Professor Dominique Brossard leading discussion with graduate students in LSC 700: Colloquium in Life Sciences Communication.

The Department of Life Sciences Communication is a world leader in science communication research, education and practice. We offer a master's degree with the opportunity to pursue either a research/thesis pathway or professional course-based pathway.

The professional pathway is a course-based program that is designed to prepare students for professional careers in life sciences communication and related fields. Students in this pathway will not usually pursue a Ph.D. program in the future. In fact, many doctoral programs (including Life Sciences Communication) do not accept a non-thesis master's as a criterion for admission to their Ph.D. program.

Teaching and research in the department focus on science communication in the areas of emerging technologies, bioenergy, environment, agriculture, health, and food.

The M.S. in Life Sciences Communication graduate program provides advanced professional training in communication and preparation for communication research and teaching. Students in the professional pathway M.S. program are studying for careers in fields such as consulting, policy, journalism, strategic communication, marketing and market research, particularly in science-related fields.

For more information on the types of research our faculty and students are doing, where our M.S. alumni are now, and additional details about the program, please visit the Life Sciences Communication website.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline May 15
Spring Deadline October 15
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admissions deadlines:
For spring admission: October 15
For fall admission: May 15
In order to be eligible for various fellowships and teaching assistantships, early application is recommended.

Students must meet the minimum requirements for admission set by the Graduate School.
Applicants must submit:

  • ​An online application
  • Official GRE scores
  • A statement of purpose
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • A CV/resume
  • Three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should come from people who can speak to the scholarly abilities of the applicant.
  • International applicants are required to take and attain a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. 

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Financial support is available for graduate students in LSC. Historically, nearly all of our graduate students have been funded through assistantships—either in our department, working under the direction of one of our faculty members, or in one of numerous other departments and programs that regularly look to LSC to provide them with students with strong communication skills.


Most graduate students who receive support serve as teaching, research, or project assistants. Assistantships are typically part-time positions that pay a monthly stipend. Additionally, positions that are 33.33% or more (based on a 40-hour work week) provide tuition remission for the student and make the student eligible for comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Graduate students in the Department of Life Sciences Communication will be eligible for full consideration for LSC teaching assistant positions if they are in good academic standing (two years for M.S. students, three years for Ph.D. students). Preference is given to students who have not exceeded those limits, but all students in good standing are welcome to apply. Students pursuing double degrees will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


The department nominates its most competitive graduate applicants for fellowship awards including the Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (AOFs) and Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowships (WDGF), among others.

Financial Aid

Students who are US citizens or Permanent Residents can apply for Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) and for Federal Work-Study through the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). Eligibility is based on financial need. OSFA also offers information on the cost of attendance.

Short-term loans are available on a limited basis. They are given only to assist in unanticipated emergency situations and must be repaid within the semester in which they are borrowed.

Hourly Employment

Other employment opportunities are available both on campus and in the community. Student job opportunities can be found on the Student Job Center website.

Travel and Professional Development Grants

Every student is encouraged to apply for the Graduate School’s Student Research Grants Competition each year. These grants are intended to support both Conference Presentation Funds and Research Travel Awards. It is critical that students plan to apply early and follow campus travel policies for transportation and travel.

Also, graduate students in LSC can apply for financial support from the department for travel to academic conferences. Students can apply for up to $1,000 for international travel and up to $500 for domestic travel. More information is provided to students via e-mail during the application cycles.


LSC also encourages students to apply annually for college and departmental scholarships through the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH).

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.50 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a B or above in all coursework to count it toward the 30-credit total.
Assessments and Examinations The research/thesis track requires a formal thesis and oral defense; the professional track requires a comprehensive report or course narrative, and presentation at the culmination of coursework.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

The M.S. has two pathways students can follow: a thesis-pathway master's degree and a professional-pathway master's degree1. The thesis-based master's degree requires 30 credits (six of which can be LSC 990 Research credits) and a thesis based on original research. The professional pathway is a course-based master’s degree that requires 30 credits and culminates in a course narrative report and presentation. Students in the professional pathway will usually not pursue a Ph.D. program in the future. In fact, many doctoral programs (including LSC) do not accept a non-thesis master’s as a criterion for admission to their Ph.D. program. Students choose their pathway during the program application process.

Coursework includes a required colloquium in LSC, a science communication theory course, a research methods course, and a graduate-level statistics course. The remaining credits can include classes in science communication and other areas based on a student’s academic and career goals. For example, a student wishing to become an environmental reporter might take courses in environmental studies. A student interested in health communication might take a nutrition or preventive medicine course. However, the complete program must have coherence and focus, and students should discuss all courses with their advisor prior to enrollment.

