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Changes Proposed for the MCOM Program

Posted by: Cierra Seid | March 13, 2018 | No Comment |

With application deadlines quickly approaching for the 2018-2019 academic year, it seems to be an appropriate time to share an update on the curriculum changes planned for the Master of Arts in Communication  program. Some of you may have already heard the rumor: starting Fall 2019, the MCOM program will be moving online. The proposal calls for the current two-year, on-campus program to be  transformed into an online degree program with a one-year completion option. This is a big change!

So why is the program changing? I talked to MCOM program director, Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain about the proposal, and asked her to share some details about the new direction of the program.

We made this decision in order to better serve the needs and interests of the local community of communication professionals. The proposed program offers students the flexibility and convenience often required for working professionals along with a rigorous, engaging and tailored advanced educational opportunity in communication. I think it is important to emphasize that the learning experience is not changing, just the mode of delivery and versatile degree completion schedule.

The updated program includes a curriculum of six content modules with the first focusing on  foundational topics such as theory and research methods, then moving into specialized topics like leadership communication, digital media communication, and strategic communication. This is quite the change from the traditional three-course-semesters that many graduate students expect. In addition to the new course structure, the program includes a six-hour capstone module that will offer unique, transformative learning opportunities for students; the capstone module will require the application of course content and demonstration of industry best practice  through independent-study projects, community-based research teams, undergraduate classroom teaching experiences, and professional immersion opportunities.

For students interested in on-campus experiences, a variety of work-study opportunities and professional development will still be available. There are still great on-campus options for students who value face-to-face time with faculty, staff, and fellow peers. In fact, Dr. Ruth-McSwain shared the following:

Although the program will be online, we are fortunate to still be able to offer financial support and work experience for our students through scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, and student worker positions. Assistantship and student workers positions will also offer students the opportunity for campus immersion even though their coursework will be delivered in the online environment.

Currently, the Master of Arts in Communication manages 3.5 funded graduate assistant positions. Two positions are designed for students interested in working alongside faculty mentors in the undergraduate classroom, COMM 214. The other two positions provide support for the marketing efforts, social media coordination, event planning, and office administration in the Department of Communication. Additionally, other departments across campus offer similar positions, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved on campus.

For those of you who have already graduated from the MCOM program, you may be wondering what this means for your degree and the value of the program. So, Dr. Ruth-McSwain shares reassurance that the program will be just as great as it always has been…

This is a fairly significant change for not only the Master of Arts in Communication program but for graduate programs across the College of Charleston. However, this revision to our curriculum does not change the degree or the value of the graduate experience. Graduate faculty in the Department of Communication are committed to maintaining rigor and quality in the virtual classroom as well as provide the same level of student support and extra-curricular opportunities that current (and previous) students have received. We spent over three years on this program revision to make sure we got it right…and I am confident that the program will remain a valuable and worthwhile investment for communication professionals in all seasons of their career.

The new  format allows the program to reach potential students and accommodate busy schedules. Further, the program will give students located outside of the Charleston area access to a rigorous graduate education with a flexible schedule. Given the 12-month degree completion option, newly-graduated baccalaureate students may stay at the College of Charleston to earn their Master’s degree in just one additional year.

The proposal presents an exciting time and future for the MCOM program. Whether you wish to earn your Master’s degree from a distance or participate in a hybrid graduate experience, or complete the program in one year or more than one year, the MCOM program can now allow students to tailor their education to their individual needs.  If you’d like to learn more about the change, please contact Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain at ruthmcswaina@cofc.edu.


Until next time,




under: About the MCOM Program

Grads Go Abroad

Posted by: Cierra Seid | January 31, 2018 | No Comment |

Seeing the World through a Graduate Lens

In Athens, she took a Mediterranean cooking class. In Greece, she traveled to different ports via ferry. In Hungary, she visited an orphanage and learned about the refugee crisis. Her name is Stephanie McInnis ‘16, and these are just a few of the study abroad experiences that she had as a graduate student abroad.

