CoAS Launches New Master’s Program in Strategic and Digital Communication
By Gina Myers
March 16, 2021
Changing times, new technologies, and an increasingly digital environment: In a constantly shifting media landscape, communication professionals have to be flexible. They must be not only prepared to face change head-on, but also able to step up and lead others in what it means to innovate and communicate in the digital age.
To help current and aspiring communication professionals meet these challenges and opportunities, the Department of Communication is launching a new master’s degree program. The Master of Science in Strategic and Digital Communication (MS-SDC) offers “a curriculum fit for the 21st century communication professional working in a digital, converged media environment,” explains Julia May, PhD, director of Professional MS Communication Programs.
The new program re-envisions the former MS in Communication with a focus on strategic communication and public relations, and digital and social media. May says the program was redesigned with three goals in mind: “To keep our program up to date in an effort to better incorporate digitization; to highlight strategic communication, as strategic communication across both traditional and digital platforms is intrinsic to every industry and business; and to include leadership as a key competence to fit the needs of students who aspire to or already work in senior communication roles.”
Starting this fall, students can take classes that will prepare them for a wide range of professional communication activities and roles. Additionally, they will leave the program with a strong theoretical basis, which means, as the field changes, students will continue to have an intellectual framework for evaluating and implementing new technologies as well as approaches to navigating changing digital environments. Students will develop this theoretical basis through a robust core curriculum that consists of seven courses (21 credits) covering the following areas: communication research, organizational communication, communication theory, communication ethics, digital media environments, media/communication policy, and the creation of a digital portfolio that showcases their expertise and skills and aids them with their job search and transition into the work force.
“Students will be able to engage in cutting-edge courses that are essential for anyone looking to gain the skills to be successful in today’s communication landscape,” says May. “Furthermore, the program trains students in leadership skills that will help them to lead teams to be innovative communication professionals in digitized media environments and different organizational communication contexts.”
In consultation with a faculty adviser, students are able to craft an individual course of study tailored to their individual interests and career goals. They will take four Communication electives (12 credits) to increase communication skills or to further develop areas of specialization, as well as four free elective courses (12 credits), which can be taken in Communication or in other departments across the University. This allows students to tailor their plan of study, to add on a graduate minor, or to complete a certificate program.
“The focus is on the professional application of easily transferable skills that students can use immediately in their respective work environments,” May explains. “While we designed our new core curriculum to provide students with a long-lasting theoretical and contextual framework, many of our courses, such as ‘PR Writing,’ ‘PR Planning,’ ‘Strategic Social Media Communication,’ ‘Media Relations,’ ‘Digital Publishing’ and ‘Digital Content Creation,’ to name just a few, are very applied in nature to teach students practical skills they can use right away.”
The MS in Strategic and Digital Communication is currently accepting applications. To learn more, visit MS in Strategic and Digital Communication.