New Online M.A. in Strategic Communication is an Example of Spartans Will

Posted on: January 9, 2017

On a cold winter morning, roughly two years ago, the leadership team in the college discussed the possibility of an online master’s degree in strategic communication and there was a sense that we could pull it off.

There was room for well-intentioned caution as well. Faculty in our college have looked askance at online programs because of concerns about quality. Can we offer a quality program that is fully online? And do we have the bandwidth to add a new program given our current commitments to our undergraduate and graduate students?

After careful thought and deliberation, our faculty and staff, with valuable suggestions from alumni, have pulled off a remarkable feat. In less than two years, whiteboard drawings on a cold January morning have come to life as a full-fledged degree program with 20 students enrolled in classes. Spartans Will.

5 Reasons for Our Online M.A. in Strategic Communication

A golden era for communication. We live in a time that would easily qualify as a special moment in history for the discipline of communication. Every dawn brings new breakthroughs and innovations in communication technology. Keeping up with these changes can be bewildering. Natural curiosity combined with lifelong learning is the only way to keep pace. Our new M.A. program will spark new interests and offer the scaffolding for lifelong learners. At the same time, students will acquire new digital skills that can be put to immediate use on the job.

Nothing more practical than a good theory. ComArtSci is home to world-class researchers and experts who examine various facets of media and communication. From neurons to nations, our faculty generate new knowledge on mobile and social media, human-computer interaction, social influence, public relations and advertising, health, risk, science and environmental communication, computational communication and virtual reality. The new Strategic Communication M.A. is a vehicle to translate research in these areas into actionable insights that offer a competitive edge for working professionals. Such translational efforts that benefit students and citizens are at the heart of MSU’s land-grant mission.

T-shaped curriculum. Our T-shaped curriculum offers the right balance of breadth and depth. Depth is essential for success in today’s highly technical and specialized communication careers. But breadth is an equally important dimension. Studies show that soft skills, such as critical thinking, social and emotional intelligence, active listening, effective communication, and ability to collaborate are essential for success. Our curriculum offers the best of both worlds.

Learning through peer interactions. Best practices in executive education emphasize the importance of peer learning. When working in groups, students bring their unique knowledge and work experiences to bear on course content. This constructivist approach allows for a robust exchange of ideas and peer-to-peer learning and networking.

Enduring values and self-reflection. It is often said that communication is power. With power comes responsibility. In our busy professional lives, rarely do we have the time to reflect on the unintended effects of our work. We work at a frenetic pace, almost instinctively from muscle memory. An important objective of our program is to force busy professionals to use the pause button to make time for self-reflection. We need to think about what we do and why we do it. Through this program, we hope to offer a transformative experience by integrating sound values with new skills, theories and principles.

Many individuals contributed to the launch of this program. I would like to highlight a few who played an instrumental role -- Kami Silk, John Sherry, Bree Holtz, Valeta Wensloff, Keesa Johnson, our faculty who stepped up to create and teach the classes under tight deadlines, and our students who placed their trust in us. Special thanks to Jason Archer, director of the program, for his leadership and relentless optimism.

Learn more about the program
To learn more about the program, sign up for a webinar and apply, visit

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