Become a Leader in Exciting Strategic Communications Careers
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Develop Strategic Communication Practices for the 21st Century
With a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication from UD, you’ll enhance your ability to develop persuasive messages using theories of communication, digital content creation skills and industry-specific techniques utilized in today’s emerging media.
Graduate ready to enter and advance in several leading-edge communication careers. We offer two specialization options in Public Relations or Social Media, or the ability to customize your electives to match your career goals.
For an insider’s look into the field of strategic communication, view the recordings from our Inside the Industry speaker series.
Choose from Two Specializations or Build Your Own
Adaptable to Your Unique Path
Accelerated 7-week Courses
Study with Expert Faculty
You can complete the online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication in as few as 18 months with full-time study, or finish part-time as your schedule allows.
The program couples core communication courses with a set of five flexible courses, which allows you to customize your degree from your own combination of electives or one of two specializations. Choose from topics including:
- Crisis Communication
- Public Relations Writing
- Reputation Management
- Social Media and Communication
UD’s Streamlined Application Process
Fully Online Application
GRE Not Required
Our graduate application system is designed to put you in control of the application and all documents associated with it. For the application, you’ll need:
|A completed online application|
|A bachelor’s degree in any academic background from a regionally accredited institution|
|A GPA of at least 3.0. (If your GPA is below 3.0, you should still apply, as we take your strengths and skills in other areas into account.)|
We’re Committed to Affordability
$850 Per Credit Hour
We work hard to keep our tuition affordable while maintaining the highest academic standards.
In addition to a variety of scholarships, you could fund your program by receiving a grant, qualifying for federal or private loans, utilizing military benefits or pursuing employer tuition reimbursement. Our dedicated admissions and financial personnel will help you through the process, including enrolling in a payment plan if applicable.Learn More
Pursue Growing Communication Careers with Confidence
Whether you’re early in your career or an experienced professional, UD’s program equips you with the skills you need for advancement in expanding opportunities.
- Media and communication occupations will add about 46,200 new jobs in the U.S. through 2029.1
- Demand for media and communication occupations is driven by the rising need to create, edit and disseminate innovative messages through a variety of different platforms.1
What You’ll Learn
In the online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication from UD, you’ll study the principles, theories, research practices and ethics of strategic communication. Then, you can specialize your skill set for the communication career you’re aiming for.
After completing the program, students will be able to:
- Develop a deeper understanding of strategic communication and acquire the skill set necessary to apply what they learn in the professional world.
- Design and implement research for their organizations.
- Design, implement and evaluate communication campaigns.
- Deliver recommendations for the future of projects and issues they may face in their careers.
- Write for multimedia with a professional audience in mind.
- Analyze and evaluate competitors’ strategic communication efforts.
Tara L. Smith, M.S., APR
Director, M.A. in Strategic Communication Program
Tara L. Smith, M.S., APR, is the director of the M.A. in Strategic Communication program and a full-time instructor for the University of Delaware’s Department of Communication. She teaches and advises public relations undergraduates and strategic communication graduate students. Tara is also founder of Tara Lynn Communications, an independent public relations consultancy.
Before joining University of Delaware, Tara lived in New York City, and worked in public relations and corporate communication roles at the headquarters of NBCUniversal News Group, Time Warner Inc., and Ketchum Public Relations.
- M.S. in public relations and corporate communication from New York University
- B.A. in public relations from The Pennsylvania State University
- Accreditation in public relations (APR)
Throughout her career, Tara has gained recognition from notable industry awards, including the CLIOs, SABREs, and the coveted PRSA Silver Anvil Award.
- Smith, T. (2021, September). Pursuing an Advanced Degree While Working Full Time. Strategies & Tactics, 4(8), 13. Retrieved from https://www.prsa.org/issue/the-path-to-career-success-september-2021
- Smith, T. (2021, May 3). “You’re on Mute!” – Not Anymore: Finding Comfort in Your Voice Even When it Makes Others Uncomfortable [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.blog-mtdecoagency.com/mt-deco-blog/youre-on-mute-not-anymore-finding-comfort-in-your-voice-even-when-it-makes-others-uncomfortable
- Silk, K. J., Smith, T. L., Salmon, C. T., Thomas, B. D. H., & Poorisat, T. (in press). Public health communication campaigns. In T. L. Thompson & N. Harrington (Eds.), Handbook of Health Communication (pp. 335-352). Routledge.
