New University College programs useful for full-time students
Three new programs being offered by the University College this fall continue the school’s push toward professionally geared majors taught by men and women in the industry.
This strategy is completely different from the one being pursued by the school’s main undergraduate divisions that support Washington University’s status as a research institution—a label that precludes the undergraduate school from offering classes in disciplines such as communications and journalism, two programs UCollege is bolstering this fall.
“University College is the best place to get people who work in the field engaged in teaching,” Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Jennifer Smith said. “It’s a place for things we want to teach but that might not fit into the research of departments.”
According to Smith, the College of Arts & Sciences is unlikely to add a journalism program anytime soon. She believes UCollege is more flexible than the College of Arts & Sciences and allows the University to experiment with new programs.
The previous communication and journalism degree that UCollege offered will be split into two separate degrees in each field beginning this fall. The change allows more specialization and introduces three new courses common to the two programs.
Journalism was one of two degrees offered by UCollege when it began in 1931. In the early 1980s, the journalism program incorporated communications, and the two areas were combined in one degree until this year’s split.
“We thought the interest and concerns [of communications and journalism] had really diverged,” Dean of the University College Robert Wiltenburg said.
The Bachelor of Science degree in journalism now requires students to complete a concentration in a related liberal arts discipline such as anthropology or political science, while the degree in communications allows students to specialize in Integrated Marketing Communications or Public Affairs.
The two programs target different demographics.
“Communications courses are more for mid-career business people to help them do better in public affairs and strategic communications,” Repps Hudson, coordinator of the journalism program and reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said.
Hudson hopes full-time Washington University students will take courses in the journalism program. In his 24 years at UCollege, he has seen full-time students who take UCollege journalism courses get internships and go on to be successful journalists.
Washington University junior Sara Bower, who took Introduction to Mass Media in the University College and enjoyed it, said she would major in journalism if it were an option in Arts & Sciences.
“I wish there were actual journalism classes, but for someone interested in journalism, I think it’s helpful,” Bower said.
Additionally, UCollege will offer a new Master of Science degree in statistics this fall, making it the first in St. Louis.
The new M.S. in Statistics provides a part-time, more applied equivalent to the traditional Master of Arts in Statistics that the College of Arts & Sciences offers, which focuses more on theory. UCollege developed the degree with members of the mathematics department after faculty came forward with the idea.
“Universities all over are creating these programs,” Wiltenburg said.
Wiltenburg added that according to an analysis of regional job postings, statistics jobs were the second most common job openings in St. Louis.
Both the M.S. in statistics and the new communications and journalism programs took about two years to develop, require internships or independent study, and share courses on fundamental skills for both fields. Shared courses that are new this semester address recent changes in the fields due to advancing technology.
“The faculty are even more excited about refocusing and repurposing both sides,” Wiltenburg said.
Sara Krenski, communications and marketing director for the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, graduated with a degree in communications and journalism from UCollege in 2006.
Krenski appreciated that the evening format that allowed her to work full-time while pursuing her degree. Night classes also accommodate professors who work full-time in the areas they teach.
“Professors who work in St. Louis in the field have connections regular teachers might not have and might be more up to date with changes in the world of journalism,” Krenski said.
“It’s probably a good move [to split the programs] so students can meet more people in their area of interest,” she added.