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Subject: AEJ 95 RichardJ ADV Rankings of advertising programs
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Feb 1996 15:10:37 EST
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Rankings of Advertising Programs by Advertising Professionals
 
 
Rankings of Advertising Programs
by Advertising Educators
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jef I. Richards
Elizabeth Gigi Taylor
 
 
 
 
 
The University of Texas at Austin
 
 
 
 
 
Submitted for review to the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
Draft Copy.  Do not cite without permission.
 
Submit all comments to Jef I. Richards, Advertising Department, CMA 7.142, The
 
         University of Texas at Austin.  Ph:  512-471-8148.  Fax:  512-471-7018.
E-mail:
 
            [log in to unmask]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rankings of Advertising Programs
by Advertising Educators
 
 
 
 
A B S T R A C T
 
 
Many advertising practitioners have criticized ad education, but it is unclear
on what
 
               those opinions are based.  Educators should be educating the
industry about their
 
            programs, but that effort should concentrate on the most exemplary
programs in the nati
 
               on.  Unfortunately, unlike other disciplines, ad programs never
have been ranked.  A
 
               survey is presented that asked the heads of 143 advertising
programs to rank both
 
            undergraduate and graduate ad programs.  Additional questions look
at what these
 
           professors believe contributes to a quality ad program.
Rankings of Advertising Programs by Advertising Professionals
Page
Introduction
        Since the first advertising course was taught at New York University in 1905
(Ross and
 
            Schweitzer 1990; Rotzoll and Barban 1984; Schultze 1982) the value
of collegiate education
 in advertising has been subject of continuous and frequent debate.  Some
observers,
 
         especially from the professional community, emphatically denounce the
merit of such formal
 education (e.g., Nelson 1979).  The substance of their argument is that
advertising is a
 
            craft, incapable of being taught (Kover 1976), and that it is
frequently taught by Ph.D.
 
            academics who lack the necessary practical experience (Williams
1979).
        Others, including both academics and practitioners, vigorously defend formal ad
training
 
            (Kingman 1977; Christian 1973).  Their arguments usually are based
on the belief that
 
          providing students with knowledge of the field, even in lieu of
experience, makes them
 
           better equipped to practice advertising than those who come to the
profession with no
 
          training whatsoever (Britt 1967).  Historically, there has been a
significant division
 
           between the perspectives of those who teach advertising and those who
practice it (Moore
 
            and Leckenby 1973).
        In recent years a few researchers have tried to resolve this debate by looking
at the
 
           correlation between ad education and career success of advertising
professionals (Donnelly
 1992; Hunt, Chonko and Wood 1987).  Their results are encouraging for
advertising
 
       educators, finding that advertising (or related communications degrees)
and marketing
 
          majors tend to dominate the upper echelons of ad agencies.  Although
this does not
 
       entirely resolve the debate, it does suggest that ad education programs
offer students
 
           some advantage over those with no advertising or marketing training.
        One plausible explanation for the disparity in opinion is that practitioners
may possess
 
            little knowledge about ad education (Britt 1967). It has been
suggested that advertising
 
            educators have done a poor job of educating practitioners about
university ad programs
 
           (Richards and Stout 1992).  If this is true, there may be some truth
to the opinion that
 
            educators know little about advertising, since they have been unable
to promote their own
 
            product.
        But ad education, as a whole, is difficult to promote, because there is little
uniformity
 from program to program.  More than 100 advertising programs, sequences, and
tracks are
 
            offered in journalism, communication, business and other
departments, and they range in
 
            offerings from a single advertising class to more than a dozen
classes (Ross 1991).  In
 
            addition, some programs offer only an undergraduate education, at
least one offers only a
 
            graduate degree, and others offer both (Ross and Johnson 1993).
        Consequently, ad education is not a single product, but a multitude of
products.  It may
 
            be that practitioners do know something about ad education, but
their knowledge and
 
        attitude are based on only one or two programs that do not meet their
expectations.
 
