March 29, 2019
NORTH ADAMS, MA—MCLA announces that it is adding a new bachelor’s degree program in communications, plus a concentration in digital media innovation, to be offered starting Fall 2019. Current MCLA students will also be able to transition into this major if they so desire. This new degree will be offered through the MCLA Department of English/Communications.

The Communications major and its Digital Media Innovation concentration will prepare students within the English/Communications Department who want to pursue careers in the communications professions, including (but not limited to) journalism, public relations (PR) and corporate communications, broadcast, radio, film, and digital media. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved the new program in March.

The curriculum in this major incorporates courses in communications research, a range of media production skills, writing, English, and media and cultural studies. It will allow students to seek jobs in a number of communications fields that are increasingly in demand, and it will give them the necessary overall communication skills that are highly sought after by companies. Students will have the ability to adapt to and thrive in a rapidly changing technological environment. Furthermore, it will prepare those wishing to continue with graduate study in media and cultural studies, journalism, or related fields within the context of a liberal arts education.

“Communications skills are in high demand,” said MCLA President James F. Birge, Ph.D. “A Harvard Business Review study of 22 million job postings from 2014-15 identified communications as one of the skills employers look for in potential new hires. This new program, with its expanded course offerings, will prepare our students to work in a variety of related fields, and give them the digital media literacy skills needed in today’s workplace.”

The Communications major will build upon resources that are unique to the Berkshire region, including but not limited to the growing creative economy and the relatively underserved media market in the county, especially in the northern part of the county.

Partly because of Berkshire County’s location “on the edges” of the bigger media markets of Albany and Springfield, there is a paucity of locally produced media outlets, especially digital, video, and audio media organizations. Students have been starting to fill this void with independent study projects and internships, local election coverage on public access television, and expanding their coverage in student media to include the towns of North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, and Williamstown. This presents a unique opportunity for students to interact with the local community in developing stories that also helps local citizens stay informed of relevant happenings.

Furthermore, the growing creative economy has created a need for public relations expertise in order to promote the many events and opportunities for tourists and local residents alike. Everything from website development to printed brochures, newsletters, and press releases are needed by the new organizations being created throughout the county. This need, in turn, encourages students to remain in the county after graduation, something many graduates have said they wish to do, which could be a factor in slowing the general population decline in Berkshire County.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to