Public Accountability Data 2016-17

Retention and Graduation Data

In August 2017, Virginia Commonwealth University's Office of Planning and Decision Support provided these statistics [the link will open in a new window, because the chart is very wide] for the Robertson School. The 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. Here is another way to present the data, by focusing on each first-year class one at a time.

Fall 2008: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

180

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

61 (33.9%)

Retained 1 year

67.2%

Retained 2 years

50.3%

Retained 3 years

44.1%

Graduated in 4 years or less

27.4%

Graduated in 5 years or less

35.2%

Graduated in 6 years or less

36.9%

 

Fall 2009: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

157

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

43 (27.4%)

Retained 1 year

74.5%

Retained 2 years

63.1%

Retained 3 years

56.1%

Graduated in 4 years or less

45.9%

Graduated in 5 years or less

52.2%

Graduated in 6 years or less

53.5%

 

Fall 2010: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

127

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

37 (29.1%)

Retained 1 year

68.5%

Retained 2 years

55.1%

Retained 3 years

48.0%

Graduated in 4 years or less

37.0%

Graduated in 5 years or less

46.5%

Graduated in 6 years or less

46.5%

 

Fall 2011: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

136

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

27 (19.9%)

Retained 1 year

73.5%

Retained 2 years

61.8%

Retained 3 years

50.7%

Graduated in 4 years or less

33.1%

Graduated in 5 years or less

43.4%

Graduated in 6 years or less

--

 

Fall 2012: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

116

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

25 (21.6%)

Retained 1 year

80.2%

Retained 2 years

67.2%

Retained 3 years

58.6%

Graduated in 4 years or less

39.7%

Graduated in 5 years or less

--

Graduated in 6 years or less

--

 

Fall 2013: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

122

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

26 (21.3%)

Retained 1 year

64.8%

Retained 2 years

54.9%

Retained 3 years

43.4%

Graduated in 4 years or less

--

Graduated in 5 years or less

--

Graduated in 6 years or less

--

 

Fall 2014: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

105

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

13 (12.4%)

Retained 1 year

77.14%

Retained 2 years

67.62%

Retained 3 years

--

Graduated in 4 years or less

--

Graduated in 5 years or less

--

Graduated in 6 years or less

--

 

Fall 2015: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors

Original cohort

89

Changed majors (any time after their first semester)

14 (15.7%)

Retained 1 year

77.5%

Retained 2 years

--

Retained 3 years

--

Graduated in 4 years or less

--

Graduated in 5 years or less

--

Graduated in 6 years or less

--

 

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 above 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. Our reported graduation rates would be much higher if we tracked only students who start and stay as mass comm majors. According to the above data, for example:

¶ 90 first-year students entered the mass comm major in Fall 2010 and remained in that major during their time at VCU. Sixty-six percent of them graduated within six years. (VCU's overall six-year graduation rate is 62 percent.)

¶ 91 first-year students entered the mass comm major in Fall 2012 and remained in that major during their time at VCU. Fifty-one percent of them graduated within four years.

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. This is why the number of bachelor's degrees we award each year far exceeds the number of first-year students majoring in mass comm:

 

Academic year

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Bachelor's degrees awarded

234

269

301

272

332

290

 

(The number of degrees awarded in 2016-17 is preliminary.)

 During the 2007-08 academic year, the VCU School of Mass Communications awarded fewer than 200 bachelor's degrees, according to the university's Office of Planning and Decision Support.

 We serve more than 1,000  mass comm majors at VCU:

 

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Fall 2014

Fall 2015

Fall 2016

First-year mass comm majors

137

118

122

105

89

92

Transfer students enrolled in mass comm

129

116

132

138

111

128

Total undergraduate enrollment

1,226

1,260

1,270

1,220

1,102

 1,030

 

In addition, the Robertson School serves about 100 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). All of the above data come from VCU's Office of Planning and Decision Support (OPDS). Besides requiring the publication of retention and graduation data, the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications suggested that accredited schools provide the public with additional indicators of student achievement.

Internship supervisor surveys

VCU mass communications majors are required to complete an internship in which they work closely with media professionals. Between Fall 2016 and Summer 2017, more than 350 students enrolled in our MASC 493 Fieldwork/Internship course. At the end of the internship, the supervisor at the work site must evaluate the student's performance. Here is a summary of the supervisor evaluations for 2016-17.

 

1 (poor)

2 (fair)

3 (good)

4 (very good)

5 (excellent)

Average rating

Rate the ability of the intern to work well with others in the workplace. Rate the student on a scale of 1 to 5. One means the intern works poorly with others; 5 means the intern works exceptionally well with others.

