About Dr. Richard Dool, D.Mgt: Richard Dool is the Director of the Master of Communication and Media (MCM) program at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information (SC&I), where he also teaches courses such as Communications Ethics, Leadership Communication, Organizational Change, Dynamics Of Global Organizations, Multiculturalism and Leadership: Communication Perspectives and Organizational Communication as a Teaching Professor. As the Director of MCM, Dr. Dool is responsible for the strategic direction and operational management of the program, including curriculum development, program enhancement, enrollment and admissions, student advising, and optimizing students’ learning experiences through curricular and extracurricular offerings.

Dr. Dool has a comprehensive and diverse executive level leadership background including leading an $800M division of AT&T, global commercial leadership roles (GE), and serving for 12 years as CEO of both public and private companies. He is also an active scholar and educator in the areas of leadership communication, organizational change and renewal, change agency, and strategic alignments, and has published on the concepts of Change Fatigue™ and Leaderocity™. Dr. Dool is the author of Enervative Change: The Impact of Persistent Change Initiatives on Job Satisfaction. He holds numerous national certifications in online learning, instruction and course development as well.

Dr. Dool holds an MA in Strategic Communication and Leadership, an MS in Management and a Doctorate in Management/Organizational Processes.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program, and how it is structured? What learning outcomes can students expect from this program?

[Dr. Dool] The MCM program is a 36 credit Masters program with a professional orientation. We deploy a “learn it tonight, apply it tomorrow” approach blending theory and practice in unique ways to ensure a holistic learning experience for our students. We have 140+ students currently enrolled. We are growing 30%+ annually as more and more seek the masters credential to differentiate themselves. MCM is an attractive degree because of its unique construct of being a shared degree between our Departments of Communication and Journalism/Media Studies. This gives our students many options to specialize or create a tailored learning experience. We offer classes in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer sessions and rolling admissions.

Approximately 60% of our students work full time. 90% are seeking the degree to enhance their professional credentials. Our program attracts professional communicators (60%) who are in corporate communications, PR, advertising, non-profit communication, marketing, social media, editing, journalism, digital media, events management or media relations as examples. We also have an international segment (27%) with students from 9 countries, mostly from China and India. Our program is quite diverse, attracting students who want to improve their personal communication skills and gain a Masters credential (13%) who are military officers, corporate staff, entrepreneurs, police officers, non-profit staff and health care workers, as examples.

We offer seven specializations to meet the diverse needs of our students:

  • Strategic Organizational Communication: Designed for those who are in or want to be in organizational communication or leadership positions.
  • Health Communication: Designed for those who are in or want to be in heath communication or leadership positions in a health oriented entity.
  • Public Relations: Designed for those who are in or want to be in this fast growing and dynamic segment. This is our fastest growing specialization and our #2 most popular. We will be offering this fully on-campus or online in 2019.
  • Digital Media: Designed for those who are in or want to be in the digital media segment in management, production, or writing/editing. This is our most popular specialization and one that can be completed 100% online if needed.
  • Leadership Communication: Designed for those who are in or want to be in leadership positions. It is very useful for mid-career professionals. We will be offering this fully on-campus or online in 2019.
  • Communication and Media Studies: This is the specialization where students can design their own learning experience, tailoring the electives as they desire to meet their interests.
  • Communication and Media Research: This is the specialization for students with an interest in research or who desire to enter a doctoral program.

We offer an array of Experiential Learning options for our students, including professional internships, instructional assistantships and our unique Fellowship Program with Johnson & Johnson. We also have opportunities for students to work one on one with faculty in our Independent Study and Research Practicum courses.

We offer internship courses (3 or 6 credits) where students work either 150 hours (10 hours per week) or 300 hours (20 hours per week) over the semester in an immersion experience. These internship experiences are wide ranging and include, as examples, working at media companies in NYC, local community organizations in New Jersey or larger entities like the UN. Most of our internship students find their own opportunities that fit their interests and schedule and we work with the Internship sponsor to support the student.

We have a long and active relationship with J&J and have had more than 80 students work there in some form, including Fellowships, cooperative work or as interns. The students have worked on STEM projects, Community Outreach, Vaccination programs, Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Students receive a stipend and some gain tuition assistance as well.

Each semester we also have students working with faculty in support of their classes. This requires 5 – 10 hours per week and includes instructional assistantships in areas such as grading, group project support, and technology assistance. The Assistantships come with a stipend of either $1500 or $3000 per semester.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media offers students the option of completing their degree on-campus, fully online, or through a hybrid of online and campus-based courses. Could you elaborate on each of these three options, and also describe the communication technologies that the online program uses to facilitate student engagement with faculty and peers?

[Dr. Dool] Since the majority of our students work full-time, our program is structured to allow them to manage our program while also navigating their professional lives. Our on-campus classes are offered at night (6:20pm) Monday to Thursday. Our online classes are available 24×7 each week using our Canvas Learning Management system. Classes are conducted in an asynchronous manner meaning there are no live sessions making is easier for our working students to manage their time.

Students have options each semester to take classes on campus, fully online, hybrid (blend of on-campus and online) as well as during the weekend. The Digital Media specialization can be completed fully online, and the Leadership Communication and Public Relations specializations will be offered fully online as well from 2019.

Our online classes are very popular and highly engaging. Our faculty are experienced facilitators and active in the classes each week using a dialogue-centered learning approach. The courses receive high student evaluations consistently.