         Ideally, educators should hold up their best examples as illustrative
of what these
 
        programs can accomplish.  The problem is knowing which are the best
programs.
        Several other professional education programs, like business, engineering, and
law, have
 
            the benefit of national rankings being published annually in the
popular press (e.g., U.S.
 News & World Report 1994).    Within the academy there seems to be a feeling
that
 
       "everyone knows" which advertising programs are best.  However, they
never have been
 
         ranked in the popular press, and there have been almost no attempts to
rank them in the
 
            academic journals.
        Ross and Johnson (1993), as a part of an annual census, have made it possible
to rank ad
 
            programs according to student enrollments.  Soley and Reid (1983,
1988) and Barry (1990)
 
            have ranked them according to research article productivity.
Watson, Edwards and Barker
 
            (1989) surveyed members of the Association for Communication
Administration and the
 
        Broadcast Education Association, asking them to rank doctoral programs
in advertising.
        Unfortunately, none of these rankings indicate what those with a vested
interest D the
 
            teachers, practitioners, and students of advertising D feel are the
best ad programs.
 
           Unpublished surveys have asked professionals (e.g., Stout and
Richards 1994) and academics
 (e.g., Keenan 1991) to rank programs, but none appear to have been published.
        The purpose of the present study is to begin filling this surprising gap in
available
 
           information about advertising education programs.  Although
practitioners are in the best
 
            position to evaluate post-education performance by students, those
who teach advertising
 
            should be the most knowledgable regarding ad programs nationwide.
Consequently, a survey
 
            of advertising academics was conducted to obtain their opinions
regarding the following
 
            questions:
 
1.      What colleges or universities offer the best undergraduate programs in
advertising?
 
2.      What colleges or universities offer the best graduate programs in
advertising?
In addition, to obtain some insight into those rankings some additional
information was
 
            collected to begin answering the following:
 
3.      What attributes of an advertising program do academics believe contribute to
making it
 
                a good program?
 
Method
Sampling and Data Collection
        In 1993, 143 schools offered advertising education in some form (Ross and
Johnson 1993).
 To avoid giving opinions from schools with larger numbers of faculty greater
weight, it
 
            was determined that only one faculty member from each school should
be sampled.  In
 
        addition, knowledge of a variety of ad programs is likely to increase
with teaching
 
        experience.  Therefore, in programs where more than one person teaches
advertising
 
       classes, a more senior faculty member seemed to be in the best position
to answer the
 
          questionnaire.  As a result, a questionnaire was mailed to the
advertising program or
 
          sequence head at each of those 143 schools.
        Since the research was being conducted at one of the schools in question, there
was a
 
           particular danger of response bias.  This is especially true because
the researchers are
 
            located at one of the schools that, based upon previous studies,
might reasonably be
 
         expected to be ranked among the top programs.  Unfortunately, as
important as school
 
         rankings are, there is little incentive for researchers in less
prestigious programs to
 
            conduct such a study.
        Consequently, extraordinary precautions were taken to ensure source anonymity.
Besides
 
            providing no information about source on the questionnaires, they
were mailed from Maui,
 
            Hawaii and included return envelopes addressed to a business in
Indianapolis, Indiana.
 
            The researchers are located in neither state, and the instructions
to respondents stated
 
            that "great pains are being taken to ensure the study is blinded, so
the results will be
 
            valid.  Neither the postmark nor the return address should provide
any clues as to the
 
           source of this study."
        Out of 143 surveys mailed in a single wave, 71 were returned.  Although none
were
 
       returned undeliverable, three were returned blank.  One was marked "no ad
classes," and
 
            two had notes indicating the respondents refused to complete the
questionnaires without
 
            knowing who was conducting the survey or how the information would
be used.  Although some
 of the questions were left blank on some questionnaires, a total 68 completed
or
 
      partially completed forms were returned, for a response rate of 47.6
percent.  This is
 
           well within expected response rates for a survey of this type (Kanuk
and Berenson 1975).
 