Studying abroad as a graduate student may look a little different than doing so as an undergraduate, but it is every bit as rewarding. If you missed your chance to study abroad during your undergraduate program (or maybe you’d like to do it again), you still have a chance! MCOM students have the opportunity to study abroad with the Department of Communication each summer, and this summer, our communication professors are leading trips to Austria, Cambodia, Italy, Poland, and Thailand.

  • May 15-June 15, 2018: Study abroad in Salzburg, Austria, Florence, Italy, and Krakow, Poland with Dr. Robert Westerfelhaus and Dr. Celeste Lacroix
  • July 6-30, 2018: Study abroad in Thailand and Cambodia with Dr. Merissa Ferrara

Though these programs are primarily designed for undergraduate course credit, graduate students that participate work closely with professors to tailor the travel to fit their professional and academic goals, thus earning independent enrollment credit at the graduate level. For example, study abroad learning experiences are great opportunities to enroll in an independent study or pedagogy coursework while earning anywhere from three to six credits for the travel experience. You could earn those credits while hiking Machu Picchu, swimming with elephants, or enjoying a waffle in Belgium.

MCOM alumna, Stephanie McInnis, did both while she was abroad in Italy, Greece, and Hungary with Dr. Merissa Ferrara and Professor Val Wright: This was a communications trip for undergraduates, and I worked as a teaching assistant and completed an independent study while abroad. Due to my focus in health communications, I helped teach theory and other health communication related topics throughout our time in Europe.

For her independent study, Stephanie blended her love for food magazines with the unique food and culture she was experiencing. She shared:

“I knew that as I entered the workforce, building and perfecting various skills is important in selling yourself to possible employers. Therefore, I chose to combine my love for food with a skill I didn’t previously possess, Adobe Photoshop. I combined recipes and images to create a magazine spread in Photoshop. It was a great opportunity to teach myself a program and focus on something I love, which is food magazines like Gourmet Traveler. While traveling, I was inspired by the incredible cuisine and culture, which helped form my ideas and vision for the spread.”

As mentioned, this summer, Dr. Ferrara is once again leading a group abroad — this time to Thailand and Cambodia. While talking to her about the upcoming trip, she shared that this trip will focus on responsible tourism, culture, and engaging in community. These themes would be especially applicable to graduate students who are interested in public relations or hospitality. Dr. Ferrara mentioned that graduate students on this trip could expect a lot of freedom in their choice of study. Imagine studying culture alongside Burmese refugees or Buddhist Monks in a mountain-top temple in Thailand! Additionally, Dr. Ferrara encouraged graduate students to look into the great study abroad incentives offered by the College. Personal finances should not dictate whether or not you can study abroad, and you should take advantage of such opportunities while you can.

Another MCOM alumna, Maggie White ‘11, took advantage of the chance to study abroad twice during her schooling. Her first trip abroad was led by Dr. Celeste Lacroix and Dr. Robert Westerfelhaus to Italy, Germany, and Austria. She shared, “Due to my unique position on the trip, the two professors were able to alter the curriculum they had planned for the undergrads so that the classes they taught would be applicable to my graduate degree. They did this by adding or altering assignments to make the courses more in line with my aptitude and interests.” As a nontraditional student on the trip, Maggie said that she appreciated having more time with the professors and felt that she learned more because of the one-on-one opportunities for discussion and engagement.

On her second trip abroad, this time on a fellowship that she was awarded to teach at the University of Versailles, Maggie conducted an independent study about women in different cultures and how they communicate. Her studies in the classroom were important, but she gained so much while learning outside of it:

“Education is what you make it and there is so much to be learned outside of the classroom. To be able to complement that traditional classroom learning model with international, cultural, in-the-field experiences made my graduate studies more whole. Being outside of the school boundaries also made me communicate differently and more often with my professors. This lead to us developing my curriculum as a team and that made the whole course of study both more enjoyable and more applicable to my future professional path.”