About Our Expert Faculty
In this program, you’ll learn from faculty with extensive education and industry experience. They are available to you for one-on-one support as you work through your communication courses and aim for ideal career opportunities.
Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for our Virtual Open House for the online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication at the University of Delaware. We’re going to do some introductions to get started here, but we’re so glad you could be with us tonight.
Our agenda is as follows. We’re going to start off with our introductions, myself, as well as our host and our program. We have a current student joining us as well today. And then we’ll go over the program overview, talk to you about why University of Delaware, and also focus on the curriculum. We’re going to get into some of the courses that you could be taking in this program and also focus on the big picture, career support outcomes, where you’re headed after you finish this degree. And then we’ll wrap up with some details about the application and have a Q&A for anyone who’s watching live. All right, so David.
Hello everybody. Like Tara said, welcome to our Virtual Open House. My name is David Hayes. I am an admissions counselor here at the University of Delaware. I’ve been doing this for about three years. Currently, I am also working on a master’s degree, but in business administration. I got my bachelor’s in information management back in 2017.
Stephanie is one of our current students in the program. She’s going to be joining us tonight and talking with us in a little bit about some of the classes that she’s taking. And as you can see, she got her bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University.
So for my background, there’s a lot of details on the screen there, so I won’t go over everything, but I do have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public relations. We’re very excited to be with you guys tonight. Public relations is near and dear to my heart. Strategic communication is again that umbrella field that kind of serves what we do, and so this is a really exciting program to be a part of. I will also share that my background includes accreditation in public relations through the Public Relations Society of America. I have 15 years of industry experience. So this is my second career, if you will, transitioning into academia. And in this role, I am the program director as well as an instructor at UD. So I teach both undergrad public relations courses and then I teach graduate courses in our strategic communication program.
Okay, so let’s get into why should you attend UD for your master’s in strategic communication? First off, it’s an asynchronous online degree program. And what does that mean? That means that you do not have to log onto Zoom at a particular time or day or night, like some of you are right now, and being able to just take your classes, do the work at a pace that works for you. As long as you’re meeting your weekly assignment deadlines in each module, you can log on whenever it works best for your schedule. So people tend to find that really flexible and convenient, especially if you’re someone who is working full-time and taking this degree part-time, which many of our students do. That gives you a lot of flexibility. There’s live Zoom opportunities if you want to get to meet your classmates or if you’re having trouble in a class and you want to talk with an instructor, we absolutely have that option for you with our virtual office hours. So there are those live opportunities, but it’s not a requirement within this program. So a lot of flexibility there.
Another thing that’s really helpful is our program can be completed and as little as 18 months, and that’s on a part-time basis. So for a lot of people who are eager to get that degree, get through the curriculum and get those skills to really advance your career, this can be a really helpful way for you to do this with some time management, balancing life, work, school and not feel too rushed. But if you need a little extra time, you can take longer to complete the program as needed. We do have those semesters where life gets in the way and someone might need to take some time off. So there is flexibility for you to take a little longer if you need it. But if you’re planning to just go straight through, you can get done in 18 months.
Another thing that’s really nice about our program and a little unique to it is the fact that you can specialize in either public relations or digital and social media. Now, if you’re someone who would really like to get a little bit of both of those different areas, you can customize the degree to meet your professional and academic needs. So we have a lot of students who do choose a certain specialization because they know they need that skillset in their job or maybe the one that they’re hoping to transition into. And then we have a lot of students who decide to just do a little bit of both and they mix the electives so they can really tailor the degree to what suits them.
Our courses are taught by both full-time scholars and industry executives. We’re really proud of this because we think it’s important for you to have access to full-time faculty who are available to you year round, people who work at the university, in our department, can help you out again throughout the life of the program. They teach all of our required courses.
Now the elective courses are taught by industry executives who work in the area that you’re learning about. So if you are someone who wants to get more skills in user data analytics, we’ve got a director of user data analytics to help teach you someone who does that work every single day and can really give you the ins and outs that can make that work applicable to your everyday jobs. So we think it’s a really nice balance to have both full-time scholars, but also industry executives so you get to have the theory and the practice really driving everything that you do.
