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Communicating Science

  • Program Overview

    The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science offers scientists/researchers a contemporary, research-based approach to science communication that will help them to share their science, and the significance of their work, throughout the span of their careers. This program complements graduate students’ primary degree programs and provides professional development for those already working in the areas of science, engineering, technology, and math. Graduate students and professional scientists who complete the certificate will be better able to communicate vividly and empathetically with a variety of audiences including employers, government officials, students, scientists in other fields and funding agencies.

    Those enrolled in the program will begin with a rigorous foundational experience with The Alda Method® of science communication, a dynamic and experiential approach to communication training that mirrors the Alda Center’s successful workshop model. After successful completion of the foundational experience, students will choose electives that align with their core areas of interest. The program culminates in a faculty-mentored capstone project or internship that gives students the opportunity to apply what they have learned.

    Student Learning Outcomes

    1. Develop an understanding of the history, context, and key concepts of science communication research and theory
    2. Craft a message that responds to the needs, values, and cultures of an audience
    3. Use a combination of preparation and spontaneity to connect with audiences
    4. Communicate vividly and expressively about science
    5. Work competently and collaboratively with people of varied backgrounds and interests to expand scientific literacy
    6. Critically evaluate science communication
    7. Apply the skills learned to a real-world context

    The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science supports Stony Brook University’s broader mission to provide comprehensive graduate education and research opportunities of the highest international quality by bringing a unique, value-added educational opportunity to Stony Brook’s graduate students. Research itself depends on effective communication; this certificate is rooted in the internationally recognized work of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, that aims to help scientists communicate their research more vividly and effectively to ensure greater societal benefits. The certificate supports Stony Brook’s commitment to advancing research endeavors of the highest international standards to advance knowledge and create long-range practical significance. Helping scientists, engineers, and medical professionals to communicate more effectively enables the University to provide greater leadership for economic growth, technology and culture for communities on and beyond Long Island, reflecting Stony Brook’s commitment to supporting local and wider geographic regions. Through its emphasis on communicating with diverse audiences, this certificate aligns with the University’s commitment to celebrating diversity and positioning the University in the broader global community.

  • Admissions

    Admission to the Program

    For admission, an applicant is required to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in science, engineering, technology, math, or a related field; or be currently enrolled in a graduate program in one of those fields; or be working or have a history of having worked as a scientist. The applicant must have had an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.

    A committee consisting of the Certificate director and two program faculty will evaluate all applications, including exceptions to the requirements. In considering applicants with GPAs below 3.0, the committee will consider extenuating circumstances, the trend of students’ GPAs, and their life experiences, as well as the diversity of the student body.

    In considering applicants who fall short of the required science background, the committee will consider demonstrated commitment to the field of science communication and experience or education in related fields. Stony Brook University has a long-standing and strong commitment to recruiting and mentoring students from underrepresented groups, particularly in graduate education in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

    The Certificate director will meet with new students upon enrollment to help them chart a path for the successful completion of their certification during the duration of their graduate studies. Program faculty and the certificate director will have regular contact with students. Given that participants will come from master’s and PhD programs, faculty will help students align their certificate coursework to complement requirements in their home disciplines.

    Faculty affiliated with the certificate will provide ongoing, additional mentorship. Our website provides a comprehensive overview of our faculty expertise and contact information. In addition, required coursework is taught by our faculty, enabling students to have ongoing contact. A core mentor will be identified for each student, and every semester, mentors will meet with their student mentees to discuss their progress and research. Mentors will be asked to submit an annual report on all of their certificate mentees to the Certificate program faculty. The faculty will annually review the progress of all students and the Certificate director will contact students whose progress is delayed to discuss plans for timely completion.

  • Degree Requirements

    Course Requirements

    Students will complete one of the following options:

    A. JRN 565: Communicating Your Science (3 credits)


    B. ALL of the following:

    JRN 501: Foundations in Science Communication I (1 credit) 

    JRN 503: Foundations in Science Communication II (1 credit)

    JRN 513: Science of Science Communication (1 credit)

    After completing the foundational course/courses, students choose from and complete at least 2 of the following electives (for a total of 6 credits):

    • JRN 522: Communicating Science to Decision Makers (3 credits)
    • JRN 525: Health, Environment, Science and Technology Reporting (3 credits)
    • JRN 528: Engaging with Journalists (3 credits)
    • JRN 534: Communicating Your Science Using Digital Media (3 credits) ONLINE
    • JRN 575: Special Topics in Science Communication* (3 credits)
    • JRN 585: Communicating Science and Health Risks to the Public (3 credits)
    • JRN 587: Independent Study (3 credits)
    • JRN 588: Graduate Internship* (3 credits)

    Outside of the School of Journalism, JRN (as appropriate to students’ home disciplines)

    • WRT 621 Graduate-Level Writing (3 credits)

    The Certificate committee, which consists of the Certificate director and two program faculty, will identify other relevant courses and formally review them to determine if they are appropriate for the Certificate.

    Students must complete the following as the final 3 credits of the 12-credit certificate:

    JRN 599: Project Work in Science Communication

    *JRN 575 or JRN 588 may substitute for JRN 599 in some cases

    Current course offerings and descriptions can be found online here.

  • Facilities


    The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science has access to classrooms, libraries and TV studios at Stony Brook University that will be used for instructional purposes.

  • Faculty


    Graduate courses offered by the Alda Center are taught by faculty with diverse expertise including: science, technology, engineering, math, medicine, journalism, communications, public policy and theater. This multidisciplinary approach to science communication training helps students tap into innate connections that come alive naturally when people share a passion for their work.

    For an up to date list, see our faculty page.

  • Contact

    Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science

    Executive Director
    Laura Lindenfeld, Melville Library, 4th floor (631)632-1893

    Graduate Program Director
    Elizabeth Bojsza, Melville Library, 4th floor (631) 632-2130

    Brooke Banfi, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, S-249 (631) 632-2130


    The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Communicating Science fosters clear, vivid communication in the areas of science, engineering, and health. Participants learn to integrate scientific knowledge, creativity, ethical practice, and verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The program teaches participants to communicate more effectively about science with the general public, policy makers, the media, students, potential employers or funders and prospective collaborators in their own and other disciplines, while providing background grounding in the field of science communication. Participants learn and develop dynamic ways to connect with, and respond to, diverse audiences. Students learn fundamental skills, including understanding and connecting with audiences, setting focused communication goals, and speaking clearly and conversationally about their work and why it matters. Students develop a fundamental understanding of research on science communication and apply this to practice identifying main points, speaking without jargon, explaining meaning and context, responding to questions, using storytelling techniques, and using multimedia elements. Participants learn to examine critically the presentation of scientific information to society, including analyzing challenges and opportunities for science outreach and communication.