About Dr. Rebekah Farrugia: Dr. Farrugia earned her combined honors bachelor’s degree in English and Communication Studies at the University of Windsor, her master’s in communication at Wayne State University, and her PhD in the Department of Communication at the University of Iowa.
As the Graduate Program Director for the Department of Communication and Journalism, Dr. Farrugia oversees all of the students, course work, and program requirements for the master’s in communication program at Oakland University. She also advises many of the students in the program, and meets with potential students to answer their question and discuss their interests.
As an Associate Professor, Dr. Farrugia is responsible for continuing to produce research, teach courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as serve in several administrative capacities at Oakland University and in her research field. Some of the courses she teaches include Media and Social Identity; Critical Approaches to Popular Music; Gender, Sexuality, and the Media and Theorizing Media.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?
[Dr. Farrugia] The MA in Communication at Oakland requires students to earn 36 credit hours for graduation. All of our courses are four credit classes that are taught once a week in the evenings. Every student is required to take the following courses: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication, Philosophy of Communication, plus a qualitative or quantitative methods course. As of fall 2017 we no longer have areas of concentration as we believe that an MA degree should be a time of exploration for both students who wish to pursue a PhD as well as for those who seek diverse skills to better prepare them for work in industry. As such, once they fulfill the three required courses students are free to choose their remaining credits from any courses offered. Generally, we offer courses in the areas of interpersonal communication, organizational communication, rhetoric, critical communication, and media studies.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students can choose between a master’s thesis, a creative project, and a comprehensive examination. Could you please describe each of these options in detail?
[Dr. Farrugia] We have three option for students’ final graduation requirement. The first option is for students to enroll in an additional course for four credits and take an in house Final Competency Exam (FCE). This is our most popular option. The FCE consists of three to four questions that students answer in one day on campus. The goal here is for them to demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to synthesize and apply what they have learned in course work.
The second option is a thesis. Students opting to complete a thesis must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The first step is to find an advisor, then draft a 15-20 page proposal that is approved by a committee. Once the proposal is approved, students can move forward with the project. Once the advisor thinks it is ready, an oral defense is scheduled. At the MA level, theses generally run anywhere from 50-80 pages.
The final option is a creative project. The process of completing a creative project is similar to the thesis but the end product is different. Past projects include documentaries as well as the construction of complete online courses.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication program, and how can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems? Additionally, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program?
[Dr. Farrugia] A definite strength of our program is the attention that faculty are able to devote to MA students because our incoming class every year is around 10-12 students. Also, our class sizes tend to run anywhere from 5-15 students which promotes a personal learning environment. At orientation night students are introduced to all of the graduate faculty and learn about their areas of expertise. This allows them to then quickly follow up with and form bonds with faculty whose research interests them to learn about potential research opportunities. Students can make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems by contacting faculty directly and enrolling in courses that meet their interests. Faculty are always available to assist students with academic help when needed. Additionally, the Writing Center at OU offers specific assistance to graduate students. The Department of Communication also has a very close relationship with Oakland University’s career services for students seeking specific questions related to work in industry upon graduation.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication program?
[Dr. Farrugia] We encourage students applying to our MA program to do their research and take their time when crafting their Statement of Purpose. It should clearly indicate why they believe that they are a good fit for our program and how their interests and goals align with our program offerings. I also highly recommend that students form relationships with their instructors and maximize their efforts at the undergraduate level to ensure strong references when applying to MA programs.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?
[Dr. Farrugia] Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication is especially unique because of its combination of extremely productive, high quality faculty and the intimacy of the program. Because a cohort of only 10-12 students are enrolled in our program every fall they have great access to the graduate faculty. Our program is also rigorous in the best possible way, as we want students to be challenged and have every opportunity to develop their research, writing, presentation, and critical thinking skills. To this effect, our students are well prepared for further research at the doctoral level as well as a variety of positions in industry including work in non-profit organizations, public relations, and corporate industries.
Their semester long experiences together in the Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication also gives students the opportunity to develop strong relationships with their peers, forming connections which often turn into lifelong friendships and networking opportunities.
Thank you, Dr. Farrugia, for your insight into Oakland University’s Master of Arts in Communication program!