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Crisis Management Distance Education: Master’s Degree in Psychology to Boost Public Relations Career

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 5/20/2011

Crisis management is a new trend in handling business strategies. This involves providing solutions to problems even before they happen. Most employers hire psychologists or public relations specialists who possess skills in crisis management. Distance education can make this possible.

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    What Is Crisis Management and Its Importance to the Business?

    Crisis management is fast emerging as an important aspect of business organizations particularly in the industrial sectors. Whereas before, business management dealt with predicaments only when a problem was already happening, managements today have taken more proactive stances. The current trend in business strategies is to include crisis management as part of the annual planning. Hence, the latest being offered in post graduate online courses is the master’s degree in crisis management distance education.

    Some companies employ their own public relations staff as part of their sales and advertising team. Others hire public relations specialists to intervene with their current crisis in order to reduce the negative effects of mishaps and inadvertencies. As public relations specialists, they will utilize their creative minds and communication skills to protect or regain the company’s reputation. This is to assure stockholders and investors that the company will recover and remain stable as an ongoing entity.

    A crisis can be something that can jeopardize public safety such as product toxicity or industrial accidents. It can also apply to a systems failure that can cause disruptions in operations leading to a so-called domino-effect once the company’s financial position plunges into substantial deficits. Lawsuits and internal conflicts including labor disputes can result to tarnished reputations. All these can affect the company’s stock market prices and may result to possible bailouts by investors. Basically, all types of crises result to a loss of reputation and negative financial impact. Most business organizations came to realize this during the recent economic crisis.

    Public relations specialists and firms are being encouraged by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to enhance their professional skills. This way, individuals can maintain if not accelerate their careers in their respective organizations. PR firms and individuals can enhance their skills and knowledge in order to stay at the top by taking up crisis management via distance education.

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    M.S. Psychology: Crisis Management and Response at Walden University

    This postgraduate program is taken up by bachelor’s degree graduates to improve their knowledge of human psychology and to develop multi-cultural skills. Studies in psychological learning will cover crisis management in response to conflicts in management. The aim is to enrich their negotiation skills as well as prepare them for work in treating disaster and trauma victims.

    Most of those with a master’s degree in psychology specializing in crisis management and response have found career advancements in industrial organizations. They work closely with management to re-establish order in a work set-up that had rendered the industrial company weak in the production sector. They had been effective in communicating to the workers the need for revamping and cut-backs as well as lay-offs in order for the company to stay alive and not suffer the same fate as the other business entities.

    Walden University, which is recognized by the Higher Learning Commission and has regional accreditations from the Higher Education Commission of the North Central Association, is one school that offers a program in crisis management distance education.

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    Program Curriculum

    Complete mastery of this program will enable the student to research, understand, and apply different psychological concepts as their tools for intervention, negotiation, and preparation for any emergency. Emergency preparedness will be broad as it will touch on the aspect of trauma, disaster and terrorism, and the safety of the workforce and of the public.

    The M.S. in psychology in crisis management and response distance education course is estimated to be completed within one and a half years but can be longer. It will all depend on the student’s individual progress and recognized credits. The course curriculum may be made up of fifty-six to sixty-three credit hours since the thesis course can be taken as an optional choice.

    The entire curriculum for the M.S. in psychology in crisis management and response program includes the Foundation for Graduate Study in Psychology for one credit. Core courses consist of Contemporary Issues in Psychology; History and Systems in Psychology; Disaster, Crisis, and Trauma; Culture and Psychology; Statistics 1; Research Design; and Psychology of Terrorism which totals an equivalent of thirty-five credit hours. As fields of specialization, the student will be taking up courses in Interviewing and Observational Strategies, Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories and Conflict, and Conflict Resolution and Peace which total fifteen credit hours in all.

    As mentioned earlier, the six-credit hour thesis course can be taken to replace the the M.S. Psychology Capstone or vice versa at the student's option.

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    Basic Admission Requirements and Tuition Fees

      Acceptance at Walden University will be based on the student applicant’s academic report wherein the student should possess a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. The assessor will also look into the relevance of the student's work experience and will require a statement of purpose. The latter requirement will detail the student’s goals in relation to the program and how it can help in the attainment of his or her goals. Additional requirements include the submission of two professional references. Some additional requirements may apply and can be inquired into by getting in touch with a Walden Enrollment Advisor. The corresponding Tuition Fees is $380 per credit hour for the courses plus a technology fee of $35 per quarter.

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      Career Outlook and Compensation

      Individuals with a master’s degree in psychology often find work in industrial organizations in different capacities mainly in Human Resources Development. However, those who are equipped with marketing, sales, advertising, and public relations skills enhanced by a master’s degree in psychology specializing in crisis management and response occupy more dynamic positions as the public relations officers or specialists in a business organization. They make use of their extensive knowledge and communication skills to keep the company’s image as untarnished as possible to gain the support of consumers, investors, and the general public as a whole regarding community issues such as health and environmental concerns.

      They will be responsible in handling press releases, arrange interviews of company executives, and organize events to launch a new product, to sponsor causes or competitions, or to provide any form of support to the public as a way of drawing positive attention to itself as a way of promoting the company as a successful and stable business organization. At the same time, they are expected to have a ready plan to address any inadvertencies or unforeseen development and occurrences. This way, the negative effects can be immediately contained and arrested at the soonest time possible in order to squelch any negative publicity that can possibly arise.

      Their work is often considered as invaluable by management; hence, they may be required to accompany top management echelons in their business travels.

      In as much as individuals with enhanced skills in crisis management occupy a broad range of professions, salary structures are varied and will depend whether they are hired directly by the business organization as individual specialists or as part of a public relations firm. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following information regarding the earnings of public relations specialists:

      • As part of a company or enterprise management: $55, 530
      • As professional in business, political, labor, and comparable organizations: $55.460
      • As part of advertising, public relations groups: $55, 290
      • In colleges, universities, and other educational institutions: $46,600
      • In local government: $51,340

      The work involved appears to be daunting yet it presents a lot of attraction to those who are constantly seeking some form of challenge in their careers. Rather than be affected by stress and anxiety, career individuals who will be taking up crisis management in distance education are aware that they need to gear up in order to meet a current business trend.

      References

      • http://www.waldenu.edu/Degree-Programs/Masters/17273.htm
      • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos056.htm
      • http://www.diversityworking.com/career/Executive_and_Management/Advertising,_Marketing,_Promotions,_Public_Relations,_and_Sales_Managers/Advertising_Manager.html