Penn State launches digital media minor

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Two colleges at Penn State have collaborated on an academic minor focused on digital media measurement, management and promotion to better prepare graduates for the changing communications landscape.

The six-course Digital Media Trends and Analysis (DMTA) minor -- the result of a collaboration between the College of Communications and the College of Information Sciences and Technology -- was approved by the Board of Trustees Friday (Feb. 26) and will be offered as an option for undergraduate students beginning with the 2016-17 academic year.

“As technology changes how we access information and communicate, the skill sets students need to succeed are quickly expanding,” said Marie Hardin, dean of Penn State’s College of Communications. “We’re committed to providing students with the tools they need to thrive, and this broad, well-designed minor provides a strong example of that commitment.”

The collaboration between the two colleges taps expertise and strengths in both academic units.

“We realized that our two colleges had already been developing and teaching related courses in this area, and it made sense to bring them together as a coordinated minor,” said Mary Beth Rosson, associate dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology.

The minor prepares students for career opportunities in areas such as advertising, analytics, digital media, public relations and more.

Lee Ahern, an associate professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations and the DMTA coordinator in the College of Communications, said the minor will complement existing curriculum and meet important needs in the industry. In addition to introductory courses in communications and information systems, the minor includes an overview of digital media metrics and web analytics courses. Other courses offer a focus on digital public relations and social media, search engine marketing and digital advertising.

“We have been watching the media and advertising landscape undergo fundamental transformation over the past decade, and have been modifying and adding courses in response,” Ahern said. “The new minor allows us to streamline, formalize and expand on those efforts. We want to make Penn State a leader when it comes to preparing students for a professional future in these dynamic industries.”

Ahern and other faculty members have worked with industry professionals to develop the curriculum that focuses on trends and skills most important to employers. The curriculum is designed to ensure the courses remain relevant. Initial industry partners have included advertising companies such as Adroit Digital, Harmelin Media and MediaMath, as well as representatives from media companies such as billypenn.com, Google, National Geographic, USA Today and VH1.

“One of the many great things about this program is that it destroys the false dichotomy of ‘art vs. science,’” said Jim Jansen, professor of information sciences and technology. “Every discipline needs creativity. Every discipline needs rationality. This program recognizes the value of both.”

Administrators anticipate broad interest in the minor, which will be open to all Penn State students.

Last Updated March 21, 2016