Online Master of Arts in Business Communication Information Session

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Program Director for the Master of Arts in Business Communication program, Dr. Allison Weidhaas, discusses the online MABC program offered at Rider. In this webinar, she discusses an overview of the program, career outcomes, admission requirements and more.

Transcript

Noel:
All right. Good afternoon. My name is Noel and I’m an enrollment advisor at Rider University. I would like to welcome you to our Online Master of Arts in Business Communication Webinar featuring our special guest, Dr. Alison Weidhaas, who is currently the program director over the Online Master of Arts in Business Communication Program. I also want to take this opportunity to introduce you to your enrollment team from left to right, Ms. Sarah Falter, Mr. Ysaac Bello, Mr. Noel Sepulveda, Ms. Monica Lam, Ms. Valeria Benard, and Mr. Paul Eames and our very special guest, Dr. Alison Weidhaas.

Noel:
Thank you for your taking time out to talk to us today about Rider University and our Online Master of Arts in Business Communication Program. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself today?

Dr. Weidhaas:
Yes. Hi. My name is Dr. Alison Weidhaas. I’m the program director for our Master of Arts in Business Communication Program as well as our Master of Arts in Health Communication Program. I really enjoy my position because I really enjoy working with students. In terms of my background, I have both a professional and an academic background in both business and communications. I have an undergraduate and master’s degree in public relations. I have master’s degree in management and I have a PhD in organizational communications. In addition to this, I’ve worked at a variety of professional settings including both business communication, owning a business, as well as working in communication agencies and working as a communications manager.

Dr. Weidhaas:
I bring a lot of this to the classroom. I also bring this to my research and I’m really excited to share some of this with you as you hopefully enroll in our Master of Arts in Business Communication Program.

Noel:
For your introduction, Dr. Weidhaas. Can you talk to us today about some of the history of Rider University and give us a brief program overview about the Online Master of Arts and Business Communication?

Dr. Weidhaas:
Sure. Absolutely. Rider University is a midsize university located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. We were established in 1865, so we are over 150 years old. We have a 150 years of experience educating tomorrow’s leaders. US News and World Report actually ranks Rider in the top tier of northern regional universities offering master’s degree programs. One of the things that I think makes us really unique is that we have a really low faculty to student ratio. We have a 12 to one ratio and that’s a really great thing for students because that offers us a lot more one on one time with students. Students also benefit from smaller class sizes and they find that they get a lot of feedback from students.

Dr. Weidhaas:
In terms of faculty themselves, 99% of our full-time faculty hold a doctorate degree or the highest degree in their field.

Dr. Weidhaas:
In terms of our program, we have a 100% online program, so one of the benefits for you is that you can fit this in around your schedule. There isn’t a need to come to campus, although we certainly welcome you to come and visit our lovely campus in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. We are about 15 minutes outside of Princeton. If you are flying into Philadelphia, we’re about an hour north of Philadelphia. In terms of the classes themselves, they are considered asynchronous, meaning that you have specific due dates, but you can set your own schedule. You can decide, for example, that you want to log in on Tuesday night and complete your assignments or Wednesday if your deadline happens to be a Thursday.

Dr. Weidhaas:
This gives students a lot of flexibility. Again, there are specific dates or deadlines. However, it’s nice that you do have that ability to flex around your work commitments or whatever your other commitments are in your life. Typically, students take two seven-week courses per semester. What happens is in the fall, for example, you would take a course during the first seven weeks of the fall term, perhaps September through mid October and then your second course would start after that. The only exception to this is our Capstone. The entire program is a 33 credit master’s program and you can complete it in less than two years.

Dr. Weidhaas:
In terms of the curriculum, one of the things that I think makes us particularly unique is that you take 27 credits in communication and so you can see a list of those courses over in the white section. Then, you also take six credits in a business program, in our MBA. The reason that we designed our program this way is because we feel that students need to not only have the communication expertise to come out with a business communication degree, but they also need some of the fundamental skills that businesses require. You can see a fairly lengthy list of what we’re going to call electives. We work with you to determine which of the electives that meet your needs.

Dr. Weidhaas:
Ultimately, you’ll take six credits of electives. In many cases, that means two three-credit courses, or if the courses are one and a half credits, you might be taking four courses. Again offering you the opportunity to get a variety of fundamental and foundational business skills. In terms of the courses that you’re taking in our program, those 27 credits, you can see them listed there and what we’ve done is we’ve picked courses of topics that professionals have told us are essential to the business world. You can see that there’s a mix of things, everything from communicating visually to communicating in groups, which of course is a big part of today’s workplace, communicating with diversity, and communicating and global markets.

Dr. Weidhaas:
Ultimately on down through that final bullet there, which is our capstone and business communication. One thing that students often ask is well, what is that Capstone? It’s not a thesis project in the way that you might have envisioned a doctoral level program. What it is is you actually decide your research question. You decide something that’s relevant to what it is that you hope to do in the future and you go out and you research that question. Students in the past have looked at things related to topics ranging from social media to communicating with a particular industry segment. Then, they’ve asked the question and gone out and found that information both through literature as well as primary research.

Dr. Weidhaas:
We help you to develop the skills that you need for this course and other courses in our program, including that information gathering and analysis course, which is a research based course and again gives you some of those skills. The Capstone is the final class that you’ll take and that is a 14-week class, that is the last term of your coursework.

