Michigan State University (MSU) offers an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication through its College of Communication Arts and Sciences. The program can be completed entirely online without students having to make in-person visits to campus. Desire2Learn (D2L) is the primary online learning management system that MSU uses for online instruction and course management. Through D2L, students can access course materials and syllabi, communicate with instructors and peers, submit assignments, review lectures, conduct research, and more.
The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication requires 30 credits to complete and can be finished in as little as one year of full time study (including a summer session), though students can also choose to complete the program curriculum over the course of two or three years. The program emphasizes the study of digital communication across related disciplines, including advertising and marketing, public relations, sales and media. Through a ten-class curriculum, students learn how to develop digital marketing strategies, leverage mobile and social media marketing, and integrate a multi-channel approach to their marketing plans. The program explores the relationship between communication processes, organizational messaging, and the exchange of news and information to prepare students to deal with the everchanging marketing and communication landscape.
Curriculum is divided across a five classes of core requirements (15 credits), five classes of electives (15 credits), and a final examination or evaluation. Core classwork introduces students to the fundamental principles of strategic communication, covering topics such as persuasion techniques, evaluation techniques, strategic message development, and professional communication ethics. Elective subjects include branding, crisis communication, visual communication, catalyst thinking in leadership positions, organizational communication, social media storytelling, audience analytics, and more. Students choose electives according to their academic interests and career goals, pending approval from their academic advisor. For example, through their electives students may explore strategies for corporate messaging, learn how to conduct stakeholder analyses, develop integrated digital communications strategies, and use big data and media consumption analytics to create targeted consumer audiences.
As part of their core class requirements, students must also complete a capstone project. The capstone is designed to provide students with experience in applying the skills, research methods, and strategic communication concepts they have learned to planning, implementing, and overseeing a strategic communication project. Working in a virtual team setting, students use a range of skills – managerial, goal creation, deadline setting – to successfully handle a realistic business project for a client. Students present their final deliverable to their chosen client, as well as their faculty capstone committee.
Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Masters of Arts in Strategic Communication
Department: College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Websites: Department and Program
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses asynchronous instruction
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in 1 to 3 years depending on how many courses are taken per semester (maximum time to complete the program is 5 years)
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone course with strategic communication project
Credits Required: 30 credits (10 courses)
Example Courses: Persuasion Techniques for Working Professionals; Strategic Message Development; Professional Communication Ethics; Evaluation Techniques for Working Professionals; Digital Media Strategies; Crisis Communication; Organizational Communication for Leaders and Entrepreneurs
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.25 (students with a GPA lower than 3.25 in last two years of undergraduate degree may still be considered for admission based on professional experience)
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Work Experience: At least three years of work experience in communications preferred
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission
Estimated Tuition*: ~$21,814 + fees (in-state); ~$42,844 + fees (out-of-state)
Cost per Credit Hour: $726.50 per credit hour (in-state); $1427.50 per credit hour (out-of-state)
State Authorizations: Program does not accept students from Kentucky