Earning a masters in strategic communications is beneficial for anyone who is eager to gain advanced skills and knowledge in the areas of digital communication, persuasion, and marketing.
Individuals with strong strategic communication skills often have many career paths available to them. Demand for this skill set is also growing as companies rely more heavily on cross-platform communication to build brand voice and promote products.
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You may be interested in enrolling in a strategic communications program if you are a collaborative problem-solver with an ability to think creatively and craft captivating stories.
Online Masters in Strategic Communications Programs
Strategic communications is a multidisciplinary field, combining concepts and principles from advertising, public relations, and mass communication.
As a field, strategic communications focuses on creating and delivering intentional messages and information to a target audience. Typically, companies and organizations employ strategic communication to promote their brand or sell an idea or product.
What separates a strategic communications program from one in standard communication? Primarily, the intention and planning involved in strategic communications. Rather than trying to spread a message by any means possible, strategic communications professionals conduct extensive research to ensure that they have a clear message, the best platforms, and measurable goals.
In a masters program in strategic communications, your studies center around using purposeful communication to advance a company’s mission. You can learn how to use data analysis tools to determine if communication has been successful, and you can build collaboration and presentation skills.
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While curricula vary by school, typical coursework in a masters in strategic communications will cover topics like:
- Digital communication strategy
- Digital media and analytics
- Crisis communication
- Multimedia content creation
- Consumer behavior and brand development
- Strategic storytelling
- Political communication
- Social media strategy
Many strategic communications graduate programs also require the completion of a capstone project. This is typically a project based on a topic of your choosing and culminates in a presentation of findings.
After earning a master’s degree in strategic communication, many individuals choose to enter the workforce in marketing, communications, politics, or sales. Some of the career paths related to expertise in strategic communication include:
- Marketing consultants
- Learning and development analysts
- Market research analysts
- Public relations specialists
- Human resources managers
- Postsecondary teachers
- Sales account executives
Many of these professional roles have a significant impact on the success of a company in reaching a specific audience and living up to its goals. A graduate degree can also help experienced workers qualify for senior or leadership roles.
Strategic Communications Careers & Salaries
An advanced degree in strategic communications can help prepare you for professional roles in a wide variety of industries, including academia, marketing, public relations, or communications. Having an idea of what you would like to do after graduation can help you pick a program that aligns with your career goals.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, individuals with a strategic communication master’s degree are often drawn to positions like the following.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$127,150|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$119,860|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,800|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||$48,370|
Many of the careers associated with strategic communications are public-facing roles, so it is beneficial to have excellent interpersonal skills.
Public relations specialists, for example, spend their career creating and maintaining a certain public image for the clients they represent. In addition to strong communication skills, roles like this also require an in-depth understanding of human and consumer behavior.
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Earning a master’s degree can help you advance your current career or stand out from other applicants during the hiring process. It can also help you gain the knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for promotions or leadership roles within a company or organization.
Although obtaining a graduate degree often proves lucrative to many individuals, it does not guarantee a specific professional position or salary. Job titles and salaries are impacted by factors such as geographic location, previous experience, and the industry in which you work.
MA in Strategic Communication Curriculum & Courses
Strategic communications graduate programs provide coursework that can help you develop advanced professional skill sets for a wide variety of communications fields.
While every school offers classes unique to their institution, many may offer courses similar to the following:
- Digital Communication Strategy: In this course, you’ll learn to use digital tools to drive successful communication, covering topics like content strategy and programmatic marketing.
- Digital Media and Analytics: This course teaches the fundamentals of making data-driven decisions, exploring subject areas like data mining, social media data analysis, and behavioral analytics.
- Crisis Communication: Centered around communication during a crisis, this course covers crisis management and the application of crisis communication theory.
- Multimedia Content Creation: In this class, you’ll learn to use multimedia tools to create content, exploring areas like website creation, graphic design, and brand storytelling.
- Consumer Behavior and Brand Development: This course examines the psychology of consumer behavior and how it impacts brand development and strategy.
- Strategic Storytelling: You’ll study the theory and practice of strategic storytelling and examine its role in brand marketing.
- Political Communication: In this class, you’ll learn to apply principles of communication to political campaigns, covering topics like political advertising and discourse.
- Social Media Strategy: Focused on using social media to achieve company goals, this course explores how to develop, deliver, and analyze social media projects.
- Authentic Leadership: This course delves into different methods of effective leadership, teaching you how to think critically and facilitate change.
- Practicum: This is an opportunity for you to gain real-world experience as a functioning member of a communication team.
Some programs offer the option to specialize in a specific area of study, in which case your course list will be tailored to your concentration.
Master in Strategic Communication Admissions Requirements
Many colleges and universities include similar items in their admissions requirements, although each application process will be unique.
