The Richard M. Fairbanks Center for Communication and Technology at Butler University during the spring.

Online Master’s in Strategic Communication

Program Overview

The online Master of Science in Strategic Communication offers a rigorous yet flexible curriculum through a merger of theory and practice in a connected community of students and faculty.

You'll learn real-time application of a broad range of communication skills and prepare to advance within your current organization or transition into a new career path.

  • Apply concepts and best practices to lead communication strategy on multiple media platforms aimed at diverse audiences.

  • Design and analyze research methods to drive informed communication strategy and address organizational goals.

  • Utilize real-world case studies and simulations to learn how to strategize, plan, execute, and evaluate ethical and effective strategic communication.

  • Complete a comprehensive capstone experience and tackle real-world communication challenges that an organization is facing.


The MS in Strategic Communication features a flexible online model where students take one seven-week course at a time.

This course introduces students to the foundational theories, strategies, and practices of strategic communication. The course is organized to expose students to the interdisciplinary theoretical literature on strategic communication, to understand and embrace the relationship between theory and practice, and to apply theoretical frameworks to strategic communication challenges.

This course is a comprehensive examination and application of qualitative and quantitative methods and designs typically employed to plan, monitor, and assess strategic communication campaigns. The purpose of the course is to develop students’ skills to direct and develop valid and reliable research, and to analyze and apply results that lead to successful programming that addresses a variety of organizational goals.

This course will examine the dynamic legal and ethical issues facing the strategic communication field with an emphasis on central legal concepts such as First Amendment jurisprudence, commercial speech, and intellectual property. Additional concepts to be explored include defamation, privacy, indecency/obscenity, and political speech across print, broadcast, and digital media. Students will apply these concepts through a combination of discussion, activities, and case studies to current legal and ethical challenges relevant to strategic communication and explore the larger implications for mass media and society at large.

This course will introduce students to graphic design principles and production technologies as they relate to strategic communication design. The course provides students with essential knowledge and skills for success in discriminating good design from bad, and the ability to articulate the difference. Students will also explore the most common tasks required to create and optimize media for digital and print distribution.

The Capstone in Strategic Communication simulates a senior communication management context, where you will apply what you have learned throughout your graduate studies. This research-intensive course provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate specific skills and knowledge, as well as sound judgment, on route to developing an organization’s strategic communication plan.

Throughout this course students will become familiar with a range of social media tools, analyze and discuss their uses and implications for strategic communication, and develop participation literacy. Students will have the opportunity to explore both the theory and practice of social media through writing assignments, reaction papers, and a final applied research paper. This course covers topics such as social media strategy and tactics for businesses, the history of social media, privacy issues and concerns, and how to use social media in moments of organizational crisis.

All organizations experience crises. This course explores theories and research related to organizational communication before, during, and after a crisis. Students examine and apply the fundamentals of crisis communication and crisis management. The course will use theoretical and applied research as well as recent real-life organizational crises to see the need for audience-centered, research-based crisis communication in order to successfully navigate today’s crisis communication landscape. The goal is to prepare students to better strategize, plan, execute, and evaluate ethical and effective crisis communication across a variety of organizational and audience contexts – including students’ current or aspirational industries.

This course focuses on the techniques by which public relations practitioners influence selected publics through mass and social media. It covers theory, best practices, and especially application of principles so that students will complete the course with the ability to create a sound media relations function for their organization that is ethical, effective, and that serves to advance their organization’s goals and objectives.

This course will examine branding from an audience-centric approach to understand the interplay of audiences, the marketplace, and strategic communication in the branding of new and existing products and services. A combination of discussion, activities, case studies, and readings will provide students with theoretical and applied frameworks to understand, measure, create, and manage brands over time in a highly competitive marketplace. Specific emphasis will be placed on the role of strategic communication to communicate a clear positioning statement, value proposition, and brand personality to target audiences that contributes to strong consumer-brand relationships and brand equity.

This course is an introduction to strategic communication in the global and cross-cultural context. Students are exposed to a wide range of topics, including: the role of culture in strategic communication, intercultural communication theories, ethics and regulatory issues, history of globalization, new media technologies, cases in international strategic communication, and strategies to communicate with diverse audiences.