Now when it comes to community engagement, this is something I really like to emphasize about our program. Just because your online doesn’t mean that you’re just sitting at your computer getting your coursework done in a silo. We want you to feel connected and engaged. So one of the ways we do that is by offering you a monthly speaker series called Inside the Industry. Every month during the school year, we will bring you executives from multiple industries, different communication functions to talk with you, to network with you, to teach you about best practices, how they are doing their job, how they got to where they are. We’ve had a ton of amazing speakers in the past year.
Just to give you some examples, we’ve had the head of advertising and social media for United Airlines. We also had the senior Vice President of Culture and communication for the New York Times. So you imagine it, those are the people that we like to bring to you. So it’s a really great opportunity for you as a student to get to learn outside of the classroom and build those connections with a guest speaker just like you would if you were on campus in a classroom.
Another thing that we offer our students is free professional development workshops. Every semester we host a workshop, usually about 90 minutes to two hours where you get a chance to deep dive into a topic that either isn’t already a part of our curriculum and maybe it will be one day or is something that’s really cutting edge and new that we know a lot of people have interest in, and they want to get that skillset in and give you a hands on ability to practice and learn. So these are offered to you every semester free of charge, just again give you that extra value beyond the coursework that you’re already taking. And they’re always recorded. So if you can’t make it live, you’re still able to access that as a student after they’ve occurred.
Last but not least, we have a LinkedIn group. We’re really proud of this LinkedIn group where we have, I think, at this point more than a hundred and some members in the group. This is a way for our current students and our alumni to stay connected. We share industry news in the group. We share job leads. Sometimes people in the group are hiring at their company and they want to obviously extend that opportunity to people who are part of this program because they know that it’s a quality program. And sometimes people are also just looking for career advice.
They just want to get feedback from other people who know what it’s like to be in this program. So whether you’re a prospective student and just want to join us, see what stuff we talk about in the group and to get a feel for who we are, or if you’re a current student or alum, we invite you to join this group. So at some point tonight, I’ll put the link into the chat window. So if you’d like to join our group, we are more than happy to have you. So these are just a few of the examples that we have in terms of engaging you outside of the classroom and staying connected so that you do feel part of The Blue Head community.
Now let’s talk about curriculum. So when it comes to the required courses, you see here on the screen and we have five of them. Now these are the courses again that are taught by our full time faculty who are here year round within the university. So principles of strategic communication is basically our introductory course to give you a survey overview of the field, but we also have a course in communication research, communication theory as well as ethics. And then when you are all done nearing that final semester, you will complete a Capstone.
We really like the plaque that our Capstone is very flexible and is designed for you to create a campaign that hopefully aligns with either the work you’re currently doing. So sometimes people will work with their current employer on a project that let’s say has been on the back burner for a while and you keep meaning to get to it, but you can never justify finding the time to do it, you have now grad school as an excuse. So it gives you a great chance to finally work on a passion project at work that maybe you haven’t had time to do before.
Other people will use the Capstone as a chance to work with a nonprofit that they’re really excited to partner with and help them with an initiative. And other people will use this experience as a chance to showcase their skills to a small business or a prospective future client if they want to do some consulting on the side. So it’s really up to you who your client is you get to work with and create this full-fledged comprehensive campaign for. Whether it’s social media, public relations, event planning, you name it, it’s a really great experience and a great portfolio piece for you as you finish the program.
Now, in addition to the required courses, we have two tracks with our electives, which I’ll get into a little more on the next slide and we’ll also have Stephanie share a little with us too about some of these courses. So we have a public relations specialization as I mentioned earlier, or digital and social media. Now again, you don’t have to pick either direction if you want to get a little bit of both, but if you do want to really focus your coursework in one area, you can pick either of these specializations.
Now our additional electives span both of these disciplines. So as you can see, we have quite a few options here. If you are looking for example to boost your leadership skills, if you’re someone who’s mid-management trying to get into that senior executive role, our communication and leadership course might be a really excellent choice for you. We actually have a former chief communications officer and a member of the Arthur Page Society who helped us to develop this course. And in fact, during this course you get to work with chief communication officers from around the country to actually complete some of your assignments and learn from all of their years of experience. So really interesting, really tailored courses depending on your focus.
