Descriptions and Outcomes
Foundations of Global Strategic Communication (required)
- Description: Globalization challenges almost every aspect of communication from creating and delivering messages to spreading ideas that cross language, time and cultural barriers. This course delves into two areas impacting communicators’ success in the global arena: new media and culture. Through a blend of class discussions, interactive activities and guest speakers, students will study frameworks for strategic communication in a global environment and then apply these lessons in group and individual projects.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to understand fundamental concepts in strategic communication, be able to identify and explain the role of strategic communication in the global business context, understand the importance of dialogue and engagement, have the ability to construct effective messages by integrating culturally relevant information and know how to deliver messages through creative and appropriate strategies.
Strategic Communication Research Methods (required)
- Description: This course is designed to provide students with a critical framework for evaluating communication research and first-hand experience in the research process. Specifically, we will examine how research questions, originating from client-specific interests, are translated into a research project. Students have opportunities to explore and practice research strategies and techniques for solving communication problems in global business settings.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to know how to read and evaluate a research study, select appropriate research questions, develop measurements, draw a sample, collect and analyze data and interpret the results. Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in information-gathering techniques for strategic communication research projects. They will also become familiar with quantitative/qualitative research approaches and use the most appropriate methods in various research projects.
Campaign Development (required)
- Description: To achieve maximum effectiveness, communication programs must be strategic. This course explores the four pillars of campaign development – research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Course material is amplified through study of strategic communication cases as well as development of a model client campaign.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to understand appropriate research methodologies for campaign use; be familiar with planning and implementation variables including budget, tactics and timelines; and be able to measure campaign results and link them to business goals.
Communication Content Mining and Analytics (required)
- Description: Online data capture has become ubiquitous as a byproduct of innovations such as the internet, e-commerce, online communication and interactive advertising/marketing. This course is for students interested in learning practical data analysis/data mining techniques in strategic communication. A useful takeaway from the course will be the ability to perform powerful data analysis using popular statistic packages (e.g., R, SPSS, Excel) and web analytics (e.g., Google Analytics). The course provides students with a detailed look at the process of collecting and analyzing online content to be used in communication campaigns.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to increase their critical thinking ability to assess the quality of consumer information and the limitations of online data. They will become familiar with frequently used data analysis tools (i.e., R, SPSS, and Excel) and be able to use the most appropriate software in various communication data analyses. Students will also nurture practical skills to effectively utilize data mining outcomes for better strategic communication decision making.
Strategic Communication Ethics and Law (required)
- Description. This course explores various approaches to ethical decision-making and applies them to diverse aspects of strategic communication in professional settings. Students will learn to discern a wide variety of ethical issues concerning communication behavior, apply systematic ethical analysis to various business situations, and clearly explain their analyses. The course examines applying abstract principles to specific cases in applied ethics (deductive approach) as well as using a bottom-up (inductive approach) in developing students’ ethical decision-making skills. This course also uses casuistry, a case-based approach to ethics in which ethical principles and values are not only applied to specific cases, but are generated by them. Students will take learned knowledge of moral decision-making and begin exploring contemporary topics in strategic communication ethics, such as political communication, public relations, advertising, digital media, marketing and health communication.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students will have learned fundamental ethical principles and decision-making processes, examined some of the most pressing ethical issues facing strategic communicators and applied course material to specific strategic communication decisions.
Organizational Leadership and Change Management (required)
- Description: An organization’s ability to anticipate, plan for, manage, and navigate through mergers, acquisitions, downsizings and leadership changes and emerge stronger afterward is an important measure of the effectiveness of its leaders. Strategic communication plays a critical role in the change-management process, and students will examine best practices in organizational leadership and change management. Strategic communicators also need to understand organizations’ business goals, the motivations of their leaders, and the framework in which business decisions are made. Students will be introduced to major economic, financial and business principles and the terms, concepts and values that guide organizations. By learning how to read profit and loss reports, income statements, earnings reports and 10Ks and understanding proxy statements and proxy fights, students will gain insights that will enable them to work more effectively as communicators and organizational leaders.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to gain knowledge and leadership skills needed to help organizations chart a successful course through change. They are also expected to understand the major drivers of organizational change; the role leadership plays in anticipating, planning and navigating organizational change; and the importance of effective change management. In addition, students are expected to increase their business literacy by learning essential business terms and concepts, understand the motivation of business leaders, and have a foundation of knowledge to help them make managerial decisions based on business data.
Topics in Global Strategic Communication (will be required once; students will also be strongly encouraged to take the course a second time – on a different topic in a different city – as an elective)
- Description: This two-week course will offer in-depth reading, case studies, and discussion in specialized areas dealing with current issues in global strategic communication. Guest speakers and site visits will provide a first-hand look at where and how strategic communicators work in other countries and real-world examples of the projects and campaigns they do and the issues they face. In addition, students will become immersed in the city’s culture through group outings to theaters, concerts, museums, and historical sites as well as sampling local cuisine. This course will be offered once per calendar year, on different topics, at the Beijing Center and in London (or another major European city) (see Course Schedule on page 16).
