“The program will kind of be a think tank with a master’s degree associated with it,” she said. “We see that we certainly have a wonderful reputation in undergraduate education, and we feel that we can serve not only our own alumni but also professionals in the field.”
Gayeski said the program is designed for leaders in all communications professions across the globe who are responsible for designing, developing and managing the next generation of media innovation applications. The curriculum provides a foundation in research methods; media economics and business modeling; human perception and consumer behavior; communication product design; global leadership theories; and regulation while stimulating new ways of thinking.
The program will utilize platforms like Sakai and other methods for online learning, Rob Gearhart, assistant provost for online learning and extended studies, said.
Students and professors will not have to be online at the same time, Gayeski said. People will essentially be completing the program on their own time and fitting it into their other responsibilities.
Applicants to the program are required to have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of work experience, as well as letters of recommendation from professionals in the field. Applications for the program will be available online, but the majority of the incoming students will hear about the program through individual recruiting, Gayeski said.
The college will announce the program to its alumni and will advertise through media companies, because many of these companies pay for graduate education for their employees, Gayeski said.
Cory Young, associate professor of strategic communication, said the program also gives executives an opportunity to network with other people not necessarily in the same field. Young said she is excited by the prospect of teaching students from all over the world.
“I think the most exciting challenge about this is I may not necessarily get to meet the person face to face,” she said. “I kind of like the idea of being able to teach someone who might live completely on the opposite side of the world.”
Gayeski said most of the program is designed so that students will take one course at a time. A long weekend intensive course will be held every six to eight weeks featuring topics of particular interest to the communications industry and to students. Potential topics include government regulation of the media in Washington, D.C., and mobile communications in Finland or China.
Instead of a traditional thesis at the end, students will do a research and development project where they will actually create a business case they could propose to an employer, Gayeski said.
A committee has been formed to hire a director for the program. The director of the program will also be directing the new Keshishoglou Center for Global Communications Innovation, which will offer immersive learning opportunities for students and alumni. Professors in the school of communications and the business school will teach the courses.
The Park School has one other graduate program, which offers a master’s degree in communications. That program is geared toward undergraduate students going directly to graduate school. However, the new program is geared to prepare executives in the communications field for the rapidly changing communications industry.
The program benefits executives because of the amount of networking that takes place during the program. The first class will have eight to 12 cohorts, and Young said the crucial part of the program is the connections made with fellow cohorts.
Gearhart said the program will essentially allow executives in different areas of the industry worldwide to network and act as a sounding board for each other.
“The other aspect that we think is very important for this program is the hope that we’ll be able to put together people from those range of disciplines within the communications profession so that they can learn a lot from each other,” Gearhart said.