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Introducing the first master’s degree in the Communication Department, Weber State University is stepping up to help students meet the new requirements of the business world.
The newest of only 11 master’s programs to be unveiled at WSU is the professional communication master’s degree.
At the beginning of summer semester, this particular master’s degree was added to the Communication Department after many in the community expressed a desire to add to their professional communication skills.
“Achieving a master’s degree period is important to anyone in the professional world,” said WSU graduate Christee Kyte, who said she is strongly considering enrolling in the professional communication master’s program. “I think the communication program absolutely needed a master’s program.
Master’s degrees are becoming more and more expected. This was the belief voiced by both students like Kyte and the director of the professional communications program, Sheree Josephson, who is also a professor of communication.
Josephson outlined why the Communication Department’s only master’s program was in professional communication. The reason for this is also the reason for a wide array of diversity in the program, with students coming from career fields varying from public relations to law enforcement.
“Communication is the No. 1 skill employers need,” Josephson said.
The new program aligns WSU with a national trend of an increasing number of students who apparently seek out master’s degrees. According to a recent New York Times article, the number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States has doubled since the 1980s. This is a shift from WSU’s usual focus on undergraduate teaching. Josephson added that the increase in master’s programs has happened alongside more research being done with graduate and undergraduate departments.
“The mission of the university is changing a little bit,” she said.
Josephson said she hoped that the program would achieve student enrollment of 20-25 students per semester. In its first semester, the program has enrolled 24 students. The majority of classes are hybrid classes that combine traditional classroom-style teaching with online teaching and learning. The program can be completed in six consecutive semesters, including summer semesters. Students are required to take summer courses, but have a specialized schedule that gives them the entire month of August off from school. This schedule is popular with the students, many of whom are working professionals, according to Josephson.
Students in the program end up taking their first several classes with each other and have developed into a tight-knit group as a result. Already they have learned to work together and depend on each other in the program, according to one of the students in the program, WSU graduate Cory Cunningham.
“We communicate constantly, and I think we kind of sought each other out,” he said. “Rather than being overly competitive, we became overly cooperative.”
With the program completely up and running, registration is now open for the two prerequisite classes required for entry into the program. The application deadline is Feb. 1. Students seeking more information about the program can visit weber.edu/mpc.