Online communications certificate gives professionals valuable workplace skills

KUEC’s Graduate Certificate in Professional Workplace Communication gives students the tools to address root causes of workplace conflict and advance their professional performance.

Online communications certificate - coworkers looking at devise

Some of the most sought-after skills by employers are related to workplace communication, according to LinkedIn. The ability to work collaboratively, effectively communicate and execute new ideas, and identify and navigate sources of frequent conflict are, in some cases, even valued higher than technical abilities.

Angie Pastorek, Ph.D., program director and lead faculty member for graduate programs in organizational communication at the KU Edwards Campus, says being properly equipped to identify and address sources of professional conflict can help retention and strengthen workplace culture overall.

“Communication is the work we do every day,” Pastorek says. “Our ability to identify the broader organizational culture issues at the heart of coworker conflicts and empowers our students to initiate the tough conversations that need to be had.”

The Graduate Certificate in Professional Workplace Communication at the KU Edwards Campus can be taken all online, and covers subjects including organizational change, diversity and inclusion practices, and communication ethics for organizations.

“The hybrid online program is built for full-time working professionals who want the flexibility of an online program, and also want to connect personally with their mid-career peers and with KU faculty,” Pastorek says. “This structure offers the best of both worlds. Students can still meet live online to discuss course topics, and can access the program’s personal connection from their home, office or travel worksite.”

Brandie Brock, a high school speech and forensics teacher in western Kansas, is an alumnus of the Graduate Certificate in Workplace Communication who says the all-online learning option was vital to her being able to get the valuable professional development she needed and led to her decision to enroll in the program’s full master’s degree.

“The online learning option has been a godsend,” Brock says. “There isn't an institution offering this kind of program for hundreds of miles.  Being able to do the work online and video chat with my professors has made getting my degree easier.”  

Brock says her education has helped empower her to be a strong advocate for her colleagues and students. She cites the program’s basis in research and practical application as a particular strength. “Not only do we, the students, get introduced to the topic, but then case study-based research articles from other organizations reinforce the knowledge and helps with application,” Brock said. “I would describe it as an eye-opening opportunity. I have learned so much about proper organizational communication.”

As Brock’s path illustrates, the 12-credit-hour certificate can also count toward coursework to complete an overall master’s degree in communication studies, with a concentration in organizational communication. That was the route Thomas Magee took. Magee says his experience in the master’s degree program expanded his understanding of workplace communication. “I really think a master's program retrains the mind,” Magee says. “You look at the world differently.”

Magee uses what he learned in the organizational communication program program in his current position as a management analyst at the IRS. “The program will enhance your mind,” Magee says. “It enhances your skills in many ways, and that in turn puts you in shape for other challenges.”

Pastorek says the immediate application of knowledge learned through the Graduate Certificate in Professional Workplace Communication is another reason the program is a good option for current working professionals. “Every class project is designed to be implemented on the job, empowering students to use what they learn in class to make a positive impact on their workplace,” Pastorek says. “It’s a great option for those looking to invest in their personal development in a way that can also open a wide variety of career opportunities.”

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