Strategic communication is a creative process of both practice and theory that explores understanding the cultural effects on all aspects of marketing communications. It creates clear goals to understand how perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of a particular audience set help fulfill the organization’s mission. The message development in strategic communication requires a high level of research and planning. Strategic communication can be delivered through a variety of sources like social media, press releases, internal messages, television advertisements, radio, interviews, white papers, and so on.
A master’s in strategic communication provides an in-depth understanding of organizations across the corporate, non-government and governmental organizations. It focuses on how they use and may abuse communication across various factors and target audiences. It also examines the strategies organizations use to communicate externally and internally.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, communication workers for media (such as announcers, interpreters and translators, and technical writers) took home a median annual wage of $61,310 in May 2020, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $41,950. Graduates of this program can work as social media managers, SEO managers, digital strategists, directors of communication, public relations specialists, creative directors, and so on.
This guide is a walk-through of what a master’s in strategic communication is all about, the best colleges one can pursue this degree, information on careers and funding, and more.
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A master’s degree can help a person enter the job market at a higher level. Students must choose the right master’s in strategic communication degree program to increase their employment opportunities. The best programs include some essential aspects such as affordability, student services, a wide range of subjects, the institution’s reputation, and quality and infrastructure. Here are some of the best online master’s in strategic communication programs in the United States:
What to expect from the Online Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications?
A master’s degree in strategic communication online degree program will teach students how to develop communication strategies such as analytical framework, strategic approaches, and organizational mindsets, which are essential for an organization. This program will also help them increase and improve their skills in communication through digital strategy, advanced analytical skills, storytelling, know-how, stakeholder assessment, evaluation, and research tool design.
An online master’s in strategic communication program typically requires 30 to 40 credits to complete the degree. The learning mode can be in-person, entirely online or a blend of both called the hybrid model.
Every student must complete the mandatory core courses and choose from a list of elective courses to obtain the degree. Some of the core courses the students will be required to take are:
Digital Communication Strategy
Strategic Communication Management
Communication in Organizations
Principles for Strategic Communication
Research for Strategic Communication
Applied Communication Theory
Integrated Marketing Communication
Strategic Measure Development
Communication Research ad Insights
Digital Media and Analytics
Strategic Communication Theory and Application
Intercultural Communication Theory
Campaign Planning with Social Data Analysis
Mixed Methods of Communication Research
Some elective courses include:
The Strategic Storyteller
Public Relations & Corporate Communications
Ethical Decision-Making for Communicators
Global Communication for Professionals
Social Media Metrics and Analytics
Strategic Social Media
The strategic communication degree program may require students to complete a mandatory capstone. The capstone project helps students gain expertise and develop skills in strategic communication in any area of their choice within the subject.
Types of Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications
There are two types of strategic communication master’s programs. One is the Master of Arts in strategic communication (MA in Strategic Communication), and the other is the Master of Science in strategic communication (MS in Strategic Communication).
Master of Arts in Strategic Communication The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication or MA Strategic Communication degree leans heavily on multiple liberal arts and humanities subjects. In most cases, a Master of Arts has a thesis paper and is research-focused.
Master of Science in Strategic Communication The Master of Science in Strategic Communication or MS Strategic Communication is a more technically and practically oriented degree. This degree type will usually have an internship component, capstone project, or both.
Areas of Specializations for Online Masters in Strategic Communication
Strategic communication is itself a specialization within the scope of communication. Hence, there are no areas of specialization in strategic communication. Nevertheless, masters in strategic communication degree programs may be in combination with other focus areas, such as:
Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Public Relations This program helps students develop technical skills to implement and create strategic communication campaigns and presentations for various events. Students learn advanced skills to communicate effectively across media platforms in a socially responsible and ethical manner.
Master of Science in Global Strategic Communication This program will teach students how to solve problems on a global scale using strategic interpersonal communication skills with attention to cultural considerations. Students will learn to communicate effectively across cultures and geographic boundaries and develop the ability to offer solutions to world problems such as poverty, education, climate change, business ethics, immigration, human rights, and more. One of the foremost universities offering this degree is the University of Florida.
Master of Strategic Communication and Leadership Graduates of this program are equipped with skills required to work in different sectors such as business, healthcare, non-profit organizations, education, and more. Students will build their knowledge on the importance of strategic communication to organizations and society from a leadership perspective.
Why should I do a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications
Strategic communication combines skills and theories related to a wide range of communication, including message development, public relations, persuasion, market theory, advertising, applied digital media, and presentation skills.
