Become a Science Communicator With a Science Communication Online Degree
Students interested in a science communication online degree can pursue courses that explore a wide variety of topics. Core coursework within most programs typically includes research methods, theory and writing.
Using video lectures, background material and virtual mentoring, this course covers important components of how to present science to the general public. Learn to translate scientific journal articles into easily consumable content for the public.
Writing for the Public
A graduate certificate in science communication may be an option for students who wish to cultivate their skills as public-facing scientists but do not want to commit to a full degree program. UND’s program is offered entirely online, with asynchronous classes that allow students to complete coursework at their own pace.
Students take courses that cover everything from the basics of writing to advanced techniques in content creation for various media platforms. They learn how to communicate scientific information to a general audience in ways that are accessible and understandable.
Many master’s degrees in science communication require a minimum of 30 credits and can be completed within two years of full-time study, depending on the specific curricular requirements. Students may also be required to complete a capstone, which could be an applied project or a thesis. Some programs may offer internship opportunities, while others have state-of-the-art labs that enable students to experiment with different media platforms and create podcasts.
Many science students are fascinated with the complex biological processes that govern human health, plant growth, and heredity. They may also want to find ways to help prevent disease, develop sustainable technologies, or even save lives in war zones. But the deeply technical nature of their work often prevents them from communicating their findings to non-scientists.
Science exhibits encourage curiosity and inquiry by allowing visitors to experience scientific phenomena firsthand. They can then use interactive guidance to discover self-explanatory explanations, e.g., “Why does this tower fall faster?” “Because it’s not symmetrical.”
However, an analysis of the curricula for the top ten neuroscience programs found that none require a course focused on science communication to layperson audiences. There are, however, a variety of science communication professional development opportunities, such as workshops, fellowships, and networking events. These include the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, COMPASS, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers annual conference. These communities of practice host in-person and online workshops to support STEM researchers in communicating their work.
Science podcasting is another form of communicating science to a broad audience, and many scientists are now involved in this form of outreach. Podcasting allows audiences to listen to information at their own leisure, so it is a flexible format for promoting scientific news and developments.
One of the best examples is the long-running Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, which rounds up recent scientific discoveries and also – as its name suggests – provides a good dose of scepticism, with time set aside for debunking pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.
More specialized examples are available, including Science(ish), in which host Rick Edwards and his scientific foil examine how various cultural icons like ‘Deadpool’ might actually be possible with today’s science. Meanwhile, the Peabody-winning Radiolab is a textbook example of how to create a rich documentary podcast.
Whether you want to explain your research to a non-scientist, write a popular article about a scientific discovery or create an online resource for scientists to share their work with the public, our courses will teach you the skills you need to promote science. UND’s fully online graduate certificate in Science Communication is designed to give you the confidence and skills to communicate your scientific discoveries to a wide audience, both inside and outside your discipline.
In the introductory modules, you will gain a theoretical perspective on science communication movement, understanding your audience, and models of formal and informal learning. You can also choose from specialised modules in areas such as science writing, science podcasting and face-to-face public engagement.
The certificate is available to any UW-Madison student at the undergraduate or graduate level who is interested in enhancing their knowledge of science communication, and can be added to almost any major. The certificate requires 12 credits, including 3 credits of Independent Study.