FAQ: Master's in Strategic Communication

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 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. Many 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 use a rolling admission process. That means the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll find out if you’re accepted.  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 two to four weeks. Candidates will be notified on a rolling basis.

Can I speak with individual faculty members before deciding to apply?

Yes. Program Director Erich Sommerfeldt and Outreach Director Scott Meyer are available to answer questions. (Erich: [email protected], Scott: [email protected])

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 plan, write and present a strategic communication campaign or case study for an organization. The project will enable you to demonstrate mastery of the entire master’s program curriculum -- from research and planning, to execution and evaluation. Most importantly, your capstone will demonstrate how you use communication strategy to solve a problem, or capitalize on an opportunity, that the organization faces.

When can I start taking classes?

All registered students begin classes in September.

Do I need to submit GRE scores?

The GRE test will not be required for Fall 2024 applications.

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 30 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?

Yes, most required courses will be offered in a synchronous (set time), online format. Some department/external electives may have in-person or hybrid sessions, but, the graduate program can accommodate students to take the program entirely online as needed with enrolling in the right coursework. 

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, 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) in the fall and spring and one night a week (generally Tuesday or Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 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, but it is not a common scenario.