A master’s degree in Strategic communication online is suitable for students interested in communication studies and who desire to work specifically in communications in corporate, political, or third sector messaging and positioning. Graduates will gain the skills to implement and develop communications initiatives using traditional and emerging channels such as blogs, mobile media, podcasts, and social networks. They will gain in-depth knowledge about the communication process and learn to communicate in cross-border environments successfully.
By pursuing the strategic communication degree, students will be well prepared to start careers in public relations, marketing, advocacy, and campaign management. The many skills graduates would have acquired by the end of their program include the ability to:
Take up strategic approaches, use analytical frameworks, and change organizational attitudes clients and organizations need in various sectors.
Develop communication campaigns and messaging using formative research while making persuasive campaigns that meet professional, ethical standards.
Use communication strategy to help or influence organizational outcomes at the top.
Participate in group projects and presentations as a leader and team member to demonstrate leadership and collaboration abilities.
Become change agents in the organization and the world by showcasing the knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Conduct summative research to evaluate communication campaigns.
Develop effective communication strategies through advanced analytical skills, stakeholder assessment, storytelling expertise, research instrument creation and evaluation, and digital strategy.
Prepare planning documents for multi-public, multi-channel communication campaigns, along with budgets, task lists, and schedules that are used to manage communication efforts.
How to get Online Masters in Strategic Communication?
The admission process to an online strategic communication master’s degree is simple. While some application requirements may vary depending on the school and the program, the overall requirements remain the same. Here are some of the typical requirements for a master’s in strategic communication degree program:
Completed Application Form
Non-refundable Application Fee
Official Transcripts from all past institutions
Undergraduate degree in communications or a related field.
Professional experience in the field (preferred)
Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or more
At least two Letters of Recommendation
Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
Official test scores of Graduate Record Examination (varies by school)
Written or Video Essay (varies by school)
Personal or Group Interview (varies by school)
How long does it take to complete an Online Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications?
The length of a strategic communication master’s degree depends on the program structure and program delivery. For students who pursue a full-time on-campus program, the duration of the program will usually be shorter. On the other hand, if the program allows students to study at their own pace, they usually will take longer to obtain their degrees. Here is a quick look at typical timelines for an online master in strategic communication degree program:
Typical length of a full-time master’s in strategic communication program
Typical length of a part-time master’s in strategic communication program
12 to 24 months
Number of credits required
30 to 40 (typical)
Accreditation for Online Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications
Accreditation is granted when higher education institutions have passed a rigorous process to meet stringent educational standards. This leads to accountability that a program provides quality education, assuring students and employers that the degree meets expectations and is of value. In most instances, a college is accredited by national or regional accrediting bodies that have been reviewed and authorized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (USDE). Sometimes, individual programs can be accredited programmatically by an industry-specific accrediting agency.
The six regionally accrediting bodies in the United States are:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
The accreditation status of a school or program can be checked online on the official U.S Department of Education website or using a credible source like the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Strategic communication may be programmatically accredited by agencies such as the Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
Admission to most master’s degree programs requires prospective students to submit official GRE scores. However, in some colleges that offer the strategic communication degree, GRE scores are not mandatory or waived under certain conditions. Here are some examples of colleges that offer online masters in strategic communication no GRE programs:
Westminster College Westminster College is a private accredited college situated in Salt Lake City, Utah. They offer selected graduate courses, undergraduate, and other innovative degree and non-degree programs in liberal arts and professional education. The college has a master of strategic communication program that does not require GRE scores for admission.
Lynn University Lynn University is a private accredited university located in Boca Raton, Florida, with a small number of students. It has more than 100 programs and offers a master of science in strategic communication program requiring no GRE.
University of Akron The University of Akron is a public research university offering more than 200 programs and degrees. The school does not require GRE scores to enter into its master of arts in strategic communication degree program.
National University The National University is a private institution based in San Diego, California. It offers various programs in different streams, and its master of arts in strategic communication does not require GRE scores to be submitted during admission into the program.
Accelerated Online Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications
Accelerated degree programs provide students with an opportunity to pursue their undergraduate and master’s degrees simultaneously or in sequence. Students can earn their bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in one go, saving money and time. An accelerated degree program is helpful for people who want to get done with their studies much faster and want it to be cost-effective as well. In most instances, an accelerated master’s program can be completed in just one year, whereas a traditional master’s degree takes two years to complete.
Here are some of the schools that offer an accelerated masters in strategic communication degree program:
Columbia University The Columbia University School of Professional Studies offers a 12-months option to a master of science in strategic communication. While many courses are on-campus, some can be taken online.
