2024 Best Online Strategic Communications Certificate Programs [Graduate]

By Joy Cromwelle
Updated on January 29, 2024
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A strategic communications certificate program can teach you how to effectively lead using communication strategies.

Best Online Strategic Communications Certificate Programs

Graduate certificates in strategic communications can be beneficial for professionals in a wide range of careers. The curriculum aims to help you develop in-demand, practical skills that could be used for careers in public relations, advertising, and communication management.

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Read on to see if obtaining a graduate certificate in strategic communications could help you progress in your desired field.

Online Strategic Communications Certificate Programs

Man taking Strategic Communications Certificate online

Those with a graduate certificate in strategic communications can possess skills that benefit various organizations. Communications professionals often pursue careers in public relations, media relations, sales and marketing, communication management, or research and development. Their ability to assess public sentiment and create campaigns can make them a natural fit for these fields.

Strategic communication certificate programs train you to understand the changing landscape of communication in all its forms. You’ll likely study various multimedia materials and learn how to reproduce them to best reflect an organization’s goals.

Much like in-classroom or online communications degree programs, graduate certificate programs in strategic communication aim to make students proficient in:

  • Principles of communication
  • Communication with diverse audiences
  • Media management
  • Professional use of social media
  • Creating data-driven communication plans
  • Creating promotional campaigns
  • Performing thorough market research

Learning these skills involves studying various subjects in a multidisciplinary approach. Some of the subjects you may study include:

  • Persuasion, advocacy, and social influence
  • Team building
  • Resisting stereotyping and prejudice
  • The art and science of social media
  • Applied communication research
  • Integrated communication strategies

The coursework for a strategic communication certificate can vary depending on the school and program. When it comes to admittance, strategic communication graduate certificate programs require applicants to hold at least a bachelors degree. The curriculum is best suited to experienced professionals or students.

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In addition, you can attain a graduate certificate in communications online. Online versions of this program allow students from across the country to earn this certificate, which could save you time commuting to and from campus. Online programs often provide students with a greater degree of flexibility when taking courses.

Those with a graduate certificate in strategic communication can be found in various careers. Common positions include:

  • Corporate communication managers
  • Sales directors
  • Public relations specialists
  • Advertising managers
  • Speechwriters
  • Social media content managers

The skills you may develop while obtaining a graduate certificate in strategic communication could help make you an effective team member or leader in an organization.

You can learn how to research and condense information into actionable steps that an organization can use to reach its goals. Because of the relevancy of these skills, you may pursue opportunities across a wide range of careers.

Strategic Communications Careers & Salaries

Strategic Communications Careers & Salaries

The skills and experience obtained from a strategic communications program are highly relevant to the current job landscape and, as a result, are in high demand.

There is no one industry that your certificate will apply to. Instead, your certificate program may help you develop the necessary skills to pursue work across numerous industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some roles associated with the study of strategic communications.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $135,030
Sales Managers $127,490
Advertising and Promotions Managers $127,150
Public Relations Managers $125,780
General and Operations Managers $97,970
Technical Writers $78,060
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists $63,920
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Human Resources Specialists $62,290
News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists $48,370

Having a graduate certificate in strategic communications can help prepare you for less-specialized positions within the communications field. Because many of the skills you learn during a strategic communications program are so marketable, many people pursue leadership positions.

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While earning a graduate certificate in strategic communications can help you advance your skill sets and qualifications, it cannot guarantee any specific position or salary.

Strategic Communication Graduate Certificate Curriculum & Courses

Students taking Strategic Communication Certificate, studying together

Curricula for strategic communications certificate programs will vary depending on the school and specific type of communications program, but here are some courses you may come across:

  • Foundations of Intercultural Communications: You’ll merge theory and practice by completing an assignment meant to test your intercultural communications knowledge within a specific global issue.
  • Global Activism and Social Change Communications: You’ll have the opportunity to use media to analyze both national and global political issues from an activist framework.
  • Public Affairs Communication: You’ll learn how public affairs influence communication strategies and the issues surrounding social responsibility.
  • Ethics and Concepts of Strategic Communication: In this course, you’ll study theory, ethical considerations, and the issues faced when communicating with an international audience.
  • Strategic Communication Management: This course will teach you about the practice of persuasion and the evolving role of communication in the digital age.
  • Ethical Issues in Organizational Communication: In this course, you’ll learn how organizations communicate to their audiences, questioning how ethical their communication is and how it affects the organization’s success.
  • Organizational Communication Assessment: This course will teach you how to use quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the level of communication within an organization.
  • Cultural Communications Lab: You’ll learn about data literacy, technological literacy, and human literacy to meet the growing need of cultural resilience.
  • Communication Networks and Managing Information: This course will teach you how to examine new electronic technologies and what kinds of information must be communicated.
  • Strategic Planning: In this course, you’ll study theories regarding digital media, social media, and traditional media to form a strategic communication plan that incorporates the theory you’ve learned.

A strategic communication certificate curriculum may also allow you to take elective courses that could broaden your knowledge of strategic communication.

Admissions Requirements

Woman working on requirements for Strategic Communication Graduate Certificate

Admissions requirements for a strategic communication certificate program differ depending on the school and program, but requirements generally include:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Personal goals statement
  • Resume or CV
  • Minimum college GPA, often of 2.75 or higher
  • Letters of recommendation

Graduate certificate programs in strategic communication are usually reserved for seasoned professionals or college graduates. Schools often list their admissions requirements on their websites, but you can also reach out to an admissions officer for more information.

Accreditation

University offering Strategic Communication Certificate

Having a graduate certificate in strategic communications may make you more desirable to employers, but having received a certificate from a regionally accredited school may give you an added advantage.

Accreditation is when a school is formally recognized by an accrediting agency, meaning that they have reached a high standard of academic quality and have passed multiple evaluations. Attending an accredited institution can also impact your ability to qualify for financial aid and apply for graduate degree programs like an on campus or online masters in communication management.

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You can visit the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to verify a school’s accreditation status.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Strategic Communication Graduate Certificate Financial Aid

When it comes to paying for your certificate program, you could consider applying for federal aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Common forms of federal aid include student loans, grants, and work-study programs.

Many students also utilize state aid, which is financial aid given by a specific state’s government. There are also scholarships that you can apply for that may help cover the cost of your program. Your school might offer their own scholarships and grants, but there are also local and national awards that you may apply for. Your college will also review your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for need-based aid.

What Can You Do with a Strategic Communication Graduate Certificate?

The skills you can learn from a strategic communication graduate certificate program are in high demand, which is why many professionals go on to pursue leadership positions.

The curriculum is generally designed for you to advance your qualifications in advertising, public relations, communication management, or similar fields. Proper and efficient communication within an organization is essential to an organization’s performance. Plus, the ability to study a demographic and communicate findings through multimedia materials is an asset in the digital era.

The versatility of strategic communication skill sets could also allow for opportunities in industries like education, marketing and sales, administration, and more.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Strategic Communication Certificate Online?

Woman with online Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication

The strategic communications program curriculum is generally limited to several courses that are narrow in their approach. Because of the smaller number of courses, it can generally be completed within a shorter amount of time than degree programs.

A strategic communications graduate certificate program generally takes anywhere between 6 months and 1 year to complete. The time it takes you to complete the program may depend on the amount of credits required, the duration of the courses, and if you are enrolled full-time or part-time.

What’s the Difference Between a Strategic Communications Graduate Certificate vs. Masters Program?

Obtaining a graduate certificate in strategic communications may allow for a seamless transition into a strategic communications masters program online or on campus, but the two academic paths are not the same.

Graduate Certificate Masters Degree
  • Non-degree academic program
  • May take 1 year or less to complete
  • Focuses on practical skill sets
  • Consists of fewer courses
  • May apply toward a masters program
  • Graduate degree program
  • Often takes 1 or 2 years to complete
  • Provides more in-depth study of a subject
  • Consists of more courses
  • May be a foundation for doctoral studies

A graduate certificate program can allow you to learn valuable skills without undertaking the more extensive curriculum of a master’s program.

