Course Schedule and Descriptions
Following is the course schedule for full-time students:
- COMM 401: Foundations of Global Strategic Communication (required)
- COMM 402: Organizational Leadership and Change Management (required)
- COMM 413: Writing for Strategic Communication (required)
- COMM 411: Strategic Communication Ethics and the Law (required)
- COMM 403: Strategic Communication Research Methods (required)
- COMM 421: Topics in Global Strategic Communication (required once)
- Online elective (optional)
- COMM 431: Campaign Development (required)
January Two-Week International Study and Immersion
- COMM 431: Topics in Global Strategic Communication (required once)
- COMM 441: Capstone (required)
- Elective (if needed)
Course Descriptions — Required Courses
COMM 401 - Foundations of Global Strategic Communication
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: culture and technology. Through discussions, interactive activities and guest speakers, students will study frameworks for strategic communication in a global environment and apply these lessons in group and individual projects.
COMM 402 - Organizational Leadership and Change Management
An organization’s ability to anticipate, plan for and manage mergers, acquisitions, downsizings and other changes and emerge stronger afterward is an important measure of its leaders. Since strategic communication plays a critical role in the change-management process, 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 concepts and values that guide organizations.
COMM 413 - Writing for Strategic Communication
Being a strong and versatile writer provides an edge in career advancement. 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, editing and rewriting. 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.
COMM 411 - Strategic Communication Ethics and Law
This course explores various approaches to ethical decision-making and applies them to diverse aspects of strategic communication. 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 ethical decision-making skills. Students will take what they learn about moral decision-making and explore contemporary topics in strategic communication ethics, such as political communication, public relations, advertising, digital media and marketing.
COMM 403 - Strategic Communication Research Methods
This course provides students with a critical framework for evaluating communication research and first-hand experience in the research process. Students 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.
COMM 431 - Campaign Development
Communication programs must be strategic to achieve maximum effectiveness. This course explores the four pillars of campaign development – research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Course material is amplified through study of real-world strategic communication cases as well as development of a model client campaign.
COMM 421 - Topics in Global Strategic Communication
This two-week international course offers in-depth reading, case studies and discussion in 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 nations and real-world examples of what they do and the challenges they face. In addition, students will become immersed in the city’s culture through outings to theaters, concerts, museums, and historical sites as well as sampling local cuisine.
COMM 441 - Capstone
This is the culminating course in the program. 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 another comparable work approved by the instructor. In addition, students will develop fully annotated and professional‑quality final presentations.
Course Descriptions — Electives
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.
Health communication is growing in scope and importance worldwide. This course explores how strategic communication can play a vital role in achieving individual and public health objectives. It 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 nations. It also explores such issues as health disparities, health literacy and patient safety. Through case studies, guest speakers and site visits, students examine and discuss health communication challenges. Students also 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 working with a local nonprofit to research and develop a campaign.
Global and Multicultural Audiences and Stakeholders
Organizations of all types will continue to be challenged by the growing needs and demands of a diverse global society. 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 communicators to understand global and local audiences and those influenced by multiple cultures. In addition, organizations need to look beyond consumers to multiple stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers, regulators, non-government organizations and community groups.
This course examines the principles and best practices of strategic communication for nonprofit organizations. Increasingly, nonprofit leaders are realizing what their counterparts in the corporate world have long known: Strategic communication is critical to furthering their mission and goals. Since many nonprofits have limited resources, strategic communication plays 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.
This course develops a multiple stakeholder approach to managing the communication function in businesses. 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 also explores the structure and value of corporate responsibility programs and other public service initiatives.
Crisis and Risk Communication
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 the practical and theoretical aspects of crisis communication through case studies, guest speakers and class exercises. It also examines how and why communication helped or harmed real‑world crises. Students will practice techniques for effective communication by creating and evaluating crisis scenarios, assessing risk perceptions, developing a crisis communication plan and testing it in a crisis drill.
The business-to-business (B2B) sector provides enormous opportunity in the global marketplace. This course explores B2B’s unique set of challenges that strategic communicators need to consider in developing and delivering effective messages. Topics 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 cultures.
Public Affairs and Issues Management
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 course examines how to predict and identify emerging issues, accurately assess their potential threat, and plan and implement effective response to prevent them from becoming crises. Students also learn effective issue‑management techniques, including developing early warning systems, building third-party networks, creating contingency communication materials and developing grassroots initiatives.
Social Media Advertising
This course covers the latest practices, theories and trends in social media advertising and enables students to develop innovative social media advertising strategies. Through lectures, case discussions and hands-on activities, students will become acquainted with the concepts, status and strategic guidelines for social media advertising. Students will also become familiar with tools and platforms used in developing social media advertising campaigns. Students will apply what they learned in a campaign or research project.
The course focuses on issues, strategies, and solutions in creating and maintaining relationships with key publics, including media relations, internal communications, community relations, public affairs, investor relations and crisis communication.
Digital Marketing Analytics
This course develops an understanding of the Internet as part of an overall marketing strategy by considering the ways in which the Internet has changed marketing and business. It covers topics such as online consumer behavior, web analytics, online advertising, email, social media, mobile and search engine marketing (paid and organic). After learning fundamental principles of these digital channels, students will apply them in a class project, such as creating a paid search campaign for a client, running a digital marketing simulation, writing a digital marketing plan or conducting a social media audit.
New Media Entrepreneurship
This course is expected to enable students to acquire the skills necessary to work in strategic communication for a tech or media startup or launch their own businesses as media and tech entrepreneurs. Topics include understanding media business models, pitching clients, developing creative concepts and finding financing.
Ad/PR Commercial Multimedia Production
This advanced video and advertising course introduces students to various types of multimedia commercials as well as practical considerations of producing branded content, including videos and television spots. Students will be involved in all stages of the process, from research and development of strategies and creative briefs, scripts and storyboards, to production and post-production of commercials and “pitches” or presentations and selling of the ideas and materials at each step.
This course explores digital marketing topics, including search engine marketing and social media. Students learn principles of digital channels and apply them in a class project, such as creating a paid search campaign, developing an app, running a digital marketing simulation, writing a digital marketing plan or conducting a social media audit.
Strategic Communication Internship
This supervised field experience enables 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.