Texas Tech University The Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication offers a master of arts in strategic communication aimed at working professionals that requires only 30 hours. The program is exclusively online.
National University The National University has a master of arts in strategic communication where students can focus on one subject at a time and finish their degree faster, in less than the usual 24 months.
How to Pay for Online Masters in Strategic Communication Programs?
One of the most significant advantages of pursuing an online master’s degree is flexibility. While pursuing their degree, students can work and reduce their educational costs. Students earning their degree online have only to pay the tuition fee, course materials/ textbooks, and distance learning fees. They end up saving on other additional costs such as transport, child-care during class hours, or meals. Another significant benefit is that students also usually pay in-state tuition fees at colleges outside of their home states. The cost of a master’s in strategic communication ranges between $10,000 to $30,000, depending on whether it is a private or a public college and several other factors. Fortunately, there are various funding sources available that prospective students can use to pay the tuition fees for their master’s degree or lower the overall program’s cost. Some of the sources of funding are:
Scholarships are offered based on academic success and other factors such as religious affiliation, cultural heritage, community service, etc. Hence, they are usually the most popular choice among students for funding education. Scholarships can be alumni funded or provided privately or awarded by commercial, cultural, or religious organizations. The amount of scholarship awarded depends on the type of scholarship and the university. Note: Watch out for the many Scholarship Scams doing the rounds.
Unlike scholarships based on the student’s academic achievements and strengths, grants are awarded depending on the family’s financial situation. Even though grants are awarded based on the applicant’s family’s finances, they also consider the applicant’s test scores and grades.
A graduate student is awarded an assistantship where the student provides teaching support to the university. They are provided a stipend or fee waiver for working as assistants for professors – assisting in a lab or workshop, assisting them with instructional constraints, or demonstrating and teaching for undergraduates. The other option that provides a fee waiver or a stipend is research assistantships, where the student assists the professor with their research.
Students can take a loan from banks, federal agencies, or private financial institutions. The applicant raising a loan must meet specific eligibility criteria to have the loan sanctioned. However, students must note that loans can increase the cost of education due to payable interest. It is important to know that missed or delayed payments can drive student debt.
Students can apply for the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) to evaluate if they are eligible for financial aid from the federal government. Students who want financial assistance every year must submit a new FAFSA before each academic year. Read more about FAFSA here.
Scholarships for Online Masters in Strategic Communications
Scholarships are eligible and are given to students who have an excellent Grade Point Average (GPA) record. They can be offered by external associations and organizations or by universities. Here are a few examples:
The David A. & Linda M. Lefurgey Scholarship is offered to students majoring in communication studies with a general communication emphasis for at least two semesters. Students applying for the scholarship must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 with a 3.0 in the major.
Free Courses for Online Masters in Strategic Communication
Free strategic communication online master’s courses do not lead to a master’s degree. Instead, they provide skills and knowledge which can assist students in better comprehending the subject. They may also help while preparing for examinations and doing assignments. Here are a few resources for free online courses for strategic communication master’s students:
FutureLearn offers about 15 courses that relate to strategic communication. Topics include Conceptual Thinking in Practice, Writing and Editing: Word Choice and Word Order, Strategic Design for Social Media, Data-Driven Leadership Skills, and more.
Coursera has various types of courses related to strategic communication, available across 4 learning levels. Some topics are Strategic Self-Marketing and Personal Branding, Research for Impact, Digital Media and Marketing Principles, etc.
This course emphasizes the importance of the strategy of marketing communication. It focuses on building and managing relationships with customers.
FAQs about Online Masters in Strategic Communication Programs
Q. How to get a master’s in strategic communication online?
A. Prospective students who want to enter a master’s in strategic communication must hold a bachelor’s degree in any field. Additionally, depending on the school, the applicant might need to have some professional experience in the field of communication. Students are conferred with a master’s degree once they complete the requisite course work and the capstone project.
Q. What are the best universities providing masters in strategic communication?
A. Accredited universities are the best universities for masters in strategic communication. They offer quality and flexible programs and have experienced and excellent faculty. A list of the best colleges to pursue an online master’s in Strategic communication is available on this page.
Q. What can I do with a master’s in strategic communication?
A. Graduates with a master’s in strategic communication can work in various communication sectors such as advertising and market research, computer programming and consultancy, management consultancy activities, television, video and music production and publishing, journalism, new media industry, media management, and research in both public and private sectors.
Q. What is the average tuition fee charged by colleges?
A. The cost of a master’s in strategic communication varies by school and program. On average, the cost of the degree ranges anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000. The price of online programs is cheaper; they do not come with additional expenses such as meals, residence, travel, etc.
