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Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication

Strategic Communication Masters Program

Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication

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Program Information

Designed exclusively for working professionals in advertising, public relations or corporate or nonprofit communications, the Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication focuses on the study of communications strategy, planning and evaluation, as well as persuasion and advertising theory. Our curriculum recognizes that the communication industry is rapidly changing and is in need of strategic thinkers who can achieve business outcomes. You’ll learn how to create and implement effective communication strategies while becoming a communicator who provides strategic insight to executives.

Become an Integrated Strategic Communicator

Today’s communicators need strategic and practical skills to navigate the constantly changing media landscape. Sharpen your skills while embedding theory into your everyday work and transforming your career.

  • Develop planning and analytical capabilities that empower your career.
  • Break free from tactic-only thinking and embed strategy and holistic thinking into your communications planning and execution.
  • Experience the rigor and respect of an MBA with less number crunching and more creativity.

You Can Do It

Our program is designed for communications and marketing professionals who are working full-time. Our faculty and your fellow students understand the need for work/life balance. This degree is designed to be completed in two calendar years. Period. No waiting for class availability or impossible schedules. You will complete your coursework and capstone project in a workable schedule that still leaves time for the rest of your life.

What Makes Us Different?

The Cohort Advantage: Learn From and With Your Peers

  • Take the same courses, start to finish, with the same group of dedicated peers who collaborate, support and inspire eachother. Our unique cohort model grows your professional network and fuels graduation success.
  • Test ideas from your workplace with proactive peers in a safe, educational environment.
  • Graduate with a group of more than 20 peers and mentors who become lifelong friends and business contacts.
  • Collaborate with forward-thinkers who are ready to transform their careers and professional self, as well as expand their peer and mentor networks in a real and meaningful way.

Learn from the Best: Blend of Real-World Leaders and Scholars

  • Adjunct faculty from the Twin Cities agency community bring real-world client situations and case studies to the classroom.
  • Renowned faculty embed a theoretical framework around modern-day communication situations.
  • Projects and class sessions provide opportunities to bring work situations and ideas into the classroom. Many students’ Capstone papers are able to be used at work, to solve a problem, suggest a new practice or enhance company policy.

Numbers Don’t Lie: The Bottom Line

  • More than 90 percent of our alumni say that their income has improved significantly since completing their degree.
  • More than 90 percent of our alumni say that the program helped them become a better professional.
  • Our two-year graduation rate is nearly 90 percent, which is one of the highest at the University of Minnesota.

Our Heritage of Storytelling and Excellence

We’re the only strategic communication masters degree in the Twin Cities that is part of a nationally ranked school of journalism that values the fundamental disciplines of research and discovery, critical thinking, writing, editing and storytelling within the broader challenges of today’s media landscape.

Application Requirements

Professionals in strategic communication currently employed in an advertising, public relations or marketing firm, or in a communication function within a corporation, nonprofit, or government entity, may apply.  Other applicants will be considered also, whose experience or qualifications indicates the likelihood of their success.

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. institution or its foreign equivalent and at least two years of professional experience in any of the following areas:

  • Account planning, account management, advertising management, media planning or buying, media sales or promotion.
  • Corporate or nonprofit communications, public affairs, public relations or investor relations.
  • Direct marketing, sales management, marketing management, brand management or marketing or public opinion research.
  • Journalism, reporting, writing.

How do I apply?

To apply, follow the steps below. All materials must be uploaded to the online application, Apply Yourself. There is a rolling admission process, meaning that candidates are admitted as their applications are received until the 20-member cohort is full.

Applications must be received before June 15 for September admission. Incomplete applications will not be processed.

  1. Graduate School Online Application and Fee
  2. Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, uploaded to the online application.
  3. Official GRE scores sent by ETS. Our institution code is 6874; our department code is 4503.
  4. International Students whose native language is not English must submit official TOEFL scores.
  5. A Statement of Objectives
  6. Three (3) letters of recommendation, one of which must come from a current or previous employer who can verify your professional experience. Recommendations are also submitted online through Apply Yourself.
  7. Up to three (3) Professional Writing Samples (writing clips, multimedia design, etc.) written in English.
  8. A Professional Resume

Please do not submit paper applications to the School of Journalism, as they are unnecessary and not recommended. However, if you have professional writing samples that cannot be uploaded to Apply Yourself, please contact the Graduate Student Services office at sjmcgrad@umn.edu for alternative options.

Note for International Students

International students are welcome to apply for this program. But please note that no assistantships are given. Relocation to and employment in the Twin Cities is necessary while enrolled. Please email sjmcgrad@umn.edu with questions.

