Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Strategic Communication MA, Professional, Degree and Course Requirements

Degree Requirements

  • 30 credit hours of approved graduate work 

The project work must be focused in a particular communication area, such as: arts communication; government and political communication; international public relations; public interest communication; or corporate public relations (elective options in business administration are limited). The project should be selected to provide an important credential for future employment as well as a focus for learning. It should reflect the student’s career direction within the broad field of public communication. 

  • A grade point average of 3.00 maintained during all work toward the degree 

A series of seminars will be hosted to provide students with the opportunity to learn about the latest trends in communication, from leaders in the field. Topics will span a variety of communication practice areas. Practice areas discussed could include: political communication, multicultural communication, non-profit PR, health communication etc.

Course Requirements and Descriptions

Professional skills courses (6)

COMM-552 Social Media Strategies & Tactics (3)                                

This course explores the ever-changing world of social media and its impact on the public relations profession, and how social media has changed the way communication strategists approach their work. It focuses on understanding how organizations, including corporations, nonprofits, and the government, use various social media tools. Search engine marketing, mobile communications, and viral campaigns are also examined. The course features case studies, hands-on use of social media tools, and experts in social media from various fields.  

COMM-541 Crisis Communication (3)

This course examines the nature of issue and crisis management from a strategic communication perspective. Students study various issues, risk and crisis situations, as well as the current literature on strategic issue, risk, and crisis communication methods. Students develop a crisis communication plan for a chosen organization. 

COMM-640 Principles of Strategic Communication (3)

Broad survey course introducing the components and principles of current thinking in strategic public communication. Presents today's best practices used to research, design, implement and evaluate campaigns. Discussions include impact of the evolution of technology and the digital environment on delivery of campaigns, communication contexts, message strategy, media strategies to include social media, audience analysis, and communicator credibility. Outlines ways to use creative strategies and tactics to develop and manage a campaign.  

COMM-642 Strategic Communication Management (3)

Course focuses on the interpersonal communication and leadership skills needed to successfully manage communication projects. Students explore management of the proposal process, and management skills such as counseling strategies, conflict management, negotiations, leadership styles, interpersonal agendas and group dynamics.  

COMM-644 Writing for Strategic Communication (3)

A practical skills based course designed to improve understanding of what makes writing effective and persuasive, and to hone those writing skills that apply especially to the professional communicator. The class starts with preparing classic news releases, brochure copy and newspaper and magazine articles and moves to writing for converged media, opinion advocacy, and basic broadcast styles. 

COMM-646 Strategic Communication Practicum (3)

Applies the principles and skills from other strategic public communication courses to practical case study experiences. As the culminating skills component of the graduate program, students produce a professional portfolio that may include media promotional items, broadcast applications, direct mail and web-based products, as well as newspaper, newsletter, magazine materials, and other communication products.

COMM-696 Marketing & Business Skill for Communication Professionals (3)

Whether you aim to run an agency, start your own consulting firm or lead the communication department at a corporation or non-profit, management roles require basic business skills such as managing budgets and forecasting and understanding business models. This class is designed to provide communications professionals with this basic business skills needed in leadership positions.  

Theory & research courses (4)  

The four additional courses that focus on differing aspects of public communication often vary from year to year based on the different needs, interests and backgrounds of incoming cohort members. Selected topics are customized courses that feature cutting edge practices in public communication.

COMM-735 Public Communication Theory (3)

Interdisciplinary survey of the ideas that shape public communication scholarship and practice. Emphasis on the persuasive elements of message design, campaign development and implementation, and audience identification and appeal. Strong focus on analysis and application of ideas from socio-psychology, sociology, marketing and communication studies. Course study includes both classic research in communication and contemporary emerging advocacy concepts.  

COMM-738 Research for Strategic Communication (3)

Survey of methods and techniques for conducting research in public communication. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies are explored, with an emphasis on helping the student decide which methods are best suited for any given research problem. General methodological issues explored include sampling, measurement, validity, reliability, and ethics. Specific methodologies covered include focus groups, interviews, case studies, participant observation, surveys, and archival research.

COMM-744 Strategic Communication Capstone (3)

Capstone course for theory component of program. Students develop proposal, research outline and methodology for an in-depth study and analysis of a selected public communication phenomenon. Students receive intensive individual guidance in conceptualizing, designing and completing their studies.

Advising Sheet (PDF)