As a graduate student, this is your chance to have that unique, in-the-field experience. Studying abroad can do much more than offer you credit toward degree completion. Alongside Dr. Ferrara (ferraramh@cofc.edu), Dr. Lacroix (lacroixc@cofc.edu), or Dr. Westerfelhaus (WesterfelhausR@cofc.edu), you can make the most of your summer and your independent study hours!

If you can see yourself sipping wine on the Amalfi coast, or caravanning through the desert by camel back, consider applying for one of the life-changing, high-impact learning experiences being offered. But don’t forget, application deadlines are quickly approaching, so make sure to contact one of the study abroad coordinators or Dr. Ruth-McSwain if you are interested in going abroad this summer.

Do you have a unique experience studying abroad that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Until next time,



under: About the MCOM Program, Seasonal

3 Stories of Scholars: #1 Alex Cottingham

Posted by: Cierra Seid | November 30, 2017 | No Comment |

Traveling, volunteering, managing a career, and navigating graduate school – it sounds easy, right? Not really, but Alex Cottingham makes it look that way.  

Alex recently turned her graduate internship experience into a full-time job, but it wasn’t her academic performance alone that afforded her that position. Instead, she’s been making the most of her experiences and the network she’s built during school to best prepare for this season of professional life.

Her position at The Harbor Entrepreneur Center began as an internship that she received through an alumna who was still in contact with Dr. Ruth-McSwain. Initially, Alex sent out the first email about the position, but after a few exchanges, the conversation between them went cold. Instead of accepting that as defeat, she took initiative and followed up again with the alum to schedule her interview. This is an important lesson that everyone should take note of: sometimes people get busy and need a reminder, and sending a follow-up isn’t necessarily being pushy.

As a result of that communication Alex was offered an internship position at The Harbor. After one short month of working as an intern the director offered Alex a full-time position. He told her that everything she had been learning in her internship was essentially an extended job interview. Obviously she demonstrated her fit for the position, because now she has a job that makes us all green with envy!

Alex handles all of the public relations, communication, and event planning for the Charleston-area Entrepreneur Center, but her professional responsibilities don’t end there. Currently, Alex is a second-year graduate student in the M.A. in Communication program at the University of Charleston, S.C. Like many students, she didn’t exactly have a traditional undergraduate experience. After transferring to the College of Charleston in 2013, it took her a total of five years to complete her B.A. As you can imagine, after five years of school, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to take on an additional two years immediately following graduation. But she decided it was a great opportunity that she couldn’t pass up, and jumped in feet first. Last year, Alex served as Treasurer, and is now President for the Master of Arts in Communication Student Association. As an undergraduate, she interned with One Love Foundation and has since helped establish One Love as an undergraduate student organization on campus. Additionally, she works with the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Council. On this topic, Alex shared a thought about how her academic experience influences her professional choices:

“My academic experiences at the College have always been challenging and stimulating. This is something I look for in my professional life as well because I’ve had enough jobs that haven’t required as much critical thinking or effort in the day-to-day.  At the College, my classes and my involvement with on-campus groups is so dynamic that there is rarely any sense of monotony. I’m always learning something or doing something and I’m fortunate to have found a position at The Harbor that provides these opportunities as well.”

The most influential part of Alex’s college career happened last summer. Alex had the opportunity to do something that many graduate students don’t: study abroad. Though she didn’t have the opportunity to do so during her undergraduate studies, she was given another chance to as a graduate student. She describes it as the “best and most influential part of [her] educational career.” This past summer, she traveled to Greece, Morocco, Spain, and Portugal with Dr. Ferrara and Professor Wright’s abroad experience. While she spent her summer traveling Europe, Alex used it as a chance to complete an independent study for credit. She researched popular topics in each country of travel. Her research quickly manifested through a volunteer opportunity to work with the refugee crisis in Greece. Alex shared the following story:

“One of the articles I read discussed volunteers who brought hand warmers to one camp and the refugees, unfamiliar and unaware of the little warmers, poured them in their tea and started drinking it! Good intentions do not always have the anticipated outcome. I saw this when we were volunteering in the warehouse [for donated items]. People from all over the world sent in clothes, shoes, toys, etc., but Greece didn’t have the infrastructure to handle it, so the warehouse was stacked to the ceiling with donated items.”

