About Dr. Bart Collins, PhD: Bart Collins has served as the Director of the Brian Lamb School of Communication’s Online Graduate Program since its inception in 2014, where he also teaches as a Clinical Professor. He earned his PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas and his Master’s degree from the University of Arkansas. His research interests focus on healthcare-related communication challenges, persuasion and social influence, and assessment and evaluation of health, technology, and educational interventions. In addition to his work overseeing the Online Graduate Program at the Brian Lamb School, Dr. Collins is a faculty scholar in Purdue University’s Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, where he is the director of healthcare communications.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of the Brian Lamb School of Communication’s online Master of Science in Communication program, and how it is structured? What core topics are covered in the core curriculum, and what concentration options do students have?
[Dr. Bart Collins] The Lamb School’s Online MS Program was structured from the ground up to provide quality graduate education in communication for embedded professionals who want to expand their opportunities for impact and influence in communication industries and roles. The program focuses broadly on strategic communication activities across a range of corporate contexts, including industries such as healthcare or the non-profit sector, as well as roles in public relations, advertising, and media management.
The program is highly tailorable to student interests. Our 10-course program (30 credit hours) only has 3 required courses, leaving students with a range of electives to choose from based on personal and professional interests. Courses are structured in 8-week, asynchronous, and seminar-based format, where students engage with each other and faculty throughout each week through regular participation in forums, the creation and sharing of video and multimedia presentations, and collaboration on group projects. Beyond specific course activities, students in our program also have access to regular webinars with guest speakers on special topics, and the opportunity to participate in optional for-credit study abroad opportunities.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Purdue’s Online MS in Communication offers a concentration in Strategic Communication. Could you please explain the concepts and skills that the Strategic Communication concentration covers, and what types of careers this concentration prepares students for?
[Dr. Bart Collins] Our program focuses broadly on challenges associated with professional communication contexts. Individuals interested in corporate communication, public relations, integrated communication, and related topics will find a range of courses associated with these areas. Our courses try to focus on providing students with the opportunity to work through important and current research in these areas and apply key concepts to solving common types of communication-related challenges. Much of this involves students clearly identifying the nature of the communication problem, engaging in effective audience analysis, tailoring messaging strategies to those audiences, and developing strategies for evaluating the impact and effectiveness of those messages. These processes are common across a wide range of corporate and strategic communication contexts.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on the differences between the campus-based and the online master’s in communication programs offered through the Brian Lamb School of Communication?
[Dr. Bart Collins] The Online MS program is specifically designed for professionals seeking to improve or enhance their professional activities and opportunities in industry. As such, the Online MS program is similar to other professional programs, such as an MBA. Our campus-based MA and Ph.D. programs in the Lamb School are predominantly oriented to prepare students for traditional academic roles, such as professors or researchers. Students who are seeking a master’s degree to prepare them for a doctoral program are encouraged to apply to our on-campus master’s program. Students who wish to stay full-time employees in industry and intend to stay in industry are encouraged to consider the online MS program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What career development resources and academic support services are available to students in the MS in Communication program? Are these support structures and resources available to both campus and online students?
[Dr. Bart Collins, PhD] All online services offered by Purdue University are available to students in the Online MS Program, including access to the learning management system, online library resources, Purdue email systems, software resources, career counseling resources, and many others.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Purdue University’s MS in Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for on-campus or online students?
[Dr. Bart Collins] Our program focuses on providing students with a highly tailorable curriculum designed to meet their professional needs. Our curriculum covers a range of compelling communication issues that range from topics as diverse as crisis communication, social media, communication research, and leadership. The program also allows students to explore communication challenges in specific industries, such as healthcare, non-profit organizations, or financial and investor relations. New electives are added regularly to expand student options for tailing their plan of study. Our primary goal is to develop students who have a good understanding of how to apply communication theory and communication research methodologies to address their specific communication challenges in effective ways. Our faculty have strong industry experiences and academic credentials, and work actively to help students translate theory and research to address real world problems.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for students who are interested in your program, in terms of submitting an optimal application?
[Dr. Bart Collins] Graduate students in our program come from wide range of backgrounds across a wide range of industries. One of the key things we look for in a student is evidence of industry success. We also take into consideration past academic credentials, letters of support, and alignment with program goals. We do not typically require GRE scores. Our students, on average, have about 10 years of industry experience. About 50 percent have traditional communication-related undergraduate degrees. About 50 percent are in management-level positions, and about 50 percent are already working in the communication industry. Virtually all of our students are seeking graduate education to facilitate their ability to advance their careers in communication-related positions in industry, though they may be in different places in their professional careers.
Thank you, Dr. Collins, for your insight into Purdue University’s Master of Science in Communication program!