Questionnaire
        Respondents received one page of instructions and a single-page questionnaire.
Although
 
            the envelope was addressed to the advertising program or sequence
head, the instructions
 
            specifically asked that the questionnaire be completed by the person
in charge of the
 
          advertising program or sequence or, if the school has no official
sequence, by the
 
       advertising professor who has been at that school the longest period of
time.  The
 
       instructions then made a plea for the respondent to complete the "brief
survey," and
 
         assured confidentiality.
        To minimize bias, the questionnaire asked respondents not to include their own
program in
 the rankings.  The first question asked, "NOT INCLUDING YOUR OWN PROGRAM,
please rank
 
           order the three colleges or universities in the U.S. which you
consider to have the very
 
            best undergraduate programs in advertising? [1 = best, 2 = next
best, etc.]"  The second
 
            question was worded identically, except that it substituted
"graduate" for
            "undergraduate."  In both cases, three numbered blanks were
provided.
        The fact that respondents consider a certain program to be the top in its
field, does not
 necessarily mean they believe that program is heading in the best direction.
For
 
       example, the top program might teach only traditional approaches to
advertising, while
 
           respondents believe that integrated communications are the wave of
the future.  To provide
 some insight into what aspects of a program advertising academics consider
important,
 
           respondents also were asked the following:  "NOT INCLUDING YOUR OWN
PROGRAM, which
 
       advertising program would you most like to emulate?"  A follow-up
question asked, "What
 
            one aspect of that program would you most like to emulate?"
        In addition, because the departmental location of advertising programs varies
from
 
        university to university, the relationship of advertising to other
disciplines could help
 
            to identify the atmosphere most conducive to creating an "ideal"
advertising program.  To
 
            explore this issue, respondents were asked:  "In your opinion, with
which of the following
 disciplines does advertising have the most in common? [Check One]"  The options
were Art,
 Home Economics/Consumer Science, English, Journalism, Marketing, Radio & Film,
and
 
        Speech.  Although some ad programs are located in a "Communication"
department, that
 
         option was omitted in order to force respondents to select a narrower
description.
        And to guage the sentiments of advertising academics regarding the traditional
"practice"
 versus "theory" debate (Lancaster, Katz and Cho 1990), two questions were
asked.  The
 
           first question addressed this issue in terms of teaching
qualifications:  "How important
 
            is it for an advertising professor to have experience in the
advertising industry?"
 
         Respondents were presented a Likert-type scale with the following
response choices:  "Not
 
            at all Important," "Somewhat Important," "Very Important," and
"Absolutely Essential."
 
            The second question used a five-point scale ranging from Strongly
Disagree to Strongly
 
           Agree, including a No Opinion option, and asked them to respond to
this statement:  "An
 
            advertising curriculum should focus on theory and principles rather
than practical
 
       skills."
        In order to keep the questionnaire brief, thereby increasing the probable
response rate,
 
            little demographic information was collected.  However, some basic
information was
 
       collected, including respondents' educational background and the size of
their program.
 
            Relevant to the "practice" versus "theory" issue, they were asked:
"How many years of
 
           work experience do you have in the advertising industry?"  They were
instructed not to
 
           include time spent consulting, when their primary employment was as
an academic.
 
Results and discussion
Demographics
        A frequent criticism of advertising programs is that they are taught by Ph.D.
academics
 
            with no practical experience.  While this survey was not designed to
be generalizable to
 
            all advertising professors, it was directed at the "head" of every
program in the U.S.
 
            Because the person in charge of a program frequently has
above-average influence over its
 
            content and direction, the educational and professional background
of this person
 
      certainly has bearing on that criticism.
        Of the 68 useful questionnaires, only one respondent failed to provide
information about
 
            what degrees they held.  Of those who did respond, 43.3 percent (29)
held doctoral
 
       degrees, 55.2 percent (37) held master's degrees, and 1.5 percent (1)
held a bachelor's.
        All 68 respondents answered the question about their years of work in the
advertising
 
           industry.  Only 2.9 percent (2) had no practical experience at all,
while 22.1 percent
 
           (15) had less than 5 years experience, 25 percent (17) had between 5
and 9 years, 17.6
 
           percent (12) had 10 to 14 years, and 32.4 percent (22) had 15 or more
years.
        Respondents represented programs ranging in size:  11.8 percent (8) had fewer
than 40
 
           students, 36.8 percent (25) had between 40 and 124, 41.2 percent (28)
had 125-249, and
 
           10.3 percent (7) had more than 250 students.  Although no figures are
readily available,
 
            this seems to be a fair reflection of the national distribution of
ad programs.
        Less than half of these ad programs are led by educators with a Ph.D., and less
than 3
 
            percent of them have no practical experience.  If those who lead the
programs are any
 
          indication, that criticism of advertising education would appear
overstated.
 
