As technology, social media and strategy continue to change for mass communications professionals, many are looking for opportunities to get ahead of the curve and stand out in their respective fields. To accommodate the growing need for flexible and convenient graduate-level education, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications has expanded its library of fully online Master’s degree specializations.
Integrated Media Communications (IMC) and Media Studies join Professional Journalism as specialization options for students looking to earn their Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications through UNL online.
“We understand the challenges facing many journalists and communications professionals across the country—from ever-changing media strategies and tactics to the real-life balance of work, family and school,” said CoJMC graduate chair Frauke Hachtmann, Ph.D. “We are excited to provide more options that give students what they are looking for in terms of skills and knowledge—and are convenient for their schedule as well—thanks to the online format.”
The IMC program emphasizes advertising, public relations, speech communications and marketing and is designed to provide professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to operate successfully in the rapidly changing media and communications environment in which they work. It is offered in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Kearney, which provides minors in business and speech communication. The IMC specialization was funded by a $50,000 grant from Online Worldwide.
For those who want to learn how to conduct research, Media Studies provides a customizable thesis option in which students can choose courses that fit their research interests. It provides students with cutting-edge theoretical knowledge about the various influences and effects of the media.
Another Master’s specialization option is the Marketing, Communications and Advertising (MCA) program, which combines on-campus courses with the option of some online courses. Students major in advertising/public relations and also complete minors in marketing and communication.
“I’ve enjoyed my online courses so far because of the flexibility for my schedule, but it’s more than that as well,” said Fulbright Scholar Maria Hermosa, an MCA student from Paraguay. “The online format allows for a lot of meaningful discussion between students with discussion points substantiated by research. It taught me how to be very thoughtful about how I was expressing myself.”
Hermosa has completed asynchronous courses, which do not require students to attend a formal class. Instead, students use a content management system to complete assignments, interact via discussion boards, and use multi-media skills to present projects. However, the college also offers synchronous courses, which allow off-campus students to participate in real-time classes via a webstream. These are particularly beneficial for students like Ralph Kurtenbach who works as a publicity writer for HCJB Global’s Latin American Region in the Republic of Ecuador.
“Frankly, I needed the discipline of showing up each week,” said Kurtenbach, who decided to pursue the media studies specialization after almost 20 years out of school. “Eventually—not without anxious moments—I hit a stride, and I feel comfortable with the pace of learning I had set out. I’ve also made friends with several classmates over the years.”
Applications for enrollment for the fall 2012 semester are due by March 1 and by Oct. 1 for the spring 2013 semester. However, the program also allows students to take up to six credit hours of course work before official admission, which can be applied to their master's program if they are admitted. Though completing these courses does not ensure admission, it gives students an opportunity to try the online environment and curriculum and to get started on their master's degree right away.
For more information about the new IMC as well as the other specializations, please visit online.unl.edu/COJMCMasters.