East Tennessee State University’s Department of Communication and Performance has recently introduced a new, edgy and innovative Master of Arts (MA) program. The Communication and Storytelling MA is one-of a kind; the only MA of its kind in the nation.

“Previously we had two distinct concentrations: one in communication studies and one in storytelling. We believed we could do something both unique and better,” said Andrew Herrmann, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Communication and Performance.

“We recognized that narratives and performance are foundational to our identities and our culture. It made sense that we should run with that idea and integrate communication studies and storytelling into one cohesive and comprehensive MA program.”

According to Herrmann, the new MA concentrates on three major themes that include perfecting students’ crafts as professional communicators, examining how communication and stories shape social meanings and developing students’ workplace-ready skills. The Department of Communication and Performance feel that they have created a program that is theoretically deep and amazingly creative, practical, and applicable.

“One advantage of our program is that the professors-we call ourselves mentors-have amazingly diverse backgrounds. We complement each other, with our strengths building upon our strengths,” said Herrmann.

“We work collectively to push our students toward excellence. This is a ground-breaking and cutting-edge program that provides students with a plethora of opportunities for personal and professional growth.”

In order to be accepted to the Communication and Storytelling MA program, applicants must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a GRE score that is predictive of success in the program, three letters of recommendation, and an application essay of approximately 300 words. The letters of recommendation that students submit should be from individuals that can vouch for the applicant’s academic and intellectual abilities. The essay should explain the applicant’s interest in the program and how they believe they fit into the program.

“The graduate committee in the department looks at each application individually and thoroughly because we know that students who are applying have specific strengths and weaknesses,” said Herrmann, “We tend to look for ways to accept students, rather than reject them.”

For graduate students that are accepted into the Communication and Storytelling MA program, there are four opportunities for funding. One opportunity is to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) for SPCH 1300. Other opportunities include Research Assistant (RA) positions, Storytelling Graduate Assistantships, and Tuition Scholarships (TS). Research Assistants work alongside a faculty mentor to advance a line of inquiry.

With assistantships, students assist the storytelling program coordinator with outreach and other projects. Tuition scholarships are merit-based awards for graduate students admitted to the program for the first time and provide tuition reimbursement with a stipend.

“The beauty of our program is that there is actually something for everyone. Students truly get to study the topics they are interested in,” said Hermann. “It’s distinctive. It’s applicable. It’s pragmatic, and we believe that anyone considering an MA would benefit from what we have to offer.”

Anyone interested in learning more about this unique MA program can find more information about the program, including curriculum details, the application process and funding at www.etsu.edu/cas/comm_perform/academics/graduate.php. Interested students may also contact Dr. Amber Kinser, the department chair, at kinsera@etsu.edu.