We also have courses in health communication, sports communication, digital political strategy. And at the top, as you see, we also have campaigns, media analytics. So these can be really helpful courses depending on… regardless I should say, of which specialization you go into. So you can take these in addition to any specialization electives that you may choose.
Also, we’ll tout really quickly that our health communication course was developed by a specialist who works for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and is also a health scholar in the field. So you get, again, that practitioner and academic perspective working in a field that’s very interesting right now. There’s a lot of opportunity obviously in health communication. But I’ll also just quickly point out, our digital political course was developed by someone who works here at the great state of Delaware for the governor of Delaware. So Governor Carney’s press secretary, former press secretary, and now chief of staff actually helped develop our course and we’re really excited to showcase this. He has put together an amazing class for you guys and you’re going to get to learn a lot from someone who’s worked at a really high level in politics.
I just wanted to give you a sample of some of those additional electives where you get a lot of great experience. And again, you can go really deep dive into some of these particular topics. So moving into the specializations, I’m going to also have Stephanie chime in here in a minute too to share her experience. As you can see, our public relations specialization is really focused on how you develop your brand and launch a campaign. We also focus a lot on best practices in the management of public relations initiatives, as well as understanding all of the theories behind persuasion and attitude change, really the bedrock of PR.
Now in digital and social media, we focus on the platforms, the ecosystems and the business models. It’s all about optimization when it comes to digital and social media, right? So this is an area where you can really hone your skills. We also focus on the user experience and looking at analytics. And yes, I know it’s a strategic communication degree, so some people are thinking, “Math, oh no!” But I promise, no math is required. You can succeed without any real math experience and do well in these courses. We give you the tools you need to succeed, but it’s really helpful nowadays, and we all know those analytics are a really important piece of being successful in digital and social media. Last but not least, online consumer behavior. We really give you a good look at how to create content that will speak to the needs of a target audience you are trying to engage with.
So Stephanie, I am going to pull up some of the elective courses now that we have in either specialization and maybe you can share with us a little about one or two of the courses you’ve taken so far and your thoughts on them and we’ll see if anyone has questions too at the end about that. But Stephanie, we have you back?
I think she still having issues. She got off again.
Okay. So we might have issues with sound. That’s always the case nowadays with Zoom and any kind of online thing, there’s always something that pops up, but the show will go on.
So if Stephanie comes back to join us, we’ll catch her at the end. But I’ll just highlight for you guys on the screen here. You can see we have a really nice roster of courses, so everything from campaign planning on the PR side to branding and crisis communication. On the digital and social media side, we have again a lot of courses that will give you expertise in writing for digital media content strategy, as well as things like social media management. So there are a really great array of electives for you to focus and hone your skillset in either of these areas. There’s also a couple of electives we have at the bottom as you’ll see there, reputation management and advanced strategic writing that do span both electives so they can count for either one. So those are a quick look at our electives.
I will also now share with you a little bit about that next step when you are getting ready to complete the degree or maybe while you’re still in the program, there’s an opportunity that comes up for you to transition somewhere new in your career or make a change. We’ve got a lot of great resources to help you out. So as a University of Delaware student, our career center offers a variety of opportunities. There’s handshake where you can get access to job listings, interview opportunities, digital events and virtual workshops. We also have something called Big Interview. So that gives you access to a virtual platform to help you prepare for your next job interview. Really helpful these days, especially with so many of us being online all the time. So that’s a really great feature to have.
We then also have VMock, which is an online resume critique system, specifically designed for master students that they’re looking at the fact that you most likely have some professional experience already, how do you position yourself appropriately for that next job. And do I have one more on this slide? I don’t.
Okay. In terms of career outcomes, one thing we would really love to share with you is a recent alum of our program, Ashley Nelson, graduated in December 2021. She did an interview with our news magazine here at UD and shared some really great insights we thought you might find helpful in terms of knowing what alumni feel about the program. Ashley mentioned that UD’s reputation is extremely strong, but there was no way she could have attended classes in person. So she was really grateful she could earn this degree online.
