SUNY Oswego Launches Master’s Program In Strategic Communication

OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego recently began offering a graduate degree in strategic communication, a master’s-level program covering many potential career paths across multiple disciplines.

Mary Toale (right), chair of communication studies, and graduate student Kristan Johnson-Thomas discuss the new master's degree program in strategic communication. Johnson-Thomas, an alumna who currently works at Cayuga Community College, said she supported creation of the new program and has applied for it.
Mary Toale (right), chair of communication studies, and graduate student Kristan Johnson-Thomas discuss the new master’s degree program in strategic communication. Johnson-Thomas, an alumna who currently works at Cayuga Community College, said she supported creation of the new program and has applied for it.

Candidates completing the degree in strategic communication would gain heightened knowledge and a sharpened skill set in producing effective and appropriate messages to create change, solve problems, influence others, highlight important issues within specific environments or strategically communicate with individuals at all levels of an organization.

“This is the type of program not bound by a specific employment group,” said Dr. Brad Korbesmeyer, interim dean of graduate studies. “You can think of virtually any entity and can find value in thinking how such skills could benefit communication with customers, employees, with the outside world.”

People in many fields, Korbesmeyer said, can apply the principles of strategic communication: health care administration, politics, public relations, marketing, advertising, management, human resources, journalism and many more.

The program has accepted several students already enrolled at SUNY Oswego pursuing graduate offerings in strategic communication, according to Dr. Mary Toale, chair of the college’s department of communication studies. It will be offered in three tracks: integrated media and social networks, health communication and organizational communication.

‘Sound foundation’

Liz Davis is the first prospective graduate of the program — completing the college’s integrated media certificate program and most of the courses during the pre-approval process for the degree — and already works in the field.

The targeted-for-closure James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant employs her to communicate with employees concerned about outplacement and related post-FitzPatrick issues.

Davis said she is uniquely situated for the job, as family members and her fiancé also work at the plant.

Her role is communicating about the decommissioning process, Davis said, helping set up a job fair, bringing in an outplacement specialist, publishing a newsletter to ease tensions and facilitate discussions about the future.

Kristan Johnson-Thomas, an Oswego alumna whose undergraduate degree is in communication and social interaction, is a student success advocate at Cayuga Community College.

Enrolled part time in Oswego’s integrated media graduate certificate program, she said she is an early and enthusiastic applicant for the new degree program.

“I think this master’s program will set me up with a sound foundation for continuing in the communication field,” said Johnson-Thomas, who eventually hopes to apply to doctoral programs. “I think it’s great for the college and the department.”

‘Really excited’

Toale, who came to SUNY Oswego to put the new degree program together in August 2014, expressed excitement that it is now a reality. An expert in organizational communication, she has developed several new courses.

“One of those is ‘Leadership and Team Building,'” she said. “I’m really excited to start teaching that.”

Other courses in the organizational track include “Ethics and Conflict in Organizations,” “Interpersonal Communication in Organizations” and “Intercultural Communication.”

Communication studies faculty member Dr. Taejin Jung will lead the health communication track, with coursework including “Crisis Communication,” “Survey of Health Communication” and “Health Campaigns,” among others.

Dr. Ulises Mejias, who already coordinates the certificate program in integrated media and social networks, will oversee that multidisciplinary track in the master’s program.

Offerings include “Graduate Multimedia” in the art department, “Videogame Theory and Analysis” from broadcasting and mass communication, and “Introduction to HCI,” a course in the human-computer interaction degree program.

Applicants for the master’s degree program in strategic communication need a bachelor’s degree, and only need to take the Graduate Record Examination if their undergraduate GPA was less than 3.0.

For more information visit www.oswego.edu/gradstudies or call 315-312-3152.