Courses & Curriculum

Degree Requirements

The Professional MA in Strategic Communication requires 33 graduate credits to be completed within 24 calendar months. All students take the same 18 course credits in communication and complete a six-credit individual project. In addition, nine credits of supporting study at the graduate level, at least six outside of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, must be completed.

Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0, and achieve a grade of B or higher on their six-credit project. Student progress is evaluated by the program director, director of graduate studies, and program faculty. Students must progress each semester to continue in the program. 

There is no final thesis or final MA oral examination required.

Program Curriculum

Year One

Fall Semester:

  • JOUR 8200
    Communication Strategy Research in Complex Media Environments
  • JOUR 8201
    Factors Affecting Communication Strategy

Spring Semester:

  • JOUR 8202 
    Generation and Selection of Communication Strategies
  • Elective Course (most commonly JOUR 5251 - Psychology of Persuasion)

Summer Term:

  • JOUR 8290
    Special Topics: Content Strategy & Brand Journalism

Year Two

Fall Semester:

  • JOUR 8203
    Integration of Communication Strategies Across Media
  • Elective Course

Spring Semester:

  • JOUR 8205
    Cases in Strategic Communication
  • Elective Course

Summer Term:

  • JOUR 8206 - Capstone Project
    This course is a sequence of two capstone courses designed to support completion of individual stategic communication campaign projects demonstrating mastery of the entire curriculum in the M.A. in Strategic Communication. This project is completed by taking JOUR 8206 in the May Session (for 3 credit hours) and again in the Summer Session

*Suggested courses are electives. Students can choose from a variety of courses as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Courses

Below is a brief overview of the program courses. Students must complete the following courses in sequence:

Jill Jamison
“This program gave me the opportunity to network with individuals in the same industry from different companies, who I have stayed in touch with. It's helpful to have contacts in the same field at different companies to bounce ideas off of and for future networking possibilities.” – Jill Jamison, MA 2012, Principal Professional Services Consultant/Media Analyst, SuccessFactors

An exploration of the analytical skills, techniques and methodologies used to identify information and social trends that affect communication strategy. The course will examine, evaluate and apply the techniques communication professionals can use to stay ahead of the marketplace when making decisions concerning communication strategy. Particular attention will be devoted to identifying trends in popular culture that lead to leverageable insights for message development.

JOUR 8200
Communication Strategy Research in Complex Media Environments 
Concepts and methods to identify consumer insights and social trends that affect communication strategy. Validity and reliability of research techniques will be emphasized as will legal and ethical considerations. This course will review best practices in qualitative and quantitative techniques, including laboratory, web site, and market approaches.

JOUR 8201
Factors Impacting Communication Strategy
Identification and analysis of issues that affect the development of communication strategy, coupled with background on how corporations develop strategic plans. Factors will be examined with a view to understanding their implications for the development of effective strategic planning. Attention will be given to both the analytic and predictive skills required in this area.

JOUR 8202
Generation and Selection of Communication Strategies
Concepts and methods for the development and selection of effective communication strategies to create and sustain information relationships between consumers and brands and/or organizations. A wide range of brand related concepts will be examined with a view to understanding their implications for the generation and selection of effective communication strategies.

JOUR 8203
Integration of Communication Strategy Across Media
An exploration of how communication strategies are integrated across media. The course will include the identification of all relevant stakeholders, points of media contact, audience segmentation, and the roles that each communication discipline can play in campaign development. It will also explore the relationships among media that underlie a successful communications campaign.

JOUR 8205
Cases in Strategic Communication 
An in-depth analysis of public relations case studies focusing on the development and implementation of communication strategies. Cases will cover a broad range of situations including cases on products, corporate communication and non-profit organizations. Cases will focus on such issues as brand introduction, brand reinforcement, revitalizations, crisis communication, issues management, and legal and ethical considerations. The cases will examine campaign impact on all relevant stakeholders.

JOUR 8206
Research and Development of an Integrated Strategic Communication Campaign
This is a capstone independent study project demonstrating mastery of the entire curriculum in the M.A. in Strategic Communication. This project is completed by registering for JOUR 8206 in the May and Summer Sessions. Faculty provide ongoing instructional support for effective completion of the individual capstone case study projects.

JOUR 8290
Special Topics: Content Strategy & Brand Journalism
A "special topics" course placing the highly evolving and dynamic forms of organizational content communications and brand journalism within a strategic context while considering how technology, digital delivery platforms and editorial strategies can lead to more effective content creation, distribution and measurement as well as customer conversations.

Supporting Courses (Electives) 
Students take nine credits of graduate-level credits, generally courses designated as 5-level courses and above. At least six of the nine credits must be from departments outside the SJMC. Examples of these courses are COMM 5441, Communication in Human Organizations and COMM 5451, Intercultural Communication Processes. Other courses may be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies if the student can demonstrate how the course is applicable to them and the program.