Her Capstone project addressed the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in 18 to 29 year olds. And she also shared with us that her UD MA immediately paid dividends. She received a job offer that was $20,000 higher because she had earned this master’s degree. She says she’s recommend it to anyone who wants to advance or start a career in strategic communication, public relations, digital media or social media. So great testimonial and great success story. And we have lots of students who obviously have great stories to share, but I wanted to just give you one tonight to give you a sense of how helpful a lot of our students do find this program.
So when it comes to the application process, this is the part where most people have questions. What do I need to do to apply? So as you can see, there’s a list here of things that you do need to get started. A resume is one of the things that you’ll be uploading to the application portal. You’ll also need three letters of recommendation. Now, for those of you who have perhaps been out of your undergraduate career for more than five years let’s say, you might not necessarily still be keeping in touch with some of your professors, right? If you’ve been out of school for a few years or more, we are absolutely fine with getting recommendation letters from people who have worked with you in current or former jobs. So that could be, again, hiring supervisors, colleagues, people who can really speak to your ability to do well in this field and to do well within this program.
Your personal essay is a really important part of the application. At the end of the day, we just want to know what are you trying to get out of this degree? How can this help you succeed? Where are you trying to go? So you’ll address things like that within your personal essay. We do accept unofficial transcript. And when it comes to your application fee, it is $75. However, for those of you who are watching this recording or here live tonight, we are going to provide you with a code to waive that application fee. Yay! So that’s one thing that we will make sure to get to you guys via email. And I will let… David, I think I might have stolen the slide from you actually.
It’s okay. You were in the zone.
Yes. I did just want to touch base on for the unofficial transcripts, although we do allow unofficial transcripts, you do want to make sure that you have the conferred degree date on it because that is one thing that we do need to verify for those unofficial transcripts.
This is mostly my slide, yes, because I am the admissions counselor, so I will be the one that will also go over this application process with you. So if you ever have any questions, we do have our general phone number and email up there, but I also have my direct phone number and email address that I can give you. So if you ever have any questions when you want to go over the application with me, I’ll be more than welcome to do that for you as well. We’ll be here throughout the entire process to help you and make sure we can hopefully get you into the program as well.
Thank you so much David. So David is a great point of contact. If you have questions about the application process, he is your go-to and can really help you out with that.
So I think I’m going to stop sharing here. I’m going to stop sharing so that we can open it up in case there are any questions. And let me see here. I’m also going to drop the link to our LinkedIn group into the chat window. So I’m going to check right now and see if we have any questions. I think you can type it into the chat window pretty easily there. So I’ll just grab the link. And David-
I will add my information as well.
Oh good. Thank you. Okay. And for those of you watching the recording, again, we will send you the application fee waiver code. So hopefully you’ll get that actually when you receive the recording. And here is the link to our group, to everyone. Here we go. See, I do encourage you to join because it’s a really easy way to also get to connect with other people who are currently in the program. So do you want to share with us a little bit about the classes you’ve been and we basically wrapped up our presentation and we’re just sitting here for some Q&A. And I see actually we do have a question, but do you want to go ahead Stephanie first and then I’ll get to the question?
Sure. So I’m specializing in public relations. One of the courses I took was public relations campaign planning. And for that one we were divided into groups and each was assigned a real nonprofit and they were local nonprofits based in Wilmington, Delaware. So we just had to see a campaign through from start to finish beginning with research and then finally with a plan with tactics and budget. So it was really very hands on experience. We also have taken a course in crisis management and I took one on public relations writing. So I got a lot of benefits out of each one.
Awesome. Okay. So I saw Diana asked a question. And Tara, I see that you are typing.
Just for anyone that did not see the answer, I was also going to say it out loud as well if you wanted to continue to type that for her. So we actually have three different start dates throughout the year. We have a spring, a summer, and a fall start date. So our next one coming up is the spring, starting February 6th. The application deadline for that is January 15th, I believe it is, right? Do you remember, Tara?
It’s actually January 21st.
I’m going to hit send now so everyone hopefully can see it January 21st. January 21st.
But especially with the holidays coming up, we definitely encourage you to work on that now and get that out the way because of the fact that the review committees, they also take holiday time off. So that can also prolong your time on getting your decision. So we want to get you to get registered before that time comes because class registration is open up and sometimes classes can fill up as well.
