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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,