The study abroad experience inspired Alex to do more, though we’re not convinced she needed it since she’s already managing her work, school, and extracurricular life like a pro. This busy girl is on track to graduate in Spring 2018 after two very productive and rewarding years at the University of Charleston, S.C.

If you’d like to learn more about Alex, she invites you to send her an email or find her on LinkedIn. To learn more about her organization, you can visit The Harbor website.


Do you know someone who should be featured in the next #3StoriesofScholars? Let me know at seidcr@g.cofc.edu.

Until next time,


under: 3 Stories of Scholars, MCOM Spotlights
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Networking Opportunities in Graduate School

Posted by: Cierra Seid | October 20, 2017 | No Comment |


When I first heard about the networking opportunities with the Advisory Council, I realized that the College of Charleston offers the ultimate master’s degree experience for communication students.” – Nina Rose, UCSC 2011

Networking. It can be intimidating, and as a result, many people don’t like to do it. But if you can do it (and do it well), it has the potential to be very rewarding. Networking is especially important in graduate school when you are beginning to think about possible career paths after graduation.

The age-old cliche “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true to anyone who has ever been offered an opportunity simply because they knew the right person. If you have yet to experience this – don’t worry, I’m going to tell you how you can. First, you have to expand your circle of acquaintances. If you’re thinking, “How do I even start?” then you’re in luck. Below I’ve included a list of four networking opportunities to take advantage of during your time at UCSC. And, as a bonus, I’ve included some top-notch advice from a few of our successful MCOM alumni. Equipped with this list, you can overcome your fear and become a network navigator.

  1. Advisory Council  The Department of Communication Advisory Council  at the College of Charleston is a unique and invaluable resource available to students. This group of over 50 prominent leaders in the field of communication volunteers by providing opportunities and mentoring to the College’s communication students. This year’s itinerary brings the Advisory Council members to Charleston on Wednesday, October 25 to Friday October 27. For the communication graduate students, a “power lunch” will be held from 12:00-1:00 on Friday in the Stern Center Ballroom. Students are encouraged to check out the member listing prior to events.

While talking to a few of our alumni, they all mentioned the opportunities the Advisory Council affords. Here’s what Jill Skipper, UCSC 2017, shared about the council: “The Advisory Council is an unbelievable group of brilliant and successful individuals and no matter if you think they work in a field you are interested in or not, research them, speak with them and NETWORK! They are resources for you to utilize to bounce questions off of, send your resume to, connect on LinkedIn, etc.”

  1. Build your professional online appearance (join LinkedIn if you haven’t yet) One study found that 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking of some kind, and networking is prevalent on LinkedIn. This social media is one of the best ways to connect with people you meet and showcase your work. Think of it as an online resume – one that can show all of your hard work but isn’t limited to one sheet of paper. Whether you are job searching or happily employed, LinkedIn is a platform that can take your networking and opportunities to the next level. You can use your LinkedIn account to make new connections or maintain professional relationships.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are a couple facts that might: 89% of employers report having hired someone on LinkedIn, and 94 percent of recruiters are active on the site. Meanwhile, only 36 percent of job seekers are active on LinkedIn. Just being a part of this online community can give you an incredible advantage!

  1. MCOM Alumni The MCOM program has over 85 alumni around the world, and you have something in common with them: your education at UCSC. Jessica Richardson, UCSC 2011, mentioned that she has recently gotten involved with the Alumni Association and has found the connection with other alumni beneficial. Whether you stay in the Charleston area or not, you can get involved with a chapter wherever you end up, and that common interest can foster a great introduction. In addition, during your time here, get to know your fellow classmates. Like you, these people will soon be alumni and off to hold important positions in the communication field.

