The School of Communication at American University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication that can be completed entirely online and requires 30 credit hours of study to graduate. The program uses an online learning management system called Engage to conduct classes. Through Engage, students can also converse with classmates and instructors, access and review their course syllabi and instructional materials, submit assignments, manage course calendars, and more.

The online MA in Strategic Communication program is composed of 10 eight-week classes, and can be completed in as few as 20 months of study. Curriculum is divided between core classwork (15 credit hours) and electives (15 credit hours), and there are two optional academic concentrations available (included in elective credit hours): Advocacy and Social Impact, and Digital Communication Strategies and Analytics. Through online discussion, role playing, and group work with classmates, students develop a foundation in communication strategy and skills working with a variety of traditional, public relations, and digital media platforms.

Courses in the program blend the study of communication theory with applied learning projects that teach students to think creatively about communication problems and develop analytical solutions. Core coursework includes five classes grounded in real-world skill development, exploring areas such as principles of strategic communication, writing for strategic communication, communication theory, and strategic communication research. Through this coursework, students learn how to write effectively for different media channels (including social media), use quantitative and qualitative research methods for audience targeting, study audience behavior, and integrate emerging and digital media strategies with traditional communication techniques. The final major requirement for the master’s degree is a faculty-supervised capstone project, which allows students to design, create, and launch a research or professional study in a communication area of interest.

In addition to the core curriculum, students must also complete five elective courses. These electives allow students to explore areas of professional interest and gain advanced skills in areas such as crafting communication plans, social media, crisis management, strategic communication campaigns, public relations and organizational communication, or cross-cultural communication. Sample elective topics include political communication, strategic communication management, social media strategies and tactics, internal strategic communication, and more.

As mentioned previously, students may also elect to pursue an optional academic concentration in either Advocacy and Social Impact, or Digital Communication Strategies and Analytics. In the Advocacy and Social Impact concentration, students explore the communication principles used to drive social change and discussion of public policy at all levels of government. The concentration requires three classes (nine credit hours) of elective study to complete. Students can choose from a list of five course options: Ethics in Strategic Communication, Grassroots Digital Advocacy, Social Marketing for Social Impact, Social Media Strategies and Tactics, and Political Communication. Through this coursework, students develop qualitative and quantitative research skills, gain familiarity with digital media platforms and tools, and learn how to create dynamic communication plans that engage audiences and mobilize them to make positive social change.

For the Digital Communication Strategies and Analytics concentration, students take courses that prepare them to design, implement, and evaluate effective digital communication campaigns for a wide variety of organizations, both in the private and public sectors. Students take classes that emphasize data-informed decision-making, digital advocacy, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) management, and multichannel marketing strategy development. Specifically, they choose three classes out of the following four options: Grassroots Digital Advocacy, Digital Strategic Communication Analytics and Certifications, Social Media Strategies & Tactics, and Special Topics: Digital Marketing for Strategic Communication. Through these concentration courses, students learn how to create and refine strategic communication campaigns that span paid, earned, shared, and owned channels.

American University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication

Department: School of Communication
Specializations/Concentrations: Optional Concentrations in Advocacy and Social Impact; Digital Communication Strategies & Analytics

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses asynchronous instruction through the Engage learning management system
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in 20 months

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone project
Credits Required: 30 credits (10 courses)
Example Courses: Principles of Strategic Communication; Writing for Strategic Communication; Research for Strategic Communication; Communication Theory; Grassroots Digital Advocacy; Social Media Strategies & Tactics; Digital Strategic Communication Analytics & Certifications, Digital Marketing for Strategic Communication

Application Requirements
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: GPA 3.0 or greater in last 60 hours of undergraduate program
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission

State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states