Graduate student handbook
Updated: August 14, 2020 (For previous versions of the handbook, please email Kari Barber.)
Master of Arts: Media Innovation
Welcome to the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno!
In our Master of Arts in Media Innovation, students are free to choose their own areas of study from a menu of electives constituting three tracks:
- Strategic Communications
- News Innovation
- Media Studies
Our graduates are working in jobs at National Public Radio, the Reno Gazette-Journal, the @Reality Virtual Reality Lab, the State Tourism office, the University of Nevada, environmental conservation groups, PR agencies and many more. Other students have gone on to pursue Ph.Ds at top programs including Louisiana State University and the University of Oregon.
The tradition of journalism education at the University of Nevada has a long and distinguished history, beginning with the first journalism course taught in 1921. Eleven students graduated from journalism in 1924; by 1985, this number had grown to 150. Today, nearly 500 undergraduate students are enrolled in journalism courses at the school. The first Master of Arts degree was awarded in 1966, and since then, hundreds of students have graduated from our M.A. program.
The graduate program
The graduate program in Media Innovation explores a simple, but profound set of questions: What role does, and can, journalism play in helping people generate, evaluate, share and act on civic knowledge? Can we use interactive and innovative forms of journalism to connect citizens in a discussion about public issues that enriches everyone’s understanding?
The program is designed for students with skills in writing and critical thinking. We start off with courses in written and multimedia storytelling and the future of media. We engage graduate fellows in re-imagining media by applying theoretical groundings, intellectual rigor and practical insights to experiments in media innovation.
Center for Advanced Media Studies at the Reynolds School
CAMS (the Center for Advanced Media Studies), directed by Professor Gi Woong Yun, is the research arm of the Reynolds School. CAMS supports various types of research activities including hosting speakers and events and facilitating research equipment and space.
CAMS also sponsors grants to support graduate student activities. More information about these grants can be found below.
Graduate curriculum requirements
To earn a master’s degree, you will need to complete the following courses with a grade of C or better and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (a B average). A total of 33 graduate credits are required to graduate.
Typical program of study
Here is what a typical program of study looks like
- 3 credits - JOUR 707: Storytelling I: Writing
- 3 credits- JOUR 720: The Future of Media
- 3 credits - JOUR 756: Storytelling II: Multimedia
- 3 credits - JOUR 755: Engagement
- 3 credits-JOUR 703: Innovation
- 6 credits of electives
- 3 credits - JOUR 695: Practicum. (Internship); or 3 credits - JOUR 797: Thesis.
- 3 credits - JOUR 796: Professional Project, or 3 credits - JOUR 797: Thesis.
- 6 credits of electives
You need to take four electives (12 credits) to complete the program. These can be taken in any semester, including the summer, and should deepen your knowledge in a specific area (Strategic Communications, News Innovation or Media Studies) and should be approved by the graduate director and your committee chair.
Of the 33 graduate credits required, at least 15 must be in courses numbered 700 or higher for professional project/paper students. For thesis students, at least 18 credits must be in courses numbered 700 or higher. You will need to complete at least 33 credits and maintain a 3.0 GPA. The deadlines listed below presume a three-semester program although it is possible to extend an additional semester. All course work must be completed within six years preceding the awarding of the degree. You are responsible for meeting all deadlines and requirements of the Graduate School. These are detailed on the graduate school website and within this handbook. The deadlines below presume a December 2021 graduation.
- Program of Study: a list of all the courses you have taken, and plan to take, to complete your degree, signed by all three of your committee members. April 17, 2021
- Graduate Application: filed online (graduation fee ~ $95) Oct. 1, 2021
- Notice of Completion: a form signed by all three of your committee members upon successful completion of your professional project (or thesis) and oral defense. Dec. 4, 2021
Culminating project final requirements
All students must complete a culminating project to earn the M.A. degree. Students can choose a professional project (3 credits - JOUR 796) OR a 6-credit research thesis (JOUR 797). A project must be accompanied by a reflective paper. The 6-credit thesis option will in most cases require a prerequisite research methods course.
In each case, the work will be guided by a three-member graduate committee.
