About John A. McArthur, Ph.D., M.Ed.: John A. McArthur has served as the Director of Graduate Programs at the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, where he is also an Associate Professor in the Communication Department. Prior to his current position as Director, Dr. McArthur directed undergraduate programs for over six years, and played an integral role in the development of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation’s $5.75 million grant, which was awarded to the James L. Knight School of Communication in 2010. In 2013, he served as the Director of Online Faculty Services, a position that involved supporting faculty teaching courses in online and hybrid formats throughout Queens.
Dr. McArthur’s research focuses on proxemics, or the use of space in informational design, and how digital technology influences people’s interactions with spaces. His studies have applied information design theories to the examination of built and digital spaces, including urban environments, memorials, public art, chat rooms, classrooms, and campus architecture. He has also examined the interactions between spaces of learning, instruction, and technology. As an Associate Professor, Dr. McArthur teaches courses in proxemics, information design, and strategic message design, including classes in integrated strategic communication and public speaking.
He is the author of Digital Proxemics: How Technology Shapes the Ways We Move (2016, Peter Lang). In addition to his book projects, Dr. McArthur has published articles in journals such as the Journal of Communication Inquiry, Communication Teacher, the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and the Journal of the Association of Communication Administration. He also serves as a national officer for the Human Communication and Technology Division of the National Communication Association (NCA).
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of the Knight School of Communication’s Online Master of Arts in Communication program at Queens, and how it is structured?
[Dr. McArthur] The MA in Communication at Queens invites students to blend theory and practice, utilizing concepts and skills that transition from the classroom directly to the workplace. Our students enroll in 36 credits (12 courses) that emphasize communication ethics, organizational and strategic communication, and digital and media literacy. Most students in our online program complete the required coursework in 24 months.
Half of the required coursework is completed in courses that apply communication theories and practices to innovative contexts – the mediated self; strategic communication for global audiences; culture in a networked society. We see digital communication as a necessary lens for studying and practicing communication in today’s workplace.
In the final two courses, students select, design, and carry out a communication inquiry project based on their individual interests, vocations, and passions. Our faculty members serve as project advisors to guide the projects to a successful conclusion and a culmination of each student’s work in the program.
Our graduates advance their careers in marketing, strategic communication, public relations, internal communication, leadership and organizational development, consulting, media production, non-profit administration, and more.
The program is offered fully online, in an asynchronous format.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on the Integrated Digital Strategy concentration and what students learn in this track? What kinds of careers does this concentration prepare students for?
[Dr. McArthur] Our concentration in Integrated Digital Strategy offers students the opportunity to expand their learning through a specific series of elective courses that focus on social and participatory media and its integration into strategic communication practices. In addition, these courses challenge students to research social media conversations and create interventions to promote audience engagement in the digital marketplace.
Students might select this concentration to focus their studies and to complete both the masters degree and the requirements for our graduate certificate in Integrated Digital Strategy, offered as a Masters plus a concentration.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Students in your program are required to complete a year-long capstone project during the second half of their program. What does this project entail? What steps must students take to complete this project, and what are the required components of their final digital portfolio?
[Dr. McArthur] In our online program, students complete a two-semester inquiry project in which they embark upon and complete a communication-themed inquiry project. These capstone projects typically take the form of either a communication master’s thesis or a comprehensive strategic communication plan. The thesis is typically a traditional paper addressing the findings of an individual research project, whereas a strategic communication plan is an applied client-based project meant to develop one organization and its members. Each student designs, proposes, and executes an independent capstone project under the guidance of a faculty member who serves as an advisor to the project.
The portfolio is a journey of self-reflection through the student’s graduate work in which each student chronicles his or her own learning opportunities, challenges, and successes. These are presented in digital format, building on the Knight School of Communication’s emphasis in digital and media literacy.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For online students, what career development resources and academic support does the Knight School of Communication provide? For example, are there career development services or academic support outside of students’ interactions with course faculty?
[Dr. McArthur] All Queens students and alumni have access to Queens’ Vandiver Center for Internship and Career Programs and the Center for Student Success. The Vandiver Center offers services such as mock interviews with executives in the Charlotte area who volunteer their time to conduct interviews and provide feedback, numerous career and networking events held throughout the year, one-on-one career advising with staff at the Center, an online job board exclusively for students, and an alumni mentorship program. Visit these centers online to learn more about their offerings.
The Center for Student Success offers a wide variety of free academic support services to help ensure students have the resources to succeed in their studies. Academic advisors are available to help students determine their plan for success, and peer tutors and writing consultants are available through the Center to support students in their communication projects and in their preparation for exams. The Center for Student Success also hosts supplemental instruction groups for students who wish to build strong study habits and/or discuss tough course concepts with peers. Visit these centers online to learn more about their offerings.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes the Knight School of Communication’s MA in Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?
[Dr. McArthur] The Knight School’s MA in Communication uses innovative methods to study current and emerging media conversations through digital strategic communication. For each student, the program begins with a strong foundation of communication theory and ethics. Then, students progress through the study of organizational and strategic communication planning, including audience engagement through traditional, social, and participatory media techniques. Next, students explore the impact of digital communication technologies in the contexts of interpersonal, organizational, and strategic communication; global and intercultural communication; and health communication.
The emphasis on the intersections of human communication and digital technologies makes this program a current, useful, and desirable program for any graduate student. Our students use their skills to develop communication strategies for numerous industries from public relations and marketing to healthcare and education to banking. They learn how to employ social and participatory media as part of an overall communication plan. In addition, students wanting to study computer-mediated communication will also find this program will prepare them for careers in industries as well as further graduate study in the field.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for students who are interested in your program, in terms of submitting an optimal application?
[Dr. McArthur] At Queens, our typical students have a passion for the study of communication as a way to advance their careers in their selected industries. We have a diverse mix of seasoned professionals who are advancing their careers and recent undergraduates who are just starting to find their place. The optimal applicant is one who can match his or her interests to the goals of our program and demonstrates the personal motivation to succeed as an online learner. Our students are practitioners AND scholars, concerned about their own development AND the development of their classmates, and ready to learn AND be a part of a vibrant community.
Thank you, Dr. McArthur, for your insight into Queens University of Charlotte’s online Master of Arts in Communication program!