Clear and persuasive communication is an essential part of government operations, policy making, political advocacy, and social change. From political campaigning to developing policies and educating the community about public affairs, political communication is one of the foundations of our society and how many of its important systems function, including the justice, education, and health care systems.

Typically master’s in political communication programs prepare students to understand and engage with various types of political and/or governmental communication, and tend to include courses that apply communication theories and research principles to political communication strategies. However, some programs focus more on the study of political communication as a field of social scientific research to prepare students for careers in academia/research or political communication pedagogy.

Master’s in communication programs with a concentration in political communication prepare individuals to create, evaluate, and curate different types of political communication, including but not limited to campaign speeches and media, political news, public policy research and writing, and advocacy for different social and political causes. Students of master’s programs in political communication are prepared for careers in policy development, government operations, campaigning, public affairs, and public policy.

Curriculum Details for Master’s in Communication Programs with a Specialization in Political Communication

Classes for master’s in communication programs typically begin with a core set of courses that cover the fundamentals of strategic communication, communication theory, persuasive rhetoric, ethics in communication, and research in communication. Detailed descriptions of these and other core courses are available on our Masters in Communication Specializations page.

After completing their core curriculum, students of political communication programs generally need to complete certain concentration courses. Courses specific to political communication typically cover topics such as American policy and government, methods of enacting social change, campaign communication, crisis communication, speech writing, and public policy. Students may also have the option of choosing a few elective classes to take from within or without their department. Examples of concentration courses for programs in political communication may include:

  • The American Government: The American political system and how it functions, including how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches operate within the framework of the American constitution. Fundamental civil rights and liberties, the formation and implementation of domestic and foreign policies, and how the public is educated about these policies and other social and political issues.
  • Theories and Methods of Campaign Management: The principles of running effective political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. Campaign techniques, such as media production strategies, polling, fundraising, election analysis, and speech writing.
  • Crisis Management and Communication: The fundamentals of crisis management and communication, including communication of risk, and media relations management. How crises and their management impact public opinions, and how to handle controversies in the news and social media discussions.
  • Law and Ethics for Political Communication: The laws that impact what communication professionals can say, and how they say it. Students learn about privacy, copyright, trademarks, libel and slander, fair use regulations, and other legal issues relevant to politics and campaigns, as well as how digital technologies and social media have changed communication ethics and regulations.
  • Public Policy Management and Advocating for Social Change: How organizations such as non-profit associations, grassroots organizations, think tanks, and private lobbying organizations enact public policy changes through strategic communication to target audiences in the community and amongst legislators. How to design and implement public policy campaigns and advocacy efforts.
  • Political Communication Practicum: For this practicum course, students identify a political organization or individual who is in need of communication-related support or guidance and subsequently work on a project that meets these needs. Students create and submit a proposal that explains the desired outcomes of their project, develop a final portfolio of materials relevant to their project, and write a research paper explaining the investigative work they completed to identify the communication needs of their identified organization or individual.

Below is a sample curriculum schedule for a student pursuing a 24-month course of study. In general, master’s in political communication programs are comprised of 30-60 course credits, which students can complete in 12-24 months of full-time study, or 24-36 months of part-time study. Please note that specific course titles and content, as well as course sequencing, may vary across different programs. Furthermore, many masters in communication programs allow students a degree of flexibility in terms of the order in which they take their concentration classes.

2-Year Sample Curriculum Plan for a Master’s in Political Communication

 
Fall Term
Spring Term
Summer Term
Year 1
Core Courses:
  • Leadership in Communication
  • Essential Theories of Communication

Core Courses:
  • Digital Media and Technology in Communication
  • Ethics in Communication
Core Course:
  • Principles of Strategic Communication
Concentration Course:
  • The American Government
Year 2
Concentration Courses:
  • Public Policy Management and Advocating for Social Change
  • Law and Ethics for Political Communication
Concentration Courses:
  • Crisis Management and Communication
  • Theories and Methods of Campaign Management
Concentration Courses:
  • Political Communication Practicum and Individual Work on Portfolio