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Harrington School launches new social media certificate

New Social Media certificate allows students to be trained in the ever changing world of Social Media. PHOTO CREDIT: Connor Zisk | Staff Photographer

The University of Rhode Island recently announced the creation of a new graduate certificate program focused on social media, run by the Harrington School of Communication and Media, with classes set to launch later this spring on May 9. 

Open to graduate students, the certificate will consist of four courses, all of which are available online through an asynchronous format, and can be completed in 2 semesters at a cost of $823 per credit, which will be the same for any student, whether they be in-state or out-of-state.

According to the Harrington School’s press release about the program, it will allow students to “develop, create and enhance social media strategies for businesses and organizations,” as well as offer hands-on experiences to build on practical skills through interactions with fellow students and faculty. 

Ammina Kothari, director of the Harrington School, said she’s excited about the launch of the program and how it will prepare students for a job in a world becoming more dependent on social media.

“In this certificate program, students will learn how to adapt to the changing social media landscape,” Kothari said. “A graduate of the program will have a deep understanding of personal and organizational branding and be able to develop relevant and measurable social media campaigns.”

While there are many social media certifications available at universities and colleges across the country, she said URI’s program is unique because its focus is exclusively on social media platforms and communication and its real-world application.

“There’s a course where you get a foundation and the conceptual frameworks on why humans communicate the way they do on social media,” Kothari said. “And the remaining three courses are about ‘how do you develop a social media campaign?’ where you are actually able to develop a campaign as part of the class.”

Kothari mentioned that the creation of this program has been something she’s been hoping to accomplish since she first arrived at URI in 2021, as it was something she worked on at her previous institution, Rochester Institute of Technology.

She said it also helps to build on the social media research initiative that Kothari helped establish earlier this year, which collaborates with public relations organizations MikeWorldWide that hire Harrington students and gives real-world experience in the field.

Ying Xiong, an assistant professor of public relations at the Harrington School, believes the emphasis on social media analytics will help students see who they are trying to reach, and how they can try to expand their audience as a result. 

“The social media program at URI helps you identify meaningful patterns and trends in social data and help you understand your audience, brand and competitors,” Xiong said. 

Applications for the program are due on April 4 and must include a class transcript with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a resume or CV, two letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose for entering the program, such as the applicant’s interest in social media marketing, relevant work experience relating to the field, reasons for applying to the online program, professional goals and what actions will be taken to achieve them.