Online strategic communication degree empowers working professionals

Pretty woman is working in a café

Organizations seek out the abilities. Professionals strive for the knowledge and skills. And starting Spring 2017, the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will welcome its first class into a new online master’s program, convenient for working professionals, on strategic communications.

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication represents the first time the College has offered a degree program 100 percent online. The program responds to the needs of professionals through its flexible delivery as well as through content that addresses the challenges of a 21st century communication environment.

"Given the rapidly changing communication ecosystem, mid-career professionals are eager for training to update their skills," says Prabu David, Dean of the College of ComArtSci. "Currently, communication professionals, including our own alumni, do not have rich, in-state options to learn new media techniques. This new online M.A. in strategic communication fills that gap."

Students in the nine-course, 30-credit program will examine how to leverage today's evolving media and digital mix into an integrated marketing and communications strategy for businesses, start-ups, non-profits or government agencies. Expert faculty will handle all aspects of course content and bring expertise in corporate messaging, news and information, fundamental communication processes, audience research and data analytics, and new technologies. Students will also complete a service-learning project that enables them to apply their newly acquired expertise within a community setting.

"The College of ComArtSci has long-standing leadership in an integrated theory-to-practice orientation toward effective communication strategy and tactics," says John Sherry, associate dean of for graduate studies in ComArtSci. "There is no other college in the world with such broad and deep coverage of these issues."

Students can complete courses and requirements from anywhere, anytime and at their own pace in one to three years. The program is ideally suited for working professionals with three to five years of experience in communications as well as for business and communication entrepreneurs. Students will also have opportunity to collaborate with other online learners, further enhancing their professional network.

"The ability for individuals to be located anywhere and enroll in this master's program is a distinct advantage," says ComArtSci Alum April M. Clobes, president and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union. "Being able to complete the program while working full-time is also essential for long-term success. MSU's high rankings in the field of communications along with excellent faculty, will make this a highly sought after degree."

The program is currently accepting applications and no GRE is required. To learn more about MSU's new online master's degree program in strategic communication through the College of ComArtSci, visit stratcom.msu.edu or contact the program director at stratcom@msu.edu.

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Graduate Students recognized at Research and Arts Poster Forum

Posted on: May 17, 2016

AD+PR Research PostersOn April 29 at the AD + PR & MI Research and Arts Poster Forum, 21 graduate students in Advertising and Media and Information presented research or work from internships completed during their master’s programs. The participants included 19 Advertising students and two studying Media and Information.

All graduate students are required to develop a final project by the end of their program. There are several options available to them, such as a written thesis, referred to as Plan A. Students can also choose to present research or an internship at the Poster Forum at the end of the year, called Plan B.

“Students really like this experience even though it’s kind of stressful to them,” said Linda Good, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing. “They really feel like it’s a way to culminate the end of the two years or year and a half that they’ve spent in graduate school, so we’re very pleased with the way things turned out.”

The posters are judged by faculty and doctoral students who critique each submission based on the content, organization and delivery.

This year’s winner for the Top Research Poster was Xueyiting Li. Her research studied “how cultural dimensions affect the clicking behaviors of consumers when shopping online.” She began the research during an independent study with Assistant Professor Anastasia Kononova.

As an international student, I felt the cultural differences when I came here two years ago,” she said. “I became interested in cross-culture studies in advertising, consumer behaviors. I think it is critical for companies to consider culture as an important factor when they enter (a) new market.”

Other winners were Dan Hesselschwerdt who received the award for the Best MA MI Poster Award; Tyler Hoover won first place for his Internship Poster; and Jian Bao who was awarded second place in the Internship Poster category.

Hoover’s poster reflected research he gathered during his internship with MSU Football. In his position, Hoover said that he worked with the graphic design team creating designs and images for social media. His poster demonstrated how social media can impact the online success of sport coaches.

“What I wanted to do is just be able to compare each coach's success on Twitter and, basically, the graphic design success. So, how I measured it was by tweets and then likes, retweets, replies and then, if you put all those together you follow the engagement,” he said. “I measured the engagement of each specific coach’s Twitter handle.”

