Fairfield Graduates Its Inaugural Students from the M.A. in Communication Program

Submitted by Lisa Calderone MFA '11 on August 16, 2011

Among the 405 graduate students receiving master’s degrees on Sunday, May 22 were 4 inaugural graduates of Fairfield University’s recently established M.A. in Communication. In less than 2 years’ time, the program has grown from 9 students in the first cohort (Spring 2009) to an anticipated 50 this semester (Fall 2011), and plans are in place with all to put that degree to use the moment it’s in hand.

Fairfield’s M.A. in Communication graduate students come from fields across the board – from a study abroad admissions officer, to a dance teacher, to a communications manager in a global property facultative department. The great majority, however, come from the marketing field (about 21%), with public relations, management, and sales rounding out the top industries, according to a recent survey of the 46 current students in the program which resulted in a 93% response rate.

Michael Pagano, Director, believes that a graduate degree in Fairfield’s M.A. in Communication affords students a breadth of opportunities, including enhanced:

  • Critical thinking
  • Knowledge of communication theories
  • Research abilities
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Active listening
  • Roles as men and women for others
  • Abilities to be self-directed, life-long learners

Ranging in age from 20 – 60, most students in the program hope their degree will lead to a managerial or leadership role in their field.

“Through the rigorous coursework of the communication curriculum, my capabilities as a business professional have been expanded to better understand the intricacies of effective communication in the corporate environment,” says Kathleen Kiley, a marketing management senior analyst at Prudential Financial and current student in the program. “I recently applied for a management rotation program at Prudential and was one of two people selected to participate. There is no doubt that the skills learned in Fairfield’s Communication program helped me to excel during the interview process as well as in my day-to-day interactions with my colleagues.”

A critical element of Fairfield’s M.A. in Communication Program is the opportunity to study one-on-one with a member of its superb faculty. In this partnership, students are guided as they develop a unique research project for a Master’s Thesis. These individualized studies allow students to apply the research and analytical skills they have learned in their 10 courses to answer one or more research questions. The finished product, a bound Master’s Thesis, clearly demonstrates the student’s assimilation of Communication theory and their ability to utilize critical thinking to answer their research questions.

The inaugural graduates of the program focused their thesis research efforts on the following topics:

  • Sara Colabella (directed by Dr. David Gudelunas) – “Cultivation Theory in the Digital Age: Extrapolations and Limitations in the Age of New Media”
  • Gregory Caso (directed by Dr. Michael Pagano) – “Reconciling the Past for the Future: The Dialectic Communication of Repatriation”
  • Christina Testa (directed by Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui) – “Local Regulation…Global Puffery? A Cross-National Analysis of Drug and Nutritional Supplement Advertising”
  • Jonathan Grossman (directed by Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui) – “The U.S. Government’s Framing of the Digital Divide and Universal Access: A Longitudinal Analysis of FCC and NTIA Policy Documents.”

Pagano attributes the growth of the program to the flexibility of its format, with courses offered primarily in the evenings, as well as completely online or in-person in 7-week and 14-week sessions. Students are also offered up to 2 courses from other graduate programs on campus (business, education, nursing, and more) to count as credit. In addition, the opportunity to obtain a Jesuit education, and study with a diverse Communication faculty who also have professional experience in advertising, marketing, healthcare, consulting, Internet technology, and journalism has attracted many students and applicants.

Finally, in the current economic situation, many graduate students want to differentiate themselves from other job candidates, and/or increase their chances for promotion to management positions, by learning Communication theory and applying it to their leadership, speaking, listening, and writing skills.

For those interested in learning more, visit Fairfield University’s M.A. in Communication.

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