Knowing what to say and how to say it is a skill that can help you move through life with ease and confidence. This ability is especially valuable in the workplace, with employers naming communication among the top soft skills they seek in their hires.
The good news is that strong communication skills need not be innate. Anyone can develop and hone them.
“Maybe you have to give a toast at a wedding or you find yourself in a leadership position and you need to motivate your employees. What type of message do you give in those situations? How do you structure that message and deliver that message?” asks Dr. Fendrich Clark, Associate Professor of Communication at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SE).
You can find those answers and more in the business and professional speaking courses that Dr. Clark teaches in Southeastern’s B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Organizational & Strategic Communication online program.
Online B.A. in Communication
Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Organizational & Strategic Communication online program consists of 124 credit hours. The three core courses are Survey of Communication; Media and Society; and Communication Theory & Research.
For the Organizational & Strategic Communication emphasis, students take four required courses: Interpersonal Communication; Organizational Communication; Communication and Leadership; and Communication Criticism. In addition, students complete six more emphasis courses to finish out the organizational/strategic communication requirement.
Dr. Clark’s courses focus on helping students gain skills they can take into job interviews and other business settings.
“I’m not giving assignments just to have students do things. I expect those assignments to produce certain results in terms of the type of skills that students are developing through the course,” said Dr. Clark, who also serves as advisor for speech and debate at SE.
When Online Students Have Questions
Virtual discussion boards give students and instructors a place to interact and discuss the subjects they’re covering in class. Some faculty use email, text messaging and video/web conferencing to make themselves available to students. Dr. Clark even encourages phone calls.
“Students are picking up the phone and they’re calling me on my office line, or they’ll email me to set up an opportunity for us to talk over the phone. I’m also holding meetings with students using Zoom,” he said.
In addition to Survey of Communication, an introductory course for first-year students in the program, Dr. Clark teaches courses covering topics like argumentation, conflict management and negotiation.
“[In Conflict Management], students identify the typical ways in which they attempt to manage a conflict and learn that there are other ways. The biggest part of the course is learning those different techniques and then being able to apply them to manage conflicts much better,” he said.
In First Amendment Studies, students gain insight into freedom of expression and the historical development of that right.
Verbal Communication Skills in an Online Program?
Dr. Clark highlights the assignments in his business and professional speaking courses for those who may be skeptical of developing verbal communication skills online.
“I have my students complete four speeches throughout the course of the semester, and the experience is not much different than a face-to-face situation,” he said.
Students upload recordings of speeches and Dr. Clark reviews the recordings to offer constructive feedback.
“The students are very appreciative because of the comments that I make on their work,” he said.
Underpinning Dr. Clark’s approach to evaluating student work is his own experience as a college student. He believes in paying forward the consideration he received from faculty who focused more on student improvement than letter grades.
“I was one of those students who felt more gratified knowing that the professor actually looked at my work and commented on my work rather than just giving a grade,” he said.
Why Earn a B.A. in Communication?
If you have good communication skills and have managed to achieve some level of career and financial success with a high school diploma or associate degree, you might wonder why you need a B.A. at all. Is it worth the time and expense?
As it turns out, not having a bachelor’s could mean missing out on higher pay, greater job security and better career opportunities. Moreover, through coursework in Southeastern’s B.A. in Communication focused on strategic and organizational communication, students learn best practices for leadership communication and team problem-solving, both important workplace skills.
This online program is a smart choice if you’re looking to get a foot in the door to a business career. You can earn the college degree that focuses on your business interests without the stringent math requirements of most Bachelor of Business Administration programs.
Jobs With a B.A. in Communication
Communication grads have a variety of exciting, well-paying career options in fields ranging from public relations and event planning to human resources and sales. The goal in these jobs is often to inform and influence, so it’s not surprising that strong communication skills are vital. As such, Dr. Clark’s main motivation is to set students up for success in the real world.
He said, “The online B.A. in Communication is for students who realize that the ability to express themselves is extremely important and a valuable asset and skill to have.
“I want my students to be able to develop confidence, to adapt to a variety of different situations, and to understand that their ability to communicate, their ability to express themselves, will allow them to be successful.”