ESU To Offer Master of Arts in Professional and New Media Writing
The Internet and Web-based technologies have set off an explosion of continuous worldwide dialogue, and those people who can communicate most effectively in the New Media will be the ones best able to sell their products or ideas or policies.
With that in mind, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania will offer a master of arts degree program in Professional and New Media Writing starting in August 2013. It is the first such master’s degree offered by a university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), whose Board of Governors approved the program on Thursday, October 11 during its quarterly meeting. The course work will be 80 percent online.
“The program is designed for working professionals,” said Dr. Marilyn J. Wells, vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. “It gives them the greatest flexibility to meet their educational career goals on their time and at their pace.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for professional writers nationally is expected to grow 8 percent by 2018 and employment for technical writers is predicted to increase 18 percent.
Senior level positions — many of which require graduate degrees — typically offer salaries starting at $50,000 a year or more for jobs in a wide range of industries and organizations. The new ESU master’s program will give a distinct advantage to individuals in the writing field who want to retool to learn new skills for fast-growing posts, such as digital content producer or E-commerce content writer.
But it will also benefit those with experience in other fields, such as biology, biotechnology, chemistry, business and computer science, who seek to hone the professional writing skills needed for high-demand, high-salary positions in companies and organizations across the Commonwealth and beyond.
ESU’s proximity to New York City, with its high concentration of book and magazine publishers and advertising and public relations firms, will give the master’s graduates a natural job market.
“We are leveraging our proximity to New York to help create exciting opportunities for students who are looking to learn from top professionals, many of whom live in the area,” said Bill Broun, ESU associate professor of English.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report: “Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring the demand for authors, writers, and editors, especially those with Web or multimedia experience. Businesses and organizations are adding text messaging services to expanded newsletters and Web sites as a way of attracting new customers.”
The master’s candidates will earn 30 credits and be expected to write a thesis or capstone project, which they might connect to their current jobs. While much of the course work will be online, there will be seminars in which master’s students will meet with professors, writers and editors in different fields.
“Not all online education is the same and we will be doing online education that is absolutely humanized,” Broun said. “We’re striving to develop dynamic policies that are expansive to student needs. They won’t just be looking at a cold screen.”
In the last decade, enrollment in master’s level programs in Communications and related studies has increased 45 percent nationally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
A survey conducted by ESU’s Office of Academic & Institutional Effectiveness found that nearly 60 percent of alumni contacted said they would consider enrolling in the proposed master’s program, with 87 percent saying that online classes with work-friendly hours would make the program “very appealing.”