His results pinpointed a correlation between the most popular tweets and the content produced by him and the rest of the graphic design team.

“At the end of the semester, we realized that the graphic designs that we created were actually the top tweet for every coach. So, it was pretty significant,” he said.

Hoover enjoyed the Poster Forum and said that he admired the efforts of fellow graduate student participants, “It was really interesting to see the rest of the class’s work and see what they’ve been doing throughout the semester. You kind of gain some respect for everyone just because when you’re in two or three grad classes and doing an internship and doing the poster project, it gets pretty busy.”

Li saw the Poster Forum as a unique way for master’s students to showcase and discuss their findings

“I could feel how excited everyone is when they talk with the faculties about their experiences,” she said. “I feel very happy when people are interested in my study and give me good further advice.”

By: Savannah Swix

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Commencement Ceremonies Scheduled for May 2

Posted on: April 21, 2014

MSU Communication Arts and Sciences graduationMore than 700 College of Communication Arts and Sciences undergraduate students will graduate this spring and summer, and 98 will receive advanced degrees.

Graduating seniors are invited to participate in the CAS undergraduate spring commencement on Friday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Breslin Center. Acting Dean Steve Lacy will speak at the ceremony along with student representative Beau Hayhoe.

The following outstanding alumni and faculty also will be recognized at the ceremony:

Outstanding Alumni Award

  • Susan Dalebout (B.A., M.A. Audiology and Speech Sciences)
  • Rick Gosselin (B.A. Journalism)
  • Mary R. Grealy (B.A. Audiology and Speech Sciences)
  • Stephen Schram (B.A. Television and Radio)
  • Mike Sheldon (B.A. Advertising)
  • Ken Winter (B.A. Journalism)

Rising Star Award

  • HRH Prince Fahad Khaled Alsaud (B.A. Communication)

Honorary Alumni Award

  • Bobbie Arnold

Faculty Impact Award

The webcast of the CAS ceremony will be available a week after commencement at WKAR.org.

All MSU graduating seniors also are invited to participate in the university's Spring (Undergraduate) Convocation on Friday, May 2, at 1 p.m. at the Breslin Center. Philanthropist Azim Premji, chairman of the global IT company Wipro Ltd., will address the graduates and will be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Shirley Weis, MSU College of Nursing alumna, also will be awarded an honorary doctorate of science. Weis is the first woman and nonphysician to serve as chief administrative officer of Mayo Clinic.

MSU's advanced degree commencement ceremony is Friday, May 2, at 3:30 p.m. at the Breslin Center. Norman Augustine, retired CEO and chairman of the aeronautics company Lockheed Martin Corp., will address the graduates. Clifton Haley, former president of MSU College of Law and former CEO of Budget Rent-A-Car, will be awarded an honorary doctorate of laws.

No admission tickets are required for any of the commencement ceremonies.

For more information, see MSU's Commencement website.

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Supporting Graduate Research Key to CAS Experience

Posted on: February 18, 2014

Kami SilkGuest blog by Kami Silk, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Director of Master's for Health and Risk Communication and Professor, Department of Communication

Enough of the snow already? Great, because I want to share with you how our college is increasing funding opportunities for graduate research.

As any graduate student who aspires to be a successful researcher will tell you, it's challenging to identify a topic that excites and motivates them, will add significant new knowledge to their field, and that others will want to financially support. The growing competition for research dollars can be intimidating for graduate students who are still honing their skills and have yet to establish a solid track record. And yet, they can only establish themselves as a scholar if they have successfully conducted, presented and published a substantial body of research.

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences was one of the first institutions of its kind to formally develop a major communication research emphasis and continues to be recognized internationally for the outstanding research conducted by our faculty, as well as our graduates.

This past November alone, more than 70 faculty and graduate students were selected to present at the National Communication Association 99th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. That's an impressive number and reflects how our college invests in both our faculty and graduate students.