 

Degree Requirements

The Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication requires 33 graduate credits to be completed within 24 calendar months.  All students take the same 18 course credits in communication and complete a six-credit individual project.  In addition, nine credits of supporting study at the graduate level, at least six outside of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, must be completed.

Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0, and achieve a grade of B or higher on their six-credit project.  Student progress is evaluated by the program director, director of graduate studies, and program faculty.  Students must progress each semester to continue in the program. 

There is no final thesis or final M.A. oral examination required.

Program Curriculum

A brief overview of courses is listed below. All students are required to complete the following courses in sequence:

Strategic Communication M.A. Program Curriculum

Courses

An exploration of the analytical skills, techniques and methodologies used to identify information and social trends that affect communication strategy. The course will examine, evaluate and apply the techniques communication professionals can use to stay ahead of the marketplace when making decisions concerning communication strategy. Particular attention will be devoted to identifying trends in popular culture that lead to leverageable insights for message development.

JOUR 8200
Communication Strategy Research in Rapidly Changing and Complex Media Environments
Concepts, analytical techniques and methods to analyze audiences, target markets and social trends affecting communication strategy in context of complex and rapidly changing media environments.

JOUR 8201
Factors Impacting Communication Strategy
Identification and analysis of issues that affect the development of communication strategy, couple with background on how corporations develop strategic plans. Factors will be examined with a view to understanding their implications for the development of effective strategic planning. Attention will be given to both the analytic and predictive skills required in this area.

JOUR 8202
Generation and Selection of Communication Strategies
Concepts and methods for the development and selection of effective communication strategies to create and sustain information relationships between consumers and brands and/or organizations. A wide range of brand related concepts will be examined with a view to understanding their implications for the generation and selection of effective communication strategies.

JOUR 8203
Integration of Communication Strategy Across Media
An exploration of how communication strategies are integrated across media. The course will include the identification of all relevant stakeholders, points of media contact, audience segmentation, and the roles that each communication discipline can play in campaign development. It will also explore the relationships among media that underlie a successful communications campaign.

JOUR 8204
Measuring the Effectiveness of Communication Campaigns
An examination of the concepts and methods available to evaluate the effectiveness of strategic communication campaigns and their components. The course will review best practices in both qualitative and quantitative techniques in popular use. The course will examine laboratory, web site, and market approaches and the legal and ethical issues attendant to advertising and public relations evaluation research.

JOUR 8205
Cases in Strategic Communication An in-depth analysis of case studies focusing on the development and implementation of communication strategies. Cases will cover a broad range of situations including cases on products, corporate communication and non-profit organizations. Cases will focus on such issues as brand introduction, brand reinforcement, revitalizations, crisis communication, issues management, and legal and ethical considerations. The cases will examine campaign impact on all relevant stakeholders.

JOUR 8206
Research and Development of an Integrated Strategic Communication Campaign
This is a capstone independent study project demonstrating mastery of the entire curriculum in the MA in Strategic Communication. This project is completed by registering for JOUR 8206 in the Summer Session. Faculty provide ongoing instructional support for effective completion of the individual capstone case study projects.

Supporting Courses (Electives)
Students take nine credits of graduate-level credits, generally courses designated as 5-level courses and above. At least six of the nine credits must be from departments outside the SJMC. Examples of these courses are COMM 5441, Communication in Human Organizations and COMM 5451, Intercultural Communication Processes. Other courses may be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies if the student can demonstrate how the course is applicable to them and the program.

Cost to Attend

Please keep in mind that the cost of tuition is set by the University of Minnesota and fluxuates. These numbers are approximate.

  • Cost per credit: $1,250
  • Cost per 6-credit semester: $7,500
  • Cost per 3-credit semester (summer and May sessions): $3,600
  • Total cost for complete program: approximately $41,000

Books and cost of living not included in total cost.

Scholarships Available

Every semester, scholarships are offered exclusively to students enrolled in the Strategic Communication M.A. program. Scholarship applications are due during the first semester of enrollment.

Approximately $30,000 is given to students in support every year from the following merit-based fellowships and scholarships:

  • The Tartleton Strategic Communication Fellowship
  • The DJ Leary Strategic Communication Fellowship (exclusively for students employed in public affairs or public communications)
  • Tunheim Scholarship (exclusively for students employed in public relations)

Meet the Students

Professional Strategic Communication M.A. students are working professionals in advertising, public relations, corporate communications, nonprofit organizations and government. This program focuses on advanced professional study of communications strategy, planning, evaluation and creative management.

