Online Programs

Strategic Communication: Online Courses

The Perfect Balance of Strategic, Analytical, and Creative Knowledge

When you choose an online Master’s in Strategic Communication from American University, you choose a program that has been developed for the way we communicate today. This program will provide a balance of theoretical insight and practical application to help you shape initiatives and bring your ideas to life. Each course weaves in strategic, analytic, and creative knowledge to connect with target audiences and align communication with the goals of your client or organization.

Over the course of this master’s program, you will:

  • create strategic communication campaigns
  • develop a professional writing portfolio with traditional and digital media samples
  • use quantitative and qualitative research to define content, purpose, and target audience
  • tell compelling stories through creative messaging and understanding the key factors in persuasive communication
  • learn to integrate social media strategies and tactics with traditional methods
  • utilize metrics to conduct overall evaluation of strategic communication campaigns
  • understand and explore international approaches to communication including public diplomacy and cross-cultural communication
  • examine crisis communication messaging and decision making
  • explore messaging strategies specifically for creating change and action around social or political causes (in the Advocacy and Social Impact concentration)

The online program consists of 10 courses (30 credits), each eight weeks long, culminating with a capstone course that allows you to apply everything you have learned to a project in your specific area of interest. An optional Advocacy and Social Impact concentration provides you with the opportunity to focus on strategies and tactics related to social justice, political, and advocacy communication. In the end, you’ll be able to pursue better careers in strategic communications.

American University is pleased to offer select students an Online Merit Scholarship of $3,000, $5,000 or $10,000. Admitted students will be eligible for scholarship consideration based on academic credentials, professional experience and exceptional leadership skills.

Course Requirements (15 credit hours):

This foundational course teaches the six steps of building a public relations plan and prepares students to explore topics more deeply in subsequent courses.

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Writing is the most vital skill in the field of public relations. In this course, you’ll develop strategic writing skills and explore the relationship between audience, message structure, and medium.

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Research is central to strategic communication. This course is an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods in communication.

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This course explores a wide range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding public communication, or communication in the public sphere.

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In this course, you’ll gain subject-matter expertise by answering a communication issue that hasn’t been studied before. You will design, develop, and execute a research study around this communication issue.

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Electives (15 credit hours):

Complete 15 credit hours from the following courses:

This course provides you with an ethical framework for the practice of public communication and a concept of the ethical issues surrounding communication activities.

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Explore the principles of social marketing, defined as the systematic application of marketing and strategic communication principles to achieve human behavior change toward a social purpose or social good.

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This course examines how a range of advocacy organizations, including national and international non-profits, NGOs, political campaigns, and activist networks, can harness the power of digital media to activate, mobilize, and organize supporters.

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Social media is a dynamic communication tool that has significantly changed the public relations industry. You will learn to think strategically about which platforms are the best way to communicate to diverse target audiences and how to open authentic communication with your audience.

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Apply public communication principles to advocacy and political campaigns and investigate the role of media relations in politics, the impact of television on political discourse, and political message development.

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Sharp communication within a crisis situation is imperative in today’s business world. This course examines the nature of issue and crisis management from the strategic communication perspective.

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This course provides practical and theoretical experience in strategically planning and managing the public relations process. Important topics covered are negotiating, budgeting, research and evaluation, and the implementation of management objectives.

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In this culminating skills component, you’ll put everything you’ve learned thus far into practice by working with a real-world client and designing a strategic communication plan.

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International strategic communication and public diplomacy is one of the fastest-growing areas in the public relations field. This course covers global communication implications, case studies, and PR practices around the world.

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