- Outcomes: Students will develop in-depth knowledge of a current issue or opportunity in global strategic communication, become acquainted with how and where local strategic communicators work, and examine the differences and similarities in how strategic communication is defined and practiced in different countries.
Writing for Strategic Communication (elective)
- Description: Being a strong and versatile writer provides an edge in career advancement in strategic communication. This advanced writing‑intensive course engages students in the strategic process of professional-level writing by focusing on communication objectives, cultural differences among audiences, techniques, style and mechanics. Students will learn the importance of planning, research, pre-writing, editing and rewriting in the writing process. The course also provides practical, real‑world writing experience in diverse formats for a wide range of audiences, including memos, proposals, creative briefs, executive speeches, op-eds, fact sheets, news releases, blogs and other social media.
- Outcomes: Students’ writing and critical thinking skills are expected to improve over the semester as they write, edit, get feedback on and rewrite a variety of strategic communication materials. Students are also expected to demonstrate greater proficiency in writing mechanics and styles.
COMM 327 Digital Media Campaigns (elective)
- Description: New technologies have brought new tactics to the persuasive campaign. In this course we introduce search as a major channel through which we connect with audiences and we will learn to optimize our content for search engines. We also cover content creation and marketing, stakeholder engagement through social media channels, and development of targeted email and SMS campaigns. Ad-based tactics covered include banners, paid search and native ads. Throughout, we will emphasize aligning digital tactics with targeted audiences, integrating with offline campaigns, and measuring success through analytics and conversions. We will also explore emerging technologies and mobile media in the context of campaign development.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students will understand major tactics used to create digital influence, including search engine optimization, content creation, targeted email and social media. Students will gain direct experience in managing a web domain, using a content management system and measuring success online. Students will learn how to manage these tools for a client campaign.
COMM 430 Digital Design (elective)
- Description: Communicating online requires production skills that go beyond writing. This course will focus on visual theory, graphic design, photo editing, and web design. Students will learn how to manage a modern content management system, including controlling the appearance and structure of pages; using media, including images, audio and video; and managing back-end activities such as search engine optimization, comment moderation and analytics. Students will learn how to acquire, edit and distribute images online. Students will learn how to curate content through embedding on their own site, on third-party sites and by sharing through social media channels.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to know how to purchase a web domain and hosting, learn how to control basic functions such as appearance and page structure, manage content through a content management system, and to use these tools to curate text, images, audio and video assets on their own site as well as through third-party sites via social media.
COMM 311 Health Communication (elective)
- Description: Health communication continues to grow in scope and importance worldwide. This course explores how strategic communication can play a vital role in achieving individual and public health objectives. The course provides an overview of what health communicators do and where they work, as well as a foundation of knowledge about healthcare systems in the U.S. and other countries. It also examines how, why and with whom healthcare businesses, nonprofit health organizations and government health agencies communicate, and explores such issues as health disparities, health literacy and patient safety. Through case studies, guest speakers and site visits, students discuss real-world health communication challenges and how strategic communicators addressed them. In addition, students learn how health messages are developed and delivered and how public health communication campaigns are planned, implemented and evaluated. A cornerstone of the course is hands-on experience developing a public health education campaign.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to gain a broad understanding of healthcare systems, public health issues and concerns, and the stakeholders involved. They are also expected to develop the knowledge and skills to research, plan and write a public health education campaign.
Global and Multicultural Audiences and Stakeholders (elective)
- Description: Organizations of all types will continue to be challenged by the growing needs and demands of a diverse and global society. In this course students will investigate various audiences in today’s global marketplace that organizations need to consider to remain relevant. The course will explore the concept of globalization and how, as a dynamic and uneven process, it requires practitioners to understand global and local audiences and those influenced by multiple cultures. In addition, businesses need to look beyond consumers to multiple stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers, regulators, non-government organizations and community groups. The goals of the course are to learn to be sensitive to a variety of cultures; recognize particular values, needs, and behaviors; and craft messages that connect and engage.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to develop an understanding of international communication practices in terms of magnitude and agencies/organizations involved. In addition, students will become acquainted with the environmental factors affecting global advertisers and public relations practitioners, such as the impact of culture, regulation, competition, and political and economic forces on global communication decisions.
Nonprofit Communication (elective)
- Description: This course examines the principles and best practices of strategic communication for nonprofit organizations. Increasingly, leaders of forward-looking nonprofits are realizing what their counterparts in the corporate world have long known: that strategic communication is critical to furthering their mission and goals. Since many nonprofits have limited staff and financial resources, public relations, social marketing and digital and social media play a vital role in raising awareness of issues and social needs, reaching and serving clients, recruiting and motivating volunteers, raising funds and advocating for policy change.
