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M.A. in Strategic Communication Program Details

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Darius M. Benton, Ph.D.
MASC Program Director
(713) 221-5857

Andy Osborn, Ed.M.
Associate Director of Graduate Studies
(713) 221-5738​​

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication degree requires a minimum of 30 semester credit hours (SCHs) that includes 2 required courses (6 SCHs), 8 elective courses (24 SCHs), and a graduate portfolio (0 SCH). Please see the degree plan below for detailed information.

Minimum Grade Point Average

Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Grades of C or lower do not count toward graduation, and two course grades of C or lower are cause for dismissal from the program. Any single grade of D or lower is cause for dismissal from the program.

Degree Plan and Course Descriptions

Select a course number/title below to see the full course description.

Required Courses
(3 courses / 6 semester credit hours)

The course introduces students to the strategic process of collecting and analyzing information in community engagement settings. The practical focus of course assignments will be on using research to develop and assess communication strategy for community engagement. Specifically, students will learn the research process, including the unique language of research, and will become skilled at planning, conducting, interpreting and presenting original research.

This course will introduce graduate students to strategic communication theories in complex organizations and community contexts. Students will study the historical and contemporary underpinnings of strategic communication processes and messages.

This zero-credit course is completed during the semester when the student plans to graduate from the program. The course confirms that the student has submitted a graduation portfolio that showcases appropriate samples of the student’s work.

Elective Courses
(8 courses / 24 semester credit hours)

Strategic Communication
(At least 6 courses / 18 semester credit hours)

In this course, students will use health communication theory and best practices to design, interpret, and evaluate health message relevant to the needs of individuals of diverse communities. Graduate students, which may include consumers and caregivers, will be trained in framing and delivering key health messages using a variety of communication channels.

An advanced study of strategic communication in crosscultural team in traditional and virtual intercultural settings exploring a variety of theories, approaches, and technological tools for communicating effectively across cultures in local and global communities.

An advanced study and analysis of small group communication exploring a variety of theories and approaches as they relate to strategically developing, managing, and leading diverse teams, managing conflict, and devising effective communication solutions in community settings.

This course teaches students to organize and run community engagement events that use the tools and processes of public deliberation. Students will collaborate in teams to design, plan, and facilitate an online deliberative forum for the student body.

An advanced study and analysis of conflict communication exploring conflict in a variety of community contexts with a focus on how strategic responses lead to greater positive outcomes.

This course teaches students to examine persuasive public speech using methods of analysis in rhetorical theory. Students will conduct research to contextualize speech within its rhetorical situation and use rhetorical analysis to deconstruct the persuasive strategies of orators.

An advanced study of strategic community engagement communication exploring a variety of approaches to designing, convening, leading, and evaluating processes for the purposes of involving and engaging diverse publics in effective communication plans in a variety of communication, general public, public affairs/engagement, consulting, non-profit, and for-profit sectors.

This course merges communication theory and pragmatic application with modern crises, issues management, and real-world experiences. All inquiry based activities lead to important learning through independent and collaborative work, research, investigations, discussions, and presentations.

Understanding that change is a necessary phase of any organization, this course seeks to prepare students to strategically lead in assessing the need for change, preparing organizations and communities for change, creating a plan for change, leading in the successful implementation of the change, and evaluating the success of the change.

This course is designed to provide students with advanced critical, contemporary understandings of online media and their relationship to civil society, democracy, and activism. Students will investigate the implication of globalization and media convergence on media industries, political campaigns, commerce, and the public sphere.

Advanced study and practice of designing and managing strategic and effective public affairs campaigns in the public sector organizations, including federal, state and local governments, to disperse clear information to the general public.

This internship course is designed to provide graduate students with experience working with a real client in a community or organizational setting. Students will analyze the needs of the client and devise appropriate communication solutions.

Graduate students will complete a research project (thesis or capstone) to explore in-depth a topic in the field of strategic communication and community engagement. Students will demonstrate their mastery of acquired skills and knowledge while completing graduate coursework and use advanced research and writing skills to complete the master’s project.

Additional Elective Course Options
(Up to 2 courses / 6 semester credit hours)


The field of negotiation and conflict resolution has developed from diverse fields of knowledge such as psychology, law, and organizational behavior. This experiential course covers the concepts involved in the process of negotiations and conflict resolution. Negotiation strategies and techniques, methods of communication and persuasion, and formation of a negotiation plan are covered in this class. The course also includes practical exercises, and mock negotiation situations.


Introduces major rhetorical theories, practice, and criticism. Provides practice in applying critical theory to contemporary texts.

A study of diverse rhetorics from around the world with a focus on how they expand upon and differ from traditional European assumptions about communication and rhetoric.

Technical Communication

Explores the trends and issues affecting corporations, crisis management, public affairs, communication, consumer affairs, employee relations, environmental problems, and issues of multinationals. May include the analysis of various examples of publicity materials (news conferences, feature placements, special events, media tours, case studies) as well as readings on the history and theories of public relations and propaganda.

Examines issues surrounding communication for and with multiple audiences with diverse linguistic and cultural patterns. Will consider implications of controlled language systems.

Helps students identify and address the ethical challenges that occur in private, social, and professional contexts. Focus on real world ethical dilemmas with diverse approaches to decision making using ethical reasoning and applied ethics. Legal considerations will include first amendment issues such as freedom of speech and press, copyright, libel, privacy, access, administrative law of advertising and broadcasting, and other legal problems in professional writing situations.

Surveys and applies the theory, research, creation, development, and delivery of courses in corporate and/or academic environments. Students will design and present training and/or teaching materials for business, industry, or classroom use.

Acquaints students with various computer software programs and their applications to specific disciplines such as criminal justice, medical and science writing and technical communication. Projects will include documents as well as slide presentations incorporating analyzed research data. Students will expand their knowledge of rhetorical principles and techniques for reporting statistical analyses and conveying them to specialized audiences.


Explores the trends and issues affecting the marketing of nonprofit organizations, with a particular focus on arts and humanities institutions. Topics include marketing planning, market segmentation and positioning, branding, launching new offerings, marketing communications, public advocacy, and evaluation. May include analysis of marketing materials as well as readings on marketing theory and case studies.

Political Science

This course is designed to identify and develop leadership skills that will help nonprofit organizations prosper. The course will highlight the importance of teambuilding, integrity, creativity, and leadership change in leading a nonprofit organization. The course will incorporate the use of social media, technology and data in decision making and communicating. Students will conduct three case studies of nonprofit organizations with different levels of leadership.

This course is an introduction to the interaction between interest groups and policymaking. The course focuses on lobbying and advocacy efforts, strategies, and tactics that interest groups, nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofits pursue in order to achieve favorable policy outcomes.

This course takes an in depth look at the role of ethics in the political, public, and nonprofit sector. It will cover classical ethical decision-making theories, decision making by individuals and organizations dealing with the public, and decision making by individuals within public and nonprofit organizations. Topics will include ethical dilemmas and situations in transparency, accountability, performance evaluation, whistle blowing, and fund raising.


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