Online Journalism Certificate Offers Fundamental Tools of the Trade

Online Certificate of Journalism logo
Thursday, December 20, 2012

About a year ago, journalism faculty members Brian McDermott and Razvan Sibii became co-directors of the online Certificate of Journalism. “Our goal is to provide a diverse student body access to high quality journalism classes online,” says McDermott. “The instructors in the program pride themselves on their teaching and working closely with each student.”

Enrollment for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters has been high, and the online program will offer ten classes during the two Summer 2013 terms. The Certificate of Journalism now has a redesigned website under the umbrella of the UMass Journalism Program website. Students can find courses, costs, requirements and a list of frequently asked questions online.

McDermott and Sibii marketed the program with individualized response emails and phone calls to the over 500 students who contacted them through Google. Then, they sent a follow-up email newsletter with fall course descriptions to all who inquired about the Certificate. The program also has a new logo. One goal the co-directors have worked on is integrating the online program more closely with the on-the-ground program. They are forging stronger connections with University Without Walls in an effort to better understand the needs of UWW students interested in journalism.

McDermott and Sibii are continuing to strategically develop new classes for the Certificate, focusing on multimedia and public relations classes. During the Fall 2012 semester, the program offered an "Infographics and Data Journalism" class for the first time. Coming up this spring, a brand new class will be offered. “Social Media and Public Relations” will be taught by Deirdre Breakenridge, a PR executive who has taught at Farleigh Dickinson University and is the author of five books, including Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional (Pearson’s FT Press).

The online program will also offer two popular on-the-ground classes online for the first time in the coming year. Journalism Program Director Karen List will teach "Journalism and Law" this spring, and McDermott will teach "Web Design for Journalists" next summer.