Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

New graduate program to enhance digital communication skills will launch fall 2024

Madla Walsh
The Emerson College Visitor Center.

The Digital Communication Leadership graduate program will join the Department of Communication Studies next fall.

Associate Professor and Program Director Linda Gallant proposed the program to the Communications Department after noticing that some students were entering the workforce with a proficiency in digital marketing but lacked a comprehensive understanding of digital media, particularly in areas such as “user experience design.”

“We decided that what’s really important is for people to get leadership and management and organizational skills,” Gallant said. “So it’s more of a management supervision, executive and leadership function across all of these vast areas of communication.”

The program has four core classes—Leading Organizational Change, Project Management and Communication, Inclusive Leadership and Conflict Management, and Leading Effective Teams—that Gallant hopes will strengthen students’ skills across multiple aspects of digital communication.

Gallant researched job postings and spoke to alumni before proposing the new program. 

“I was going on and looking at job sites because of what my students were telling me,” Gallant said. “There seem to be new jobs being created where employers want you to be able to manage.”

The program focuses on different areas of management like marketing, user experience design, content development, and leadership.

The program is completely online and asynchronous, offering students the opportunity to earn an M.A. Gallant said that it’s built for “busy professionals” who have been in the workforce for a few years and may be unable to relocate to Boston. 

“It’s made flexible within a timeframe,” Gallant said. “Then, if people want to do the whole program, they could do it in a year and a half.” 

Senior lecturer Owen Eagan taught the Leading Effective Teams course over the summer. Eagan said the class was a success, and students gained skills they can use immediately in the workforce. 

“This class essentially teaches students how improving your ability to work together as a team can serve as a source of competitive advantage for your organization,” Eagan said. “As communication skills become more specialized, this program teaches students how to develop those skills and manage teams with different job functions more effectively.”

Along with the four core classes, these areas of management are supplemented by four required electives, such as Digital Crisis Management and Online Content Strategy. Gallant said the electives allow students to “fill in the gaps” and take courses outside their expertise. 

“If you know nothing about usability, you can take a user experience design course and actually learn information architecture and how to develop and run a usability test,” Gallant said. 

Upon the program’s launch next fall, students can start in the fall or spring semesters. The standard format curriculum has 32 required credits, but working professionals with at least five years of “relevant experience” in a digital communications field are eligible for the executive format curriculum, which waives one elective course (worth four credits). 

Students in the program are typically involved in digital communication, public relations, and advertising fields. The application deadlines for the fall semester in 2024 are March 1 (priority), May 1 (regular) and July 1 (late). Prospective students can reach out to Julie Scheinthal, assistant director of graduate admissions, for questions on the application process. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Siebold
Emma Siebold, Staff Writer
Emma Siebold (she/her) is a first-year journalism major/political communications minor from Spring Branch, Texas. She is also an associate producer for WEBN-TV and editorial assistant at Emerson Today. Outside of the newsroom, Emma enjoys training with the Dashing Whippets running team, listening to folk music, and obsessing over Marvel movies.

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