Rebecca Wissler, a military spouse who travels with her husband, knew a traditional classroom-based graduate program was out of the question. But when she learned about the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalisms online Integrated Marketing Communications program, she knew she had the answer.

Wissler had considered several graduate programs but liked the IMC programs focus on creating innovative marketing strategies. That, coupled with the programs online learning format, made it the right fit for her needs. Now, two years later, she is graduating with her masters degree.

Wissler is a Bridgeport native, but she began the IMC program while she and her husband, Nicholas, a Navy petty officer, were stationed in Italy. They returned briefly to West Virginia before he was reassigned twice in Mississippi. Throughout these changes, Wissler continued to work on her degree.

It was a crazy time,she said.The IMC program kept me sane during all the moving around. I used to go to the Navy library every day and do my course work. The consistent assignment deadlines made it easy to stay on top of things.

According to Chad Mezera, IMC program director, the program is specifically designed to accommodate the busy lifestyles of working professionals.

Our programs asynchronous online format makes it easy for students to do their course work at any time and from any location,he said.

Wissler considers herself lucky to have been able to pursue a degree and be with her husband overseas. Military spouses often put their careers on hold during deployments.

Youre totally at the mercy of the government,she said.But Im still pursuing my career, and Im still on track.

In fact, Wissler is already using the information she learned in the IMC program in her job as a marketer for a legal research firm in New Orleans. She credits the program for helping her identify ways to increase return on investment. She has developed an innovative e-marketing campaign and a new, more interactive Web site.

Ultimately, Wissler would like to serve as a marketing executive for an agency that targets consumers. She feels that her IMC degree will differentiate her during the hiring process.

Agencies look for staff with knowledge of new media and creative placement strategies,Wissler said.I feel like the unique, creative plans I developed throughout the IMC program will help agencies and their clients save money using cool digital media.

School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed says the IMC programs innovative curriculum is designed to give students a competitive edge.

IMC students learn about the latest trends in the strategic communications industry from highly qualified faculty members and industry professionals,Reed said.They can immediately apply those skills to their jobs, making them more valuable to their employers and, ultimately, more marketable in the industry.

Wissler plans to come to Morgantown to attend the School of Journalisms May Commencement ceremony to receive her masters degree diploma.

She says shell miss the IMC program.

The IMC degree is exactly what I wanted,Wissler said.The curriculum was absolutely perfect, and I know it will give me the edge I need to take my career to the next level.

IMC online masters program on the Net: http://www.imc.wvu.edu