College launches master’s specialization/certificate in social media
The UF College of Journalism and Communications has launched a new online master’s degree to prepare professionals for the growing use of social media in the workplace.
The Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a specialization in Social Media began with the summer 2013 term. Working professionals can complete the 33-credit online graduate program as part-time students or enroll full-time if they prefer. The college also has a four-course graduate certificate program in social media.
Executive Associate Dean Spiro Kiousis, who also serves as Director of Distance Education, said the program responds to changes in the industry amid calls for expertise in social media communication.
“People use social media for personal purposes and reasons, but using it for strategic purposes takes formal training and specialized knowledge,” he said. “We believe that the advanced degree helps develop skills for the many positions emerging in social media.”
The degree program has an applied, professional focus and is not intended to prepare students for research careers or doctoral programs. The program’s classes do not focus on specific social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, but on the principles of effective communication and the creation of strategic communication plans.
“The specific tools will change over time,” said Andrew Selepak, Ph.D. 2011, who will serve as Director of the program. “It’s Facebook and Twitter now. Five years ago, it was Myspace.”
The fully online degree program allows the college to recruit professors and students from around the world. Students can access the program from wherever they reside and complete the modules on their own schedules.
Lenny Leithauser, the digital marketing and community manager for the Warner Music Group in Nashville, Tenn., began the program in the summer 2013 term as a member of the inaugural class. She said the versatility and format of the degree works well for her.
“I find myself working at 2 a.m. sometimes because that’s when I have time to do it,” she said. “My schedule’s crazy.”
The degree can be completed in 18 months, and students can begin in the fall, spring or summer semester.
For more information, visit www.jou.ufl.edu/academics/online-masters-degrees.
Members of the Inaugural Class
Kristin Blitch, ENG 2006,
University of Florida
Marketing manager at Notre Dame retail operations
How she found out about the program: I was working on the Internet and found an ad about the program at UF. I am an alumna, so when the ad showed up, I did research on the program and instantly fell in love.
How it helps her career: As marketing manager for Notre Dame retail operations, I’m an admin for more than 500 stores and help a dozen organizations launch social media accounts. I can harvest the knowledge and use it in business.
What she thinks so far: Everybody is knowledgeable and nice, and the curriculum is relevant to what is important nowadays. What you learn is knowledge that you’re going to apply instantly.
Lenny Leithauser, B.S.,
Recording Industry, 2008,
Middle Tennessee State University
Digital marketing and community manager, Warner Music Group
How she found out about the program: I saw a Facebook ad and had never heard of anything like it. I did some master’s work in another program, but it wasn’t what I needed to be studying to further my career. When I saw the program, I saw the holes it could fill in my career.
How it helps her career: It brings together everything that I already know about social media into a professional realm — how to actually form these plans and communicate with others in the company. It helps me take my job to the next level.
What she thinks so far: I think it’s perfect because it’s designed for people who are already working full-time.
Lisa Hope, JM 2005,
University of Florida
Digital media coordinator, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers
How she found out about the program: I was in the program for multimedia telecommunication, and I saw a lot of flyers for it when I was on campus.
How it helps her career: Social media is evolving and used in so many industries that I think a master’s degree in social media would help me in any industry.
What she thinks so far: I work full-time, so it’s incredibly convenient. You can follow modules at your own pace. It’s really interesting.