculty, and staff.
____ Submit final version of internship presentation to Dr. Tedesco
____ Work closely with your advisor to develop your thesis idea and plan.
____ Begin working on a thesis proposal to share with your committee. Advisors may
have differences in expectation for proposal length and detail, so working with the
advisor here is essential as well.
____ After advisor approves your thesis proposal, distribute copies to your committee
____ Schedule a proposal meeting with your advisory committee to discuss your
approval and get approval to complete your proposed (or modified) plan.
____ Give copy of approved thesis proposal to Dr. Tedesco
____ If using human participants in the data collection aspects of your study, secure IRB
approval before any data collection starts. Dr. Tedesco will need to be copied on
your IRB approval, as will the chair of the department’s research committee.
____ Work closely with advisor to complete various parts of thesis.
____ Draft thesis to advisor for review/edit. Thesis projects usually involve several draft
copies. Allow sufficient time for your advisor to read drafts, edit, and your re-
____ Share completed thesis with committee only after it is approved by your committee.
____ Get permission from Dr. Tedesco to schedule a thesis defense.
____ Identify a date, time and location of thesis defense with committee.
____ Reserve a defense location through Geraldine.
____ Send Geraldine a note identifying your thesis title and defense time, date and
location so she can send invitation to graduate students, faculty, and staff.