1%

1%

5%

20%

73%

4.6

Rate the intern’s diligence in completing tasks on a 1 to 5 scale. One means the intern shows little or no diligence; 5 means the intern demonstrates great diligence.

1%

2%

12%

27%

58%

4.4

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s dependability in attendance, meeting deadlines, and punctuality.

2%

6%

8%

23%

62%

4.4

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to follow directions.

1%

3%

10%

25%

62%

4.4

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to learn the tasks assigned. One means the intern learned very slowly; 5 means the intern learned exceptionally quickly.

1%

2%

8%

33%

57%

4.4

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to utilize surrounding resources.

1%

4%

11%

26%

58%

4.4

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to take initiative.

3%

5%

14%

25%

53%

4.2

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s enthusiasm for the experience.

1%

2%

9%

19%

70%

4.5

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s willingness to ask for and use guidance.

2%

5%

8%

35%

49%

4.2

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s professionalism in the workplace.

1%

1%

10%

27%

63%

4.5

On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s overall performance. One means very poor; 5 means exceptionally good.

1%

3%

9%

21%

66%

4.5

Note: The numbers may not total 100% because of rounding and skipped responses.

Also as part of the survey, supervisors were asked, “Under the correct circumstances, would you hire this intern?” More than 81 percent of the supervisors said yes; 7 percent said no; and the others did not respond to that question.

In Spring 2017, additional questions were added to the supervisor survey: 

1 (strongly disagree)

2 (disagree)

3 (neutral)

4 (agree)

5 (strongly agree)

Did not assess

The student wrote correctly and clearly in the style of the profession. 

2%

1%

2%

29%

64%

1%

The student evaluated his/her own work, as well as the work of others, in terms of accuracy, fairness, clarity, and use of grammar. 

1%

5%

3%

29%

55%

7%

The student applied basic and numerical data.

1%

0%

1%

29%

33%

36%

The student applied tools and technologies appropriate to the profession. 

2%

2%

0%

21%

74%

1%

The student was able to think critically, creatively and independently. 

2%

3%

6%

31%

57%

0%

The student evaluated research and information, and appropriately applied where necessary. 

2%

0%

8%

30%

60%

0%

The student demonstrated an understanding of the profession. 

3%

1%

3%

33%

59%

0%

The student demonstrated an understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation - domestic and internationally - as appropriate. 

2%

0%

0%

10%

62%

25%

The student demonstrated an understanding of the use and presentation of images and information. 

3%

0%

1%

26%

64%

5%

The student demonstrated an understanding of professional ethics. 

1%

0%

2%

28%

69%

0%

 

Note: The numbers may not total 100% because of rounding and skipped responses.

Student awards

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:

¶ VCU undergraduate advertising students won Silver in this year's Summit International Creative Awards competition, a Gold national ADDY award, two Gold regional ADDY awards (including Best In Show), 10 local ADDY awards (including Best In Show) and three bronze awards at the Richmond Show. In addition, four student campaigns were selected for the Think Youth Shanghai International Digital Creation, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition hosted by the Shanghai Institute for Visual Arts.

¶ VCU students won 14 awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2016 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2. In addition, VCU students won 11 awards in this year’s Virginia Press Association contest.

Job placement data

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently started tracking what happens to college students after they graduate. SCHEV acknowledges that its system is limited: It tracks only college graduates who find work in Virginia, for example. (Many of our graduates go to work for advertising agencies, news organizations and public relations firms out of state.) Moreover, the system may not capture graduates who are working as independent contractors, such as freelance journalists. Furthermore, SCHEV notes, "Wage outcomes of graduates do not measure the quality or effectiveness of any institution. Instead, they provide basic facts about the experiences of graduates after entering the workforce and indications as to broadest levels of outcome in the Commonwealth -- full-time employment, part-time enrollment, and enrollment in higher-level programs." With those caveats, here are SCHEV's latest statistics comparing VCU mass comm graduates with all other VCU graduates, and with mass comm graduates from all Virginia colleges and universities. These numbers, the latest available from SCHEV, cover graduates who received bachelor's degrees between 2007-08 and 2011-12. (The statistics reflect what the graduates were doing 18 months after earning their degrees.)

 

 

 Total graduates 

 Employed full-time in Virginia 

 Median salary 

VCU Robertson School of Media and Culture

1,100

56%

$25,164

All VCU graduates

20,355

50%

$29,318

Mass comm and media studies graduates from all Virginia institutions

1,637

51%

$24,378

Communication, Journalism, and Related majors from all Virginia institutions

251

46%

$22,147