Master of Arts - Strategic Communication

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The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication

This graduate program serves the communication professional, and those who aspire to be, by combining the rigorous standards of a University of Iowa education with the convenience of online/distance accessibility. All courses meet once a week in the early evening, and all can be taken online (some also have classroom sessions for those who live in the Des Moines area).  

The MA in Strategic Communication stresses a foundation of principles to be applied to platforms that continue to emerge, using the latest technology to teach the latest technology.  The program emphasizes clear, concise, powerful communication, focused on a specific message and targeted to a specific audience, recognizing that the tone of the message and the target audience may change depending on the specific medium employed.  Foundation courses emphasize core professional principles and concerns (communication, leadership, social media and new technologies and venues) with the program giving students the option to focus on their specific career aspirations through elective courses.

Strategic Communication encompasses a variety of careers in professional communication, including corporate communication, organizational communication, public relations, integrated marketing, advertising, political and public affairs communication, health communication, event planning, risk communication, professional writing, non-profit campaigns, etc. The degree program culminates in a capstone project in lieu of a thesis, which serves as a bridge between the academic program and the professional world, the classroom and the workplace.

Please note that the classes in this program are offered online and at The University of Iowa's John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center in Des Moines, Iowa; not on the main campus in Iowa City, Iowa.

Admission/Application process for Master of Arts-Strategic Communication program

Take our Strategic Communication classes as a non-degree student

Spring 2015 MASC course offerings

Master of Arts - Strategic Communication degree requirements

Core Courses (all 3 s.h.)

JMC:5300 (019:225) Media Principles, Problems and Challenges
JMC:5400 (019:226) Master's Advanced Writing and Editing
JMC:6800 (019:279) Mass Communication Seminar
-Leadership Seminar
JMC:5950 (019:298) Capstone Project in Strategic Communication

(above classes all mandatory)

JMC:5237 (019:237) Financial and Budget Fundamentals for Communicators
JMC:5240 (019:240) Social Media and Web Communication

(one of the two above classes required, both 3 s.h., both recommended)

Total core course hours: 15

SJMC electives include the following (all 3 s.h.):

JMC:5238 (019:238) Strategic Communication Campaigns
JMC:5239 (019:239) Strategic Web Video Communication
JMC:5248 (019:248) Strategic Political Communication
JMC:5266 (019:266) Risk Communication
JMC:5267 (019:267) Strategic Health Care Communication
JMC:5268 (019:268) Strategic Planning for the Communication Professional
JMC:5269 (019:269) Media Management for Strategic Communicators
JMC:5285 (019:285) Strategic Communication Externship

Total elective course hours: 15 

Minimum Required course hours for degree: 30

Description of Program Elements

The three core courses required of all students provide a conceptual foundation for strategic communication (JMC:5300/019:225), a sharpening of the skills required to practice the profession (JMC:5400/019:226) and the best practices of leadership to communicate both within and outside a corporation or organization (JMC:6800/019:279). The fourth requirement allows students to choose between courses in Social Media and Web Communication (JMC:5240/019:240) and Financial and Budget Fundamentals (JMC:5237/019:237). The program recognizes that students in some careers might feel more of an affinity for one of these areas than the other but encourages the well-rounded student to complete both (one of which would serve as an elective).

The capstone project (JMC:5950/019:298) Capstone Project in Strategic Communication) will meet intermittently through the semester, allowing students to share their experiences, challenges and triumphs as they push toward completion, comparing notes along the way. The course’s professor (usually the associate director of the degree program) will serve as the de facto chair for each student project (unless students develop a working relationship with other members of the graduate faculty who agree to advise and chair).

To complete their degree program, students may elect to take courses both within and outside the program for graduate credit. The electives will allow students to pursue a course of study that can enhance the individual’s career aspirations. In addition to UI-SJMC tenured graduate faculty, the program anticipates drawing upon respected professionals in the field with post-baccalaureate degrees, as well as professors in disciplines that inform the program’s concentrations (e.g., health, business, political science) as potential teaching resources. The electives additionally allow students to sample courses outside their areas of concentration, recognizing that those employed as professional communicators in a specialized field might want to explore some of the more general (i.e., non-topic specific) courses.

The combination of the foundation provided by the required courses and the flexibility afforded by the electives should enhance the value of the program for a wide range of professionals within the communications field.