Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

The Science Communication Graduate Certificate and interdisciplinary minor is available to all University of Arizona MS and PHD students and postdoctoral fellows. The goal of this program is to train future science professionals in the skills needed to communicate effectively. The certificate and minor require three electives to be taken at any time before graduation. Postdoctoral fellows can use the Qualified Tuition Reduction (QTR) benefit to take courses at a discounted rate.

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Nine credit hours are required, comprising three courses of three credit hours each. Select courses from the lists below, with at least two classes from Group I, and the third class from Group 2 (all are three credit courses). Most courses are offered once a year. Please refer to the UA Course Catalog to determine which courses are offered in a given semester.

Students must choose at least two courses from Group I:

Group I

SCI 501 Science Communication Suitable for all
JOUR 506 Introductory/Advanced Reporting Suitable for all
JOUR 572 Science Journalism Suitable for all

Students must choose one course from Group II:

Group 2

ENGL 514 Advanced Scientific Writing Suitable for all
MCB 575 Scientific Communication Suitable for all
SLHS 649 Survival Skills and Ethics Suitable for all
JOUR 507 Reporting with Multimedia Suitable for all
JOUR 555 Environmental Journalism Discipline-specific
ENVS 508 Scientific Writing for Environmental, Agricultural & Life Sciences Discipline-specific
ENVS 515 Translating Environmental Science Discipline-specific


Students apply for the certificate online using GradApp, with approval of their Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Advisor. They then use GradPath to add the Minor to their Plan of Study and list courses they plan to take for the certificate/minor. If course substitution is not permitted by their department, or if a student has already completed their plan of studies and progressed to PHD candidacy, they can earn the certificate by taking the relevant courses as an overload. All admission requirements for the certificate are satisfied by students in their home department.


Why was this certificate created?
Science communication is a critical societal need, yet most graduate students have no formal training in how to communicate science to public audiences and non-scientists. Employers of science graduates rate written and verbal communication skills as more important than any others, including technical knowledge of their core discipline.  

What kind of courses can I take?
The core courses for the certificate include general courses in science communication and science journalism, and more specific options in biology, environmental science, and space science. They are all taught by experienced UA faculty and instructors.

What will I learn in these courses?
Certificate courses are skills based. You will learn how to explain your research to any scientist in an unrelated field, give a talk on your research to a public audience, write a popular article or press release on a recent discovery in your field, and explain to a non-scientist a discovery from an unfamiliar field. Marketable skills include the ability to convey technical information in plain language and the confidence to do public outreach.

How is advising handled?
Advising for students in the certificate program is done by course instructors who contribute to the certificate, along with any faculty with communication expertise in their home department. A member of their prelim or PHD committee serves as advisor for the minor and certificate. If department rules and policies allow, this minor committee member can be the instructor for one of the classes counting towards the certificate.


Administrative: Brittany Johnson, Program Coordinator,, 520-621-4091

Program Director: Chris Impey, Associate Dean,

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