Cohort 8

Bridget Aymar

bridget aymarBridget Aymar earned her B.A. in Journalism (strategic communication track) from the University of Minnesota. She is the marketing and public relations coordinator for the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota. She is responsible for communicating relevant news about U-wide research and technology commercialization to internal and external audiences. Aymar is most interested in the sociological implications of strategic communication and aspires to learn about how emerging technologies change the way communicators reach audiences.

Derrick Biggs

Derek BiggsDerrick Biggs is from Tucson, Ariz. and earned his B.S. in Business Management and Marketing from the University of Arizona and participated in the Air Force ROTC, Detachment 020. He has many years of experience working for nonprofit organizations, including a position as the campus missionary and director with Prepare Ministries at the University of North Dakota. In the military, Biggs served as the financial management officer for the United States Air Force, where he supervised over 50 military and civilian personnel in multiple locations. He is most interested in marketing research into consumer behavior, as well as individual or group values and motivations. He would like to transition into public relations and marketing, specifically in the area of market research and senior executive advising.

Alison Blomster

alison blomsterAlison Blomster earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota Morris in Communications and English and earned a Secondary Education License in Communication and English for grades 7-12. She is the public relations representative for the U Card Office at the University of Minnesota. She has sat on a number of professional committees and task forces and participates in many professional development organizations. Blomster’s strategic communication interests include organizational communication, communications planning, relationship management and corporate social responsibility. She is passionate about public education and aspires to move into a more senior level communications role in academic affairs.

Thuy Vy Bui

Thuy Vy BuiThuy Vy Bui holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is the national merit/honors recruitment coordinator in the Office of Admissions at the University of Minnesota and the director of operations and marketing/owner of Que Viet Concessions. Thuy Vy is most interested in learning more about factors affecting strategic communication as well as social media and how it can shape a successful campaign. When she completes her master’s degree, she hopes to take her concessions company to the national market. Additionally, she aspires to serve as a communications and image consultant for small businesses.

Amber Cellotti

Amber CellottiAmber Cellotti is the coordinator for master’s and certificate degree services in the Graduate Student Services Office at the University of Minnesota. She is responsible for degree progress of students, review of student records and communication to graduate students, faculty and staff. She is most interested in how strategic communication relates to organizational changes and organizational effectiveness. In the future, Cellotti would like to work in a communication-specific role or in media relations within higher education.

Joshua Cramer

josh cramerJoshua Cramer is from Brooklyn Center, Minn. and holds B.A. degrees in Vocal Performance and Christian Studies from Crown College. Cramer is a personal banker and community banking specialist at Wells Fargo. His previous positions include an account executive position for Hubbard Broadcasting and a cognitive skills trainer for LearningRx. His main strategic communication interests include marketing and advertising, as they represent the intersection of business and art. He has over seven years of experience with shoes and orthotics/prosthetics.

William Defiel

will defielWilliam Defiel holds a B.A. in Marketing from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. His academic interests include advertising and community relations, and his career goal is to do marketing communications for an athletic department or professional sports team. He is currently a manager at Windmill Marina in Afton.

Meredith Engelen

meredith engelenMeredith Engelen is from Minneapolis, MN and is presently a strategic analyst for mono, an advertising agency located in Uptown, Minneapolis. At mono, she explores industry trends, consumer behaviors, competitive communications and other areas of relevancy to find the insights that help guide the brand strategy development for clients and new business. Previously, Meredith attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a B.A. in journalism and mass communication, and political science. She is most interested in brand strategy development, consumer insights and connection strategies, and she always strives to create the smartest and most thoughtful work.

Bonnie Usan Flood

Bonnie FloodBonnie Usan Flood lives in Minnetonka, MN and earned her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. Her professional experience includes positions as media and communications consultant for national, state and local campaigns; lobbyist for a coalition of nonprofits; reporter for a regional newspaper; producer, writer and director of documentaries, commercials and corporate communications and associate director of public affairs at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is most interested in learning how strategic communication affects political campaigns, public interest groups and issues-oriented non-profits.

Laurel Herold

laurel heroldLaurel Herold is from Duluth, Minn. and holds a B.A. in Advertising Management from Drake University. She is a public relations coordinator for the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, where she works on media relations and communications for the six health sciences schools of the university. She is most interested in corporate communications and aspires to plan long-term public relations and communication strategies for internal and external audiences.

Jennifer Holper

jennifer holperJennifer Holper is from New Hope, Minn. and holds a B.A in Social Work from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She works at PrairieCare Hospital and Clinics as a community relations representative, where she meets with stakeholders to ensure they know about PrairieCare programming and how to access the services for their clients. She also partners with community resources to promote mental health care education and anti-stigma campaigns. Holper is interested in learning how to integrate research and clinical best practices into action.

