Bridgewater College approves master of arts in digital media strategy

bridgewater collegeThe board of trustees at Bridgewater College has approved the establishment of the college’s second master’s degree program—the interdisciplinary master of arts in digital media strategy.

The focus of the new master’s program is to provide theoretical and practical understandings of new technologies, which will give Bridgewater graduates an advantage in many professional spheres. The 39-credit-hour graduate program comprises courses in communication, writing, design and technical production, electives from multiple disciplines and a culminating master’s project.

Bridgewater students will be able to overlap the nine credits of dual-enrollment electives with their undergraduate degree and complete their bachelor’s, along with the graduate degree, in five years. The program will also serve students choosing to obtain a master’s from BC following completion of an undergraduate degree elsewhere.

“Our goal was to develop a program that would help students build a solid multi-media portfolio, but that would also be consistent with our liberal arts commitment to critical thinking, interdisciplinary perspective taking and experiential learning,” said Dr. Michele Strano, associate professor of communication studies and director of the new graduate program.

Housed in the department of communication studies and theater, MDMS centers on the strategic design of messages in a digital environment, which has restructured the ways in which communication is produced.

“The use of the word ‘strategy’ emphasizes the program’s focus on theoretical and evidence-based decision making,” said Dr. Jeffrey Pierson, professor of communication studies and division head. “While students in the program will learn many practical editing and message design skills, the college remains focused on the strategic critical thinking that underscores any successful media campaign.”

The new master’s, which follows on the heels of the 2017 establishment of the college’s master of science in athletic training degree program, is connected to several initiatives in the college’s 2020 Strategic Plan. The plan stresses that Bridgewater will “assess the opportunity to add graduate programs that are consistent with the college’s mission and meet a demonstrated need,” and fulfill Bridgewater’s commitment to community-based learning.

“The master’s project courses will pair students with businesses and non-profit organizations,” said Prof. Benjamin Erickson, instructor in communication studies and the new program’s coordinator. “Students will apply their theoretical knowledge to solve real-world communication problems and connect with professionals in fields where they might seek employment.”

While the MDMS has been approved by the Bridgewater board of trustees, the program will next be sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Bridgewater’s accrediting body, with a possible launch in 2019.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduate students

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