Course Highlights | Online MA in Business Communication

View all blog posts under Master of Arts in Business Communication | View all blog posts under Webinars

Learn more about popular courses within Rider University’s online MA in Business Communication program.

Transcript

AJ Arroyo:

Hello, my name is AJ, I’m one of the enrollment advisors here at Rider University. Thank you all so much for joining us today for our online Master of Arts in Business Communication webinar with our featured guest, program director Dr. Allison Weidhaas. At this time, I’d like to take a second and introduce the enrollment team, myself, Valeria Bernard, Ody Camacho, Paul Eames, Cathy Rodriguez, and Noel Sepulveda. Also, at this time it is my pleasure to introduce our guests, Dr. Allison Weidhaas, thank you so much for joining us. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Hi, I’m really excited to join you today. My background is that I have a four different academic degrees, I have an undergraduate and a master’s degree in public relations, and I spent about a decade working in public relations. I did everything from working in an agency setting to running the public relations division for a large law firm. And those experiences really shaped how I think about business communication, but ultimately one of the things that shaped my career was teaching. And I really loved teaching. I taught part time all the way through my experience working as a public relations practitioner. And I went back to school after about 10 years to get my PhD so that I could do this full time. And I have now a PhD in organizational communications, and I also, at the same time, picked up a master’s degree in management. So I am now working at Rider University as the program director for the master of arts in business communication, as well as our master of arts and health communications.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Today, I’d like to share with you a curriculum overview. It is a 27 credit master’s degree with 27 of those in communication and six credits in business. The side of the screen that includes the white text box includes the required courses for our program. You can see that the required courses include communication in a variety of different contexts. All of those impact the business world. One of the unique pieces of our program is that in the gray box, you can see that you take six credits of electives in our accredited business program, the MBA program, and that gives you an opportunity to not only learn about communication from the 27 credits that you’re taking in the communication side of things, but also to pick up some of the nuances of business. We like to say that you have the opportunity to learn the language of business, because there are a variety of business courses that are listed here that provides you with opportunities to hone things like perhaps your budgeting and accounting skills. And these are really important to students, we find that students come back and tell us that certainly the communications is important, but getting that foundation in business also helps them as they move into leadership positions.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Moving right along, I’d like to give you some highlights of courses today. I recognize that there are course descriptions online, and you can certainly read our course objectives, but I want to give you some highlights on some select courses. One that I’d like to start with is a course called Corporate and Persuasive Discourse. And really what we talk about in this course is how to communicate in a business setting and how to be persuasive. And the thing that I think is really unique and important about this course in today’s environment is that it talks a lot about crisis communication. Some of our students actually call it the crisis communication course. And today, as we look at riots and pandemics, and just some of the challenges of life, we recognize that businesses are struggling as well as individuals. And this course allows students the opportunity to talk about crises, to learn from prior experiences, so looking at case studies, to discuss crisis communication planning, and certainly to look at what companies have done well, and certainly what they could do better. I imagine that in the fall, some of our students will be discussing COVID-19 responses in this particular class.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

In terms of other courses, I think that in addition to providing you with experience in areas of interest, such as courses in crisis communication and multicultural studies and ethics, we have what I would consider foundational courses. And I think that any good communicator has to be a strong writer. And so this particular course, Strategic Business Writing, offers students the opportunity to hone their written communication skills. It offers you the opportunity to refine your skills specifically to and developing a business materials. So they talk about memos, they talk about executive summaries. These are tools in the business community, and certainly as you draft these materials, you’ll receive professional feedback on your writing. And again, I think that that makes this course particularly valuable for students in a variety of different industries. Similar to the writing, side presentation skills are an important aspect of not only our program, but certainly the business world. So business presentation strategies enable students to develop their ability to effectively speak to an audience. They experience opportunities to present feedback and get the experience of professionals. They have the opportunity to enhance not only their in-person presentation skills, but also their online presentation skills, which is particularly important in the wake of COVID-19.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Communication in a Global Market is another course that provides you with essential skills. It allows students to explore the importance of communication in global settings, you can discuss business communications, successes, and failures. In this course, we often look at case studies. You’ll learn a lot about cultural differences and ethnocentric communication.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

