Syracuse University offers a Master of Science in Communications degree that can be completed online through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. To complete the degree, students attend live online classes via video conferencing and access course materials and watch recorded lectures at any time through the program’s learning management system. While the majority of the program is completed online, students are required to attend two in-person immersion sessions over their course of study.
The online Master of Science in Communication program at Syracuse consists of 33 credit hours and can be completed in as few as 15 months. The curriculum is divided between 18 credits of core classwork, nine credits of academic specialization courses, three credits related to the immersion experiences, and a three-credit capstone course. The Newhouse School caps enrollment at 15 students for each class to drive engagement and active discussions between students, faculty and instructors.
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The program’s curriculum centers around digital trends in communications, helping media professionals develop advanced knowledge and skills in online media tools and platforms. Through a six-class core curriculum, students study the foundational principles of digital communications, media law, media research and communications theory. Core courses explore topics such as multimedia storytelling, social media for public communication, public relations research, digital communication systems and more.
In addition to completing core coursework, each student is required to select an academic concentration that consists of three classes. Available concentration areas include Advertising, Journalism Innovation and Public Relations.
The Advertising specialization concentrates on digital advertising, with courses in digital branding and strategy, strategic advertising principles and practices, and communications planning. Through this coursework, students develop skills in media and market research, campaign development and execution, content marketing and social media, and audience behavior and targeting.
The Journalism Innovation specialization includes coursework that focuses on the continually shifting media landscape, teaching students how to tell effective and engaging stories through digital technologies. Courses in web and mobile story production, emerging media platforms, and data-driven journalism help students develop skills in visualizing data for storytelling, virtual reality and 360-degree video production, social media communication, and creating news content for multiple digital platforms.
In the Public Relations specialization, students explore the relationship between marketing and communication, taking courses that expose them to techniques and strategies for successful written and verbal communication across industries. Classes examine public relations theory, public relations management, and public relations campaign planning and execution, providing students with a broad skillset in managing public relations departments as well as designing, executing and evaluating public relations campaigns for clients.
As part of the online program, students are required to complete two in-person sessions. Called “immersions,” these visits each have a theme related to the program coursework. Students attend one immersion held on the Syracuse University campus in New York, and can then select a second immersion based on the available options which vary in theme and location. Through their two immersions, students meet classmates and instructors, connect with industry experts, participate in hands-on learning experiences, attend networking events and listen to guest speakers from the communications industry.
During their final semester, students complete a capstone project in which they synthesize the knowledge they developed through their coursework into an applied learning project. After identifying an important or critical issue within their academic concentration, they develop a strategic communication plan that defines the scope of the issue, presents a business model to address it and demonstrates how the messaging will be conveyed to target audiences.
Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
Communications@Syracuse Online Master of Science in Communications
Department: S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Specializations/Concentrations: Areas of Specialization in Advertising, Public Relations, Journalism Innovation
Structure: Online program with two required in-person sessions
Instruction Methods: Program uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction
Campus Visits Required: Yes (2 throughout the program)
Program Length: Program can be completed in as few as 15 months (4 terms per year)
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone project (strategic communications plan)
Credits Required: 33 credits (11 courses)
Example Courses: Introduction to Digital Communications, Multimedia Storytelling, Social Media for Public Communicators, Media Law, Advertising and Public Relations Research Design, Strategic Principles and Practices, Emerging Media Platforms, Public Relations Management
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Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 2.5
Testing Requirements: GRE not required; students may submit GRE or GMAT scores if they think they will improve their application
Start Dates: Four start dates per year (January, April, July and October)
State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states