Undergraduate Rankings
        When asked to list, in rank order, the top three undergraduate advertising
programs, some
 respondents listed only one or two schools.  Others failed or refused to list
any schools
 at all.  Several made comments such as, "Don't know enough about other schools'
programs
 
            to answer," or simply "Don't know," "Don't care," or "No opinion."
One remarked, "No
 
          credible basis for evaluation."  However, most respondents listed one
or more schools.
        Of the schools listed, the University of Texas was mentioned by more
respondents than any
 other school.  However, because they were asked to rank programs, responses
were weighted
 according to position, with the first choice assigned three (3) points, second
choice
 
           assigned two (2) points, and third choice assigned one (1) point.
Using this weighted
 
           score, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois tie
for the top position.
 
        It should be noted that this weighting procedure is not ideal.  It assumes
interval
 
         scaling, when in fact the ranking is ordinal.  However, this approach
seems to be the most
 manageable scheme for ranking programs, and it should provide a fair
approximation of the
 order.
        The top nine programs chosen by academics, along with the number of mentions
and the
 
          weighted scores, are presented in Table 1.  Only the top nine are
listed, because the
 
          scores drop dramatically after that and several schools tied for the
next position.
 
         Although the order changed, when converting from number of mentions to
weighted score, the
 top nine programs in each list were the same.
 
 
  [--- Pict  Graphic Goes Here  ---]
 
 
        Perhaps the most striking aspect of this ranking is the disparity in scores
between the
 
            third and fourth school on the list, dropping by nearly 50 percent.
This suggests a
 
         relative consensus among academics regarding what schools are "first
tier" among u
 
      ndergraduate advertising programs.
 
Graduate Rankings
        When asked to rank graduate advertising programs, there were similar
non-responses.  But,
 again, most respondents supplied some answers.  The findings appear in Table 2.
Like the
 
            undergraduate ranking, both number of mentions and weighted scores
are provided.
 
 
  [--- Pict  Graphic Goes Here  ---]
 
 
        Again the University of Texas was mentioned by more respondents, but in this
case
 
       Northwestern University took the top position when a weighted score was
applied.  Like the
 undergraduate ranking, there was a marked drop in scores between the third and
fourth
 
           position.  But there was yet another drop between the fourth and
fifth.  Although both
 
           Michigan State and Illinois received the same number of mentions,
their weighted scores
 
            differ dramatically.  This occurred because most respondents who
mentioned Illinois ranked
 it in first place, while most who mentioned Michigan State ranked it third.  It
appears
 
            that both schools enjoy significant name recognition within
academia, but the perception
 
            of the two programs is quite different.
 
Academics' Values
        Just because a program is acknowledged to be the best in its class does not
necessarily
 
            mean that it is the "ideal."  Indeed, even if all ad programs were
terrible, there would
 
            still be one or two that are less terrible than the others.  And
there is always the
 
         possibility that a program not currently among the best has "a better
idea" that may
 
         eventually lead it to surpass the others.  Consequently, academics
might recognize one
 
           program as "the best," but admire a different program as one on which
they would like to
 
            model their own program.
        To obtain a ranking that reflects the personal objectives of faculty, they were
asked to
 
            name the one program they would most like to emulate.  Forty-seven
respondents answered
 
            this question.  All schools that received more than one mention are
listed in Table 3.
 
 
  [--- Pict  Graphic Goes Here  ---]
 
 
        The top four schools in this ranking and the ranking of graduate programs are
identical,
 
            except that the University of Illinois and Northwestern University
have traded places.  In
 fact, Illinois received far more mentions than any other school.  Apparently
there is
 
           something about that program that academics admire.
        A follow-up open-ended question asked respondents what aspect, of the program
they named,
 they would most like to emulate.  The results of that question (N=45) are shown
in Table
 
            4.
 