Q. Should I get a masters in strategic communication?
A. Students who are passionate about working in the communication field and want to gain the essential tools and skills required to succeed should consider getting a masters in strategic communication. Individuals who wish to acquire an understanding and amass knowledge of working in various disciplines in communication such as public relations, media, international relations, branding, and social interaction are best suited for this degree.
Q. Can I get my masters in strategic communion degree online?
A. Yes. Several colleges across the country offer a master’s in strategic communication degree entirely online. Some of the best ones are listed on this page.
Q. Is an online masters in strategic communication worth it?
A. The master in strategic communication is worth doing when considering the various job opportunities versus the reduced educational costs. This degree can lead to rich and rewarding jobs, financially and other ways.
Career Opportunities and Salaries after Online Masters in Strategic Communication
There are various sectors and roles in which graduates with a master’s in strategic communication can choose to work. Due to the broad range of career options in the field of communications, individuals have an opportunity to choose a specific career that aligns with their interests and goals. Upon graduating, students will be prepared for a career in media relations, public affairs, advertising, social media, financial PR, internal communication, marketing, event management, and promotions. They can also take up careers in business, public institutions, and non-profit organizations. Alternatively, they can prepare to pursue a doctorate if their area of interest lies in research. Some of the job titles graduates of this degree obtain are:
Media Relations Manager
Public Relations Consultants
Social Media Outreach Coordinators
Some of the careers and settings in which graduates of online masters in strategic communication can work are:
Social Media Managers are responsible for increasing brand, product, or service awareness by – managing, planning, monitoring, and implementing a company’s social media strategy.
Certifications and Licensing for Online Masters in Strategic Communication
Certifications can help increase one’s career opportunities and potential income. There is no separate licensing or certification required for communication to work in this field. While a master’s in strategic communication is usually adequate, certification does broaden one’s reach in the job market and leads to more responsible roles in the industry. Some popular certifications in the field of communication are:
Strategic Communication Management Certificate (SCPM) The Strategic Communication Management Certificate (SCPM)certification is for highly skilled business communicators who have experience advising and counseling an organization’s leadership on strategic communication issues.
Communication Management Professional (CMP) The Communication Management Professional (CMP) certification is for generalists and business communicators who are already established and are looking to expand their competence. An individual will require 40 hours of training, two years of education, and a written exam to get certified.
Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) The Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) is an advanced certification program offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA). Certification is provided in specific marketing areas such as Marketing Management, Content Marketing, and Sales Management.
Additional Resources for Online Masters in Strategic Communication
The interest and the opportunities in strategic communication have been increasing for the past number of years. Hence it is essential to gain broad exposure to the subject and increase one’s knowledge. Students should be up to date with changes and modifications in the field of communication that will help them in their careers and grow in the field. Here are a few resources to get started:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) administers international and interstate communications by television, cable, radio. It is an independent government agency overseen by the United States Congress. The commission aims to ensure a competitive market and promote connectivity. The FCC protects the businesses and interests of consumers as well as maintains consistency and standards among different types of media and methods of communication. They allow new technologies to grow alongside localism and diversity by revising media regulation.
Integrated Marketing Communications Council (IMCC) The Integrated Marketing Communications Council (IMCC) consists of a variety of councils for people to join in the communication field. Executives from leading organizations with vast experience are typically members of this council. Some of the councils on the conference board are the Corporate Communications Strategy Council, Internal Communications Council, Social Media Council, Corporate Brand Strategy and Management Council, Digital Marketing Strategy Council, Multicultural Marketing Council.
Association for Women in Communications (AWC) The Association for Women in Communications (AWC) is the leading organization in the industry dedicated to providing women with the confidence, support, and resources they need to advance their careers and make a difference. It is a professional association that fosters leadership, recognizes excellence, and places members at the forefront of the changing communications landscape.
Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council The Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council typically allows communicators at a senior level to become its members. Individuals who hold membership in this council enjoy some exclusive benefits such as monthly networking and problem-solving calls, instant access to senior communication leaders, five hours per month of proofreading and editing services, a 15% discount on all Ragan award programs, and more.
Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the largest professional communications organization in the United States. It is the industry’s foremost proponent of high standards and ethical behavior. It offers members the chance for lifelong learning and cutting-edge services to form professional contacts and provide support at all phases of their careers. PRSA has almost 30,000 members and is represented on nearly 375 college and university campuses through 110 Chapters and 14 Professional Interest Sections and the Public Relations Student Society of America, its student affiliate (PRSSA).
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