Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement Thursday that allows select juniors from China’s top communication university to complete their bachelor’s degree studies in Murfreesboro — and earn a master’s degree from MTSU — in one year.
The agreement, known as a “3+1+1 accelerated graduate program,” was signed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Su Zhiwu, president of Communication University of China, during brief ceremonies at the Beijing campus.
The pact aligns MTSU’s acclaimed College of Mass Communication, named by the Radio Television Digital News Association as a Top 20 program in the U.S., with the China Ministry of Education’s top-ranked institution for journalism, communication, film and television.
“This partnership plays to the strengths of both universities,” McPhee said. “It opens the door for wonderful collaborations between our students and faculty — and provides an attractive option for CUC students wanting to earn a graduate degree in the U.S.”
McPhee said the real-world experience of the faculty was a big strength of MTSU’s college.
“We employ practitioners, former top-rated anchors and broadcasters and people in print and electronic media of different disciplines,” he said. “They help pave the way for students who need internships and practicums.”
Chief among them, McPhee said, is Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, who joined MTSU last year after serving as top editor of USA Today, the nation’s largest newspaper.
And he pointed out the college’s Center for Innovation in Media, which allows students to work collaboratively and develop content on multiple platforms, including the university’s two radio stations, student newspaper and student-run television news operation.
“It brings together all of the various media entities within the college,” McPhee said.
Su said he hopes the agreement will encourage collaboration between faculty at both institutions, such as a joint reporting or film project. “We wish to cooperate in the area of communication between our professors,” he said.
Communication University of China, one of the top public universities in China, is known as “the cradle of China’s broadcasting and televisions talents” as many of its graduates are in prominent reporting and management roles. The Chinese Ministry of Education in 2012 ranked it as the country’s No. 1 university for media education.
There are about 15,000 full-time students in the CUC, including more than 9,000 undergraduates and more than 3,500 candidates for doctorate and master’s degrees. It has about 17,000 students in programs of continuing education.
Like MTSU, many members of CUC’s more than 1,100 faculty members have strong professional ties and media experience.
The agreement calls for MTSU and CUC to work together in establishing a curriculum that will allow CUC students to complete their undergraduate studies while attending MTSU, McPhee said. Both universities will work to identify graduate-level courses that will allow CUC students to simultaneously pursue a master’s degree at MTSU.
“It is anticipated that CUC students will take a minimum of three years of courses here in Beijing, then come to Murfreesboro for the fourth year of their undergraduate education,” he said. “They would be enrolled in our graduate program and, if successful, they would be able to obtain both a bachelor’s degree from CUC and a master’s degree from MTSU.”
The ceremony at CUC was the first stop of McPhee’s latest visit to China, where he is expected to establish or renew MTSU’s ties with academic partners in Beijing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Changsha, Zhangjiajie and Xi’an.
McPhee has worked to strengthen MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate enrollment, expand its education abroad and cultural opportunities and develop research collaborations with international partners.
MTSU’s international student enrollment has increased from 396 to 789 in five years, and the university has 335 students in its education abroad programs this summer. It has more than 40 exchange agreements with institutions around the world.
Jimmy Hart, MTSU - Director, News & Media Relations