- Outcomes: Students will learn and apply strategies that nonprofit organizations can use to effectively tell their story, implement a robust social media presence, identify potential partnerships and alliances with corporations and government agencies, strengthen fundraising efforts and prepare for possible crises.
Corporate Communication (elective)
- Description: This course develops a multiple stakeholder approach to managing the communication function in corporations. Management topics include developing a communication plan, budgeting, creating a communications calendar, working with agencies and other external resources, project management and evaluation. Communication topics include developing online and offline owned media, conducting media relations, producing events and managing social media channels. The course examines the role of communication relative to other units in the organization, including the C-suite, marketing, human resources, legal and compliance. In addition, the course explores the structure and value of corporate responsibility programs and other public service initiatives.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to understand how the communication function is organized in corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs); understand relevant communication tactics and strategies; create communication programs that drive organizational success; and measure the effectiveness of communication programs.
Business-to-Business Communication (elective)
- Description: The robust business-to-business (B2B) sector provides enormous opportunity in the global marketplace. This course will explore B2B’s unique set of challenges that strategic communicators need to consider in developing and delivering effective messages. Topics will include types and diversity of B2B customers; specializations, complexities and needs of business target audiences; campaign objectives; message strategies; and media/communication platform options, such as trade publications, trade shows, personal selling, editorials, press releases, direct mail, websites, search, online communities and videos. Issues will be examined in the context of communicating across multiple countries. Campaign evaluation and measurement tools will also be covered.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to gain a working knowledge of the theories, concepts, and issues of in B2B communication; a broad understanding of B2B advertising, public relations, and other messaging efforts from the perspectives of the advertiser, client and target customer; and a framework for, and practice in, creating advertising campaigns.
Public Affairs and Issues Management (elective)
- Description: Public affairs focuses on helping organizations develop and maintain relationships with individuals and groups involved in governmental or political issues and actions at all levels. This includes understanding and managing the forces driving issues, such as legislation, regulation, referenda and other citizen initiatives, strikes, class‑action lawsuits, and advocacy. The course explores how to predict and identify emerging issues, which can proliferate rapidly through digital and social media; accurately assess the potential threat posed by issues; and plan and implement effective response to prevent issues from growing into crises. Students also learn effective issue‑management techniques, including developing an early warning system, building a network of third‑party support, creating contingency communication strategies and materials, and developing grassroots initiatives.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students will understand the role of the public affairs function in organizations, know how to monitor for and identify emerging issues and to build a firewall to make organizations less vulnerable to attack, and have a foundation of knowledge about strategies and tactics to manage various issues in organizational settings.
Crisis and Risk Communication (elective)
- Description: How an organization communicates during a crisis can make or break its crisis response and potentially impact its survival. As a result, one of the most important roles of strategic communicators is helping organizations predict, plan for, identify, manage and recover from crisis. This course explores both the practical and theoretical aspects of crisis communication through case studies, guest presentations and hands-on class exercises. It also examines real‑world organizational crises and how and why communication helped or harmed the situation. Students will practice techniques for effective crisis communication by creating and evaluating crisis scenarios, assessing risk perceptions, developing a crisis communication plan and testing it in a crisis drill.
- Outcomes: At the end of the course, students are expected to understand the key elements of crisis communication and have the basic skills, tools, and confidence needed to help manage an organizational crisis.
Strategic Communication Internship (elective)
- Description: This supervised field experience, preferably during a student’s third semester, will enable students to have a hands-on professional learning experience at a wide range of agency, corporate, and non-profit organizations to acquire, refine, and apply professional strategic communication skills and knowledge. Working with the program director, the student will find a qualifying internship, including a possible international internship.
- Outcomes: The internship will provide valuable professional experience and the opportunity to enhance practical work skills. In addition, the student will experience strategic communication work in a business or organization and continue to develop a network of professional contacts.
- Description: This is the culminating course in the master’s program in Global Strategic Communication. Students will synthesize and apply knowledge and skills from previous courses to demonstrate competence in a specialized area of strategic communication of greatest interest to them. Students will submit a comprehensive work, research project, media artifact, business plan, or any other comparable work approved by the instructor. In addition, students will develop fully annotated and professional‑quality final presentations.
- Outcomes: Students are expected to become more knowledgeable in an area of specialization by exploring a specific type of strategic communication in which they have the most interest, engaging in research, building relationships with professionals and developing creative applications to demonstrate professional-level knowledge, understanding of professional practices, skills, and competencies.
Academic Requirements: Total Credit Hours
The Master of Science in Global Strategic Communication program will require satisfactory completion of 36 credit hours of approved coursework (12 courses total). This includes eight required courses and four electives.
Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the program.