Northwestern University offers an online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) through its Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communication. The degree program is offered entirely online and does not require any in-person visits to campus. However, online students who live near Chicago can attend any IMC events that are held on-campus. There are also optional hands-on learning activities hosted in Chicago, San Francisco, and other international locations.

For online instruction, Northwestern uses the Canvas learning management system and the majority of instruction is asynchronous, meaning students are not required to be online at specific times for lectures or discussion sessions. However, there are periodic live discussion sessions that enhance students’ engagement with the course content and enable them to connect directly with faculty and course peers (these sessions are recorded for students who are unable to attend).

The Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) requires 13 credits of graduate level study (each course in the program is considered one credit, for a total of 13 courses). Students can complete the program in two years if they take two courses per quarter. However, students must finish all degree requirements within five years. The curriculum is designed to advance diverse marketing communication skills, preparing students to develop strategic marketing practices that span different disciplines and empower them to be more comprehensive in their marketing strategy recommendations. Students learn how to build brands and solve challenging marketing issues in today’s digitally oriented marketplace. Integrated Marketing Communications brings together advertising, public relations, brand definition and management, and direct media communications, using data analytics to inform content strategies and evaluate content initiatives and their ability to engage consumers..

The 13-credit curriculum is divided between five core classes and eight classes of electives. Core classwork grounds students in the fundamentals of the IMC industry, providing students with an understanding of how individuals, communities, groups and families consume services, customer experiences and brands. These core courses include Consumer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Strategic Process, Marketing Research, and Financial Accounting. Through these courses, students learn how human psychology and social and economic contexts apply to consumer behavior, and how these insights can be leveraged in marketing, advertising, and public relations contexts. Students also explore statistics and marketing research, and develop skills in marketing management and strategic marketing processes (e.g. customer acquisition and valuation, campaign budgeting and ROI).

The eight elective courses allow students to select classes that best identify with their areas of professional practice and interest. These elective courses include:

  • Brand Communication Decisions
  • Communications and Persuasive Messages
  • Content Analytics and Strategy
  • Brand Equity
  • Digital Marketing, Media and Innovation
  • Customer Value Innovation
  • Digital Strategy
  • IMC Law, Policy and Ethics
  • Media Foundations
  • Shopper Marketing
  • Marketing Mix Analysis

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of Integrated Marketing Communications, faculty of the Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications frequently revisit and update course content. This program does not require a capstone, professional project, or thesis, though courses throughout the program require students to apply what they have learned to papers and projects.

Northwestern University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications Professional Program

Department: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits (students may attend optional immersion sessions)
Instruction Methods: Program mainly uses asynchronous instruction - instructors may schedule some live synchronous sessions during courses
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in ~2 years taking 2 courses per term, students have up to 5 years to finish the program

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: No capstone required
Credits Required: 13 credits (13 courses)
Example Courses: Consumer Insight; Financial Accounting; IMC Strategic Process; Marketing Management; Statistics and Marketing Research; Brand Communication Decisions; Communications and Persuasive Messages; Crisis Communications

Application Requirements
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: No minimum GPA required (program exams applications holistically)
Testing Requirements: GRE or GMAT required - students may request a GRE and GMAT waiver if they have 5+ years of FT work experience in marketing or a related field, or if they graduated from Northwestern
Start Dates: Fall and Spring admission

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$56,342 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: ~$4,334 per course

State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states

*Estimated tuition is calculated by multiplying the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required to graduate. It do not include fees or other expenses.