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K-State Today

August 5, 2019

K-State named Top 10 school for bachelor's degree in media communication

Submitted by J. Steven Smethers

The A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications is among the best programs in America for receiving a degree in media communications, according to the Bachelor's Degree Center, a website dedicated to helping prospective students find programs best suited to their career interests in terms of their financial, educational and personal interests.

The center's site ranked the 25 best bachelor's programs for media communications degree programs in 2019, citing the basic selection criteria as programs that offer a focus "beyond the simpler days of radio, television and publishing." In that regard, the A.Q. Miller School ranks ninth, accompanied by such programs as North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Penn State and Iowa, and was the only media program among Big 12 schools to make the list. The center first chose its schools based on their status as nationally accredited programs, then data was collected on such factors as alumni salary information, graduation rates, job placement, student reviews and tuition costs.

The main benchmark cited by the center, however, was the A.Q. Miller School's recent curriculum overhaul, which was developed over three years beginning in 2015 and inaugurated last fall. The curriculum, which features concentrated study in Journalism or Strategic Communications — a sequence that encompasses advertising and public relations — was designed to give freshmen basic exposure to media writing and production skills from their first day of classes at K-State, allowing them to more quickly develop skills sets and learn professional standards. The center's selection team was impressed with the fact that the A.Q. Miller School "radically renovated its curriculum with an emphasis on cross-media communication … emphasizing experiential learning for production skills." Students are allowed to freely pick and choose skills building courses as they advance in the program, while honing their skills at award-winning campus media operations, including the Collegian, Manhappenin' and Update magazines, KSDB-FM 91.9 and KKSU-TV Channel 21. Each of those media outlets has companion web and social media platforms, and a multimedia news desk gathers information for distribution across those channels.

Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. The program also has a master's program specializing in community journalism or health, risk and crisis communication, and has recently launched an online master's program in strategic communication. The school is also a partner in K-State's interdisciplinary doctoral program in leadership communication.

"We're thrilled to be on a list of such prominent names in media education," said Steve Smethers, the interim director of the A.Q. Miller School. "Our faculty worked hard to develop a curriculum that enhances basic skills and professional standards, while stressing modern trends in media technology, management and changing consumer tastes."

As examples, Smethers cited the A.Q. Miller School's status as one of five programs nationally to feature drone photography and video technology, the addition of courses in social media as a tool of both journalism and strategic communication message dissemination and new courses based on media analytics as tools of audience analysis and strategic campaign development.