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In 2011, Weber State University created the Master of Professional Communication program. The program was designed specifically for professionals who want to advance their career with an advanced communications degree. Even though the MPC program is geared toward professionals, traditional students are also suited for the program if they want to take their communication to the next level.
“We have 21 students that are graduating this year,” said Kathy Edwards, the MPC program director. “We were approached by the provost office, who felt like there would be a need for a program like this, so faculty in the department started working on putting a program together, and that takes longer than you might imagine.”
Edwards had been the director of University Communications for eight years when she came back to teaching two years ago.
“It’s a competitive program,” she said. “We admit 25 students per year and they go through in a cohort, which means they go through the program together, at least for the first year when they go through their required courses. We feel that the fact they go through in a cohort helps us retain students towards graduation.”
Fran Hopkin will graduate with the first class of the MPC program.
“I had been looking at communication programs throughout the state and across the nation,” Hopkin said, “but I work here, and I had heard rumors that they were trying to start one, so I was pretty excited.”
Hopkin graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s in speech communications.
“I have been intrigued by different styles of communication, specifically persuasion,” he said. “When I was an undergrad, I was actually a physical therapy major and I took some communication classes at Utah State and just love them. Why I chose communication as a graduate degree was because I wanted something that could be applicable to my job and help build my future.”
Hopkin intends to stay in higher education after obtaining his degree. He is currently the assistant director of admissions at WSU.
“Some advice for students in general, whether they are grad students or undergraduate students,” Hopkin said, “(is that) you get out of the experience what you put into the experience. One of the things that I really enjoyed about our program — there was a lot of collaboration amongst the students and between the cohort. A lot of the things that I learned came from other students’ views, perspectives and perceptions, rather than simply the professor.”
Zac Williams graduated from WSU in 1999 and started a company called Williams Visual. He said he had always wanted to get a graduate degree, but there was something missing from what was currently being offered. Once he saw the MPC program, he said, he knew it was for him.
“I’m really happy Weber State added this program,” Williams said. “It has expanded my thoughts, and now I’m really looking forward to growing my company and maybe taking my education further with a Ph.D., who knows? I’m excited about what’s down the road for me.”
Jeff Haney also graduated with a degree from WSU in 1995 and will graduate with a master’s in communication this spring. He is currently the director of internal communications for the Canyons School District.
“What I would tell anyone,” Haney said, “is if you at all think you’re going to pursue a graduate degree, do it now. It is so much harder to study when you have three kids and a wife plus a career.”