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Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1

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Are books an additional cost?

Book fees are not included in tuition and may occasionally apply to some courses. Plan for between $200-300 in book fees throughout the program, but many classes will use online resources. The goal is to keep textbook expenses as low as possible, while supplying you with resources that will be useful for both your educational and professional experiences.

How is the HCOM Program different from the face-to-face MA program?

The HCOM program is exclusively online (no face-to-face classes offered) and specializes exclusively in health communication. The face-to-face MA program must be completed on the U of I campus and offers specializations in a variety of Communication disciplines. Additionally, the face-to-face MA program prepares students for doctoral work, whereas the HCOM program is tailored specifically to meet the needs of professionals in healthcare.

Can I finish this degree in less than 2 years?

At this point is is reasonable to expect to take 2 years to complete this degree, if you participate full time.

Do my recommendation letters have to come from people working in academia?

Recommendation letters can come from either academic or professional sources; recommendations from personal sources (e.g., neighbors, friends, family) will not be considered.

Do I need to take the GRE?

GRE scores are not required for admission into the HCOM program. We believe we can make sound judgments about your potential for success in this program based upon your academic records, recommendation letters, statement of purpose and resume. TOEFL scores are required for international students, however.

Will the HCOM program prepare me for a PhD program?

The HCOM program does not offer the teaching or research experience that most doctoral programs require from their applicants. The HCOM program is ideal for professionals interested in advancing their careers in a health-related field, developing expertise in multiple areas across the field of health communication, and/or branching into a new health-related career path.

How is the curriculum organized?

Each semester, students take two courses: an 8-week course followed by a 4-week course, with a 2-week break in between. There is a core curriculum of 10 classes; depending upon whether you enter the program in the Spring or Fall, the order in which the courses are offered may vary. However, students always begin the program with Introduction to Health Communication and end the program with their Capstone course. For more information about specific course schedules, please see the Course Schedules page. If you select the term you plan to enter the program, you can preview the order of all the courses--as well as the dates when they will be offered--for the entire 2 years of the program.