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Journalism school sees spike in grad applications

BY AUDREY DWYER | JANUARY 24, 2012 7:20 AM

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Leaders in the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication said rebranding efforts are drawing in more students for the graduate programs, despite the recent loss of accreditation for the master's program.

So far, the school has received more than 50 graduate applications for next fall's graduate program, said Lyombe Eko, an associate professor and the associate director for Academic Graduate Studies.

Last year, the school received just under 45 applications, and Eko said he expects more in the coming months.

The school offers two graduate programs — the Master of Arts in Mass Communication and a doctoral degree.

"We have more applicants by far than we can hope to accommodate," Eko said, and he has also noticed an increase in international applications.

He said he is unsure how many the Graduate Committee will accept in the coming year. Fifteen graduate students were accepted into the program for the fall of 2011.

The school decided to rebrand the programs and revise the curriculum after the master's program lost its accreditation in July 2011.

According to a 2009 Graduate Programs assessment, applicants to the Ph.D. program haven't fluctuated since 2004, with 19 students enrolling on average per year.

The M.A. program has seen a drop in students, with 46 enrolled in 2007 and 38 enrolled in 2009.

David Perlmutter, the director of the journalism school, said the school's rebranding efforts have affected interest in the graduate program.

"If you offer it," he said, "they will come."

The branding is focused on showcasing the school's five additional faculty members and promoting the school through more media, such as revamping the website, fliers, and international outreach.

Perlmutter said he has expanded his outreach, visiting more schools to recruit potential graduate students.

"We have a good brand," Eko said. "It was just never promoted."

The curriculum will also be restructured, with plans to expand course offerings in a several media areas, including new technology, social media, Internet communication, visual communication, and political communication, Eko said.

Current doctoral student in the program Kyle Moody said his interest in digital media drew him to the UI.

"… it has helped shape me as an academic and maturing individual," he wrote in an email.

The school decided to rebrand and "revitalize" the graduate program last spring because of the program's low numbers and loss of the accreditation for the master's program, Eko said.

Eko said all costs associated with the rebranding was minimal and done by staff.

The master's program was not compliant with several standards following a peer evaluation in October 2010. The UI agreed to become compliant with the standards over the next two years.

Perlmutter said next school year should be promising.

"We expect a robust class for the fall," he said.


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