Jessica noted how important fellow classmates and school alumni were for networking: “My grad school cohort and I have strong ongoing relationships – we serve as professional references for each other and help each other out, personally and professionally.”

  1. Local Professionals Networking with professionals in the Charleston area is also very important – especially if you plan to stay after graduation. UCSC offers communication students the opportunity to attend PRSA and AMA meetings (a great place to network!). In addition, the International Association of Business Communicators hosts networking events that are often open to non-members. For example, the South Carolina chapters of IABC and the PRSA are teaming up to host a professional development conference on November 3.

Nina Rose, UCSC 2011, offers some advice for current students: “My advice for graduate students is to be bold and ask questions to the professionals in your field. The answers might surprise you, turn your career another direction, or inspire you to continue your journey, but the power is in your hands through networking.”

Bonus Tip: Get a Business Card (even if you’re only a student). A student business card can make you look professional and well-prepared when networking. In addition, that little piece of cardstock can help create a lasting impression (try VistaPrint to create your own). After a successful in-person networking session, remember to connect with that person on LinkedIn!

Brandy Francis, UCSC 2016, shared her secret to successful networking: “I researched each Advisory Council member, discovered who I was interested in, and arrived with a handful of business cards and a mission. Now I’m working for a super fun, innovative agency and I have Dr. Ruth and a few Advisory Council members to thank.”


Did I miss anything? Let me know if you have additional networking tips in the comments!

Until next time,



under: About the MCOM Program
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On Monday, September 25, the Master of Arts in Communication program will be hosting an information table in Cougar Mall from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Anyone interested in learning more about the MCOM program is invited to stop by for information and snacks.

Two of our current graduate students (and CofC undergraduate alumni) will be available to hand out information, answer questions about the application process and program, and offer a student perspective. In addition, both students hold Graduate Assistant positions within the Department of Communication and will be able to answer questions about assistantship offerings.

Are you unsure if Grad School is for you? Don’t know anything about the program? Are you worried about the cost? Stop by the table!

If you are unable to visit the table during these times, but want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact Cierra Seid at seidcr@g.cofc.edu.


under: About the MCOM Program
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This year’s program enrollment is comprised of 14 students with different interests and backgrounds: some new students, second-year students, recent CofC graduates, students who are new to the area, and some who have already been in the workforce for a number of years. No matter which category you fall into, the Master of Arts in Communication can be a great stepping-stone along your path.

You may be wondering why you should you get your Master’s Degree in the first place. You already have a Bachelor’s Degree (or you’re currently working on it), so why sign on for more school? Well,there are many reasons why students decide to further their education.

I talked to some current students and asked them for their thoughts on the reasons for pursuing a graduate degree. More specifically, below are five reasons why you should consider getting your M.A. in Communication at the University of Charleston, S.C. straight from the mouths of our current students.

  1. The program allows for a personalized education experience. In this program, you will take 15 credit hours of required courses, which leaves 18 credit hours available for your choice of electives. In addition, students are required to take one cognate course from another graduate program across campus. The end result is a unique experience that aligns with your personal interests and professional goals.

A current second-year student explained, “I chose the MCOM program because of the flexibility of courses and opportunities that allows you to personalize the program to your research and professional goals.”

  1. You can complete your Master’s Degree in as little as 1.5 years…but feel free to take as long as you need. The program is flexible for both full- and part-time students; you design your schedule to fit your life. In your very first class, Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication, you work alongside program director Dr. Ruth-McSwain to create your personalized plan of study. This acts as a “road map” for your graduate experience, informed by  your personal mission statement, goals, courses you plan to take, and experiences you aspire to acquire.

A new student to the program said, “I’m now feeling relieved after the very first introductory class with Dr. Ruth. She assuaged my fears by reassuring [us] that finding our personal and professional path with this program is the reason she [and the rest of the department faculty], is here.”