You may be asked to submit:
- GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
- Official undergraduate transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- Resume or CV
- Personal statement
These materials work together to create a comprehensive image of who you are as an applicant. While academics are an important part of the application, admissions teams are also eager to find candidates who are original, goal-oriented, and empathetic individuals.
Online Strategic Communications Masters Programs Accreditation
Regional accreditation is an important process in determining whether an educational program meets high standards for quality.
Attending a regionally accredited institution benefits you, the student, in several ways. It ensures that you are attending a college or university with quality facilities and educational offerings. It also means that you will be taught by qualified professors. You may also be required to attend an accredited institution in order to qualify for certain forms of financial aid.
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When you are searching for jobs, many of the companies or organizations you apply to may be looking only for candidates who earned their media studies degree online or on campus from an accredited school.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If the cost of attending college seems daunting, you can always explore your financial aid options. There are many different types of financial aid with a range of eligibility criteria available for students.
A simple way to start the financial aid application process is by completing the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form uses your personal and financial information to inform you how much government-provided aid you can receive.
If you are currently employed, there is a chance that the organization you work for includes tuition reimbursement options as part of their benefits package. Specifics vary between companies, so you can check with your employer for more details.
Many graduate students also seek out scholarship opportunities through their schools or outside organizations. These opportunities have unique eligibility criteria and often involve a detailed application process.
What Is a Strategic Communications Masters Degree?
A strategic communications masters degree is beneficial for anyone who is eager to build and use their communications skills to create change.
In a strategic communications masters degree program, you can learn how to plan and execute marketing campaigns as well as create and deliver persuasive messages to a target audience. Many businesses and organizations rely on individuals with a background in strategic communications to build brand recognition, promote growth, and manage in-house communication.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Strategic Communication?
Many diverse industries are eager to hire individuals with expertise in strategic communication. With graduate-level training in the field, you may have the opportunity to pursue a variety of professional options.
Many people with a background in strategic communications go on to become public relations specialists, sales managers, or marketing specialists. Experienced workers with advanced training may qualify for various leadership or management roles. Other professionals use their understanding of written communication to pursue roles as technical writers or editors.
Regardless of the specific job title, most strategic communications graduates have a significant impact on the way a company or organization relates to the public. Graduates can also help companies manage their own in-house communication.
How Long Is an Online Masters in Strategic Communications Program?
A masters degree can generally be completed in 1 to 2 years with full-time study. If you attend a 36 credit hour strategic communications program with no thesis required, you may be able to complete it in 1 year with full-time, year-round enrollment.
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A thesis requirement will add some additional time to completion, as will attending school only part-time. Many online strategic communication masters programs offer flexible timelines, allowing you to align your course schedule with your work or personal commitments.
This makes online degree programs in communications a strategic option for anyone with a busy work schedule, family obligations, or travel plans. As an alternative to a masters program, or as a preview to entering one, some students earn either an on-campus or an online strategic communications certificate. Credits earned in a graduate certificate may transfer to a masters degree program.
What’s the Difference Between a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications vs. Marketing?
Studies in a strategic communications graduate degree program center around learning tools to communicate information to a specific audience. A degree in marketing focuses on selling and promoting products.
While there is overlap in content between marketing and strategic communications, the main difference lies in the end goal of each.
What’s the Difference Between a Master’s in Strategic Communications vs. Public Relations?
Strategic communications and public relations graduate programs are very closely related.
|Strategic Communications||Public Relations|
A simple way to think about the difference between these two areas is that public relations always involves communication, but communications does not always involve public relations.
Is a Masters in Strategic Communications Worth It?
Yes, a masters in strategic communications is worth it for many students. Earning a graduate degree in strategic communications can help you advance your professional skill sets and qualifications.
Strategic communications experts are needed in a variety of industries. Depending on your interests, you may be able to align your studies with your professional goals. Additionally, many of the careers related to strategic communications are experiencing employment growth at a rate that’s faster than the national average.
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For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% job growth for public relations specialists over the next ten years. Employment for media and communication occupations overall is expected to grow 14% over the same period.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Strategic Communications Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
American University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. The online program offers 2 concentrations: Advocacy and Social Impact and Digital Communication Strategies and Analytics. The program has an impressive graduate employment rate, with 95% of its students becoming employed within 6 months of graduation.
American University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Butler University’s Master of Science in Strategic Communication program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, or ten courses. The courses are 100% online and include Foundations of Strategic Communication, Research Methods: Design and Analysis, Law and Ethics in Strategic Communication, and more. The program typically requires a time commitment of 15 to 20 hours per week.
Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Columbia University offers a Master of Science in Strategic Communication. Students may study full-time or part-time and can usually finish in 1 to 3 years. A special Executive Path is available for students with at least 6 years of relevant professional experience. Columbia provides small class sizes and opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning.
Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Concordia University—St. Paul offers an MA in Strategic Communication Management that can be earned online. The program requires the completion of 36 credit hours and usually takes 2 years to complete. Courses include Strategic Leadership and Management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethical Leadership, Communication Inquiry and Measurement, and more.
Concordia University – Saint Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Drexel University offers an online program for an MS in Strategic and Digital Communication. The program includes an optional 6 month internship. New students can begin in the fall, winter, spring, or summer. Course possibilities include Ethics for Professional Communication, Managing Communication Professional Identities in a Digital Age, Media Environments in a Digitized World, and more.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication can be earned 100% online. The program requires the completion of 33 credit hours of 8 week courses. It can potentially be completed in just 1 year.
The curriculum provides students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience and build professional portfolios. Coursework includes Transmedia Storytelling, Strategic Organizational Communication, Effective Media Analysis, and more.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Maryville University offers an MA in Strategic Communication and Leadership that can be earned 100% online. The program’s faculty members have real-world experience and utilize immersive, project-based teaching.
Students may choose to pursue an optional concentration in Emerging and Digital Media or customize their education through elective choices. Maryville’s admissions process is designed to be simple and requires no entrance exams.
Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Michigan State University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. This fully online program is designed for students with at least 3 years of work experience. Students may choose tracks that are intended to be 1, 2, or 3 years long, depending on how many courses they want to take at a time.
Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
National University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. Each class is just 4 weeks long, and the program can be started at any time of the year. Coursework includes Emerging Interactive Media, Research Methods, Crisis Communications, Campaign and Program Management, Legal and Ethical Issues, and more.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Pennsylvania State University offers an online program for a Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Communications. This 30 credit program includes courses such as Research Methods in Strategic Communications, Digital Media Analytics, Strategic Communications Campaigns, and more. GRE and GMAT scores are not needed to apply.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Sacred Heart University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Public Relations. The program includes VR-enhanced courses and provides the opportunity to build a comprehensive professional portfolio. Students must complete 36 credit hours of coursework, which can typically be finished in 2 years. Prior work experience and standardize test scores are not required to apply.
Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Texas Tech University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Innovation. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours that can be earned in a flexible, online format suited to working professionals. The courses are asynchronous, and new students can start in the fall, spring, or summer.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Delaware offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. Classes are 100% online and use an accelerated, 7 week format. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours of coursework, which can typically be finished in 2 years. Students can choose a specialization in either Public Relations or Digital and Social Media, or they can create their own customized program.
The University of Delaware is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Florida offers a Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Global Strategic Communication. Courses are 100% online and include recorded lectures and live office hours. The program requires the completion of 36 credit hours, and accepted students can start in fall, spring, or summer semesters.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Iowa offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. The program requires a capstone project rather than a thesis. Students must complete 30 semester hours of courses such as Strategic Communications Research, Digital Strategic Communication, Strategic Communication Writing, and more.
The University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a Master of Science in Strategic Communications.
The program requires the completion of 36 credits. Course possibilities include Communications Techniques and Tactics, Communications Leadership and Management, Crisis Communications Management, and more. The curriculum also prepares students for industry certification exams.
The UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Missouri—Columbia offers a Master of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. The program is designed for professionals with at least three years of relevant work experience. Students must complete 37 credit hours of coursework. The program can be completed mostly online, but one campus visit is required.
The University of Missouri – Columbia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Oklahoma offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Digital Strategy that can be earned 100% online. The courses use a blend of live online and asynchronous elements. The program uses rolling admissions, and accepted students may start in fall or spring semesters. Students usually need a minimum of 20 months to finish the program.
The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers a Master of Science in Communication and Information, Strategic and Digital Communication. The program uses a fully online, asynchronous format to help meet the needs of working adults and can potentially be finished in just 2 years. GRE scores are not needed to apply.
The University of Tennessee – Knoxville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Washington State University offers a Master’s in Strategic Communication that can be earned 100% online. GRE scores are not needed to apply, and prospective students can apply to start in the fall, spring, or summer. The program requires the completion of 30 semester credits of coursework. Courses include Professional Multimedia Content Creation, Crisis Communication in Global Contexts, Ethics for Professionals, and more.
WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your Masters in Strategic Communications Online
So many companies rely on strong communication to promote products, build brand awareness, and improve in-house connection. As a result, experts in this area are in high demand.
Earning a master’s in strategic communication could help you grow your professional skill sets and qualifications in this lucrative field. During a strategic communications program, you can build your digital media, video marketing, and advertising skills. You can also learn to understand more about consumer behavior and the power of storytelling.
If you’re ready to take this next step in your academic and professional journey, you can start exploring accredited schools that offer online masters programs in strategic communications.