We place a high priority on making sure our graduates have the opportunity to be mentored by and work with some of the most preeminent communication researchers in the world. We also strive to provide opportunities for research experience early on and help graduate students build a strong network with peers and accomplished scholars so they will be well positioned upon earning their degree(s).

Exemplifying this commitment, I am pleased to announce the recipients of our newest research fellowships, which are generously funded through the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation Research Fund for Health and Risk Communication. This fund provides resources for graduate students to engage in hands-on research, apply theoretical constructs to real-world health practices, and share results and impacts from their projects with their community partners. Priority is placed on projects to be implemented in Michigan, and in mid-Michigan specifically. The Strosacker Foundation funded a $500,000 endowment that will support five $5,000 fellowships awards annually.

Please join me in congratulating our first Strosacker fellowship recipients:

Strosacker-WP

  • Tom Day, a second-year Media and Information Studies master's student with a concentration in human computer interaction in the Media and Informationdepartment, completed the Serious Games Certification in his first year as a graduate student. Day also has a dual bachelor's degree in telecommunications and psychology from MSU. He is conducting a longitudinal study of how individuals interact in competitive and cooperative settings while being fully immersed in a video game.
  • Guanxiong Huang and Kang Li are both Media and Information Studies Ph.D. students in the Advertising + Public Relations department. Huang is a fourth-year doctoral student with a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in journalism. Li is a third-year doctoral student with a master's degree in digital art. For her bachelor's degree, her major was in animation. Their research project focuses on how to communicate the potential risks of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a natural gas drilling practice, as a threat to the Great Lakes. Their study is aimed at mobilizing Michigan residents to participate in an online petition. Specifically, their study will look at how gain-loss message frames and social identity influence people's risk perceptions and hence affect their collective action.
  • Ali Hussain, a first-year Media and Information Studies doctoral student in the School of Journalism, also has a master's degree in Health and Risk Communication from CAS. He is studying the development and testing of nostalgic appeals for smoking prevention. The project will result in the production of anti-smoking PSAs based on a nostalgic theme.
  • Sarah Sheff, a first-year master's degree student in Health and Risk Communication completed her B.A. in Communication last year in the Department of Communication. Her research project is identifying existing barriers to physical activity, such as access and cost, as a first step towards preventing Type 2 diabetes in rural mid-Michigan.
  • Daniel Totzkay, a first-year master's student in Health and Risk Communication completed his B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, is studying the use of motivational messages to increase physical activity through ballroom and Latin dance classes among a sedentary workforce.

We are very grateful to the Strosacker Foundation for recognizing the important role communication research plays in better understanding and improving human health and the environment, and the need to cultivate an up-and-coming corps of researchers committed to meeting the growing need for health and risk communication research.

Another way CAS encourages graduate-level research is through our Summer Research Excellence Fellowships. We are now in the process of accepting applications for this summer with a due date of March 17. These competitive fellowships will be awarded to CAS graduate students who have demonstrated potential for research and creative excellence in their academic field. Doctoral students can receive awards up to $6,000 and master's level students can receive up to $3,500, dependent upon the pool of funds available.

Additionally, Michigan State University offers University Distinguished Fellowships and Enrichment Fellowships to outstanding students who plan to enroll in a doctoral or master of fine arts program. The goal of these fellowships is to foster an intellectually vital and diverse educational community that will prepare graduate students to assume their professional roles in a diverse society.

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and would like to know more about these fellowship opportunities, I encourage you to explore "Graduate Programs" on the CAS website and contact me if you have questions.

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Research Showcase Honors Eight CAS Scholars

Posted on: January 14, 2014

research-mattersThe College of Communication Arts & Sciences' research showcase on the main floor of the CAS Building has eight new honorees.

The college started the research showcase in 2012 as a way to recognize the outstanding work of our research faculty. Each semester, eight new honorees are selected from all departments and their portraits hung in the research showcase on the main floor of the CAS Building, serving as an inspiration for our students, as well as other faculty, staff, visiting alumni and friends.