  1. It opens doors and presents unique opportunities. The program offers many opportunities, from graduate-level internships and pedagogy experiences, to study abroad and unique independent-study projects. Not only do these immersion activities provide learning experiences for students, they have the potential to offer future opportunities. The MCOM program has seen many successful graduates, who undoubtedly took advantage of the opportunities presented through the program; one student received a fellowship to teach English for a year at the University of Versailles while others have landed positions with companies such as IBM, Forbes, and Ketchum based on their graduate experiences.

On this topic, one of our current students told me, “…the work and internship opportunities this program affords are incredible. We get fantastic real-world experience.”

  1. Networking opportunities and new connections. The Department of Communication offers students unique connections that other programs do not offer. For one, the Department’s Advisory Council gives students access to network with more than 50 prominent leaders in the field of strategic communications. In addition, students often find mentors within the department – creating meaningful relationships and life-long connections.

Another student in the program said, I think one of my favorite things about the program, is that the professors are so willing to go above and beyond.”

In my own experience, this statement holds true. Many times that I’ve met with professors to talk, they’ve suggested opportunities or introduced me to people they think I should know. They truly go above and beyond the classroom for students.

  1. The professors and staff. Our students may be a bit biased, but we truly believe that we have the best professors anyone could ask for. Nearly every student I talked to mentioned the value the professors bring to the program.

One student put it this way (but we all agree):I chose [this program] because of the amazing faculty. We have a special group of people who are supportive and want us to do well.”

So, those are the reasons current students think you should consider the MCOM program. If you want to know more, or have specific questions, feel free to contact me at seidcr@g.cofc.edu.

under: About the MCOM Program
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Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year

Posted by: Cierra Seid | September 13, 2017 | No Comment |

Here we are at the beginning of September, and the fourth week of the 2017-2018 School Year. That means classes are amping up and students are getting into the rhythm of their new schedules. Some of you, like myself, are still learning to navigate the rigors of graduate school (which is no small feat, but I think we’re off to a good start).

I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself as I will be managing the MCOM blog for the foreseeable future. My name is Cierra Seid, and I am a first-year graduate student at the University of Charleston, S.C.. Though I am a brand-new grad student,I’m very familiar with the College and the Department of Communication, having received my B.A. in Communication here in May.

As of April this year, I didn’t plan on going to grad school immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree. You see, I completed two years of school in Wisconsin before moving to Charleston; add on the last four years, and here I am starting my 7th year of college. (At what point does one become a “career student?”) I learned about a last-minute opportunity for an assistantship position at the end of April, and with the help and encouragement of Dr. Goodier (my capstone professor) and Dr. Ruth-McSwain (MCOM program director), I made a very quick decision to apply. I’m now an MCOM Graduate Assistant, helping out with marketing and recruitment. One of my tasks: manage this blog.

For those of you that have met me, you may have guessed from my lingering Wisconsin accent that I am originally from the Midwest. I grew up in a small town on the Michigan/Wisconsin border – in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to be exact. I moved to Charleston in 2013, and although I’ve been here for a short four years, I think of Charleston as home.

Through this program I hope to develop my skills and knowledge so that I am prepared to begin a career in social marketing. As you get to know me, you’ll learn that I am a big fan of animals and the environment, so my dream job would somehow include both.

Throughout the year, I plan to write about department updates, special events, student spotlights, and anything else that I think might interest you. If there is something you would like to see in the blog, feel free to contact me at seidcr@g.cofc.edu.

under: Uncategorized
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January’s Promise-Endless Possibilities

Posted by: ssnowsm | January 18, 2017 | No Comment |

I’ve always loved January for its promise of a clean slate. The possibilities that the “new year” presents seem endless, like anything is possible and nothing can hold you back. I also get to buy a new calendar, which is always exciting.

This January holds something a bit more special for me personally because I have officially started my final semester in the MCOM program. In just four short months, I will have the privilege of calling myself an alumna of the University of Charleston S.C. and moving forward in my career with one heck of an advantage. The knowledge and skills I have gained since my first semester goes far beyond the classroom, as do the connections and relationships that I have been able to cultivate as an MCOM scholar.