Our dialogue centered approach is based on faculty-student interaction and student-student interaction. In our system there is a discussion board and a posted discussion each week, which is open 24×7. Students engage at their convenience each day (M – F). Our classes are dynamic and have high levels of interaction without the challenges associated with live, scheduled elements. Faculty also post materials, lecture, recordings and videos in support of the class.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students of Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program must complete a Capstone Paper and an E-Portfolio. Could you please elaborate on both of these components, and what they entail?

[Dr. Dool] We are offering a two part ‘capstone’ experience for our students. This includes our unique ePortfolio class, which has a professional orientation, and the Capstone course, which has a more research orientation. The blend adds well to our students’ Masters credential and professional branding.

The ePortfolio class is an advising-based course where students will: explore key components of personal branding and reputation management; conduct an industry- or organization-specific audience analysis related to potential employment or career opportunities; investigate different technologies that may be useful in the gathering, storing, and marketing efforts related to e-portfolios; and perform a personal skills and knowledge inventory to identify relevant assets and potential gaps. The class will leverage theory, research, best practices, and current thinking to help each individual determine the most effective way to express their personal brand–their own unique value proposition. Students will communicate personal uniqueness through the process of creating a strong personal brand in the form of an e-portfolio including their professional branding statement, resume, LinkedIn profile, personal website and portfolio of demonstrated communication proficiencies.

Students will connect more completely with their faculty through one-on-one advising opportunities (3 during the course); and receive individualized advising as to their career goals, personal brand, and leadership development.

The Capstone course is a semester long, research oriented course where the student works one to one with a faculty member on a topic of their choosing. The faculty member acts as their Capstone advisor for the project. The capstone options can include a traditional research paper, a professionally oriented project or other form of active or applied research. Examples include a review of the media coverage of the Arab Spring, and a study entitled Assessing CSR Communication Among ‘Sinful Firms’. Others: “Facebook Newsfeed’s Algorithmic Mechanism & Transparency,” “Virtual and Augmented Reality as a Medical Education Tool” and “Getting Real on ‘Fake Instagram’: Exploring Self-Identity on Social Media.”

The combination of these two experiences allows our students to demonstrate mastery and synthesis leveraging their MCM learning experiences to positively position themselves and to create differentiation.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems?

[Dr. Dool] We have a world-class faculty, both full time and adjuncts (Part-Time Lecturers). They are highly experienced, well known for their areas of expertise and fully committed to creating positive learning experiences for our students. They are highly engaged in their classes and since all our classes are small (less than 30 and most between 9-15), we ensure our students have a positive and valuable immersion experience.

Our faculty frequently act as advisors, both formally and informally for our students. This extends to professional advice and counsel as well. We have a full-time MCM Director, MCM Program Manager and Student Services Counselor for our students as well, to ensure each students has the support and advising they need. Additionally, our own School (SC&I) has a Career Advisor in addition to the Rutgers Career Center to assist our students.

Rutgers celebrated our 252nd year in 2018, we are the 8th oldest university in the US. We are also a Top 100 Best Global University, Top 25 US Public University and Top 100 Most Innovative Universities and as a result we have over 500,000 alumni. They are from every US State and 125 countries. We have 22,000 alumni from SC&I and over 500 from MCM. The entire Rutgers alumni base is very active and there are a myriad of networking opportunities.

We do encourage our students to be active at both academic and professional conferences and events to add to their credentials. Our faculty co-author with our students frequently and we also offer support to attend conferences. We also offer an annual Colloquium as an opportunity for our students to present.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?

[Dr. Dool] There are several reasons to consider Rutgers and our MCM Program:

  • The coursework and skills MCM enhances are in demand by employers – the ‘soft skills’ including communication, critical thinking, and teaming.
  • Our unique combination of communication and media studies allows our students the chance to create a differentiated Masters experience.
  • Rutgers’ history, ranking, alumni network and world class faculty.
  • Our seven specializations allow our students to add specific credentials and to fully explore areas of personal interest. They can also tailor their MCM learning experience.
  • Our unique “capstone” experience, which optimally positions our students professionally and academically.
  • Our ‘learn it tonight, apply it tomorrow’ approach which blends theory and practice.
  • Our program is designed for those trying to manage their professional, personal and student lives. We offer flexibility to support our students who work full-time.
  • Students can complete MCM in as little as 15 months. Most students complete the degree in 18-24 months working around their professional obligations.
  • We offer classes in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer sessions.
  • We also offer GRE Waivers based on undergraduate GPAs and work experience.
  • We offer an array of immersion (experiential) opportunities including internships, assistantships and Fellowships to add to our students credentials.
  • For students who are in professional communication roles or desire to be, MCM will enhance their skills and add well to their credentials.
  • For students who are not professional communicators but want to improve their personal communication skills, MCM will definitely do that, and empower then in any line of work they choose.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For students interested in Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program, what advice do you have in terms of submitting a competitive application?

[Dr. Dool] We require the Application, Transcripts, GRE (waivers available), Personal Statement and two References. The Personal Statement should focus on why the student wants to pursue the MCM degree and how they intend to leverage their Masters credential. The Letters of Recommendation should be from professional sources (e.g. work supervisors or Faculty members) and should speak to the student’s work ethic, performance, capability to manage graduate studies and their communication skills.

The application process is fairly straightforward and usually can be done in less than two hours. We make admission decisions usually within 48 hours of a completed application. We require a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, although from time to time we also offer Conditional Admission for qualified applicants with GPAs under 3.0. Most admission denials are due to a poor fit for the student’s aspirations, low GRE or GPA or the letters of Recommendation being too generic.

Students can apply fully online at: https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/academics/graduate/mcm/admissions

Thank you, Dr. Dool, for your excellent insight into Rutgers University’s Master of Communication and Media program!