Graduate

Professional MA in Strategic Communication

Advance your career. Get a seat at the table. All while keeping your life balanced.

Designed exclusively for working professionals in advertising, public relations or corporate or nonprofit communications, the Professional MA in Strategic Communication focuses on the study of communications strategy, planning, and evaluation, as well as persuasion and advertising theory. 

Is this your turning point?

Our program is designed for communications and marketing professionals who are working full-time. Our faculty and your fellow students understand the needs of your busy life. This degree is designed to be completed in two calendar years—period.

  • Two nights per week during the fall and spring.
  • One evening in the summer.
  • No waiting for class availability or impossible schedules. You will complete your coursework and capstone project in a workable schedule that still leaves time for the rest of your life.
Interested? Read our FAQ for more info.

What will I do with my degree?

Graduates of the master’s program in strategic communication will develop knowledge, skills and training to be next-generation communications leaders. The foundation of successful organizational communications is strategy – and that’s the core educational focus in this master’s program. You should develop your leadership ability, marketability and productivity. It will help you be a leader. We believe the curriculum will enhance your ability to identify and develop the best communications strategy, develop creative and original approaches to solving communications problems, and make you better informed about theories that are the basis for effective organizational communications.

Graduates of the program now work in communications positions at a wide variety of organizations – advertising and public relations agencies, trend tracking consulting firms, Fortune 100 corporations, small manufacturing companies, state agencies, school districts, area colleges and universities and many non-profit organizations. The degree itself is not the key to success – but the knowledge gained helps advance the careers of many students. Routinely, students in the program say that they can apply what they learn in class the next day at work.

How does this program compare to an MBA?

This program is designed first and foremost for storytellers. You will experience the rigor of an MBA curriculum but with more focus on strategy and creativity. Many students do take elective MBA courses in marketing, consumer buyer behavior and brand management.

How do students balance work, life and classroom?

Our completion rates above 90 percent suggest that students who commit themselves to our program find this degree extremely manageable. Since courses meet on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, many of our students establish a new weekly routine. Course workload is easily completed on weekends, instructors are flexible and cohorts work like a support group.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in strategic communications to be accepted?

No. Some successful strategic communications professionals have degrees in other disciplines. Each candidate’s qualifications will be evaluated from various perspectives – with undergraduate curriculum just one of many factors.

When should I apply?

We’re using a rolling admission process. That means the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll find out if you’re accepted. The priority application deadline is May 15, with a rolling deadline of June 15— but we urge you to apply as early as possible. Enrollment will be limited to only 20 students.

How soon will I find out if I’m accepted?

Once your application is completed (keep in mind that it’s a dual application process, with one for the University of Minnesota Graduate School and one for the SJMC) and your application fee is received, the process takes about four to six weeks. Candidates will be notified on a rolling basis.

Can I tour the facilities or speak with individual faculty members before deciding to apply?

Yes. Program director Steve Wehrenberg is available to answer questions at wehre003@umn.edu.

How do I get an application for admission?

Find out more on how to apply.

Do I have to do a master’s thesis?

No. Instead of a master’s thesis, you will do a Capstone Project that will require you to prepare and present a final project in consultation with your academic advisor and reviewed by two other graduate program faculty members. Acceptable formats for the final project include a publishable series or by-lined academic journal article on an important strategic communications issue or trend; an original research paper on an important dimension of strategic communication; a major paper and presentation on a specific challenge and recommended solution in strategic communication.

When can I start taking classes?

All registered students begin classes in September.

Do I need to submit GRE scores?

Not necessarily. If you already have a graduate degree in another field, the Academic Director may waive the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) requirement. Depending on your undergraduate GPA and professional experience, the Academic Director may waive the GRE. GMAT scores will also be accepted. For more information, see the program's GRE Waiver Policy.

Can previous coursework in public relations, advertising or journalism fulfill requirements for this degree?

Generally, this program is highly customized in advanced strategic communication. Students will be expected to take all courses totaling 33 credits in a structured schedule and program.

Can previous coursework for which I've received graduate credits be used to meet the requirements for elective courses?

Yes. And graduate-level courses from other programs may be considered as elective credits, subject to approval by the Academic Director.

Are the courses available online?

None of the courses are available online, however, you may be able to take one or more of your electives online.

Can I do this part-time?

This full-time program has been designed for working professionals, so courses are offered two nights per week (generally Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5:3 -8 p.m.) in the fall and spring and one night a week (generally Tuesday or Thursday evenings from 5:15-9 p.m.) in the summer. Students take six credits (or two classes) per semester to complete the program in two years. Students who want to attend on a part-time basis must consult with the program directors at the time of application.


 

Program Curriculum 

Our curriculum recognizes that the communication industry is rapidly changing and is in need of strategic thinkers who can achieve business outcomes. You’ll learn how to create and implement effective communication strategies while becoming a communicator who provides strategic insight to executives. This program will teach you to:

  • Develop planning and analytical capabilities that empower your career
  • Break free from tactic-only thinking and embed strategy and holistic thinking into your communications planning and execution
  • Experience the rigor and respect of an MBA with less number crunching and more creativity

Requirements & Curriculum

Application Information

Our Fall 2020 priority application deadline is May 17, 2020. Applications are accepted through mid-August.

How to apply. 

Professor Stacey Kanihan

Learn from the Best

  • Adjunct faculty from the Twin Cities agency community bring real-world client situations and case studies to the classroom
  • Renowned faculty embed a theoretical framework around modern-day communication situations
  • Projects and class sessions provide opportunities to bring work situations and ideas into the classroom
  • Many students’ Capstone papers can be used at work, to solve a problem, suggest a new practice, or enhance company policy
     
Tim Blotz
Tim Blotz, FOX 9 anchor
Professional MA, 2011

“This is a smart program for a communications professional who wants to seriously amp-up their effectiveness, think and perform more like a CMO, or simply arrive at faster solutions to communication issues.” 

Is This Your Turning Point?

Apply to the Professional Master's Program.

How to Apply