USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism is set to launch an online version of its Master of Communication Management program this fall.
The online program will match the on-campus version in several ways, through its course offerings, instructors and overall standards, according to faculty and staff members involved in the program’s preparation.
“This is really about ‘how do we reach working professionals in a way that gives them an Annenberg-quality education and gives them a rich education experience?’ ” said Rebecca Weintraub, director of the Master of Communication Management program and a clinical professor of communication.
“The content is the same,” added Neil Teixeira, the school’s deputy director for distance learning. “Just the method in which you interact and you receive the material is different.”
That method involves students – at their own convenience – logging in to Web pages created by USC Annenberg in collaboration with instructional design experts from Embanet-Compass Knowledge Group, a provider of online learning services for more than 50 higher education clients, a roster that includes Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University. The materials provided on those pages will include what Teixeira termed “highly polished, pre-produced modules,” such as video – including lectures – and audio files.
The program also calls for interactive multimedia group dialogue, and regularly scheduled and impromptu opportunities for video-style conferencing with professors, section instructors, fellow students, administrators and technical support personnel.
“Online education is a must for the global, digital world in which we live,” said dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “By expanding beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar program, we will be able to reach a widely diverse cohort of students, make them a part of our USC Annenberg family and provide them with USC Annenberg’s signature communication management degree.”
The online program will launch with a cohort of approximately 20 students. Members of the class must be midcareer professionals possessing a minimum of three years of work experience.
“This is a degree that lends itself particularly to an audience that has a pretty clear sense of what they want to achieve,” said Carola Weil, associate dean for planning and strategic initiatives. “They are highly self-motivated, and they may have constraints either due to their work or their family that would keep them from being on campus full time.”
Weintraub, who has been teaching online for seven years, added: “Working professionals who want an Annenberg degree are all over the country, maybe all over the world. However, working professionals are not taking a year off from work to come to L.A. to go to school.”
To meet the demands of these non-traditional students, Weil worked with colleagues to determine which of the school’s offerings would be most complementary to existing on-campus programs and which would be of interest and use to off-site students.
The number of schools that offer distance education is growing. The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has had a distance education network since the 1970s. The USC Rossier School of Education offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching degree, and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences offers a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology.
Other USC online programs include the Master of Social Work at the School of Social Work and the Master of Public Administration at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
As for what USC Annenberg does next in distance learning, officials are looking at several other degree possibilities. In the meantime, all eyes are on the online Master of Communication Management.
“Let’s make sure we do a bang-up job with that, get the best students we can, develop state-of-the-art courses, and provide the best online experience and valued degree available for the communication profession,” Weil said. “That will speak for itself.”
To learn more about the program and to submit an application, visit communicationmgmt.usc.edu
Applications will be accepted through July 10 on the program’s website.