New mass communication programs coming fall 2022

Sophia Sailer, news editor

On Dec. 6, 2021, Winona State University’s Department of Mass Communication Chairperson, Dr. Tanya Ryan, released a letter introducing a new minor and master’s program coming to the department.

“Over the next few months you’ll begin to hear about our new minor in photography (a collaboration with the Art & Design Department) and a new graduate program–a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication,” Ryan stated.

Both new programs will be offered this coming fall.

Ryan also addressed concerns about staff shortages affecting course availability, saying the department will offer all courses students need to complete their degree, even if they are only offered once per school year.

“Rest assured that the mass communication department is still one of the largest and strongest departments in the College of Liberal Arts at WSU,” Ryan said.

Ryan explained why the department decided to add the photography minor, saying she had encountered many students who have wanted further photography courses and skills for their career. Ryan also said she believes the new minor will attract many students.

Emily Haworth, a fourth-year student majoring in public relations with a minor in communication studies, said she has already heard of other students who are interested in the soon-to-come programs.

“I would be interested in the master’s degree and I have discussed these programs with other students who are also interested,” Haworth said.

Noelle Capehart, a third-year student studying applied and professional writing agreed with Haworth, saying she sees the value in the new programs.

“I would be interested in these programs because I think they could go well with other areas of study besides mass communication majors. Photography is a great skill to have under your belt,” Capehart said.

When Ryan was on sabbatical, she researched what having a master’s program in the department would be like if there was one put in place at Winona State. Ryan interviewed people in the industry and looked to see if there was a need for one, ultimately deciding there was a need for addressing equity and inclusivity issues in mass communication.

“We have a responsibility in our field to make people feel welcome and create products that also make people feel equal,” Ryan said. “Which is the focus of the master’s degree.”

Ryan also said the master’s program will be fully online with the possibility to expand course availability into the evenings and weekends.

“Applications are open right now for the master’s program. Everything has been approved for the photography minor and it will possibly open after March,” Ryan said.

The photography minor will require 18 credits and the master’s program will require 33 credits.

Kathryn Hannahan, a mass communication professor at the university, will be teaching in the photography minor and said students should expect to be hands-on.

“Students will experiment with traditional tools like shooting on film and modern technologies like photo-enhancing in Adobe Lightroom,” Hannahan said. “They will acquire a range of technical camera and software skills to communicate their ideas visually.”

Hannahan further explained how these skills are important for students’ careers.

“Photography skills are necessary in all mass comm. fields these days. Knowing how to use a camera and take professional photographs can allow you to stand out as a job candidate and advance in your career. Every business and organization need to communicate visually and if you have the skills to help accomplish that, you will be a valued member of any team,” Hannahan said.