Dr. Weidhaas:
In terms of career outlook, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects an 8% job growth for business management jobs all the way through 2026. We have been really excited that a number of our graduates have found really interesting and varied jobs. There’s just a couple examples of careers below in the bullets, so public relations manager, many of our students do go into public relations and are in advanced positions because of their master’s program. Some choose to go into marketing, some become account executives within communication firms or agencies. But really, the careers are quite varied because students who have a communications degree, a master’s degree find that their skills are useful in a variety of different ways.

Dr. Weidhaas:
We’ve had students go for anywhere from higher education to also looking at careers in telecommunications and sales in technology and industry. We’ve been really excited that there are almost limitless opportunities with this type of degree.

Dr. Weidhaas:
Why choose Rider? 100% of the coursework is online and it is designed to mirror that in class experience. We have discussion posts where students are vigorously going back and talking about different ideas, in some cases debating key concepts, sharing theories and explaining things to their peers. That’s a really nice benefit of the coursework. While you don’t all have to be online at the exact same time, there is a lot of class interaction. Again, that asynchronous format is the flexibility for completing assignments and activities and what we really are talking about here is the opportunity again to craft a schedule for learning that meets your needs.

Dr. Weidhaas:
You have a lot of access to faculty. Again, that 12 to one student ratio provides you with smaller classes and so faculty are committed to getting back to you and helping you to create the educational experience that best fits your needs. You will have a dedicated graduate academic coordinator that will see you throughout the program and help counsel you in terms of what classes to take and help you with any bumps in the road. Additionally, Rider offers financial aid options. Someone can talk extensively about that with you. That may be your academic coordinator and additionally we have six start dates, and so that also gives you some flexibility to determine when it’s the best time for you to begin your online degree.

Noel:
Thank you again, Dr. Weidhaas. Your admissions requirements for this program are as follows. You need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and degrees earned abroad must be deemed equivalent, a GPA minimum of 2.7 GPA on a 4.0 GPA scale. Admissions decisions are made through an evaluation of undergraduate coursework, GPA, professional experience application. You must complete an application for this program. Provide two professional letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a statement of purpose that’s approximately 500 to 1,500 words and official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended during your undergraduate degree pursuit, and an interview may be required for this program.

Noel:
Now, we’re going to cover some tuition and financial aid. The cost of tuition is $950 per credit hour, both in and out-of-state students. There’s a technology fee of $50 per course and a distance learning fee of $35 per course. This degree program consists of 33 credit hours. Financial aid is also available to those that apply and qualify for it. We also accept employer tuition reimbursement. We offer monthly payment plans and military tuition assistance of VA benefits are also accepted and tuition is subject to change on an annual basis.

Noel:
At this time, we’d like to have Dr. Weidhaas answer some questions that are frequently asked by some students. Dr. Weidhaas, how many classes are taken at once?

Dr. Weidhaas:
Typically, students take one class at a time. They’ll take two classes per semester. In the fall term, because it’s a 14 week semester, they’ll take one for the first seven weeks and then the second class for the second seven weeks. Basically from September to December, they’ll complete two courses. Now we recommend that, especially starting, but there is some flexibility and students can speak with their enrollment advisor if they’d like to consider a different course in terms of the number of classes taken at a time or even if they want to pause for a little a period of time.

Noel:
Are there different professors teaching the online classes versus the campus program?

Dr. Weidhaas:
No. Currently, the courses that are taught on campus has been mirrored to be taught online, so the faculty that developed the in-person classes also developed the online courses.

Noel:
Excellent. Thanks. What type of professional backgrounds do your students have that are enrolled in this program?

Dr. Weidhaas:
Our students come to us from a variety of different backgrounds. Some are finishing undergraduate degrees and recognizing that their skills still need to be honed. Some are early career professionals, recognizing that to get to those management level positions that they really want, that they need that master’s degree. Today more and more, we’re finding that students need the master’s degree to advance and so we’re seeing students come back and look for this degree. Because of the flexibility of a communications degree, we’re also seeing that students are coming back to us from a variety of different industry segments. Communication is one of those things that’s so versatile.

Dr. Weidhaas:
As we look at business communication and we even look at some of the business publications, it’s often mentioned as one of the key skills that graduates need. We’ve had students that have backgrounds in communication. We’ve had students that have backgrounds in business and they just want those skills and to be able to put that on their resume that they have in Master of Arts in Business Communication.

Noel:
Excellent. What do you look for in a potential applicant?

Dr. Weidhaas:
In addition to meeting the minimum requirements, which I know that we’ve already covered, so I don’t want to go back and restate that information. We also look at the purpose statement. What we’re looking for and a purpose statement is we want students who are focused and really ready to pursue a master’s degree. We want to see that when they finish the degree that they have goals that are in line with getting a position, some type of position that enables them to use their business communication skills.

Noel:
All right. Well, I want to thank you again, Dr. Weidhaas, for all your help with this presentation and taking time out of your schedule to share information about the Master of Arts in Business Communication Program. To the guests listening to this webinar, I want to let you know that we’re currently accepting applications for our upcoming semester, so please contact us today at 866-310-2840 or email us at admissions@online.rider.edu or please reach out to us and schedule an appointment on our live vcita calendar page. Thank you for your participation and have a great day.