The MMC project option (Option B) requires 32 credits (10 three-credit classes) and, at the end of the program, a two-credit professional project.
For the project, students identify a problem or ask an important question, solve the problem/find an answer, or complete a creative project. The project is practical, assisting students in their current position or enhancing their career aspirations.
The project must be written for a specific audience. For advertising, marketing and public relations projects, the target audience is your client. For journalism projects, your audience is your readership – either the general public or a specific niche audience like that of a particular magazine. If your project is an educational project, your audience is those who will decide to offer the class and/or teach it. Some topics, such as social media, are technology-driven, but are still directed to a specific audience or client.
The sequence of required courses gives you the tools you will need from start to finish. In MCOM 705: Introduction to the Masters in Mass Communication, students learn what others have done and begin to consider project topics. In MCOM 710: Cross-Platform Storytelling, they develop a topic further.
In MCOM 786: Conducting Professional Research, students get serious about researching their topic. Then, at the end of their program, they enroll for MCOM 788: Masters Research Project credits and work on the project with their adviser until it’s time to schedule a defense.
Five Types of Professional Projects
Generally, projects fall into one of five main categories, but they all:
- Start with a question, a problem, something that needs to be done, or something that could be done better.
- Search for what others have written or done related to the topic or issue.
- Use some type of research (literature search, interviews, survey, focus group, etc.)
- Create a final “product” that explains how the student answered the question, solved the problem, made something better, and so forth.
Type 1: Project for the public sector
Laurel Meyenberg worked with Roxanne Lucchesi, SDSU advertising professor, on a project the South Dakota Department of Health (SDDOH) funded.
Laurel helped conduct and then report on a study of the attitudes and behavior of individuals who called the South Dakota Tobacco QuitLine. The SDDOH, then, used the results to assess its tobacco cessation efforts.
Type 2: Project for a client or employer
Rachel Eggebo, supervisor of marketing/member relations for an electric and telephone cooperative, wanted to find out how members interpret social media efforts on behalf of the cooperative and examine members’ perceptions of the cooperative’s website and their expectations for it.
She conducted a quantitative survey and qualitative focus group sessions of members to better understand their needs.
Type 3: An education-related project
James Curry never took a class in producing to become what he is today — a line producer at CNN International in Atlanta.
An undergraduate political science major and former Marine, Curry learned on the job and became the youngest line producer ever at CNN.
After finding out that few journalism schools offer a line producing class, including SDSU, he created one for his project, which includes a complete syllabus, textbook suggestions, and assignment details.
Type 4: A long-form journalism project
Sometimes called narrative journalism or creative nonfiction, a print project may be a book, or an in-depth newspaper or magazine article. Long-form broadcast journalism packages fit here as well.
Charles David Thompson, a long-time newspaper man and current editor of the Georgia Southern alumni magazine, wanted to publish a book on the history of his church, which has interesting historical ties to that university.
After scouring through stacks of historical records and interviewing numerous sources, Thompson wrote one sample chapter, showed what the typeset book would look like, and outlined his plans to publish “A Charge to Keep: A History of Pittman Park United Methodist Church.”
Type 5: A video/film project, website, etc.
All of the examples above are primarily text-based. Other project options could include creating and designing (or redesigning) a website; or researching, writing, filming, and producing a video or short film/documentary.
Professional Project Report Outline
(Project report must be formatted in APA style 6th edition, including a running head)
Title page – Name of project, type of project, student name, institution, and date
Abstract - (approximately 100 words), plus no more than six keywords
Introduction/rationale - supported with appropriate citations from peer-reviewed academic journals and relevant industry publications
Overview – what the project entailed (if IRB approval was required, discuss that briefly)
Results – the project outcome; (including how you measured success, if applicable)
Future plans – next steps (if applicable)
Connection to MMC coursework – a course-by-course overview of how you applied knowledge from each class to your project (and how you’re using it in your daily work, if applicable)
References – Sources gathered to demonstrate best practices of project design and implementation as well as data analytics and other sources where applicable
Appendix – supporting materials (survey questions, tables and figures, communication messaging, screenshots of social media, photos, etc.)
SUGGESTED LENGTH: 10 pages minimum (not including title page, abstract, references, appendix) – but will vary from project to project