Master of Arts in
Strategic Communication

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Home » Programs » Master of Arts in Strategic Communication

Help Organizations Develop a Consistent Voice Across Corporate Communications

If you have excellent writing skills and the capacity to influence others with your words, you might be a strong candidate for a career in strategic communications. National University’s Master’s in Strategic Communications is designed to teach you how to develop and implement marketing communications strategies that meet client-specific goals.

As a Strat Comms professional, you’ll use principles of persuasion to craft and adapt messaging to different audiences and media platforms. You’ll develop the skills necessary to effectively evaluate corporate communication strategies, write compelling messages and press releases, and implement messaging across traditional and emerging channels, such as social media, podcasts, and mobile media.

NU’s online Master’s in Strategic Communications is designed to develop effective, strategically sophisticated professionals who possess the full complement of analytical and practical tools to lead communication efforts. It fosters strategic thinking, logical analysis, and solution generation. Our highly skilled, professionally connected faculty will help you develop a portfolio relevant to the needs of today’s strategic communications professionals.

Perhaps best of all, taking one course at a time, you can complete NU’s Master’s in Strategic Communications degree in just 10 months.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

Course Details

Course Listing

Core Requirements

  • 10 courses; 45 quarter units

Course Name

Explores the major theories in the field of communication with an emphasis on the workplace, focusing on the ability to communicate with others in professional interactions. Covers the development of professional relationships between people with different characteristics, cultures, and backgrounds to provide learners with tools for encoding and decoding verbal, nonverbal, and mediated messages.

Explores communication technology focusing on the history, theoretical implications, and strategic uses of social media and new media. Provides theoretical and practical understanding of how engagement works in new media platforms. Engages with the toolkits necessary to plan and develop social media marketing campaigns.

Covers IMC process for creating and fostering relationships with customers and public through strategically controlling or influencing messages sent to and exchanged with these groups. Course teaches effective integration of an organization’s marketing communication initiatives. Through case analysis, students learn how IMC has become critical to marketing efforts.

Presents fundamentals of research underlying communication campaigns and programs. Covers qualitative and quantitative methodologies, secondary research, internal market intelligence, and data analysis. Offers practical experience with techniques to identify and reach audiences and publics and to track results of campaigns. Teaches research strategies to develop communications that fulfill organizational goals.

Provides learners with principles and procedures for handling multiple stakeholders and publics under crisis conditions. Offers training to deal with media in less-than-optimal situations, when they may be faced with indifference or even hostility. Looks at case studies of strategies and tactics of organizations that have dealt with crises.

Provides learners with knowledge to manage communication campaigns by covering theories and processes of campaign development and implementation. Covers best practices project management techniques, communication audits, budgets, and resource allocation. Offers hands-on experience creating, writing, and presenting communication campaign implementation plans.

PrerequisiteCOM 610; COM 615

Course covers communication campaign evaluation, before during and after the campaign period. Focuses on systematic qualitative, quantitative, and observational methods appropriate to guide campaign planning, make mid-course corrections to messages and media mix and to assess post-campaign effectiveness.

Exploration of theories of persuasion that guide the preparation of messages intended to influence others. Focuses on use of persuasion techniques to develop decisions about creative and production implementation. Uses case studies to analyze persuasive messages in contemporary media and to compare techniques used in alternative media platforms.

Provides students with a clear understanding of the legal environment for public communications and the ethical considerations that must be taken into account. Examines international regulation of copyright and intellectual property protection and legal and regulatory provisions in the U.S. Teaches skills in assessing ethical risk and following ethical guidelines.

Presentation of skills the learner has acquired in the program. Their research, analysis, strategic thinking, message shaping, and evaluation skills will all come together in the final project: The preparation of a digital, web-based e-portfolio that will be an asset in the search for an appropriate post-graduation position. Grading is by H, S, or U only.

MA in Strategic Communications Core & Degree Requirements

To receive a Master of Arts in Strategic Communications from National University, students must complete at least 45 quarter units of graduate work, of which a minimum of 40.5 quarter units must be taken in residence at National University.

