Claflin University’s commitment to student success and offering academic programs that prepare graduates for the 21st Century workforce provided the impetus for a partnership with the University South Carolina (UofSC) that will expand academic and career opportunities for students aspiring careers in journalism, mass communications, and information science.
Claflin and the UofSC signed a Memorandum of Agreement on Wednesday, October 28, to establish a five-year dual degree program that allows undergraduate students from Claflin University to earn a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Mass Communications degree with a concentration in either strategic communication or multimedia journalism in the College of Information and Communications at The University of South Carolina. Claflin students can also earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree through the partnership.
“We are extremely excited to have this 4+1 Dual Degree Program for our mass communications and journalism students,” said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University. “This relationship with the University of South Carolina – the flagship university in the state – provides tremendous access and opportunities for our students. Another advantage of the program is that it will eliminate a year of tuition and that creates a reduction in student debt. That’s also very important.”
Students who plan to participate in the 4+1 program will declare their intent by the end of the fall semester of their junior year. During the spring of their junior year (or the following summer), Claflin students must apply for non-degree graduate admission to the UofSC Graduate School. Students who apply should have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0.
Claflin earned the distinction of becoming the first historically black college/university (HBCU) to sign such an agreement with UofSC since Mr. Robert Caslen’s appointment as the university’s 29th president in July 2019. The partnership aligns with his strategic plan to increase minority enrollment and diversity on the campus.
“Claflin was ranked the top HBCU in the state of South Carolina and ninth nationally among the nation’s top HBCUs,” Warmack said, referencing the 2021 US News and World Report College Rankings. “UofSC is the state’s flagship institution. This will be a transformational academic experience for our students. They will have an opportunity to earn degrees from two outstanding institutions.”
An overarching goal of the partnership is to develop well-trained journalism, mass communications, and library and information science professionals from racial and ethnic minority populations. This will be achieved by expanding access to academic programs, experiential learning opportunities, and resources critical to preparing talented, minority scholars for careers in journalism and other professions in the communications industry.
“We are the state’s flagship university, and we should have students and faculty that look like the people of South Carolina,” Caslen said. “Our students and faculty should be representative of our state. Partnering with HBCUs will create pathways for students to take advantage of opportunities not only to earn a degree at Claflin but to earn a graduate degree at the state’s flagship institution. We are very eager to partner with Claflin and other HBCUs to make the university accessible – especially to first generation college students.
According to Caslen, each of UofSC’s academic colleges and departments are required to create similar agreements with HBCUs.
“I also want to create more diversity within our faculty. We need to find highly qualified students who have completed graduate school and put them on the pathway to professorships. We could establish partnerships to do this here in the state, as well. It would be a win-win for everyone.”