Congratulations go out to the 2014 spring semester research showcase honorees for their outstanding research and scholarly achievements:

  • Daniel Bergan, Associate Professor, Communication
  • Shelia Cotten, Professor, Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media
  • Karl Gude, Graphics Editor in Residence, School of Journalism and Media Sandbox
  • Eric Hunter, Associate Professor, Communicative Sciences and Disorders
  • Anna McAlister, Assistant Professor, Advertising + Public Relations
  • Bruno Takahashi, Assistant Professor, Communication and School of Journalism
  • Brian Winn, Associate Professor, Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media
  • Susan Wyche, Assistant Professor, Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media
Daniel Bergan, Ph.D.

Dan BerganBergan's main research interests involve the influence of advocacy efforts on public policy. He has conducted field experiments evaluating the effectiveness of different advocacy efforts on public policy, and in particular, the influence of constituent contacts to policymakers on health policy outcomes.

In a recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Bergan, along with (then Ph.D. student) Genevieve Risner, tested the influence of issue ads about health reform on attitudes about reform. He also has explored public attitudes on tobacco policy and anti-bullying.

"My main results so far have shown that legislators' voting behavior is influenced when people contact their legislators. This is encouraging for people who have thought about contacting their legislator or for citizen groups that rely on their membership to influence public policy," Bergan said. "In future work, I will be trying to better understand these results by exploring when, and under what circumstances, constituent contacts and other forms of advocacy influence policy outcomes."

Shelia Cotten, Ph.D.

Sheila CottonCotten's research examines how people use information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the health, social and educational impacts of this use for people in varying generational groups. She also focuses on how larger scale social and digital inequalities affect ICT use and a range of health and quality of life outcomes.

One of her current projects, funded by the National Institute on Aging, examines how computer use impacts the quality of life for older adults. In this randomized controlled trial, approximately 300 older adults living in assisted and independent living communities have been trained to use computers and the Internet.

"We have found that using the Internet reduces depression, reduces loneliness, increases contact with social ties, and increases both the quality and the quantity of contact with friends and family members," Cotten said. "Participants in this study also have learned how to overcome social and spatial barriers that are present in the types of communities in which they reside."

Karl Gude

Karl GudeGude currently is working on a project funded by the National Science Foundation to disseminate understanding of phylogenesis, the evolutionary development and diversification of a species or group of organisms, and the tree of life that is used to visualize the various categories that all life falls into.

Working with students and outside professionals, Gude and his team are using a variety of social media to inform the public and scientific community about their educational site. They also are building awareness for a larger, connected project being conducted at other universities to build an online tool that scientists can work with to conduct and share phylogenetic research. Additionally, Gude is involved in building an educational website to engage and teach the public about the science behind the tree of life.

"There are a variety of online efforts to explain the evolutionary tree of life, but they fail to engage and inform the user because they use standard, text-heavy web designs. Very few contain interactive graphics that can pull the user in and explain the science, and those that exist are simple and don't go far enough," Gude said.

"Our site will be text-light and highly visual using interactive graphics that will compel the user to explore the content. Deeper explanations for the different parts of the tree will be revealed as you mouse over different parts of the graphics. This approach to science education is seldom used, and our site hopes to raise the standards for all science education sites, not just in the field of evolutionary biology."

Eric Hunter, Ph.D.

Eric HunterHunter's principal research area is on individuals who use their voice as a primary tool of the trade, or occupational voice users.

"I explore what environmental, physiological and social factors might increase the risk of vocal health issues in these population of workers. Using this information, we are developing strategies to reduce increased incidences of vocal health problems," Hunter said.

In one of his current projects, supported by the National Institute On Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health, he aims to quantify gender-specific voice accommodation strategies used by teachers and call center workers (as compared to non-occupational voice users) in occupational settings and acoustic environments.

Another area of his research explores how the voice changes with age.

"Traditional studies of the aging voice compares two populations of voice users (young, elderly). However, my research uses databases of speeches from single individuals, allowing me to examine how the voices of these individuals change over nearly 50 years of recordings," Hunter said. "Through longitudinal data, we can more accurately observe what are normal or abnormal changes."