LSC 700 Colloquium in Life Sciences Communication1
Science Communication Theory3
Introduction to Communication Theory and Research
Public Opinion of Life Science Issues
Research Methods 23-4
Graduate Level Statistics 33-4
Electives Based on Academic & Career Goals 420
Total Credits30-32

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.


Course to be selected in consultation with your advisor. Examples of courses that may fulfill this requirement include: COM ARTS 762ED PSYCH/​COUN PSY/​CURRIC/​ED POL/​ELPA/​RP & SE  719, JOURN 658, JOURN/​LSC  811, JOURN 812, SOC/​C&E SOC  750, SOC 751, or SOC 752.


Course to be selected in consultation with your advisor. Examples of courses that may fulfill this requirement include: ED PSYCH 760, ED PSYCH 761, LSC 660, SOC/​C&E SOC  360, or SOC/​C&E SOC  361.


Courses selected in consultation with your advisor to create a cohesive program of study. Thesis-pathway students may count up to 6 credits of LSC 990 Research toward their electives to reach the 30 credits required for the program. Students may count up to two colloquia (including LSC 700) toward the 30 credit requirement for the program.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

No credits from graduate work from other institutions are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

A student’s program may decide to transfer up to six University Special student credits numbered 300 or above. However, these credits would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum or toward courses required by the program. The credits will be noted on the transcript in the graduate career as transfer credits, but the courses will remain in the University Special student career.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


All students are required to meet with their advisor a minimum of once per semester.


15 credits

Time limits

Students who pursue a thesis-pathway master’s degree will have a limit of four semesters (including summers) during which they can enroll in LSC 990 Research credits. Students who have not defended their thesis at the end of the fourth semester in which they are enrolled in LSC 990 will be awarded a professional pathway master’s degree, assuming they have completed all the requirements for the degree.

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Grievance Procedures

Students who feel that they have been treated unfairly have the right to a prompt hearing of their grievance. Such complaints may involve course grades, classroom treatment, various forms of harassment, or other issues. Any student or potential student may use these procedures except those graduate assistants whose complaint is covered by campus policies for teaching assistants.

Procedures for student grievances:

  • The student should speak first with the person toward whom the grievance is directed. In most cases, grievances can be resolved at this level.

  • If this conversation does not yield satisfactory results, the student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies in the student's home department.

  • Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved at that level, the student should contact their program’s Grievance Advisor to discuss the grievance. The Graduate Program Coordinator can provide students with the name of this faculty member, who facilitates problem resolution through informal channels. The Grievance Advisor is responsible for facilitating any complaints or issues of students. The Grievance Advisor first attempts to help students informally address the grievance prior to any formal complaint. Students are also encouraged to talk with their faculty advisors regarding concerns or difficulties if necessary. University resources for sexual harassment concerns can be found on the Office of Compliance website.

  • If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction the student can submit the grievance to the Grievance Advisor in writing, within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.

  • On receipt of a written complaint, a faculty committee will be convened by the Grievance Advisor to manage the grievance. The program faculty committee will obtain a written response from the person toward whom the complaint is directed. This response will be shared with the person filing the grievance.

  • The faculty committee will determine a decision regarding the grievance. The Grievance Advisor will report on the action taken by the committee in writing to both the student and the party toward whom the complaint was directed within 15 working days from the date the complaint was received.

  • At this point, if either party (the student or the person toward whom the grievance is directed) is unsatisfied with the decision of the faculty committee, the party may file a written appeal. Either party has 10 working days to file a written appeal to the College.

  • Documentation of the grievance will be stored for at least 7 years. Significant grievances that set a precedent will be stored indefinitely.

The Graduate School has established policies governing student conduct, academic dishonesty, and sexual and racial harassment. The Graduate School also has procedures for students wishing to appeal a grievance decision made at the college level. These policies are described in the Academic Guidelines.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulate research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, and practice within the field of study. Demonstrating knowledge of the theories, concepts, frameworks, empirical findings, and controversies in the field.
  2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social, or global context.
  4. Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies, tools, and practices.
  5. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  6. Communicates complex ideas effectively across different audiences.
  7. Recognizes, fosters, and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.


Brossard, Dominique (chair)
Chen, Kaiping
Chinn, Sedona
Fisher, Madeline
Li, Nan
Newman, Todd
Patterson, Dexter
Scheufele, Dietram (director of graduate studies)
Shaw, Bret
Stanley, Don
Xenos, Michael