The University of Illinois offers a Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication that can be completed entirely online. The program is jointly offered by the Department of Advertising in the College of Media and the Department of Business Administration in the Gies College of Business. The program mainly uses asynchronous instruction, which means students are not required to log on at specific times for live lectures or discussions. However, the program does hold one live session (using Zoom video conferencing software) in the evening each week for a broader discussion.. While the sessions are not mandatory, students are encouraged to attend to connect with fellow classmates and instructors.

The Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication requires 32 credit hours to graduate and can be completed in as little as 15 months. This interdisciplinary approach provides students with broad knowledge of business management, along with applied skills in multimedia communications and strategic integrated marketing.

The curriculum for this program emphasizes brand development, messaging and management in today’s multi-platform media and technology landscape. The goal is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to drive brand growth through strategic marketing and advertising practices. The 32-credit master’s program is divided between 16 credits in advertising and media coursework and 16 credits in business administration coursework. All coursework is required as the program has a set curriculum (i.e., there are no electives). The program is inherently interdisciplinary and designed to give students a diverse skill set in strategic branding and business development communication.

Coursework covers major concepts in branding, media and communications, providing students the opportunity to develop leadership skills to lead complex projects in today’s global multimedia environment. Students take the following sequence of courses: Strategic Brand Communication Essentials; Strategic Branding: Global Perspectives; Essentials of Business Management; Consumer Insights I and II; Managing Projects and Teams; Measurement and Evaluation; Promotional Strategy; Messaging Strategy; Strategic Media Management; and Strategic Analytics and Data Visualization. These courses go beyond teaching students about digital media tactics, message construction, and other key business communication concepts and skills by training students to synthesize these and other key skills in the management of a comprehensive strategic communication and media plan for an organization.

The program culminates in a SBC Professional Capstone Project course, which is designed to help students apply their mastery of strategic brand communication to a concrete project. Under faculty guidance, students research a strategic communication need, develop and implement a comprehensive communications plan, and monitor and assess the efficacy of their campaign.

The University of Illinois is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Online Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication

Department: Gies College of Business and Sandage Department of Advertising (College of Media)
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses a cohort model with one synchronous session per week
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in 15 months

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone project (strategic brand communication plan)
Credits Required: 32 credits (12 courses)
Example Courses: Strategic Brand Communication Essentials; Strategic Branding: Global Perspectives; Essentials of Business Management; Managing Projects and Teams; Measurement and Evaluation; Strategic Media Management

Application Requirements
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0 in last two years of undergraduate degree
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Start Dates: Fall admission only

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$27,992 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: $831 per credit hour

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.