Northwestern University offers an online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) through its Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. 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 units 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-unit curriculum is divided between three core classes and 10 classes of electives. Core classwork grounds students in the fundamentals of the IMC strategic process and IMC’s reach and impact, providing students with an understanding of how individuals, communities, groups and families consume services, customer experiences and brands. These three core courses are Financial Accounting, IMC Strategic Process, and Marketing Research. Through these courses, students learn how leverage statistical data about consumer psychology behavior to inform marketing and branding initiatives, and discover how to break down business challenges into research problems and queries. Through a highly data-driven approach, students gain the skills and industry knowledge to optimize strategic marketing processes (e.g. customer acquisition and valuation, campaign budgeting and ROI) within the context of an organization’s larger financial aims and budget.

The ten 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
  • Data Science Foundations
  • Strategic Communications Foundations
  • Digital Analytics
  • 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 uses a combination of asynchronous and synchronous instruction with weekly live sessions that are recorded for students who cannot attend
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in less than 2 years taking 2 courses per term, students have up to 5 years to finish the program
Start Dates: Fall (September) admission only

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Credits Required: 13 units (13 courses)
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: No capstone required
Example Courses: Consumer Insight; Financial Accounting; IMC Strategic Process; Marketing Strategy; Brand Communication Decisions; Crisis Communications; Customer Value Innovation; Digital Analytics; Digital Strategy; Content Strategy

Application Requirements
GPA Requirements: No minimum GPA required (program exams applications holistically)
Testing Requirements: GRE or GMAT not required (currently due to Covid-19 graduate test scores are not required)
Work Experience: At least three years of work experience is preferred
Admissions Requirements: Bachelor's degree; resume; two letters of recommendation; professional statement

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$67,600 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: ~$5,200 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 does not include fees or other expenses.