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Strong communication is important for the success of companies of all sizes, and across all industries. Corporate and organizational communication includes all forms of communication that occur within a company or other organizational setting. Organizational communication includes internal communication within a company (e.g. human resources and employee training, corporate management and leadership), and communication between a company and the public (e.g. public relations (PR) and marketing).
Master’s in organizational communication programs are generally applied, focusing on training their graduates to understand and optimize an organization’s internal communications and/or its relationship with the public and stakeholders. However, there are some programs that focus more on social scientific research and explore the interpersonal and intercultural dynamics of organizations, small, medium and large.
Master’s in organizational, corporate, and business communication programs prepare students to engage with some or all of the aforementioned forms of communication, and/or to analyze the messaging that occurs both within an organization and in an organization’s external-facing messaging. While most master’s in corporate or organizational communication programs are applied in that they focus on concrete skills and knowledge that are directly applicable to industry roles, there are also programs that allow students to pursue a more theoretical path, with the aim of researching and critiquing organizational communication dynamics at the doctorate level.
Graduates of applied master’s in organizational communication programs are experts in understanding how strong communication can facilitate team building, project progress, and a positive relationship between a company and the public, investors, and other stakeholders external to the company. Communication professionals who specialize in applied organizational communication may find work as corporate consultants, PR or marketing specialists, and human resources professionals. They may also assume a leadership or managerial role that is not specifically in communication, but which employs the communication skills they learn during their graduate program, such as a project or program manager position. Graduates of more theoretical master’s in communication programs may elect to pursue a Ph.D. in organizational communication, or they may also elect to apply their analytical skills and insights to roles in industry.
MastersinCommunications.com classifies masters in communication programs into ten different specializations according to a program’s curriculum. Therefore, programs on this page may include, but are not limited to: master’s in organizational communication, master’s in corporate communication, master’s in business communication, master’s in communication with a focus in organizational communication, and master’s in communication management, depending on their curricular focus.
Curriculum Details for Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication
Students of master’s in corporate and organizational communication programs typically complete a set of core courses before progressing to specialization courses that focus on organizational and business communication. Core courses in master’s in communication programs cover topics such as leadership in communication, persuasive rhetoric, communication ethics, and research in communication. Classes specific to this concentration often cover concepts such as business skills for communication professionals, employee training and development, corporate media management, public relations, marketing, and crisis communication.
The goal of applied master’s in organizational communication programs is to train professionals to understand how communication facilitates all of the business operations in a company, from budget determinations to project design and implementation. Therefore, most courses focus on practical communication concepts and skills that are applicable to corporate and other organizational settings. Conversely, programs that emphasize the study of organizational communication focus on theory, research, and rhetorical criticism, allowing students to study organizational communication from a more research-focused, academic perspective. These programs examine the role that communication plays in relationship and network formation, group dynamics, and collaboration across an organization.
Applied communication courses for master’s in organizational communication programs include but are not limited to:
- Organizational Communication Management: How different types of organizational communication, including media relations, financial communication, human resources and employee relations, crisis management communication, public relations, and marketing all work in concert to help a company succeed. How to optimize communications at multiple levels and in multiple departments within an organization in order to facilitate employee motivation and professional development and further the mission of said organization.
- Business Skills for Corporate Communication: How a company operates, generates revenue, manages its employees, and handles its budget, and the role that communication plays in each of these areas. In this course, students learn economic principles, market analysis methods, business strategy, financing, and marketing and public relations principles, with the aim of describing these concepts clearly in their communications with employees, investors, and the public.
- Principles of Employee Communication: Strategic organizational communication and its role in supporting the performance, morale, and professional development of employees at multiple levels within a company. How to engage employees in a company’s mission statement, foster a culture that promotes employee growth, and inform employees about structural changes within an organization.
- Corporate Media and Public Relations Management: The relationship between corporations and mass media, including newspapers, social media, and online publications. The role and nature of business news, and how business journalists, public relations professionals, and company leaders can speak intelligently to the public about a company or organization’s products, services, mission statement, and/or financial performance. How to design, implement, assess, and adjust corporate media relations programs, and write press releases, speeches, white papers, and other content to educate the public and promote consumer trust.
- Public Relations and Corporate Identity Management: The key factors in building a strong brand and corporate identity, and how to maintain this identity through strategic public relations efforts. How to craft press releases, manage public outreach, and consult with company leaders to develop an ongoing public relations strategy.
- Corporate Crisis Management: Different types of crisis situations in corporate settings, and the role of communication in mitigating these crises, managing public opinion, and informing employees and stakeholders about the situation. How corporate communication specialists and public relations specialists can handle media relations in times of crisis and advise leadership in making public statements as necessary.
- Employee Training and Development: The principles and strategies for creating effective employee training materials and curricula. How to support employees’ development through clear and supportive communication, and secure people’s investment in an organization’s larger mission and identity.
- Public Relations Principles for Non-Profits: Public relations principles that are specific to the non-profit space, including writing content that encourages the public’s investment in philanthropic causes, navigating crisis situations, promoting public awareness of social and environmental issues, and reaching out to stakeholders for fund-raising and coalition-building purposes.
- Marketing Principles for Businesses: The key marketing and advertising principles that ensure an organization reaches its current and potential consumers with convincing yet ethical messaging. Different forms of marketing and marketing analysis, and how to use them to develop a coherent marketing communication plan.
- Digital Media Management: The latest communication technologies, from communication and experience management systems within an organization to web media and social media that is visible to the public. How to leverage these technologies in different situations to strengthen employee cohesion and morale, promote an organization’s mission and identity, and effectively market products and services.
Theoretical courses in organizational communication include but are not limited to:
- Organizational Communication Theory: Contemporary theories of organizational communication and how it builds, maintains, and alters organizations, social cultures, and dynamics in individual, group/familial, and community settings. The impact of the media on institutions, and vice versa.
- Discourse and Identity Formation: How discourse shapes self-awareness and identity in individual, group, organizational, and large community settings. The ways in which communication impacts how race, gender, politics, and socioeconomic circumstances are discussed and addressed in society.
- Communication in Collaboration: The essential theories of communication and its role in team dynamics. An examination of how humans communicate to mediate conflict, make individual and group decisions, and promote democracy and efficiency in the workplace.
- Communication Pedagogy: The principles and practices of teaching communication across different organizational contexts, including academia, corporate training, and public dissemination of information.
Below is a sample curriculum plan for a student of an applied master’s in communication program with a specialization in corporate and organizational communication. This curriculum is based on a 24-month course of study. Prospective students should note that the plan below is only an example, and that programs vary in their course content and sequencing. In general, master’s programs in corporate or organizational communication are composed of between 30 and 60 course credits, which students typically complete within 12 to 24 months of full time study, or 24 to 36 months of part-time study.
Two-Year Sample Curriculum Plan for a Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication
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In addition to master’s in corporate, organizational, or business communication, there are other types of master’s in communication programs, such as master’s in strategic communication programs or master’s in PR and marketing communication programs, that include classes in corporate or organizational communication as either required courses or as electives. For example, for some programs, there is considerable overlap between a master’s in organizational communication and a master’s in strategic communication. Therefore, students who are interested in organizational communication as well as other types of communication may wish to explore master’s degrees that are not specifically in corporate or organizational communication, but which have course offerings in these areas.