Emily Grigg is pursuing an online Master of Arts in Communication from Liberty University. She is specializing in interpersonal and organizational communication. Emily also earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Liberty University.
Emily chose to study online at Liberty University because of the school’s Christian values. After graduating, she plans to begin a career in public relations.
I decided to pursue an online degree because I am a working adult and I find studying online to be more convenient than attending classes in-person. In an online class, I can access the course materials when I want and work on assignments during my free hours.
I chose to get my online masters degree in communication from Liberty University because I appreciate its Christian affiliation and the school is also located in my hometown. I also had a great experience when I attended Liberty as an undergraduate.
To help me successfully complete my program, Liberty University selected an advisor for me based on my degree program in communication. Although my advisor helps me choose the appropriate courses to stay on track for graduation, my advisor’s role is much more limited at the masters level than it was at the undergraduate level.
Interpersonal and organizational communication is a degree program that teaches students how to communicate successfully on a large, organizational level. Courses look at how issues in communication occur and discuss how to create solutions. Upon graduation, students are prepared for a career in consulting.
My 2 year program is comprised of 36 credits of coursework, including 27 elective credits, and 9 core credits and a thesis project. Though a thesis isn’t required to graduate, I chose to complete a thesis because I think it is important to show future employers that I am able to finish extended projects.
In terms of my program’s strengths, the syllabus is clear and structured, and the assignments are well organized. On the other hand, the program’s weaknesses include a lack of in-person interactions with other classmates and delays in receiving feedback from professors on assignments.
Although I have not started yet my thesis yet, I anticipate that it will be between 50 and 100 pages and require a substantial amount of research. Right now, I am in the process of choosing a topic and selecting a committee of professors who will support me in my research process. They will also assess the quality of my thesis once I have finished writing it.
In my opinion, the thesis component is the most difficult requirement in my masters program. There are a couple approaches that students take in an effort to make the process go smoothly. For example, some students finish all of their coursework in the first year so they can devote the second year to finishing their theses. However, I have tried to work on my thesis throughout my program because it keeps me motivated when I’m less interested in coursework.
At Liberty University, instructors use e-mail and discussion boards to present class materials. In the discussion board environment, I can interact with the instructor and collaborate with classmates on assignments. Students also use Facebook to ask questions about assignments.
In all of my classes, students have taken an active role in the learning experience. For example, certain students will study a chapter and then teach the rest of the class with the professor monitoring the online exchanges.
There is no residency requirement for my masters program in communication, although internships are available. Sometimes these internships are sponsored by the university itself, such as the Washington D.C. work-study program for undergraduates. Other times, students use Liberty University’s career center to find internships that are independent of the institution.
My class on communication for leaders was the most useful because it offered a great deal of practical information on public relations management. I studied employee motivation, as well as different leadership styles and employee personalities within a company.
My classes on family communication and small group theory were less useful because most of the information in the classes had no practical application to my future career.
The professors seem knowledgeable based on the credentials they list in their course syllabuses. All of my professors have doctoral degrees and at least one is a working professional.
I primarily interact with my professors using e-mail, and have never had any negative experiences. Overall, the professors seem to care a lot about their students.
Although I would not have done anything differently in my program, I have noticed a few mistakes that new students tend to make. First, I recommend that students should not wait until the last minute to complete assignments and ask questions. Without the physical presence of a professor, online students tend to let their responsibilities build up and overwhelm. As a result, online classes take more discipline than regular classes.
And second, I recommend that students take initiative in advancing their careers by participating in internships and looking for jobs while still in school. Because communication is such a broad subject area, there is no specific job waiting for students after graduation. Therefore, students need to make connections with employers and find job opportunities early on.