Is a Strategic Communications Certificate Worth It?

Marketing team and PR Manager working together

Yes, a strategic communications certificate is worth it for many students. Many professionals with a strategic communications certificate take positions in public relations, marketing, or related sectors because of the necessity of their skills.

Experts in strategic communications can play integral roles within their organizations. With a graduate certificate in strategic communications, you will have studied emerging technologies in communication. This knowledge could help you understand the current digital landscape and have a foundation to understand future methods of communication.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations are expected to see 9% job growth over the next ten years. Employment for media and communication occupations is expected to grow by 14%, which is faster than the average growth.

Universities Offering Online Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communications 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.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Corporate Communications. The certificate can be earned online, on campus, and in a blended format. There are three required courses: PR Campaigns, Case Studies of Global, Digital, and Ethical PR Practice, and PR Evaluation Techniques. Students are also required to complete two electives.

Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University campus

Bowling Green State University offers an online program for a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication. The curriculum is made up of 7 week courses that teach both theory and practice.

These include Organizational Communication, Public Relations Research and Practice, Social Media Seminar, Advertising Research and Practice, and one elective. Applicants must submit GRE scores or have at least three years of work experience.

Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Butler University

Butler University campus

Butler University offers a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication. The program is designed to help students develop industry-relevant knowledge and skills. It can be completed 100% online and includes three core courses and one elective. The three core courses are Foundations of Strategic Communication, Research Methods: Design and Analysis, and Strategic Visual Communication.

Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Lynn University

Lynn University campus

Lynn University’s Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication can be earned on campus or online. Students must complete 19 credits of coursework. Courses include Principles of Strategic Communication, Crisis Communication, Advertising and Public Relations Research, Integrated Marketing Communications, and more.

Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Ohio University offers a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management. Courses are each 7 weeks long, and new students can start year-round.

There are four required courses: Strategic Management Seminar, Strategic Communication Management, Strategic Communication Fundamentals, and Media Planning Fundamentals. Credits can typically be transferred to a master’s degree in communication or organizational communication.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University’s online Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management program requires the completion of three asynchronous, 8 week courses.

Students are required to take Seminar in Strategic Communication and then choose two electives. Options include Seminar in Global Strategic Communication, Seminar in Crisis Communication, Strategic Communication and Social Media, or Communication and Leadership.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Temple University

Temple University campus

Temple University offers a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication and Cross-Cultural Leadership. This part-time, online program includes both synchronous and asynchronous courses. The program requires the completion of 12 credit hours. Its four required courses are Communicating Organizational Leadership, Leadership in Crises and Conflict Management, Leading Diverse Teams, and Cross-Cultural Leadership.

Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communications.

The program requires the completion of three 6 credit courses. The courses are Foundations of Strategic Communications, Communications Techniques and Tactics, and Decisive Thinking, Communicating, and Leading in Multidisciplinary Fields. The curriculum includes studies in data analytics and aims to help students develop soft skills.

The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus

The University of Wisconsin—Whitewater offers a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication that can be earned 100% online. Students in the program must take two required courses and one elective. Classes are asynchronous and may be attended full-time or part-time. All credits earned can typically be transferred into a Master of Science in Communication.

UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Washington State University

Washington State University campus

Washington State University offers an online program for a Graduate Certificate in Strategic communication. The curriculum teaches how to use audio and video software and graphic design tools. Students also complete projects to include in their professional portfolios. Prospective students should have at least three years of work experience. They may apply to begin in the fall, spring, or summer.

WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Strategic Communications Certificate Online

Man completing his Strategic Communications Certificate online

A graduate certificate in strategic communications can be beneficial for both experienced professionals and recent undergrads.

Growing your strategic communications knowledge and skills can help you advance your professional qualifications. Regardless of the school, your program’s curriculum will likely teach you how to perform market research, produce multimedia materials, and apply communication theory to an organization. The versatility of your certificate may allow you to advance in your current position or get a foothold in a new career.

If you think a strategic communications graduate certificate is right for you, you can begin comparing online programs from accredited universities to see which program matches your goals.

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WRITTEN BY
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.