Speaking of new adventures, January is also a great month to begin applying to those graduate programs you’ve been researching! The Master of Arts in Communication program at the University of Charleston, S.C. is currently accepting applications for the 2017-2018 Academic Year, so below I have included some tips for navigating the application process.


Pay Attention to the Admissions Criteria: Not adhering to the admissions criteria is a great way to get your application rejected before the review process even begins. If you need two letters of recommendation, make sure you have at least two references lined up to submit letters. Ensure that your official transcripts arrive in sealed envelopes from your undergraduate institution in a timely manner. Double check the list of required materials and follow up with the receiving department to make sure everything arrived by the published application deadline. Even though it is not explicitly stated in the criteria, make sure your application does not contain spelling or grammatical errors.

Ask Questions: If you have a question about what the admissions committee is looking for in your personal statement or your writing sample, now is a great time to ask!  If you’re concerned about your writing sample (too long/short, vague, outdated, etc.) reach out to the program director; he or she will usually be more than happy to respond to your questions and concerns. The same goes for the personal statement. If you want to do an animated short instead of the required 1,000-word essay, you will want to confirm that the Admissions Committee is open to your creativity rather than offended by your inability to follow instructions.

Recruit Recommenders Early: Your letters of recommendation are an important piece of your admissions application. In short, graduate programs are interested in learning about the real you, not the snapshot provided by standardized tests and writing samples. Make sure you give your potential recommenders enough time to complete letters before the application deadline. Keep in mind that your letter is not the only thing on their to-do list, so providing at least a month for letter completion is ideal. In addition, do not forget to give your references accurate and up-to-date information about you, including past academic/employment experience, coursework completed, any publications or certifications earned, extra-curricular activities as well as your reason for applying to a particular school/program. Providing dossier materials can help each reference write a tailored and detailed letter about your academic and professional qualifications.

Talk with Current Students in Your Prospective Program: Visiting campus and meeting with current students in the program is the best way to “try on” your prospective program. Ask to sit in on a class or take a tour of the campus. If you can, tour the city as well. Discover entertainment opportunities or investigate the housing situation. Current graduate students are always able to give an relevant and reliable picture of their graduate experience. They are also a great resource on non-academic questions like housing, social activities, night life, etc.

Our program is unique in that it can be tailored to your interests in communication. In addition, several funding opportunities are available for both in-state and out-of-state students as well as full-time and part-time students. Finally, our faculty have strong ties to the community and their fields of expertise, which gives MCOM students an advantage in experiential learning opportunities as well as professional networking and mentoring relationships.

To learn more about the program or to schedule a campus visit, please contact Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain or Stephenie Snow. You can also find more information on our website.

Happy new year, and best wishes for a productive and prosperous 2017!


under: Seasonal
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A Peek into the Life of an MCOM Scholar

Posted by: ssnowsm | November 19, 2016 | No Comment |





Graduate students dedicate most of their time to their responsibilities, both academically and professionally. Every now and again though, we like to take some time to explore the world around us, outside of the classroom and our offices.






For those enrolled in the Master of Arts in Communication program here at the College of Charleston, that means we get to claim Charleston and the surrounding neighborhoods as our playground. There’s never a shortage of things to do around here, and when the seasonal events begin to pop up on my calendar, I make plans to attend at least some of them.









So when I saw that Boone Hall Plantation had opened their 2016 Pumpkin Patch, I grabbed a few of my friends and off we went.







Located in Mount Pleasant, SC, Boone Hall Plantation is less than 30 minutes from CofC’s campus right off of Hwy 17. The Pumpkin Patch has a separate entrance from the Plantation itself, and had an entrance fee of $10. The activities, which included a hay ride and a corn maze, are included in the entrance price, making this a great activity for budget conscious students. Local food vendors sold everything from kettlecorn to pizza as well as local artisans, whose stalls enticed buyers with beautiful handcrafted pieces.










