Master's in Strategic Communication Curriculum
The Master's in Strategic Communication is a flexible, 30-credit hour, completely online master's degree program that can be completed in as little as 20 months, if continuously enrolled.
The program consists of 15 hours of required coursework and 15 hours of electives. Each of the program’s modules is seven weeks in length and taught by faculty members who are well-connected to professional organizations, industry professionals, and best practices.
Required Course: This course introduces students to the foundational theories, strategies, and practices of strategic communication. The course is organized to expose students to the interdisciplinary theoretical literature on strategic communication, to understand and embrace the relationship between theory and practice, and to apply theoretical frameworks to strategic communication challenges.
Required Course: This course will introduce students to graphic design principles and production technologies as they relate to strategic communication design. The course provides students with essential knowledge and skills for success in discriminating good design from bad, and the ability to articulate the difference. Students will also explore the most common tasks required to create and optimize media for digital and print distribution.
Required Course: This course is a comprehensive examination and application of qualitative and quantitative methods and designs typically employed to plan, monitor, and assess strategic communication campaigns. The purpose of the course is to develop students’ skills to direct and develop valid and reliable research, and to analyze and apply results that lead to successful programming that addresses a variety of organizational goals.
Required Course: This course will examine the dynamic legal and ethical issues facing the strategic communication field with an emphasis on central legal concepts such as First Amendement jurisprudence, commercial speech, and intellectual property. Additional concepts to be explored include defamation, privacy, indecency/obscenity, and political speech across print, broadcast, and digital media. Students will apply these concepts through a combination of discussion, activities, and case studies to current legal and ethical challenges relevant to strategic communication and explore the larger implications for mass media and society at large.
Required Course: The Capstone in Strategic Communication simulates a senior communication management context where you will apply what you have learned throughout your graduate studies. This research-intensive course provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate specific skills and knowledge, as well as sound judgment, on route to developing an organization’s strategic communication plan.
Elective Course: Throughout this course, students will become familiar with a range of social media tools, analyze and discuss their uses and implications for strategic communication, and develop participation literacy. Students will have the opportunity to explore both the theory and practice of social media through writing assignments, reaction papers, and a final applied research paper. This course covers topics such as social media strategy and tactics for businesses, the history of social media, privacy issues and concerns, and how to use social media in moments of organizational crisis.
Elective Course: All organizations experience crises. This course explores theories and research related to organizational communication before, during, and after a crisis. Students examine and apply the fundamentals of crisis communication and crisis management. The course will use theoretical and applied research as well as recent real-life organizational crises to see the need for audience-centered, research-based crisis communication in order to successfully navigate today’s crisis communication landscape.
The goal is to prepare students to better strategize, plan, execute, and evaluate ethical and effective crisis communication across a variety of organizational and audience contexts – including students’ current or aspirational industries.
Elective Course: This course focuses on the techniques by which public relations practitioners influence selected publics through mass and social media. It covers theory, best practices, and especially application of principles so that students will complete the course with the ability to create a sound media relations function for their organization that is ethical, effective, and that serves to advance their organization’s goals and objectives.
Elective Course: This course will examine branding from an audience-centric approach to understand the interplay of audiences, the marketplace, and strategic communication in the branding of new and existing products and services. A combination of discussion, activities, case studies, and readings will provide students with theoretical and applied frameworks to understand, measure, create, and manage brands over time in a highly competitive marketplace. Specific emphasis will be placed on the role of strategic communication to communicate a clear positioning statement, value proposition, and brand personality to target audiences that contributes to strong consumer-brand relationships and brand equity.
Elective Course: This course is an introduction to strategic communication in the global and cross-cultural context. Students are exposed to a wide range of topics, including: the role of culture in strategic communication, intercultural communication theories, ethics and regulatory issues, history of globalization, new media technologies, cases in international strategic communication, and strategies to communicate with diverse audiences.