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New Grad Program Designed to Broaden Communication Leadership Skills

woman points at monitor as another woman takes notes
File photo/Derek Palmer

You know how to manage social media, but do you know how to manage people? Just as importantly, do you understand what your colleagues in other communication roles do and how they work together?

As faculty in the Communication Studies Department researched what young professionals needed to advance in the field, they found that they required not just management skills, but a working knowledge of how different job functions dovetail with each other within an organization.

“I’d have students say, ‘I know how to do the social media strategy and such, but I don’t really focus on content development, and I definitely don’t know user experience design,’ and to be able to do the management of this, they at least need to be familiar with it,” said Linda Gallant, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Program Director of the new Digital Communication Leadership graduate program, launching in Fall 2024.

After hearing from recent graduates and grad students, and studying job postings from the field, Gallant said, she brought the information – along with a proposal for a new graduate program – to Interim Provost Jan Roberts Breslin.

Digital Communication Leadership allows students to earn a MA through a completely asynchronous online program designed for people with multiple professional and personal obligations. No set class times means students can do the work whenever, wherever, as long as they meet their deadlines.

“It’s built for busy professionals,” Gallant said.

The four core courses of the program are based on leadership and management: Leading Organizational Change, Project Management & Communication, Inclusive Leadership & Conflict Management, and Leading Effective Teams.

“They’re courses where you’re going to get skills and knowledge to take to any job that you are going to have in the future, but they also have a management and director and executive function to them,” Gallant said.

The four electives (three, for working professionals with at least five years relevant experience) introduce students to aspects of digital communication they may have little to no experience with. Sample courses include User Experience Design, Digital Crisis Management, Digital Analytics, and Online Content Strategy.

“Not only do you have management and leadership skills and knowledge, but if you have an area that you’re not as familiar with in this digital landscape of communication, then you’re able to take a class to help you understand that better.”

For more information on the Digital Leadership Management MA, visit emerson.edu.

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