And of course, they had a huge pumpkin patch! We made sure we visited this area last so we wouldn’t have to carry our pumpkins around while we tried to make our way through the corn maze. In addition to the carving pumpkins, they offered decorative gourds of many shapes and sizes as well as baking pumpkins. After making our selections, we headed into the final vendor tent, where we paid for our pumpkins and were tempted with local offerings from the Boone Hall farm, like pecan butter and local honey.









The weather was perfect for picking pumpkins, with comfortable temperatures and not a cloud in the sky. We had a blast and our outing provided a much-needed break from writing those papers.








If you’re interested in learning more about Boone Hall Plantation, click here.

If you’re interested in the Master of Arts in Communication program, please visit our website  or contact Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain.

under: MCOM Social Scene
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Ask a Grad: Winning the Fight Against Burnout

Posted by: ssnowsm | October 24, 2016 | No Comment |



October for most people means cooler temperatures, pumpkin-flavored everything, enjoying the changing leaves and preparing for the wonderful holiday season to come. For students, it means something a little different…midterms.





For graduate students, midterms can be in the form of an exam or a paper but often times, regardless of midterm expectations, it is simply that time in the semester for lots of deadlines, lots of late nights and lots of coffee. As we near the halfway point in the semester the mounting pile of work coupled with the day-to-day responsibilities associated with being a student and a professional can be a daunting, leading to the one thing all graduate students try to avoid at all costs: Burnout.



imagesBurnout is one of the top reasons students end their graduate school journey before earning their degree. No one, no matter how driven or accomplished, can sustain 110 mph without replenishing themselves both mentally and physically. We anticipate the intense and stressful environment that graduate school presents, but   the characteristics of professional growth, learning and fun should be a large part of the graduate school environment as well. To strike a healthy balance between challenge and enjoyment, I have included some tips for you to avoid burnout, no matter where you are in your graduate school journey.



  • Start and End Your Day with Something Relaxing

relaxingI’m guilty of checking my email as soon as I wake up. This not only hits me with an overload of information to process, but it automatically spikes my stress level before I even have my first cup of coffee. Rather than reach for the phone, try meditating or reading a book instead. You could even turn the act of making coffee into a little “you” time by waiting until the coffee is finished to begin tackling your day. It makes sense that starting your day calmly allows your brain to focus on your tasks instead of feeling overwhelmed immediately. At the end of the day, go for a walk or take a warm bath to wind down. This will help ready your brain and body for sleep, allowing you to catch those valuable zz’s.



  • Exercise

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels while improving your overall health. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or intense exercise either. You can walk your dog or go for a light jog around your neighborhood. Of course, if you’re more athletically capable, you could attend a kick-boxing class or participate in high-intensity interval training. Exercise also allows your brain to get more oxygen and blood flow, so even if it’s just for 30 minutes, do something to get your blood pumping.


  • Get a Hobby

I know, this sounds insane because graduate students have little to no time outside of work/internships/school…but hear me out. If you give yourself a break from all of those things to do something that you enjoy, it gives your brain a chance to reboot, essentially allowing you to become a better student. Ever have an awesome idea come to you while you were in the shower? This tip is a similar concept; doing something that you love outside of school responsibilities allows you more space to develop as a well-rounded individual.



  • Talk to Someone

support-1Leaning on a support network – friends, significant others, faculty advisors – can make a big difference in your ability to cope with stress and overwhelming feelings.. Let someone know that you are feeling run down, tired and even helpless, often times they’ll be able to give you a new perspective or a simple shoulder to lean on. Also, don’t be afraid to use the resources on campus, they aren’t just there for undergraduates! Almost every college campus has resources for students, and they’ll be able to give you expert advice on how to avoid or address burnout.




In the end, graduate school is a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I am sincerely enjoying my time growing both personally and professionally. With that said, the stressful times do exist, but I know I can handle it. I’m a graduate student after all!



For more information on resources available to CofC graduate students experiencing burnout, please click here.


If you’re interested in more information about the MCOM program, please visit our website  or contact Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain at ruthmcswaina@cofc.edu.

under: Ask A Grad
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