Why major in Communication Arts at VSU?

First reasonWe offer a BFA rather than a BA/BS

The programs in the Department of Communication Arts are all Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees (BFA).   A BFA is different from a Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA/BS).  The BFA is a
professional degree.  A professional degree means that we prepare you to move seamlessly from the classroom to the workplace.

The BA/BS program is normally 45 hours while the BFA program is 60 to 70 hours.  In addition to additional training, a BFA program takes a more hands-on approach which gives you additional experience.

A BFA program normally is about two-thirds visual arts courses and one-third liberal arts courses.  The BA/BS program is the opposite:  two-thirds liberal arts and one-third visual arts. 

What does this mean for you? 

A BFA program in the Department of Communication Arts better prepares you for any challenges after graduation.  Your range of experiences and coursework will provide you with the confidence, knowledge, and experience to be successful in the workplace of your chosen career. 

Second ReasonOur faculty have significant professional experience

We believe that we bring to the classroom a unique perspective born of work experience.  Many of our faculty worked in other occupations, practiced their profession before coming to higher education, or are currently practicing their profession even while teaching.  We believe that this history enhances the classroom experience and your education. 

For example, in Theatre and Dance, all the faculty are practicing professionals who routinely produce and direct plays and dance performances, design sets and costumes, and act.  The University is home to a professional summer stock program, Peach State
 Summer Theatre, where advanced students have the opportunity to gain further experience.

Our Emergent Media and Communication Program combines the talents of our Communication, Public Relations, and Mass Media faculty, providing you with over 100 years of practical experience. 

In Communication and Public Relations, our faculty has significant work experience.  For example, we have a faculty member who worked for ten years as a Human Resources manager and another who was an international journalist.  We also have faculty who worked in sales and marketing, social work, social media, and public relations. 

The Mass Media faculty also have significant experience including documentary making, producing and directing sports, news, and public affairs broadcasting.  Several faculty members have been journalists and on-air talent.

What does this mean for you? 

Your instructors bring professional experience to the classroom.  This experience shapes their teaching.  Instead of being taught the textbook answer, you have the benefit of their range of experiences.

Third ReasonWe provide significant outside the classroom experience

One important aspect of our BFA programs is that you have the opportunity for significant experience outside the classroom. These experiences include field trips and camps, internships, study abroad programs, and student competitions.

For example, Mass Media majors have the opportunity to work with the VSU Athletic Program in broadcasting athletic events, participate in various competitions, and develop materials for various community organizations.

Emergent Media and Communication students engage in design competitions, plan, design, and implement projects that connect emerging media with organizational needs.

In Theatre and Dance, there is a seven-production season each academic year versus the typical four productions.  A student can also take advantage of ProCONN, a chance to network with practicing professionals in Theatre and Dance.

Communication majors regularly address social issues in classes such as sustainability, diversity, net neutrality, and climate change.  Students are routinely asked to engage in projects that blend the classroom with the community.  For example, our social media class works with the City of Valdosta in designing and managing The Web and social media.  They also work with organizations in the community such as the local Arts Theatre on social media and event planning. 

Public Relations majors engage in projects with the community.  You will plan, design, and implement public relations campaigns, plan and implement events, and design digital and print promotional materials.

What does this mean for you? 

You will have many opportunities to engage in practical projects and experiences that will help you build a portfolio of work that can help you move from the classroom to the worksite.

4We engage people in the community

What is the value of an education from a regional comprehensive university like Valdosta State University?  The key difference is the ability to engage in the campus and community.  The programs in Communication Arts provide students with significant opportunities to work with the community as part of the learning process 

Theatre and Dance students have the opportunity to go into the community with student groups sponsored by the Theatre honorary as part of improv groups.  Students also can be part of a student targeted touring production each year as well as Peach State Summer Theatre, our professional summer stock musical theatre company. 

Mass media students are regularly involved in working with the community on productions to assist local non-profit organizations. We produce a weekly program for the City of Valdosta and a regular news program for WVSU-TV.

Communication and Public Relations students are involved in the community through student organizations and class projects.  For example, in a recent research methods course, communication students investigated campus practices, policies, and procedures and made recommendations for how to make the campus more sustainable.  Public Relations students, through the campus chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, organized a local can food drive to benefit the local food pantry. 

