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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Online MA Strategic Communication

Enhance Your Skills. Energize Your Career.

Washington State University’s online master’s degree in Strategic Communication is designed for those who want to excel in advertising, public relations, corporate communication, and communication management. Whether you have no training in strategic communication or are a seasoned professional, the degree will advance and energize your career.




  • Christy Curtis, Senior Instructor and Graduate Coordinator  /  (509) 335-5608  /
  • Rebecca Cooney, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Murrow Online Programs  /  (509) 335-3911  /

Since 2014

Program of Study

The degree requires 30 credits. All courses are available online.

Professional Core Courses – 12 credits

COM 561 – Multimedia Content Creation
Exploration and application of strategies to communicate ideas clearly, concisely, and effectively through multimedia content. Sample syllabus

COM 562 – Crisis Communication in Global Contexts
Prepare, plan, and execute crisis communication and management to protect the continuity of an organizations image and mission. Sample syllabus

COM 563- Ethics for Professionals
The understanding, discussion, and application of key theories of individual and institutional ethics; the articulation and defense of ethical reasoning. Sample syllabus

COM 564 – Research Methods for Professionals
Understanding the role of research in media and related organizations and its application to organizational decision making through quantitative and qualitative research methods including research design, questionnaire construction, sampling, data collection techniques, and variable measurement. Sample syllabus

Strategic Communication Core Courses – 15 credits

COMSTRAT 561 – Persuasion for Professional Communicators
Introduction to theories, concepts, strategies, and processes of persuasion and social influence. Sample syllabus

COMSTRAT 562 – Creative Media Strategies and Techniques
The strategies, processes, procedures and steps involved in creating marketing communications materials for a variety of different media. Sample syllabus

COMSTRAT 563 – Professional Digital Content Promotion
The application of writing, critical thinking, and persuasion skills to the practice and promotion of PR and advertising in both digital and social media outlets. Sample syllabus

COMSTRAT 564 – Consumer Behavior and Brand Development
Tactics and strategies for consumer analysis and brand development; skills necessary for uncovering consumer insights to link client objectives, account management, creative development, and media planning. Sample syllabus

COMSTRAT 565 – Professional Marketing Communication Management and Campaigns
An overview of behavior change theories with a focus on strategic marketing campaign design and evaluation; learning to use theory and research to more effectively plan, design, execute and evaluate strategic communication campaigns. Sample syllabus

Capstone Course – 3 credits

COMSTRAT 701 – Master’s Capstone
Culminating course where students demonstrate core competencies with the response to 4-5 prompts, completion of an online portfolio and other creative and engagement activities. Sample syllabus

Cara Hawkins Jedlicka

What you’ll learn

Whether you have no training in strategic communication or are a seasoned professional, this degree will advance and invigorate your career. The program’s multidisciplinary approach offers expertise in both new and traditional media, critical knowledge and skills for today’s innovative communications environment. Faculty members with extensive professional experience will teach you how to gather and analyze information and use those findings to create effective communication campaigns.

The online Strategic Communication MA provides a solid core curriculum, consisting of classes in multimedia content creation, crisis communication, professional ethics, and research methods. The program also offers hands-on training in the most advanced platforms, tools and techniques. You will work closely with industry professionals and faculty to learn audio and video software, graphic design tools, new media and publication layouts. By the time you are finished, you will have created multimedia materials that are evaluated by peers and produced as portfolio-quality items stored online. This work is tailored to each individual career, or even your specific job needs.

Program Objectives

There are two primary objectives for the Online MA Strategic Communication program.

These include:

1) producing quality students who possess the theoretical foundation and practical
knowledge to succeed in their chosen fields and

2) training individuals who will perform at the highest level of both professional and ethical standards.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Commission on Public Relations Education for professional master’s degrees[1], our program will combine professional skill development with training in ethical decision-making. This dual emphasis seeks to honor the legacy of Edward R. Murrow, our college’s namesake.  Murrow set professional standards for what was then the
emerging broadcast news industry. He also was one of the industry’s strongest critics who
urged its practitioners to rise to the industry’s potential for serving justice and for fostering democratic institutions.

