About Zachary White, Ph.D.: Zachary White is the Program Director for Queens University of Charlotte’s Master of Arts in Communication program. His responsibilities as the Program Director encompass curriculum oversight and facilitating assessments, advising students throughout the program, managing both the on-ground and online Master of Arts programs, supporting and collaborating with the Knight School of Communication’s faculty, and working with all stakeholders to ensure the Knight School provides students with the best learning experience possible.
In addition to leading the Master of Arts in Communication program, Dr. White has created and teaches a variety of courses in the program. His area of expertise and research involves health communication, and more specifically, how humans communicate and make sense of experiences in the midst of health challenges. His research has been published in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Family Communication, Communication Research Reports, OMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying, Health Communication, and Volunteering and Communication: Studies from Multiple Contexts. Dr. White is also the founder of “The Unprepared Caregiver,” a popular blog and resource for caregivers, and the co-author of the upcoming book, “The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver” (Rowman & Littlefield) . This book builds on Dr. White’s ongoing contributions to the field of digital health literacy, as exemplified in recent collaborations with Charlotte YMCA, whereby he created digital programming designed to not only improve people’s capacity to leverage online skills, but also to more effectively connect with others and their community.
Dr. White earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of San Diego, his master of arts in communication from San Diego State University, and his Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Queens University of Charlotte’s Master of Arts in Communication program, and how its curriculum is structured? Could you elaborate on the required classes, and how they combine concepts in communication fluency, social organizing, message construction, networking, and meaning management to help students become leaders in the communication space?
[Dr. White] The courses in our program are created and structured to provide students the opportunity to learn about the breadth of communication theories and skills that impact how they create and assess communication messages, so they can more fully and effectively contribute to the communities they serve. Not only will students be able to address the “why” question in regards to creating a strategic communication plan, or assessing which medium of communication might be best to utilize for a particular message, they will also be able to competently communicate particular to specific media demands and audience expectations. The theoretical and skill-based competencies students learn in our program are relevant across industries (e.g., the ability to write, critique, produce across different platforms, and inform communication choices grounded in theoretical backing) and position students not only to be leaders in their chosen fields, but also to be entrepreneurs and civically engaged.
The courses are created in such a way to build theoretical knowledge, opportunities to apply concepts, along with building the skills students/employees/entrepreneurs need to be content creators and strategic communicators who can utilize and employ a variety of methods to collect and analyze data in response to pressing and relevant questions.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For the online Master of Arts in Communication program, what learning technologies and teaching methods have been implemented to facilitate students’ engagement with course concepts, faculty members, and peers? When deciding between the campus-based and online Master of Arts in Communication programs, what should students take into consideration? What are the benefits of the campus program and the online program, respectively?
[Dr. White] When considering the online or on-ground MA COM program, students should think about their proximity to Charlotte, as well as the ways in which they learn and structure their everyday schedule. For example, the online program is completely asynchronous, meaning it allows students to manage the parts of their everyday experiences (work, family, etc.) while also taking courses with us in ways that work for them (e.g., early in the morning, at lunch, late at night). Just like with the on-ground program, a community is built throughout your time in our program. Since our online program is a cohort model, not only will you be learning vital skills and knowledge, you will also connect with peers in an intense and dynamic way through shared curriculum and ongoing group projects.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe in detail the two-part capstone project course sequence, Expanding Communication Boundaries and Launching Passion into Practice? How do these courses guide students through the process of developing a digital portfolio and a proposal for an original inquiry project?
[Dr. White] The capstone project is an opportunity for students to leverage the knowledge and skills they have learned throughout the program in a way that is meaningful to them and the communities they want to serve. Given COM 680 and COM 681, the capstone sequence, are the final two courses in the program, students are able to direct their inquiry and projects toward a subject matter or topic area essential to personal, professional and/or civic interests. Depending on their research questions, students will employ methodologies that allow them to better understand and contribute to areas of inquiry that position them as knowledge producers and experts.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How often does the James L. Knight School of Communication revisit the program’s curriculum to account for advancements in the industry? On a related note, where do you see the field of media management and strategic communication going in the next few decades, and how should students best prepare for these changes?
[Dr. White] Since we teach and explore media theories and concepts that address why people use the media they do, we built competencies and understanding that transcend any one particular communication technology. In this way, though various platforms may come and go, understanding how to analyze audiences and media for particular goals are competencies that are always in demand. Additionally, our international faculty in the online program are highly respected, published, and accomplished in the field and practice of communication.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes the Knight School of Communication’s MA in Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? In addition, what are some standout resources at the James L. Knight School of Communication that you feel are important for students to take advantage of while in either the online or on-campus Master of Arts in Communication program?
[Dr. White] Our focus on strategic communication and digital and media literacy are two areas of distinction. Additionally, the graduate certificate in Integrated Digital Strategy allows students to leverage digital, social, and participatory media channels to better reach and connect with a variety of audiences to promote engagement. These elements of our program are particularly relevant to a wide area of industries and applications, including public relations, advertising, corporate communications, healthcare, event management, government, human resources, and consumer relations.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for Queens University of Charlotte’s Master of Arts in Communication program?
[Dr. White] One way to distinguish yourself is to write a compelling and well-written narrative about why you would like to be a part of our program and how our program’s curriculum (e.g., specific courses) might be valuable to you and your goals. When gathering letters of recommendation, we recommend you solicit letters from faculty and work supervisors/colleagues who can speak directly to specific skills, aptitudes and interests of relevance to your capacity to be successful in our program.
Thank you, Dr. White, for your excellent insight into Queens University of Charlotte’s Master of Arts in Communication program!