Board approves new master’s degree

DePoy Master's_3-28-12

Bryan DePoy, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, is one collaborator working to develop the interdisciplinary communication master’s degree. Photo by Marissa McIntyre/The Jambar.

A master’s degree combining professional writing, communications and marketing has been approved by the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees and awaits approval by the Ohio Board of Regents.

“This is the only master’s degree program that draws upon the resources of three separate colleges in three academic departments in the state,” said Bryan DePoy, dean the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Collaborators from academic colleges across YSU are excited about the degree’s wide appeal to multiple students.

“Being an urban research university, we do believe this will enrich the knowledge basin in the region and the regional workforce,” said

Cary Horvath, associate professor of communications.

Horvath said the degree would provide students with strong research, professional writing and communication skills.

The master’s program will help students build skills in various communicative formats, including email, blogs and personal pages, as well as more formal formats, such as PowerPoint, multimedia pages and visual data.

The master’s degree was designed around the current needs of the work force.

“We tried to find a master’s level program that aligns with potential job growth. If you look at every one of the disciplinarians involved in this, they all forecast job growth,” DePoy said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an estimated 24 percent growth rate for public relations specialists and an 18 percent growth for technical writers by 2018.

Overall, the fields of advertising, marketing, public relations and sales managers are expected to increase by 13 percent through 2018.

And the master’s degree can be applied to any undergraduate major.

“The program is meant to either prepare people who are already in the workforce for career development for managerial kinds of work or as a stepping stone to the Ph.D. program,” Horvath said.

The new degree is designed with seven core courses within the fields of English, marketing, communications and statistics. It then branches into two tracks: one for students who are going on to graduate school, and another for students who are entering the work force.

DePoy said another benefit of the master’s degree is that it has the potential to be cost neutral, and, if anything, will generate revenue in terms of tuition.

If the master’s degree is approved by OBOR, it will be open to students in the spring of 2013.

“We think the program is unique because there’s nothing else like it in the region,” Horvath said. “I don’t know any other programs that are interdisciplinary.”