Great point. Thank you for that, David. Yes, we also want to just make sure we have enough time to get you enrolled before the semester starts so you’ve got plenty of time to get set up.
I also will share the deadline for the summer, if you’re not ready to necessarily start in spring, is May 20th. So those are two days to keep in mind, January 21st if you want to start in the spring semester and May 20th is the deadline to apply for the summer semester. So I put those in the Q&A. Hopefully everyone can see those dates there. And if you’re trying to wait until the fall, you do have until August 10th. So plenty of time for fall semester if you’re planning to start then.
I’m also going to put my email address here in the chat window just like David in case you need anything from me, and my phone number. Do we have any other questions? That was a great one. Thank you from… I think her name is actually Deanna. This is someone I think I met recently, so I’m pretty sure that’s Deanna. Thanks for joining tonight, Deanna. It’s great to see you.
Do we have any other questions from our attendees? Okay, so as we’re wrapping up, I’ll just reiterate again we have a question here from Jess. Hi Jess, I know who you are. “Is there a separate application for prospective 4+1 undergraduate students?” Great question. So the application is still going to be the same application website like anyone else applying to the program, but when you apply, there will be an option to select 4+1. So that’s for our students who are currently an undergrad at University of Delaware and planning to enter our 4+1 program. So they get their master’s degree and undergrad degree in five years. Really great opportunity for them. So thanks for asking that question, Jess.
And I will say the deadline for our 4+1 student is different. It is April 1st. I can remember that one because April 1st is easy. If you’re someone who’s an undergrad here, if you’re watching the recording or if you’re here live, April 1st is the deadline for the 4+1 program. So that is different.
All right. And then am I missing any Q&As? I feel like I might have missed one.
I answered the other one for her, for the summer and the fall start dates.
Great. Okay, so as we’re wrapping up, and I’ll give anyone who has maybe a last question a minute to post it, I will just share that again I think our program is really unique in the fact that we do offer our two specializations so you really can focus your skills in a certain area that might help you out in the job you’re trying to get or the one you already have. I also like the fact that we have that community engagement. We want you to feel a part of the UD community whether you’re here on campus or you’re online with us. So we do our best to really bring you into the fold and help you feel part of that Blue Hand network. And hopefully, Stephanie can attest too. We do have, again, a lot of great opportunities for students to connect with guest speakers and attend those workshops and also just stay connected on LinkedIn.
All right, so I don’t think I’m seeing any additional questions, which hopefully means we answered any questions you might have had tonight. But if you think of something after we log off, feel free to shoot David an email or myself or give us a call and we will be happy to get back to you. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us tonight. We’re really excited that you came to visit with us.
And I just saw I put.com on my email list, but not .edu.
Oh, that is funny. Yes. David Hayes, it’s dhayes and that’s .edu. Good catch. Good catch. All right, so I think that will wrap it up for us tonight.
Everyone, you guys, have a great evening.
Bye everyone. Have a great night.
View Our Latest Virtual Open House
Meet the Program Director and learn about the curriculum, career outcomes, and how to apply for our Online MA in Strategic Communication.
What it’s Like to Study Online
We pride ourselves on teaching and innovation, so you’ll encounter an advanced digital curriculum delivered by experts. Knowledgeable staff members are available to answer questions by phone, chat and email, and you can access technical support 24/7.UD Online Student Experience
Answers to Common Questions
We’ve provided answers to the most commonly asked questions about UD’s online programs. If we missed anything, you can get in touch with a knowledgeable admissions counselor by phone at (844) 237-1338.
You can transfer up to nine credits from any accredited college or university. Graduate credits earned at another institution (but not used in the completion of another graduate degree) will be evaluated at your written request for any course except for the capstone. Contact an admissions counselor at (844) 237-1338 for more information about transferring your prior credits.
You may start this program in the fall, summer or spring semesters. Applications are accepted at any time up until a week before classes begin. Applicants are considered for admission on a rolling basis, which makes now the perfect time to apply.
Yes, you can complete the online program with your choice of a Public Relations specialization or a Digital and Social Media specialization. A third completion option is your choice of electives that best suit your career goals.