During Summer 2020, the following information was gathered using an online data tool provided by Virginia Commonwealth University's Office of Institutional Research and Decision Support.
These data track each first-year (freshman) class of mass comm majors. The statistics show the percentage of students who continue in mass comm each year and then graduate within four, five or six years.
One wrinkle in the reporting method used in the statistics above is how it treats first-year students who start in mass comm but then change majors. The graduation rates in the spreadsheet reflect the fact that these students do not graduate as mass comm majors, which is true. However, many if not most of these students do graduate from VCU, but in another discipline (as noted by data under being retained and/or graduated from the College of Humanities and Sciences and/or VCU).
The reported graduation rates for mass communications would be much higher if we tracked only students who start and stay as mass comm majors. For example, of the 116 first-year students who entered the mass comm major in Fall 2012, 68 remained in the major for at least three years. Of those 68 students, 61 – or 90% – graduated with mass comm degrees.
Another wrinkle is that the data do not include students who enter the Robertson School after their first year from other VCU majors or from other universities. The Robertson School serves hundreds of such students, with about half of all Robertson School students being transfer students.
Besides requiring the publication of retention and graduation data, the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications suggests that accredited schools provide the public with additional indicators of student achievement. Below are four of those indicators.
In addition, the Robertson School serves more than 94 undergraduates pursuing a minor in media studies. Moreover, the school's faculty also serves students in two master's programs (Strategic Public Relations and Multimedia Journalism) and an interdisciplinary doctoral program (Media, Art and Text).
VCU mass communications majors are required to complete an internship in which they work closely with media professionals. From Summer 2019 through Spring 2020, 291 students enrolled in our MASC 493 Fieldwork/Internship course, and there was a 99% pass rate. At the end of the internship, the supervisor at the worksite must evaluate the student's performance. Here is a summary of the supervisor evaluations from Summer 2019 through Spring 2020. Overall, more than 276 internship supervisors completed the survey, for a response rate of about 95%.
As part of the survey, internship supervisors were asked, “Under the correct circumstances, would you hire this intern?” Of the respondents, 81.2% said yes, 8.6% said no, and the rest either responded that it was not applicable or skipped the question.
Students from the Robertson School consistently win scores of awards every year in international, national, regional and other competitions. Here is a sampling of student awards and honors from the past year.
SPJ Mark of Excellence, two finalists
SPJ Region 2, Mark of Excellence, eight first-place winners and 16 finalists
Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award
Best Documentary Film Award at the Poe Film Festival
Finalist, Hearst Journalism Awards Program's Breaking News Competition
Individual 4A’s MAIP, eight winners
International One Show
11 ADDY Awards of the American Advertising Federation
Virginia Public Relations Award, Community Impact Award
Public Relations, The Hodges Partnership, Richmond, VA
Public Relations, Dow Jones News Fund, Arizona State University
Creative Advertising, Madison + Main, Richmond, VA
Print/Online Journalism, Richmond Magazine, Richmond, VA
Broadcast Journalism, Studio Center, Richmond, VA
Broadcast Journalism, Fulbright UK Summer Institute
Broadcast Journalism, Fellowship in the Hard News Center for CBS This Morning
Strategic/Creative Dual, Rocket Pop Media, Richmond, VA
Public Relations, Hurdle Memorial
Public Relations, William Dietrick and Daphne Lowell Memorial Scholarships
At an award ceremony in February 2020, five Robertson School undergraduate students received VCU’s Black History in the Making Awards. School faculty chose the students “in recognition of their academic excellence, career ambitions or commitment to their communities.” The students were Taylor Herndon, Strategic Advertising Major; Brea Hill, Broadcast Journalism Major; Claire Ozah, Public Relations Major; Lauren Thomas, Creative Advertising Major; Maia Stanley, Digital Journalism Major.
At our May 2020 commencement ceremony, the Robertson School Faculty Awards were presented to:
Christine Reyes, Creative Advertising
Austin Morales, Strategic Advertising
Alyssa Bernier, Broadcast Journalism
Owen FitzGerald, Digital Journalism
Emily Fair, Public Relations
Also at the ceremony, the Robertson School honored Chenelle L. Laroche and Jacqueline Nicole Van Dao as the winners of the Spring 2020 Kappa Tau Alpha Top Scholar award. Kappa Tau Alpha is the honor society for journalism and mass communications.