This course addresses the theory and practice of health and risk communication. This field considers effective ways to encourage healthy behaviors and is informed by sociological and psychological variables. Specifically, we’ll examine public health campaigns across multiple contexts—crises (like a pandemic) and general well-being (exercise, nutrition, safety, mental health, cancer prevention, etc.). Risk communication is a sub-study pondering, “Why do people differently evaluate personal risk?” Risk assessments don’t always correlate with personal behavior, making health communication a challenge. This course is for anyone interested in communicating about health to diverse stakeholders, including those managing lifestyle products.

Students in this course will examine leadership communication in the context of organizational change. Leadership is analyzed using the concept of citizenship with a focus on communication skills needed to help construct effective experiences for an organization, team, or community, whether in the role of doer, follower, guide, manager, or leader. Students will also evaluate organizational theory and practice that links to how early to mid-20th-century management theories have shaped current 21st-century organizations throughout change.


From public relations and advertising to research methods and strategic communication, our esteemed faculty bring invaluable knowledge and experience to the classroom. Get to know our faculty and learn about their strategic communication experience across a diverse range of industries, including healthcare, technology, non-profit, government, politics, legal, and environmental.

Dr. Rose Campbell


Dr. Abbey Levenshus


Rob Norris


Armando Pellerano


Dr. Mark Rademacher


Amanda Stevenson-Holmes


Dr. Kevin Wang


Tuition Costs

Per Credit: 30 Credits - Master’s Degree
*Tuition is subject to change each academic year.
Application Fee
Enrollment Deposit

Career Outlook

Below are just some of the career paths that could be available to graduates of the Master's in Strategic Communication program:

Job Title

Employed (2021)

Median Income (2021)

Public Relation Specialist









Public Relations and Fundraising Manager



Advertising and Promotions Manager



Media and Communication Worker



Social and Community Service Manager



Source: Emsi Labor Market Data, 2021

Important Dates

Spring 2023

October 10, 2022

Early Application Deadline

$500 Scholarship Available for Eligible Students

November 7, 2022

Priority Application Deadline

$500 Scholarship Available for Eligible Students

December 5, 2022

Final Application Deadline

January 9, 2023

First Day of Classes
*Deadline scholarships available to eligible students. These scholarships are not given in a lump sum. Instead, they are split per semester.


We require all applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and a desire to grow in the field of communications. 

A GMAT/GRE score is not required for admission to this program.

We know that students need real-world practice to thrive as professionals upon graduating and moving into the workforce. That’s why we’ve built hands-on experience into our online programs in the form of live debates, presentations, and breakout group discussions with fellow graduate students. The online learning experience combines innovative technology, a carefully considered curriculum, and active partnerships that fully prepare students to be the world-changing professionals they set out to be.


Learning Platform: Canvas

  • Our learning management system (LMS), Canvas, serves as students’ centralized hub for all course content and activities—think of Canvas as your college campus. Our students use this system to manage everything from asynchronous course content, course syllabi, assignments, and communication with instructors and peers. 

Class Structure and Feel: 

  • Includes live debates, presentations, and breakout group discussions with peers, emphasizing group work, collaboration, and a feeling of intimacy within our online classrooms. Students complete coursework, assignments, and readings prior to class and are ready to use learned information in lively classroom discussions. This “flip model” approach to learning allows students to get more out of the live classroom experience.

Review our tuition and fees and create a financial plan; there are multiple payment options and educational loans available. The Office of Financial Aid awards Federal Direct Loans to degree-seeking graduate students enrolled at least half-time (three credit hours). You can contact the Office of Student Accounts for information about billing and payment plans. 

The MSSC program is a total of 30 credit hours—15 credits of required classes and 15 credits of electives.

On average, students in this program dedicate 15-20 hours per week to their coursework.

Butler’s online programs are designed with the same high-quality curriculum and taught by the same distinguished faculty as our on-campus programs. You’ll learn from industry experts and engage with your peers in small classes through a flexible online format designed to work alongside your busy schedule.

Butler University offers three starts per year for this program—spring (January), summer (May), and fall (August).

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