Certificate in Journalism from UMass

I completed a certificate in journalism online from University of Massachusetts May 13, 2010, after taking five online journalism courses. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn a top-notch education, while working 7,000 miles from home. The grades never mattered – I needed to learn. UMass crams a wealth of knowledge into each journalism class; a curriculum well worth the tuition. The instructors are encouraging and accommodating. Norm Sims, an expert in literary journalism, remained responsive and supportive, from online classroom enrollments to ensuring I received appropriate assistance for re-starting my GI Bill benefits. The fundamentals taught immediately helped improve my news reporting and strategic information skills.

These are the classes I completed for the certificate:

  • JOURNAL 392L Harnessing Public Opinion
  • JOURNAL 397W Intro to Online Journalism
  • JOURNAL 300 Newswritng & Reporting
  • JOURNAL 392P Writing for Public Relations
  • JOURNAL 393TK The Journalist’s Toolbox

These are recommendations sent from various instructors:


Keith Paul
has over 12 years experience in web development, information design and usability studies–keeping content the focus of his approach. A 1998 graduate of UMass Amherst, Paul spent much of his time since developing web sites and publications for the campus, most recently as Associate Art Director for University Advancement. He has also done notable work helping small businesses market themselves through their web sites and now works as a User Experience Specialist in interactive marketing at MassMutual.

“Dustin brought both a pragmatic perspective and a great intellectual curiosity to my online journalism course. Dustin’s willingness to learn and experiment was outdone only by his ability to tell the story. As a Marine and Defense Information School graduate, his energy and enthusiasm for reporting created a unique discourse enjoyed by his fellow students.” Keith Paul, JOURNAL 397W: Introduction to Online Journalism

Dr. Frank Faulkner was in the 101st Airborne Div. from 1962 to 1966, and later covered the Vietnam War for UPI from 1966-68, and was an international photographer from 1972-76. Faulkner completed a Ph.D. in communication at UMass Amherst in 1981 and wrote his dissertation on American news media coverage of Vietnam. He worked as an investigative reporter and city editor at the Springfield Daily News and was a stringer for the New York Times. He has taught journalism and communications at UMass and at Holyoke Community College since 1974. He was executive officer at Westover AFB from 1986-93. He moved to Ireland in 1999 and teaches online from Dingle, County Kerry.

“Dustin Senger is an accomplished journalist and an excellent student in the UMass Online Journalism Certificate Program. He has very good international experience under his belt and is a talented storyteller in journalistic articles. His experiences in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are more than enough to get him beyond the confines of American reporting and allow him a global view.” Proinsias Faulkner, JOURNAL 300: Newswriting and Reporting

Lee Wicks has more than 20 years as a public relations professional. Her UMass course concentrates on the skills necessary for good clear communications writing, while encompassing research, an examination of ethics in public relations, crisis control, and strategies for effective organizational marketing. Below is an excerpt from her detailed recommendation.

“Dustin came out strong in the first week and never lost momentum. He was easily the class leader in online discussions and eagerly offered advice and encouragement to his fellow students. His work ethic is impressive. While working more than full time, he threw himself into the course, completed all assignment excellently, and found the time to respond and help others. He is a talented and energetic writer, but many people can boast of these attributes. His willingness to reach farther than expectations and to function as a team player set him apart and will make him an asset to any organization he serves. Mr. Senger also understands and utilizes technology to his advantage. He is an accomplished photographer; he is facile with social networking and web design, and he knows how to combine all of these in a communications plan.” Lee Wicks JOURNAL 392P, Writing for Public Relations

After the certificate, I completed two more classes — JOURNAL 375 News Editing and JOURNAL 391T Travel Writing — before UMass Continuing & Professional Education matriculated my student profile into the University Without Walls Program for an undergraduate degree in journalism studies.

UMass logoIn September, I’ll begin my bachelor’s program, with credits transferred from UMass, the School of Communication Arts and military photography and photojournalism courses. My UWW 191G Frameworks of Understanding instructor will become my adviser. After the UWW core cours­es, I’ll take UWW 370 Writing About Experience to create a prior learning portfolio that “documents, describes, and analyzes” life and work experience. The portfolio is evaluated by faculty, who award between three and 30 UMass Amherst credits.

Fall classes start Sept. 7, and then end Dec. 10.

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