Similarly, the goal of the MA Strategic Communication is to train individuals who will perform
at the highest level of both professional and ethical standards, who will both define and improve the industry while in the service of just and democratic societies.

[1] Ibid, p. 4.

Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of strategic, entrepreneurial communication skills such as managing online presence, self and organizational presentation, and collaboration in an increasingly global world.
  2. Ability to gather and assess strategically relevant information using analyses and research.
  3. Evidence of professional skills to develop strategic communication campaign materials and implementation of campaign through administration and management, planning, leadership, teamwork, and customer relations.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to ethically communicate information to diverse audiences.
Terminal professional master’s degree

The Online MA Strategic Communication program is a terminal professional degree program. It is structured to provide opportunities for those interested in career transition or advancement in professional communication positions. The program is non-thesis, involves limited theory, does not include a classroom teaching component or active research assignment, and therefore should not be considered a preparatory stepping stone to most PhD programs or teaching at a collegiate level.

Student Pathways
  • All courses are 100% online and include weekly online instructor office hours, frequent student self-assessment tools & ongoing interaction with other students.
  • Most students take 2-3 classes each semester across the 10-course curriculum.
  • Students work closely with both industry professionals and PhD faculty scholars
  • Students select one, two or three-year tracks but it is recommended they take no less than five semesters to complete the program in order to achieve the best work-home-school balance

Application Info

Applications Deadlines: Aug 1, Dec 1 and April 15 for fall, spring and summer enrollment

Application Instructions:

Complete a general application with WSU Graduate School, indicating an interest in a degree program. Also include:

  • Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate institutions
  • International students submit TOEFL
  • Current professional resume that includes at least three professional references name and contact information
  • Statement of Purpose articulating your perspectives, contributions, qualifications, and talents


  • There is a $75 application fee (non-refundable)
  • This program does not require any undergraduate prerequisites but applicants must have bachelor’s degree with minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0*
  • No GRE required
  • Application Materials

*The minimum GPA requirement for admission into WSU Graduate School is 3.0. Applicants with a GPA below 2.99 are subject to departmental review and consideration.


  • Online students pay the in-state tuition rate
  • The tuition is estimated at $587 per credit
  • The estimated cost of program is $18,000
  • Graduate students must be enrolled in at least half-time SIX CREDITS to be eligible for financial aid.
  • Veterans’ benefits. For questions, contact Blaine Golden (509) 335-1234 or

The program is designed for individuals who are at least three years outside their undergraduate program and/or have at least three applied work experience. The coursework is bench-marked at a level best suited to those with solid work and life experience. Student engagement is built into each course and with it students benefit greatly from knowledge share and mutual exchange. We find that those with limited applied work experience are not fully equipped to contribute to those discussions in a meaningful way – nor are they as successful in completing the more complex course work. The decision to admit involves a full assessment of the applicant’s academic profile, the mix of experience they bring to the program and overall readiness for graduate-level work – not just undergraduate GPA or quality of their statement of purpose.

Statement of Purpose

To gain a better understanding of your perspectives, contributions, qualifications, and diverse talents, we ask that each applicant prepare a comprehensives statement of purpose.  Admission decisions for the online MA Strategic Communication program are based on a full assessment of the applicant’s academic profile, mix of experience they bring to the program and overall readiness for graduate-level work. Please address your experience in each category keeping in mind how you could contribute to the future community of excellence at WSU.Your statement of purpose should not exceed one page and should address the following:

  • Why the online MA Strategic Communication program at WSU interests you – what attracted you to the program
  • What led you to the desire of earning an advanced degree
  • Where do you think your MA will lead you personally and/or professionally
  • How the degree program fits into your current personal or professional path
  • What are your goals in furthering your education? What do you hope to achieve through the curriculum?
  • Other anecdotes or background information that will aid in evaluating whether or not you would thrive and be successful in the program

Our Students

The program is designed for individuals who are at least three years outside their undergraduate program or have at least three years applied work experience. The program provides a comprehensive set of graduate courses aimed at working professionals and adult learners. Almost all of our students are professionals working full time as teachers, communication specialists, veterans, entrepreneurs, and journalists.

