Convenience Factors of an Online Communication Graduate Program


Alvin McCray, Student & Alumni

The thought of going back to school to earn a communication graduate degree let loose in my mind a flurry of questions and concerns. One question I kept asking myself was how would I ever find the time.

Living in a new city with two young kids and a new job, picturing myself in a classroom for three hours an evening seemed unrealistic and impractical. I envisioned my world outside that room burning down to the ground! I barely had enough time to get the kids to daycare every morning, make it to the office before 9am, pick the kids up from daycare (my spouse and I alternate days), and spend quality time with the family before bedtime. Affording a communications graduate degree, thankfully, was never the issue. Time would be my biggest hurdle.

Once the decision was made to apply to an online communication graduate program rather than a traditional in-classroom setting, Purdue's Brian Lamb School of Communication (BLSC) checked all of the boxes. A Communication Masters degree from BLSC would advance my career in the field of communication by offering theoretical perspectives on the various principles of strategic communication, and through illustrative case studies, provide real world application. However, the most important box to check was “convenience”.

Below is an outline of what makes the online MS in Communication program at Purdue convenient for a working professional:

1.)    Structure
The classes are structured as such to avoid disrupting work-life balance so often cherished by working professionals like myself.

2.)    Ability to Schedule Coursework in Far in Advance
The syllabus is posted at the start of every 8-week term, detailing what to expect and when so I can easily schedule life events around assignment due dates.

3.)    Coursework During the Week and Discussion on the Weekend
Every Sunday, weekly assignments are posted with supporting reading materials. I usually complete the readings by Monday or Tuesday, which leaves me plenty of time to respond to the assignment that is typically due by Wednesday. The classes are designed as discussion forums where students post their responses to the assignment, and as part of the learning process, students are required to respond to fellow students' posts by Saturday evening. How convenient! The online forum allows for continuous dialogue throughout the weekend. Friday evening after the kids are in bed, I usually chime in on a Facebook discussion over a hot topic, check my Twitter account for the latest political tweets, and then log on to Purdue’s Engage platform to follow up on conversations around the weekly discussion. It’s that easy.

4.)    No Lost Time to Commuting
In fact, because the program is designed for the working professional, I don’t have to worry about commuting or traffic or the dreaded fear of being late for class. It all takes place online – a perfect solution for a busy professional.

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Alvin McCray is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.