The University of Iowa offers an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication through its School of Journalism and Mass Communication. An entirely online degree program, courses feature synchronous instruction. Classes are held live online once per week in the evening. During these live sessions, in addition to lectures, students partake in discussion groups, work on case studies, and present projects to their classmates and instructors. For students who live near campus (Iowa City or Des Moines), some courses may schedule in-person sessions as well.

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication requires 30 credit hours to complete. Program length varies by the number of courses students take each semester. Students taking two classes per semester can typically satisfy graduation requirements in two years. The curriculum is professionally oriented, introducing students to advanced concepts in an array of communication areas, ranging from health communication to strategic campaign development.

The ten-course curriculum is divided between core coursework (5 classes) and electives (5 classes). The five core courses are Foundations of Strategic Communication, Strategic Communications Research, Digital Strategic Communication, Strategic Communication Writing, and a final Capstone Project in Strategic Communication. All of these courses (save for the Capstone Project course, which students take at the end of the program) serve as foundational instruction in professional strategic communication. Students become familiar with digital and multimedia tools for message creation (e.g. social media, blogs) and learn how to create effective messaging for targeted audiences in multiple social, political and economic contexts. Students also participate in writing workshops to hone their writing skills and study the methodologies behind communication research and practice.

Students then select their own list of five electives, either from within the program or from other departments at The University of Iowa, pending advisor approval (including online or on-campus formats). The flexibility of electives allows students to craft a course of study that best aligns with their professional development needs within the field of communication. Elective topics vary but include subjects such as Strategic Communication Campaigns, Copywriting for Strategic Communication, Leadership Communication, Risk Communication, Strategic Health Communication, Media Management for Strategic Communicators, Strategic Global Communication, Digital Analytics for Strategic Communication, and Strategic Political Communication.

In the final semester, the program culminates with the Capstone Project in Strategic Communication course, which requires students to complete a professionally relevant communication project instead of a traditional master’s thesis. Projects topics and scope vary according to students’ individual interests and goals. During their enrollment in the course, students receive peer and faculty support in refining and honing their project approach and content.

The University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication

Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses synchronous instruction - students meet online once a week in the evening for live classes
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Full-time: program can be completed in less than 2 years; Part-time: program can be completed in 3-4 years
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Credits Required: 30 credits (10 courses)
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone project
Example Courses: Foundations of Strategic Communication; Strategic Communication Writing; Digital Strategic Communication; Strategic Communications Research; Strategic Political Communication; Risk Communication

Admission Requirements
Application Requirements: Bachelor's degree; personal statement; CV or resume; two writing samples; three letters of recommendation
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE not required

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$18,780 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: $626 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.