Students can transfer up to 4.5 quarter units at the graduate level from a regionally accredited institution in the areas of communication or business, provided the units have not been used to satisfy the requirements of an awarded degree. Students wishing to transfer credits into the program should contact the program faculty advisor. Refer to the section in the graduate admission requirements for additional specific information regarding application and matriculation.

Organizations in every industry must meet the challenges of operating in an increasingly complex and interdependent global environment. To do so, they need highly skilled writers who have mastered the process of planning, executing, and evaluating strategic communications efforts.

NU’s Master’s in Strategic Communications degree will help you develop the full complement of analytical and practical tools to lead communication efforts. It fosters strategic thinking, logical analysis, and solution generation. Our 10-month, career-focused curriculum is taught by a highly skilled faculty who have worked, or are currently working, in the field. You’ll have opportunities to tap into their professional networks and even pursue internships that can prep you for an exciting career as a communications strategist.

As you study and develop an interview-ready portfolio, you’ll acquire intellectual, managerial, and communication skills and competencies. You’ll learn how to do everything from carrying out analyses of organizational communications needs to conducting audience analysis and formative and evaluative research. You’ll use your professional-level writing skills to develop, implement, and evaluate appropriate strategies and tactics to reach multiple audiences.

National University’s MA in Strategic Communications program focuses on helping you develop a deep understanding of the theories of communication and persuasion, an ability to lead and participate in the team development of organizational communication strategies, and the practical skills to plan, produce, and evaluate strategic communications programs and campaigns.

With these skills, you’ll be qualified to pursue a range of communications occupations in areas like public relations, fundraising, and marketing. Some of the specific job titles* in these areas include:

  • Communications specialist and manager
  • Communications director/Director of communications
  • Strategic communications specialist, manager
  • Director of corporate communications
  • Internal communications manager, director
  • Director of marketing

Strategic communications professionals are needed in nearly every industry, including:

  • Educational services
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Retail trade
  • Public administration
  • And many others

As a communication strategist with a master’s degree, you’ll also likely find yourself in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment in media and communication occupations is projected to grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations.**

To give you an idea of the salary range*** you might command, BLS also states that median annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,800 in May 2021, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,620.

* SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at https://www.economicmodeling.com/company/ (Report viewed: May 2, 2022. DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.

** https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/home.htm

*** https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-5

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communications program, you’ll understand how to:

  • Produce multi-audience, multichannel communication campaign planning documents
  • Manage communication campaigns by producing budgets, task lists, and schedules
  • Apply formative research to develop communication campaigns and messages
  • Create persuasive campaigns that meet professional ethical standards
  • Evaluate communication campaigns by conducting summative research
  • Deliver professional communication presentations online
  • Demonstrate leadership and collaborative skills by participating in group tasks and presentations as a leader and team member

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Frequently Asked Questions

A career-focused master’s in strategic communications will prepare you with the theoretical and practical approaches to developing strategic communications programs that enable organizations to meet their goals and objectives. Each course in NU’s 10-month, online program provides an essential stepping stone on the way to planning, executing, and evaluating effective strategic communications efforts.

At the completion of the program, graduates will emerge with a deep understanding of the theories of communication and persuasion, an ability to lead and participate in the team development of organizational communication strategies, and the practical skills to plan, produce, and evaluate strategic communications programs and campaigns.

Strategic communications is an umbrella term used to describe multidisciplinary activities including public relations, management communication, and advertising. Careers in these areas require advanced writing skills to define an organization’s messaging strategy clearly and effectively and will often entail tasks like audience analysis, goal-setting, and other functions critical to fulfilling a company’s mission.

Learn more, about strategic communications

In this growing and increasingly important field, professionals with advanced writing and communication skills are tasked with roles and responsibilities that include crafting an organization’s internal and corporate communications, media relations, marketing, fundraising, and public relations, including press releases and newsletters. They may also be responsible for communicating an organization’s public policies and managing crisis communications.*

* SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at https://www.economicmodeling.com/company/ (Report viewed: May 2, 2022. DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.

Strategic communications generally requires more advanced writing skills and a multidisciplinary understanding of how to create consistent, targeted messaging that expresses an organization’s desired positioning and long-term goals. Strategic communications professionals must have the knowledge and skills to influence, advance, and sustain an organization’s mission.

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements in a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program-specific requirements. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.

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