By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

A new partnership between Old Dominion University's lifespan and digital communication (LSDC) master's program and Christopher Newport University aims to help students to reach their educational goals more efficiently.

Starting this fall, seniors from CNU's communication major can apply to ODU's lifespan and digital communication master's program while completing their undergraduate degree, saving them time and money, said Avi Santo, chair of the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at ODU.

"The partnership benefits both institutions as it creates a clear pathway for students majoring in communication at CNU to transition into our graduate program at ODU," Santo said. "It is structured similarly to our accelerated programs in that CNU students can begin to earn credit toward their MA degree while still completing their undergraduate degree."

The program represents nearly a year of discussion and a memorandum of understanding between the schools. It has already led to enrollments after Tom Socha, professor in communication and former graduate program director of LSDC at ODU, gave a talk in early spring 2020 at CNU.

"It is my understanding that we received a couple of applicants from CNU to our graduate program as a result of this process," Santo said. "I should also note that - to my knowledge - we have never had a CNU student apply to our grad program prior to the commencement of this program."

Santo hopes the success will be replicated with other regional universities and with professionals already working in the field to return to school through a hybrid online and in-person model in the coming year.

"There has never been a more critical time to earn a master's degree in communication, especially one focused on the intersections of multi-generational and strategic communication," he said.

He added that the partnership will benefit more than ODU's graduate program and its students.

"It will have far-reaching impact as we train this next generation of communication leaders to tackle these emerging and ongoing challenges and develop innovative strategies for addressing them," he said.

For more information, visit the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts website.

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