Master's in Strategic Communication Applicant Advice
Successful applicants present a strong academic record, professional experience, or both, to demonstrate they are a good fit for our program. The most important components of your application are your personal essay, letters of recommendation, and your academic record. For those who have been out of college for several years, work and professional record are also important. Below are guidelines to help present your best self to our admission committee.
Your personal essay (also known as a personal statement) should explain your interest in the program and how it will help you reach your goals. This is also an opportunity to provide additional context as we review all of your materials. For example, you may wish to explain some inconsistencies in your undergraduate or professional career–the personal essay is the place to do so. Another purpose of the essay is to assess the quality of your writing. Make sure you provide a thoughtful essay that is thorough, well-organized, persuasive, and clear.
Two letters of recommendations are required. If you completed your undergraduate degree within the past three years, at least one letter must be from a professor at your undergraduate institution. For those who completed an undergraduate degree over three years ago, you may opt for professional references from those who have worked with or supervised you, preferably recently. Character references or letters from relatives or friends are not acceptable.
Carefully choose your recommenders. Contact them to explain your interest in our program, updating them on your post-college life and describing your career path to date. Ask if they would be willing to write on your behalf. We suggest you give them at least three weeks advance notice to complete your recommendation, but don’t hesitate to ask if your deadline is shorter.
For academic references, the best one is not always the one who gave you an A for a class. A professor who saw you struggle then rise to the occasion may provide the kinds of details that will help us understand how you may perform as a graduate student. Likewise, a workplace mentor or supervisor who has watched you develop and take on new challenges may be an effective professional reference.
When they receive the recommendation link, they will be asked to rate you on a few competencies that are important to our program, such as work ethic, integrity, problem-solving, writing skills, etc. Then we list a few attributes we want them to discuss in their letters. We try to make it an easy process for them.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) gives you the right of access to the contents of any recommendation letters, unless you specifically waive that right. The option to waive or not to waive your right is on our form, so your recommenders will know what you request.
That said, many graduate schools prefer confidential letters, which means you’ve waived the right to read the recommendations. These evaluations are considered more candid and accurate. It is up to you though to consider the pros and cons of keeping or waiving your right, but you should make the same decision for both recommendations.
We will assess your undergraduate transcripts, professor recommendations (if required), and GRE/GMAT scores (if your cumulative GPA is below 3.0). Successful applicants have majored in a variety of disciplines, and while most of our accepted applicants excelled as undergraduates, we take all application materials into account. We recognize that not everyone had the same advantages that foster success in the undergraduate classroom. In this case, your personal essay should reflect on your academic career to help us understand why you would perform well as a graduate student in light of your previous academic performance. Professor and professional recommenders will also shed light on your ability to succeed in our master’s degree program.
Finally, for those who are required to take an entrance exam, do not let the GRE/GMAT be a barrier to your application. These are not scored and evaluated the same as the SAT and ACT, since only top students heading to master’s and doctoral programs take these exams. We look at this score as just one more piece to the puzzle.
Successful applicants who enter our program several years post-college come from many fields and experiences. What unifies them is a desire to grow intellectually and professionally, with a goal to be better at what they are doing now or to transition to new careers and/or leadership positions. Your resume, required for all candidates, as well as professional recommendations, will be critical to our evaluation process.