The student will choose a member of the graduate faculty at the Reynolds School to chair the committee. To determine if a faculty member is part of the Reynolds School graduate faculty, please check the Graduate Faculty webpage. Not all faculty are graduate faculty. Faculty members should be chosen for their expertise in the student’s area of interest. If a faculty member agrees to chair the student’s committee, the student and committee chair together will select a second committee member from our graduate faculty and a third graduate faculty committee member from outside the RSJ. The chair is responsible for overseeing the student’s work and determining when the project is ready to be presented to the committee. The other two committee members will offer additional help as needed from their area of expertise.
Students will refine their project in consultation with the committee chair. Once a topic is agreed upon, the student prepares a written proposal outlining the goals of the project, the work to be completed and a proposed timeline. Once the proposal is approved by the chair it will be circulated to the committee for comments. The student should not proceed further until the scope of work has been agreed to by the full committee.
The project or thesis should meet the following criteria:
- Address a significant professional or scholarly research question
- Incorporate elements of innovation and/or interactivity
- Reflect professional or scholarly standards in content and execution
- Professional projects need to be accompanied by a reflective paper that identifies the key lessons learned in the project and how it addressed these criteria
The student needs to stay in close contact with the chair of the committee to ensure that the work is proceeding according to schedule and in line with the agreed-upon proposal.
Once the project, paper or thesis has been completed to the satisfaction of the committee chair, the student will organize a meeting of the full committee. The project and reflective paper, or the thesis, will be circulated to the committee to allow for review prior to the defense meeting. The student must discuss with all committee members how much time they will need to review the completed project or thesis in advance of the oral defense and plan accordingly. This should be a minimum of one week before the defense and generally longer. The student is responsible for scheduling the defense at a time that all committee members and the RSJ Graduate Program Director are available. Room confirmation for the location of the defense must be made by the student in consultation with the Dean’s office. The defense should last one hour and will include a presentation by the student and a Q&A session with the full committee. Other students and faculty may be invited to the presentation.
At the end of the defense, the student will be informed of one of three outcomes:
- Not Pass
- Pass with Revisions
In the case of not passing, the student may work with the chair to revise the project in light of feedback and to schedule a second defense meeting. If revisions are recommended, the student and committee chair can generally address those changes without additional committee involvement.
Defenses should be scheduled enough in advance of the notice of completion deadline to allow for revisions or a second defense meeting as needed.
Graduate School requirements
To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least six graduate-level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship. All graduate students holding an assistantship (teaching GTA or GRA) are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship. Tuition remission is only for 9 credit hours in a semester. For any credits taken above that, students will pay tuition at the Nevada resident tuition level.
Graduate assistantships are offered for three semesters, assuming satisfactory completion of duties. A fourth semester of support is only available pending funding and staffing needs.
Find out general information on assistantships.
All domestic degree-seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University-sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). If a student has other comparable coverage and would like to waive out of the student health insurance, it is the student’s responsibility to complete the University online waiver form prior to September 9, 2020. If approved, a health insurance waiver is good for the current academic year only. A new waiver must be submitted each academic year. All international graduate students are required to carry student health insurance, and the cost will be automatically added to your student account. Any international graduate students with insurance questions must contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) directly. Learn more about the Graduate School health insurance.
To maintain “good standing” all graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of three graduate credits each fall and spring semester until they graduate. International students may be required to enroll in nine graduate credits each fall and spring semester depending on the requirements of their visa. All students holding assistantships (whether teaching or research assistantships) are required to enroll in a minimum of six graduate credits each semester they hold the assistantship.
Leave of absence
Students in good standing may request a leave of absence by completing a leave of absence form available on the Graduate School website during which time they are not required to maintain continuous registration. Usually, a leave of absence is approved for one or two semesters. The leave of absence request may be extended by the student filing an additional leave of absence form. Students applying for a leave of absence should not have any “incomplete” grades which could be changed to “F” and have a detrimental impact on their cumulative GPA. Requests for leave of absences must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the leave is to begin.
Reinstatement: When a student has been absent for one semester or more without an approved leave of absence, they may request reinstatement via the reinstatement form (available on the Graduate School website). This form allows the program the option to recommend the student be re-admitted to their graduate program based on their previous admission OR require the student to re-apply for admission which would require students to submit a new application for admission and pay the application fee. The Notice of Reinstatement to Graduate Standing must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the reinstatement is to begin.