  • Average age of students: 27-45
  • The ratio of male/female is 40/60
  • 80% of students seek financial aid assistance
  • 10% are active or retired military
  • 80% take two classes per semester with a targeted completion in 18 mo (5 semesters)
Fun with Butch at the ’19 ASWSU Global Graduation Reception

Meet Tricia

“Why WSU? The program included courses that were not only relevant to my interests, but created excitement as well. WSU’s reputation solidified my decision.”

There is a lot of appreciation and regards goes towards Washington State University and the success that has been given to hard-working students. In the case of Tricia Gilmore, there is much to be said about her gratitude towards the university.


Tricia Gilmore, online MA Strategic Communication student

Our Alumni

The Online MA Strategic Communication program launched in the spring of 2014 with just 16 students enrolled.

Beginning with our first graduating class in the fall of 2014 to summer 2019, we have 191 Online MA Strategic Communication alumni representing more than 7 countries, 25 states and 108 cities across the U.S.

Alumni work across various industries including science and technology communication, digital media, health communication, education outreach, government and political communications, corporate, retail, nonprofit, media and entertainment, and employee relations.

Quick Facts & Stats:

  • Alumni undergraduate degrees span across more than 80 disciplines including communications, business, education, English, journalism, sociology, community health, information technology, marketing, and web design and development
  • 76% of graduates are female, 24% male
  • The average age of alumni is 33
  • 25% of graduates have changed positions since starting the program – 25% have moved into advanced roles and 50% now have manager, director, or VP titles.
  • 13% of alumni work for national brands including Microsoft, Mail Chimp, Amazon, Boys & Girls Club of America, Sandals Resort, Weststar Media Entertainment, Russ Reid, Chase, T-Mobile, Motorola, Razorfish, Funko, and Heineken
  • 7% of alumni are active or retired military
  • 95% of alumni work in the field of professional communication under the following disciplines:
    • 39%: public relations or advertising agencies
    • 20%: digital marketing, social media engagement, media journalism
    • 20%: nonprofit, government relations, political communications
    • 9%: K-12 and higher education outreach
    • 6%: science communications, technology, and digital marketing
    • 6%: health communication and promotion
MA Strategic Communication graduates – spr 2019

Alumni in the Spotlight

Kristi Maldonado
Kristi Maldonado
“It takes 24/7 type of effort to try and help change occur in today’s society, and not just for the LGBTQ community. The way I am overcoming adversity is by actively doing what I can from every angle, especially through me furthering my education." - Kristi Maldonado, Online BA ISC student Read more MA Strategic Communication, Murrow Online, Student Spotlight

More MURROW ALUMNI stories

National Rankings

Online MA Strategic Communication Program

  • Best Colleges ranked MA StratComm in their Top 25 Best Online Master’s in Communication Programs
  • Online Masters ranked MA StratComm in the Top 15 Best Master’s in Media Communications Degree Programs
  • Online Masters ranked MA StratComm in the Top 15 Best Master’s in Public Relations Degree Programs
  • Web Design Degree Center listed MA StratComm as #5 on The 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Interaction Design and Interactive Media list
  • Web Design Degree Center listed MA StratComm as #4 on The 10 Best Online Masters in Interactive Design and Media Degree Programs
  • The Best Schools ranked MA StratComm #4 on the list of The 15 Best Online Master’s in Media Communications Programs
  • Nonprofit Colleges Online ranked WSU #34 in the Top 50 Best Nonprofit Colleges and Universities for Online Master’s Degrees

Online MA StratComm Rankings