Gregory Holt

greg holtGregory Holt is from Indianapolis, Ind. and holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Wabash College in Indiana. Holt’s professional experience includes positions at Urbanworld Films, ESPN and Sprint. His academic interests include advertising and promotion. His personal interests are writing, politics, sports and film.

Alison Johnson

Alison Johnson earned her B.A. in Mass Communications – Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She is an interactive marketing planner at General Mills, where she is responsible for collaborating with internal departments to develop digital strategies for shopper targeted campaigns. She also plans and executes digital campaigns that deliver growth in both sales and volume across the entire GMI portfolio of products. Previously, Johnson held positions at Carlson Marketing, Riley Hayes Advertising, Carmichael Lynch and Campbell Mithun. The areas of strategic communication that she’s most interested in are how to best create and evolve brand building campaigns that have longevity and purpose, as well as how social media can be leveraged for brand-building and brand strategy development. She would eventually like to move into a managerial role within interactive or integrated marketing function.

Olivia Lepore

olivia leporeOlivia Lepore is from Menasha, Wisc. and holds bachelor’s degrees in Global Studies and Spanish from the University of Minnesota. Lepore currently works at the University of Minnesota Foundation as an administrative specialist in the marketing communications department for the Office of the President and Board Relations. Prior to this, she worked at Chamilia, LLC as a customer service coordinator and sales communications specialist. She is most interested in writing and editing communications pieces and public relations as it applies to the entertainment industry.

Meghan McGregor

Meghan McGregor Meghan McGregor grew up in the Twin Cities and attended the University of Minnesota, where she earned degrees in Journalism and Studies in Cinema and Media Culture. During her undergraduate education, she was a Minnesota Daily employee, a member of the NSAC team and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi – the premiere business fraternity. After graduation, she was hired at Campbell Mithun Advertising through the Lucky 13 Internship Program and has been there since. She is currently an Account Supervisor managing cereal brands for the General Mills client. She is thrilled to be back at the U of M to further her passion for strategy.

Joan O'Fallon

joan ofallonJoan O'Fallon is from Siren, Wisc. and holds a B.A. in Mass Communication/Public Relations from the University of South Florida. She is the communications director for a rural electric cooperative that serves 20,000 members in northwestern Wisconsin. Her previous positions include public relations director for the Robbinsdale School District and corporate communicator for North Memorial Medical Center. She is interested in expanding her knowledge of public relations, ethics and employee relations. O’Fallon aspires to build upon her knowledge, skills and abilities in public relations to make a positive contribution to her organization and society.

Julia Rancone

julia ranconeJulia (Hunter) Rancone holds a B.A. in Art History and Visual Culture Studies from Whitman College in Washington. She is an account supervisor at Ultra Creative and is most interested in studying the generation and selection of communication strategy. She aspires to work with brands and creative teams to develop brand experience strategy that contributes to a cross-channel consumer experience and innovative storytelling.

David Rausch

david rauschDavid Rausch earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Metropolitan State University. He is from Buffalo, N.Y. and works as a writing tutor in the Center for Academic Excellence at Metropolitan State. He also offers writing services across diverse genres and projects through Targeted Intentions, his business in St. Louis Park. His academic interests focus on the research and the understanding of how others receive communications, particularly related to psychology of individuals and collective groups. His career goals include continuing his writing services, teaching writing at the college level and consulting for small businesses.

Emily Stickler

emily sticklerEmily Stickler is from Eau Claire, Wisc. and earned her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She is the marketing manager at Hazelden and plans and executes social media strategy for the organization. Her previous titles include communications specialist for Hazelden and editorial intern for Minnesota Monthly. She is most interested in integrating strategic communication strategy and corporate communications, both internal and external.

Kelli Theiler

kelli theilerKelli Theiler holds a B.S. in Advertising from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. She works as an associate brand sociologist in the brand planning department at Carmichael Lynch. She moved to this position after a year and a half in her first role as an assistant media planner. Her strategic communication interests include advertising and branding, and she would like to continue working in the brand planning department at Carmichael Lynch and move into roles within planning and strategy.

Daniel Thiede

dan thiedeDaniel Thiede is a communications coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension, where he works with the Clean Energy Resource Teams. In this role, Thiede is responsible for everything from goal-setting and big-picture strategy to the daily management of websites, social media, outreach and marketing, public relations and publicity, design and publications and communications interns. The St. Paul native earned a B.A. degree in English with Writing Emphasis from the University of St. Thomas. He is particularly interested in strategic communications planning and management and public relations.

