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March 1, 2024

Q&A: Communication Management Program Looks Constantly Ahead

With some 300 students, Communication Management is one of the biggest graduate programs at University College. As the program’s academic director, Dr. Cindy Cragg keeps her finger on the pulse of the communications field in order to ensure that program curriculum stays cutting-edge and relevant to professionals in the industry.

Constantly on top of new developments, Cragg recorded a recent podcast with marketing strategist Lisa Haas about the dramatic impacts of AI on digital marketing, where AI tools can now be used for content generation, personalization, measurement, optimization and more.

We asked Cragg some questions about what makes the University College Communication Management programs distinctive.

Q: For someone interested in a communication management master’s or certificate, what’s your 30-second introduction to this program?

A: Communication Management at DU’s University College offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates for adults wanting to give their career a boost or transition into a field that interests them. We have a very broad menu of concentrations; you can specialize in anything from public relations to organizational communications, to marketing, to user experience strategy or learning and development. And you can customize your study by taking elective courses from other concentrations to create a learning journey that perfectly meets your career goals.

Q: Many universities have a graduate communications program. What’s unique or different about University College’s programs?

A: University College was built to serve working professionals, so we are relentlessly practical. It’s not just that our courses are flexible and online – that should be a given in the 2020s – but that our courses teach skills and knowledge that can be applied immediately on the job. We update our course content often to align with the latest industry trends, so you learn information and techniques that can position you for success. Our recent podcast about the impacts of AI on digital marketing, featuring adjunct instructor Lisa Haas, is just one way we’re staying on top of new advancements that our students will be using in their future careers.

Q: Relevant job skills can be a moving target, especially in quickly evolving fields like communications. How can a prospective student be confident they’ll learn up-to-date content in University College’s communication management programs?

A: We have systems built to ensure students learn what’s relevant now, not fifteen or even five years ago.

  1. We consult with an advisory board of industry leaders frequently, and we review job descriptions for communications positions across a range of industries to ensure our curriculum aligns with in-demand knowledge and skills.
  2. University College employs a team of instructional designers whose full-time job is to work with me and our faculty to continuously revise course content to reflect changes in the field.
  3. Our adjunct faculty are industry leaders and experts in communications, and they offer students valuable insights into current practices and emerging technologies.

Q: Can you give an example of those emerging tools and techniques being taught in Communication Management courses?

A: One example is the recent relaunch of our Digital Campaign Management course. Digital marketing campaigns are far more complex and dynamic than traditional marketing methods, something that can’t really be taught in a fully hypothetical learning environment. To give our students the most realistic and applied experience, we incorporated a new simulation platform that allows students to conduct a course-long interactive simulation where they plan, execute, and refine a digital marketing campaign.

Q: Do workers actually need a graduate certificate or master’s program to learn those skills? Couldn’t someone teach themselves online or learn on the job?

A: At University College students get a full education in their area of choice, learning from experts in the field how best to apply these tools and techniques. Anyone can get an online template for a communications plan, for example, but our program will teaches when, why, and how to craft a customized plan to reach your strategic goals, plus important considerations students you may never have thought of, and how to communicate those priorities across your organization.

There’s so much value a student gets from a University College master’s or certificate. Yes, they will get a world-class credential and a very thorough education. But the student will also build a digital portfolio while receiving mentorship from some truly impressive leaders. They’ll get a chance to try new skills and receive valuable feedback. They will get individual guidance from an advisor about their chosen pathway. And they will get instant community with an impressive group of peers in their field.

Q: What’s the best way for a student to get started in the Communication Management program, or to figure out which concentration is right for them?

A: Students at University College enjoy a very personalized learner experience, and that personalized approach begins prior to enrollment. Our enrollment managers are extremely knowledgeable about our programs, the communications field, and career paths within the field. They are tremendous resources for our prospective students and can help align students’ career and professional goals with the program that is the best match. Connect here.

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