 
  [--- Pict  Graphic Goes Here  ---]
 
 
        Responses are roughly categorized in Table 4 to show that the largest number of
answers
 
            concerned the philosophical orientation of the admired program.  The
"practice" versus
 
           "theory" debate clearly continues to play a significant role in
academics' attitudes
 
         toward advertising education, with more than one-third of responses
directly related to
 
            that issue.  While professional orientation holds a slight edge,
with 6 mentions, 5
 
        indicated a preference for a theory orientation, and another 5 indicated
a preference for
 
            some form of balance between the two extremes.
        Two additional questions, later in the questionnaire, further explored
attitudes
 
      regarding that same issue.  One asked about the importance of an
advertising professor
 
           having work experience in the ad industry.  All respondents answered
the question (N=68),
 
            and none indicated such experience was "Not at all important."
Twenty-five percent (17)
 
            claimed it was "Somewhat Important," 29.4 percent (20) said it was
"Very Important," and
 
            45.6 percent (31) considered it "Absolutely Essential."
        The other related question asked specifically whether respondents agreed with
the
 
       statement that an ad curriculum should focus on theory and principles
rather than
 
      practical skills.  On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "Strongly Disagree"
and 5 being
 
          "Strongly Agree," the mean response was 2.46 (N=67).  Sixty-two
percent (42) chose either
 
            "1" or "2."  Only 6 percent (4) indicated strong agreement with that
statement.
        While there is no doubt that some academics believe strongly in teaching
"theory" to
 
          students, the vast majority of these respondents believe that it is
important to teach
 
           practical skills to students.  These questions did not attempt to
distinguish between
 
          graduate and undergraduate programs, but the similarity of the
rankings, above, suggest
 
            schools that have a good undergraduate program also tend to have a
good graduate program.
 Consequently, these questions might be expected to result in similar responses
for both
 
            graduate and undergraduate programs.
        One other question asked with which discipline advertising has the most in
common.  This
 
            was asked to determine where academics felt an advertising program
might best flourish.
 
            Seven disciplines with some relationship to advertising were listed
as options.  The
 
         results are shown in Table 5.  Although the more general category of
"communication" was
 
            not one of the options, two respondents wrote in that response.
 
 
  [--- Pict  Graphic Goes Here  ---]
 
 
        Respondents clearly believe advertising is most closely related to marketing.
Today,
 
           however, most advertising programs are located in journalism and
other communication
 
         departments (Ross and Schweitzer 1990).  This suggests that most
advertising programs may
 
            not currently be located in the atmosphere most conducive to their
success.  All of the
 
            "top tier" programs in both the graduate and undergraduate rankings
above are located in a
 communications college, but all of them are in their own department, rather
than in a
 
           department that teaches journalism or speech.
 
Conclusion
        If advertising educators, collectively, are to dispel misperceptions that
practitioners
 
            may have about ad education, they should teach the industry about
their best programs.
 
            For both graduate and undergraduate education there is a distinct
"first tier" among
 
         programs, in the opinions of academics.  Those programs should be held
out as exemplary.
        If educators are to improve upon their current programs, they must strive to
correct the
 
            known deficiencies in those programs.  While this study did not
attempt to poll all
 
        advertising faculty, the ones who lead this country's programs believe
that skills courses
 are essential, that faculty should have some work experience in the industry,
and that
 
            advertising is more closely related to marketing than to
communications disciplines.
 
          There is continuing debate, however, about the balance of theory and
practical skills in
 
            the classroom.  In order to advance the current state of ad
education, it seems logical
 
            that this debate should be resolved and a more unified effort be
established.
        While a small group of programs was found to be considered the best, more
research is
 
           necessary to determine what it is about those programs that puts them
in that enviable
 
           position.  Although respondents placed great emphasis on the need to
teach practical
 
         skills, there is no clear basis for determining whether or not those
top programs do this.
  Perhaps if these academics knew more about the programs around the country,
including
 
            their orientation and resources, the rankings might be quite
different.  Unfortunately,
 
            little information about these programs is readily available to
them.  Better
 
  communication among programs might result in better programs.
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