Emergent Media students participate in their local community, merging the knowledge from class to aid in community issues.  Students might work with local organizations to improve social media presence, design mobile applications, or develop and implement local campaigns to improve the quality of living locally. 

What does this mean for you?

An important part of college is defining what you will do once you graduate.  The Department prepares you to be a community citizen and a global citizen.  This preparation may sound like grand words, but they are important values that significantly impact your quality of life as well as the quality of your community. 

5We have living and learning communities

To enhance the quality of campus experience, the Department participates in living and learning communities.  We have communities for Theatre and Dance, Communication and Public Relations, and Mass Media.  A
learning community fosters academic success organized in peer groups for academic purposes.  You meet with an academic advisor, attended selected classes as a group, and interact with faculty as part of the community.  The living communities expand beyond academic interests into the social aspects of campus live.  You live together in a residence hall in facilities designed to accommodate your degree program and have professional and social interactions with faculty and staff in the department. 

What does this mean for you?

Selecting a regional four-year institution to attend is in part a decision to live and work within a community.  We provide you with an important place for you to learn to live in a community and to gain experiences to live successfully in the work and social communities of the future. 

6We have an engaging faculty – you are not a number

Our faculty prides themselves in knowing you. It is not unusual as you pass through the building and see faculty talking with students in offices, chatting in the hall, or sitting with a cup of coffee. Faculty members are genuinely interested in what students are doing and their progress toward graduation. Faculty routinely review your progress and will reach out to you if they see potential problems.  Students feel comfortable talking with faculty members on topics beyond academics. 

What does this mean for you?  

We pride ourselves in being a community of students and faculty interested in the diverse nature of communication.  To do this, we engage students anywhere and anytime we can.  You will be known by your faculty.

7We utilize project and team-based instruction for many of our classes

Many of the classes you will take are designed as project-based or team-based courses.  This perspective means that instead of a lecture format, you are engaged in projects and activities in class that present you will real-world problems to solve.  You work with course material instead of listening to course material. 

For example, many of the Theatre and Dance courses are either connected to ongoing productions or help you develop the skills that will allow you to succeed in auditions and performances.

Communication and Public Relations you will continuously be involved in case studies, activities, projects, and problems that will require you to work with the materials often with groups. You will be asked to complete case studies, conduct a research project for a client, apply technology solutions to work problems, and

Mass Media and Emergent Media take a studio approach to classes.  You will have challenges that will require teamwork and critical thinking as part of the creative process to complete video and audio projects, social media designs, storytelling and narrative, create broadcast news packages, and sports programming.

What does this mean for you? 

Recent surveys show that 94% of organizations in the world use team-based organization.  The typical individual working in an organization spends an average of 64% of the day in team meetings and activities.  Learning how to work with and lead teams is an important part of your education. We provide you with the coursework and experience to organize, lead, manage, and function in a team.

8We prepare you for the future

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently reported on the work of representatives from higher education and corporations charged with developing core competencies associated with career readiness.[1]  The competencies the task force identified are critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, information technology applications, leadership, professional and work ethics, and career management.  The programs within Communication Arts address each of these skills.

In Communication and Public Relations, students use software and applications found in organizations on a daily basis.  Students learn how to lead teams, make decisions, and manage conflict as part of the core curriculum.  Students also practice message design strategies leading to effective oral and written communication. 

The goal of the Emergent Media and Communication program is to identify new technologies and emerging technology and assist in identifying organizational and community use of technology.

In Mass Media, you are routinely asked to solve problems and engage in critical thinking as you design audio and video productions. You will work in production teams.  You will write scripts and develop promotional materials for your projects.  You will work with technology as a standard tool of the trade. You must regularly make informed and ethical decisions. 

Theater and Dance majors also meet these core competencies.  A Theatre or Dance major develop effective communication skills, becomes effective in analyzing plays, solving technical, design, and artistic problems, and making important artistic decisions.  Students appropriately utilize technology in multiple facets of the production process.  Students utilize leadership skills and work as a team to create a production. 

What does this mean for you? 

There is a direct connection between the classes you will take and the core competencies required for the workplace.  Your program at Valdosta State University will prepare you for the future workplace.


[1] http://www.naceweb.org/knowledge/career-readiness-employer-survey-results.aspx?terms=competencies