Students in favor of graduate program

A graduate program in communications may soon be a welcome addition for Northern Kentucky University, according to the results of a recent study.

More than 60 percent of communications students are interested in a master’s degree program in the field, according to a survey conducted by Dr. Brad Scharlott’s advanced reporting/precision journalism class in the spring of 2003.

Speech communication, journalism, and radio/television majors were contacted via telephone and asked their opinions on the possibility of such a program.

“We need a master’s program in journalism not catering to corporations – we need trades in the master’s program,” said junior Chad Snowden. “It would be neat to have hands-on advertising courses where we actually produce commercials.”

Jon Divita, a senior journalism major, said a master’s program should include courses on how to do research, a study of famous journalists, advanced law and courses that would prepare students to do freelance work. He also said that one-fourth of the degree period should be spent on individual research.

Communications professors seem optimistic that the program will soon be undertaken.

“I’d put our teaching quality and attention to students up against any of our competitors in the region,” said Dr. Cady Short-Thompson, communications professor. “Graduates of our program and our current students compare us to professors at other universities around the nation, remarking how excellent our courses and professors are.”

She feels optimistic that the program will not only be implemented, but be a huge success.

“I know for a fact that our graduate program competitors-to-be are nervous about how quickly our program will thrive and significantly impact their programs,” she said. “I’m very confident about our future.”

Short-Thompson said she “had originally hoped to see (the program) begin in the fall of 2004, but 2005 seems more realistic at this point.”

“It takes a lot of negotiation and discussion to arrive at a curricular proposal this large,” she said. “However, the initial market research and discussions have begun.”

Short-Thompson said that budget cuts should not impede the process. In fact, she expects the program to be profitable for the university.

“Truthfully, the budget crisis should encourage us to start it sooner, not later,” she said.

“A program that will succeed as quickly and unquestionably as the master’s in communication will generate major revenue for NKU,” she said. “We would become the university’s premier rainmaker within a year of opening the doors to the master’s program.”

“It is no exaggeration to say that I anticipate that we will, in our first semester of offering the graduate program, receive at least more than twice the number of applications than we can accept,” Short-Thompson said. “That number is based solely on our own graduates, not to mention the dozens of students who will flock to us from other institutions and the workforce.”

Dr. Gaut Ragsdale, chairman of the communications department, expressed confidence in student’s interest in the program.

“There is genuine interest about our department offering a master’s program,” he said.

“Our present focus is developing the new public relations major, and then the faculty will concentrate on graduate education,” he said. “Our goal will be to create a distinct, quality master’s program that will provide long-term benefits to our graduates and the region we serve.”

NKU currently offers 10 graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, computer science, education, information systems, nursing, nonprofit management, public administration, technology and a juris doctor/MBA.