Anna McAlister, Ph.D.

Anna McAlisterMcAlister's research focuses on consumer behavior, child development and public policy. She is especially interested in understanding how very young children (e.g., 3- to 5-year-olds) learn about food and beverage brands and subsequently develop taste preferences.

"My research is helping parents, teachers, caregivers and other child advocates to understand the ways in which children are targeted by advertisers and marketers. This provides a step in the right direction for leveling the playing field where marketing to kids is big business. Parents frequently express frustration about not knowing how their children come to be 'addicted' to brands at an early age," McAlister said. "Given the rapid expansion of technology, parents are raising kids whose access to commercial media is almost unlimited. The current generation of parents is struggling to understand marketing practices that barely existed during their childhoods."

One of McAlister's current projects, funded by Cornell's Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition, investigates children's responsiveness to a school lunchroom intervention program where healthy menu choices were promoted using child-friendly themes (e.g., in the dinosaur-themed week children saw a lunch menu on which the healthier items were listed as the "triceratops picks" for the week).

Bruno Takahashi, Ph.D.

BrunoTakahashi's research focuses on environmental communication, environmental journalism practices and international news.

"Most of my research has an international or intercultural component. For example, I have been analyzing climate change communication in Latin America, as well as comparative studies looking at media coverage of climate change between the U.S. and Canada, and about hydraulic fracturing between the U.S. and Spain," Takahashi said. "I think my research is helping to better understand how different groups (media, policy makers, public) in developing nations socially construct environmental issues, which allows these groups to better communicate such issues."

Takahashi currently is conducting research on news decision-making about environmental issues in Spanish language media in the United States and is starting work on crisis and risk communication of environmental issues through social media.

He also is completing a study that looks at New York farmers' risk perceptions related to climate change. That project is funded by a grant from the Environmental Finance Center with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.

Brian Winn

Brian WinnWinn researches interactive media design, including game design, digital game-based learning and interactive health communication. His expertise is in designing engaging serious games that balancing learning, pedagogical and gameplay objectives.

"As a new media and game designer, my goal is to use the power and versatility of interactive media technologies to have a positive impact on the world. This is accomplished through both the entertainment and learning games that are created and played by various audiences around the world, and from the knowledge generated from my work that helps advance the field of game design and development," Winn said.

One of his current research projects, funded by a three-year, $1.2 million grant from NASA, aims at keeping astronauts motivated to exercise during space flight through use of virtual workout partners.

Susan Wyche, Ph.D.

Susan WycheWyche's research focuses on human-computer interaction, information and communication technologies and development.

The goal of her current research is to provide technology developers with an empirically accurate understanding of technology use in sub-Saharan Africa to improve design and to motivate other innovative and creative technological interventions. Wyche conducts fieldwork in Kenya, studying mobile phone and social media use in Nairobi's informal settlements, in rural cyber cafes and in off-grid villages.

Wyche aims to make understanding and designing effective information and communication technologies (ICT) in sub-Saharan Africa a more integral part of human-computer interaction.

"Understanding rural Africans' ICT needs and practices opens up possibilities for improving on existing initiatives and developing entirely new types of interventions that have the potential for widespread and long-term impact. This knowledge can also inform and motivate environmentally sustainable and innovative design for users in industrialized nations," Wyche wrote in her research statement.

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Welcome

Posted on: October 5, 2013

If you are looking for an extraordinary professional or academic career in the communication field, MSU's College of Communication Arts & Sciences is the place for you!

Our graduate programs cultivate strong research skills, areas of expertise and teaching early in our students' academic pursuits. We take a transdisciplinary, translational approach to addressing basic and applied communication questions across and between disciplines and audiences to advance human interactions, health and safety, as well as the effective transfer of research findings for multiple applications including healthcare, science and technology, business, agriculture and the environment.

The college receives grant funding from a broad array of institutions including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Medicaid, NASA, the National Endowment for the Humanities/Michigan Humanities Council, and Michigan Department of Community Health.

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