Graduate School forms
- Declaration of Advisor/Major Advisor/Committee Chair: For master’s students, the completed form must be submitted to the Graduate School by the end of the student’s second semester.
- Program of Study: For our master’s program, the completed form must be submitted to the Graduate School by April 17, 2021, for a Dec. 2021 graduation.
- Graduation Application: Must be submitted to the Graduate School Oct. 1 (for December graduation) or March 1 (for May graduation).
- Notice of Completion: Completed form should be submitted after all requirements have been met.
You can find an updated list of forms and requirements on the Graduate School forms webpage.
Graduate student research grants
CAMS Graduate Student Research Grants are intended to support Reynolds School graduate student scholarship and promote the mission of the RSJ graduate program as a base for innovation and entrepreneurship. The definition of research, as used here, encompasses both scholarly publication and creative production.
Individual grant applications may be submitted for up to $500. Collaborative applications involving multiple students may be submitted for up to $1,000. A total of $2,000 will be available during the 2020/2021 academic year.
All full-time Reynolds School graduate students are eligible to apply. Collaborative applications among graduate students are encouraged. Graduate students who receive a grant are not eligible to apply for one year following the completion of a previously funded project.
Use of funds
Grants may be used toward expenses related to the specific research project, such as travel, training, books and materials, equipment and software and student workers. Funds may not be used to augment salary. Funds must be expended by December 31 of the year granted, unless otherwise authorized by the director of graduate studies.
How to apply
A two-page description of the project and a proposed budget must be submitted to the director of graduate studies. Applications will be reviewed and awarded by the director and a subcommittee of graduate faculty on a rolling basis.
Applications should address:
- The nature of the project and the specific use of the requested funds
- The contribution that a grant would make to the success of the project
- The potential for publication or presentation
A final report summarizing the outcome of the project is due to the director of graduate studies within one month of the completion of the project.
Graduate student workspace
The Graduate Studies Lab, in room 104, will be your work and office space, lab space, and communal space for the time you are in the program.
Computers: During the time classes are in session, you are free to use the computers along the wall as you walk into the graduate space. Outside of class time, students are encouraged to work in the classroom. There should be enough computers for everyone to claim one for their own during their time in the program. Unlike the computers in our undergraduate labs, files are retained on the Graduate Studies Lab computers after a user logs out. You should, however, initiate and maintain a regular file backup regimen, using an external drive and/or a cloud repository (e.g. Dropbox). You are free to decorate your space and stake a claim over a particular desk and computer.
Lockers are also available in the graduate studies area for keeping your things secure during the day.
You will be able to use your Student ID card to get in the front door of the building and in the graduate studies lab after regular building hours. Access can be arranged at the beginning of the fall semester after you fill out the appropriate forms. Barbara Trainor and Raeven Blackman are the go-to staff in the Dean’s office for issues related to keys, room security, paper supplies and related questions.
You are free to use the kitchen area accessed from the Linn Reading Room.
Video cameras, DSLRs and audio recorders are available for checkout in room 214 of the journalism school.
The Knowledge Center library has a fully equipped multimedia center on the first floor (the @One Lab) with video and audio equipment available for check out.
Notes about use
Please use the department equipment wisely and ethically. No copying of university software or use of pirated software is tolerated. Do not run multiple copies on the laser printers; do not use printers as photocopying machines. Copies related directly to your work in the graduate program may be made on the copy machine in the break room on the third floor or in the alcove on the second floor.
The Knowledge Center
Our library is the largest in the state with thousands of books and electronic resources. A number of valuable research databases are available as well as historical archives. The @One Center in the basement has Macintosh and Windows computers with a wide array of software. Also located there is the Digital Media Lab, an equipment checkout area, a multimedia library, a printing center, and the DataWorks lab. Visit the library’s website.
One of the most valuable library resources for our students is the tutorial site lynda.com. As a registered student, you have full and free access to all Lynda.com tutorials, which cover media software and much more. They can be accessed at lynda.unr.edu. You’ll need a NetID to log in.
The librarian assigned to journalism is:
214-H, Knowledge Center