Master’s Program in Professional and Digital Media Writing Takes Flight

By Ronald Hanaki
Sports Editor

Did you know that ESU offers a master’s degree program in Professional and Digital Media Writing?

Now in its second semester, ESU’s latest graduate program is aimed at writers already in the field who want to move up in their professional writing and media careers.

The 30-credit course of study consists of 12 credits of core courses, 15 credits of electives, and a 3-credit capstone project / thesis.

The newly renamed Professional and Digital Media Writing program (it used to be called Professional and New Media Writing) is offered entirely online. There is no residency requirement, which should result in a tuition break for the program’s students.

The new program is coordinated by Dr. Holly Wells. Although it is not a requirement of the program, Dr. Wells recommends that prospective students acquire some professional writing experience before applying to the graduate program.

As to the current collection of students, Wells said, “We have a great group of students. They have experience from all over the place.”

She continued, “We have someone from academia, a grant writer, a technical writer, marketing writers, and a couple of recent college graduates. So, we have students anywhere from the entry-level to those who have over twenty years of freelancing experience in our program.”

Wells added, “Many of our students are from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but we also have someone from halfway across the country.”

Professor Bill Broun is an instructor in the graduate program. Upon meeting his students for the first time, Professor Broun tweeted, “SO stoked by caliber of new @ESUniversity professional/digital media writing students. Wow! Highachievers!”

In terms of class instruction, Wells said, “We use an online discussion board, and that allows students to get to topics when they are ready and have something to contribute to the class. It also gives the class a written transcript that promotes discussion, as some people feel more comfortable writing instead of talking in class.”

Wells continued, “The online aspect of the program allows the sharing of visual content with everyone else at the same time. Some of the student submissions, like a mind-mapped visual presentation that I got from a visual rhetoric assignment that I gave to my class, have been tremendous.”

Because the graduate program is exclusively online, social media has played a big part in promoting the program and creating a sense of community.

Wells said, “There is a section on D2L [Desire2Learn] and a Facebook page for our graduate students, and what’s especially gratifying is that many of our students have already scheduled a meet up over spring break.”

The estimated time for a student to complete the program is about four semesters, but this depends on how soon the student is able to complete the thesis requirement.

Some of the students in the program have already made graduating by the end of this year a goal.

As for job prospects after graduation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that the median annual wage of writers and authors was $55,420 in May 2010, and the top 10 percent earned more than $109,440.

The BLS is forecasting that the national demand for professional writers is projected to grow 8 percent to 303,000 by 2018. Employment of technical writers is expected to grow 18 percent, or faster than the average of all occupations, from 2008-2018.

In addition, Wells says ESU’s proximity to major media markets like New York City and Philadelphia afford its students tremendous opportunities in media and journalism and makes the program that much more attractive to current and prospective students.

Wells said, “Our [English] department has been supportive. The College of Arts and Sciences has our back. So everything is positive and on an upward swing. We hope that the program continues to grow.”

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