Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media (SCM) has redesigned its majors to give students an edge in the media industry.
The SCM announced in spring 2021 that they would be updating their programs this semester, changing the names and requirements of their majors.
Established in 2012, the SCM was created out of existing programs from around the university. Its facilities were updated with state-of-the-art equipment in 2017, and now the administration of the school decided that it was time to completely change the curriculum.
Dr. Keith Strudler, director of the SCM, said the decision to change the programs was prompted by the state of the constantly changing media industry.
“There was a real opportunity to take a step back and deconstruct our curriculum and imagine what we should be —not based on what we had been before the departments that came together to form the school — but rather what’s the best way to prepare students for the future of media,” Strudler said.
Dr. Todd Kelshaw, the associate director of the school and a key player in redesigning the programs, described how the overhaul was more than just a minor adjustment to the school’s majors.
“We’re constantly adding new courses, we’re altering stuff, but we hit that point where we really knew, reflecting on what we’ve done over the past decade, that it was time to do a major curriculum update, to better integrate our programs to be more cutting edge, to be anticipating trends in industry and technologies and cultural phenomena,” Kelshaw said.
Changes to the school’s programs included fewer core curriculum classes, new majors such as sports communication or advertising and completely redesigned programs.
However, students do have some concerns. John Schell, a sophomore film and television major, said he signed up to be a television and digital media major when he applied because he wanted to solely focus on broadcasting.
“I’m not that interested in the film part of it,” Schell said. “I’m more behind the scenes working the camera crew, so when I heard about it, I thought it was kind of cool if you’re into it, but for me personally I’d just rather have it the old way.”
Another big concern that Schell had was the fact that some classes that he had taken previously for his old major were no longer required for his new one.
“What got students kind of annoyed is that classes that were requirements last semester are now like electives,” Schell said.
Some students will be changing their majors, while some will not. If a student has 21 or more major credits completed, then they will be not changing their major.
Strudler addressed concerns about the redesign by telling students to stay calm.
“They need to relax,” Strudler said. “Trust us, we will make sure that the courses you took will count.”
Kelshaw also addressed concerns by emphasizing that the school will assist students in the transition.
“We’re not going to let anybody slip through the cracks and suddenly not graduate,” Kelshaw said. “We’ve got all sorts of mechanisms to catch that.”
Despite these concerns, some students are excited. Chelsea Pujols, a freshman journalism and digital media major, said she likes how the university is helping students to become versatile storytellers.
“You can tell one story in 3 million different ways, so I think that that’s really cool and really interesting, and while I don’t know too much about the new changes and what they’re implementing, I’m excited for them,” Pujols said.
Even students who are a bit uneasy about the change, such as Schell, acknowledge that it will help boost their skills in areas they might have not considered otherwise.
“Even though I’m not that interested in the film aspect of it, I do think it is kind of a good idea to have and learn about just so you can have the background information on it,” Schell said. “It’s being incorporated into today’s life and it’s going to keep progressing, so it is good to have that background on it.”
If students in the SCM have any questions, Strudler says to contact their major advisor or the school’s advisor, Joy Granados-Roldan.