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Communicating Science

PhD Minor in Health Communication

The Department of Communication Studies is excited to offer a new PhD minor in Health Communication! Health communication is a rapidly growing field that contributes to the knowledge of and improvement in delivery of healthcare. Important work focuses on areas such as patient advocacy, empowerment, and activation; patient-provider communication; shared decision-making; patient-caregiver communication; successful transfers of care among clinicians; communicative approaches to reducing healthcare disparities; and addressing clinician burnout. The work of health communication scholarship adds unique and important dimensions to the study of healthcare and its delivery in a variety of fields, including public health, nursing, psychology, biomedical informatics, rehabilitation science, and other disciplines.


The PhD Minor in Health Communication consists of 12 hours of courses.

Two courses are required: COMM-C 592: Advanced Health Communication, and COMM-C 500: Advanced Communication Theory.

Students select two electives including:

  • COMM-C 695: Communication and Healthcare
  • COMM-C 650: Health Communication Media
  • COMM-C 510: Health Provider-Consumer Communication
  • COMM-C 591: Topics/Seminar in Applied Communication (rotating seminar topics)


  • The graduate minor in communicating science addresses two primary problems.
  • First, scientists and health professionals today need to connect to and to engage with the lay public, policy makers, funders, students, and professionals from other disciplines. Therefore, they increasingly need to tailor their communication for a variety of audiences who are not (or not yet) scientific experts or researchers.
  • Second, instead of assuming traditional PI roles and post-docs, many PhD-level scientists and health professionals are turning frequently to careers in business and industry, public policy, science reporting, and other fields. These emerging roles require the ability to communicate specific scientific knowledge to broad audiences (Funk & Rainie, 2015).
  • In both cases, current graduate programs in the sciences provide limited preparation for these communication expectations. As a result, this minor seeks to fill that educational gap for future scientists and health professionals.

About the Minor
The minor in communicating science is designed for masters and doctoral students in the sciences and health professions to develop audience-centered communication, distill scientific concepts into meaningful narratives, and connect effectively with collaborators and funders.

The program brings together communication and rhetorical theory with the techniques of applied improvisation to enhance students’ career prospects, help them secure funding, and serve as effective teachers.

Graduate Minor in Communicating Science
Required Courses (Total 12 credit hours)
Students are required to take two semesters of 3, one-credit hour co-requisite courses.
Co-Requisite Block 1 (3 cr hrs):

  •       COMM-C 534: Distilling Your Message: Communicating Science (1 cr)
  •       COMM-C 533: Improvisation for Scientists: Communicating Science (1 cr)
  •       ENGL-W 533: Science Writing for Public Readers: Communicating Science (1 cr)

Co-Requisite Block 2 (3 cr hrs):

  •       COMM-C 535: Using Electronic Media: Communicating Science (1 cr)
  •       ENGL-W 535: Science Writing for Public Readers II: Communicating Science (1 cr)
  •       COMM-C 536: Connecting with the Community: Communicating Science (1 cr, Program Capstone)

Students will chose two courses (6 credit hours) from the following list:

  •       COMM-C 510: Health Provider-Consumer Communication (3 cr.)
  •       COMM-C 521: Family Communication in Health Contexts (3 cr.)
  •       COMM-C 591: Topics in Applied Communication (3 cr.) with relevant topics in science/health
  •       COMM-C 592: Advanced Health Communication (3 cr.)
  •       COMM-C 650: Health Communication in Mediated Contexts (3 cr.)
  •       COMM-C 695: Seminar in Communication and Healthcare (3 cr.)
  •       ENG-W 600: Topics in Rhetoric and Composition (3 cr.), with relevant topics in science/health
  •       HIST-H 546: History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (3 cr.)
  •       IBMG-G 655: Research Communications (3 cr.)
  •       JOUR-J 528: Public Relations Management (3 cr.)
  •       JOUR-J 560: Public Relations Research and Evaluation (3 cr.), with topics in Public Relations in the Life Sciences and Integrating Marketing Communication in Health Care
  •       PBHL-H 612: Marketing for Health Services Delivery (3 cr.)
  •       PBHL-S 625: Applied Public Health Campaigns and Social Marketing Strategies (3 cr.)
  •       PBHL-S 622: Coaching for Health Behavior Change (3 cr.)
  •       PBHL-E 606: Grant Writing: From Befuddlement to Brilliance (3 cr.)

The Communicating Science minor is not open to Health Communication PhD students or Applied Communication MA students.