We also have a course called Information Gathering and Analysis, and while that sounds like a mouthful, what it really is, is an opportunity to perfect your research skills. In this course, we learn about both academic and professional research techniques. One of the focuses is really test driving methodologies. So for example, we talk about surveys, focus groups, interviews, and content analysis. And the reason we do this as a, we recognize that these are important tools in the business environment. Businesses very frequently used surveys and focus groups. And yet at the same time, we don’t always do these things well. And so this course allows students, the opportunity to focus on perfecting these skills, to look at ways to generate questions, to ask things in ways that will get them meaningful answers. Ultimately, the course allows students to analyze information and the goal is that after this, students will have the confidence to make business recommendations and communicate their findings.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Our final course in the business communication program is our capstone course. We have a lot of questions about this class. It is an opportunity for students to explore research and discuss the practical and theoretical topics in business communication. And most of the time, really what that means is that students are taking something that they perhaps picked up in another course and exploring it in more detail in our capstone. So for example, I teach a course in communicating in a multicultural workplace, and certainly we look at issues relative to diversity. And that is a particularly important discussion, especially today. And students may decide that they want to explore that in more depth in their capstone. What they end up doing is they apply the skills and knowledge that they learned in our courses, in many cases, specifically the strategic business writing, the presentation skills, and the information gathering and analysis, because they go out and they do some research and then they need to write about and present their findings.

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

So our courses ultimately build up to this capstone course. In terms of the PMBA courses, which are the business courses that I mentioned earlier, the reason that we do this is because they provide the context for the business environment. And we really feel that it’s important that students come out and they can talk about things like accounting concepts and financial terms. We think that that makes them unique in the marketplace because so many students take just communications, but allowing you to also come out and be able to talk about and understand the way a business works is really important. The reason is that all organizations operate as a business, even nonprofits need to know how to balance a spreadsheet, they’re accountable to people within their community, to donors, for example, for understanding how to interact in a legal and ethical manner, and certainly to analyze their financials and to share those with others. So we really feel that the PMBA classes allow students to gain some exposure to the business world, and that’s an important aspect of our program.

AJ Arroyo:

Awesome, thank you so much for all of that information. What I’d like to do is go over some of the program overview holistically. So when students enter the program, the first thing that they should know is that this is a 100% online program. So while all of our campus resources are available to students, there is no campus visit that is required. It’s also an asynchronous class. So you really set your own schedule, whether you work better in the mornings or afternoons, evenings or on the weekends, as long as your work is getting done by its due date, it’s totally up to you when you complete it. The way that we have this set up is students will take two, seven week courses per semester, so that way you’re focusing on one course at a time, the program is total is going to be 33 credit hours long.

AJ Arroyo:

So it’s possibly completed in just under two years. And it’s also taught by the exact same faculty who’s teaching on campus. So it’s not like we have two separate faculties, you are in fact getting the same courses in the same program, just online, as opposed to instead of a lecture hall. At this time, I’d like to move into a Q and A, just some general questions that we’ve heard regarding this program. So real quick, are there courses that required group projects within the program? And if so, how does that work?

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

Yes. There are a few courses that ask for group projects. And the reason that we do this is because we recognize that in today’s business world, many managers are working in teams and we believe that it’s important to have students access this experience early in their college careers. And so ultimately when we ask students to work in groups, we provide them with some of the same tools that businesses use. For example, many of our students opt to set up Zoom meetings to talk about their group work. We also facilitate group conversations in Canvas, and those can be asynchronous, meaning that you could, for example, set up a chat session in Canvas, if that’s how your group chooses to work. Many of our teams decide that they want to use a collaborative document, such as Google Docs, and again, that is something that is used frequently in the business world.

AJ Arroyo:

Awesome, awesome. So how do exams work within the program? I know a lot of students are used to going into a classroom setting and taking a test. So how would an exam work in the online platform?

Dr. Allison Weidhaas:

So, AJ, most of our classes don’t include exams. There might be some little quizzes or something on information, but the majority of our classes are based on content and being able to synthesize information and provide information back to the faculty in a number of different formats, not necessarily the type of tests or exam that you might think of as a traditional undergraduate student. So let me give you some examples, AJ. Often our courses include discussion prompts and a lot of times the professors will grade those. So they’ll ask a question and they’ll hope that students provide them with feedback on an issue perhaps, or a reference to the textbook. Students are also asked to produce material that’s relevant to the course. So in some cases, for example, students might be producing materials for a speech if it’s a presentation class, in a writing class, they might be providing executive summaries to the professor for feedback, and most of the time, those are the major components of the student’s grade.

AJ Arroyo:

That’s awesome. Well, Allison, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today about the online master of arts and business communication program. To everyone listening today, I want to let you know that we are currently accepting applications for our upcoming summer B and fall semesters. So please contact us today at (877) 856-5140, or you can email us at admissions@online.rider.edu, or you can schedule an appointment on our vCita page. Thanks for joining us, and everybody have a great day.