Amanda Underwood

amanda underwoodAmanda Underwood hails from Long Grove, Ill. and arrived in the Twin Cities by way of Iowa where she attended Grinnell College for her B.A. in English and Gender Studies. She currently works as the development & alumni relations assistant for the University of Minnesota College of Design. Underwood is interested in honing her research and evaluation skills for fundraising campaigns as well as exploring the worlds of for-profit advertising and marketing. Although drawn to strategy and analysis, her first love is creative work, and she hopes to maintain dedicated mental space for imagination, no matter where her career takes her.

 

Cohort 9

Anahita Ahrar

AhrarAnahita Ahrar of Woodbury, Minn. holds a B.A. degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is currently employed as a senior specialist on the Target India Central team at Target Corporation and also works part-time as a PR/marketing assistant for Jungle Red Salon Spa Gallery. The area of strategic communication that Ahrar finds most interesting is the evolving world of public relations as it pertains to social media and corporate organizations. She hopes this degree will allow her to expand her experience in the field of public relations and find a career surrounding media outlets, the entertainment industry and event planning. She would ultimately like to work for a well-known PR firm or own her own business.

Bob Cameron

CameronBob Cameron graduated from the University of Minnesota, became a Navy Cryptologist, and is now a FBI Special Agent working cyber crime. He is a member of both the Cyber Action Team, a group that reacts to computer intrusions worldwide, and the Cyber Field Instructor Program, responsible for technical presentations and outreach. Cameron’s academic interests include brand development, building arguments and public relations.

Sally Daly

DalySally Daly graduated from the University of North Dakota with B.A. degrees in English and Communications. She currently works for CaringBridge, where she holds the senior customer care representative position. She will celebrate three years with CaringBridge in October. Her favorite parts of the job include reporting customer feedback, managing/training remote Customer Care volunteers and hearing stories from some of the incredible people who use CaringBridge. Daly is excited to learn the planning and execution process for developing an organization's strategic plan. She also looks forward to the case studies and learning different tactics from various organizations. She hopes to use her M.A. degree to be on a leadership team for a nonprofit organization, as she would love to use her communication skills to help people.  

Barbara DeGroot

DeGrootBarbara DeGroot of Minnetonka, Minn. is a public relations specialist at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Previous work experience includes media relations at Global Volunteers, copy editor for the Pioneer Press, feature reporter for the Las Vegas Sun and the Wausau Daily Herald and co-author of the “Insiders’ Guide to the Twin Cities” guidebook. She holds a B.A. in Latin American Area Studies from the University of Minnesota and looks forward to studying how to effectively reach a receptive and engaged audience in the ever-changing media landscape.

Kate Demulling

DemullingKate Demulling holds a B.S. degree in Sociology and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was previously employed as the international adoption coordinator for Children’s Home Society and Family Services, and currently works as a research and evaluation project manager for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development. Demulling is most interested in studying health communications, particularly within family relations. She aspires to work for a health communications organization where she can efficiently and effectively communicate with the organization’s prospective and current clientele on how to accomplish their personal goal(s).

Matt DePoint

DePointMatt DePoint currently works as the public relations coordinator for the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, where he focuses primarily on brain sciences, diabetes and health policy. Previously, he worked at Exponent PR and Tunheim where he collaborated with a variety of clients on areas including health care, education, consumer and agriculture. DePoint earned his B.A. in Journalism with a focus on strategic communication/public relations from the SJMC. In his M.A. program, he is most interested in studying the evolving landscape of public relations and social media and hopes to one day be the director of communications for an organization or institution.

William Dunder

DunderWilliam Dunder of Minneapolis is a freelance photographer and new media specialist. He works for a number of photographers, production companies, organizations and institutions, including the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center, Tom Bakk’s gubernatorial campaign and The Fanconi Anemia Foundation. He holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Beloit College, enjoys studying advertising and has future plans to work as a creative director for an advertising firm.

Emily Franklin

FranklinEmily Franklin is the director of communications and environmental projects at Environmental Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building partnerships to solve Minnesota’s environmental problems. Franklin is responsible for developing the organization’s overall communications strategy as well as management of ongoing activities including newsletters, media relations, the website, blog and social media. Prior to joining Environmental Initiative, Franklin worked in environmental and regulatory affairs for a subsidiary of Xcel Energy and completed a communications and fundraising fellowship with Saint John’s Arboretum in Collegeville, Minnesota. The Minnesota native earned B.A. degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies from the College of Saint Benedict. She is most interested in exploring how to more effectively measure and evaluate communications and fundraising campaigns.

Carl Jaeger

JaegerCarl Jaeger holds a B.A. in both Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in Madison, he was involved in The Badger Herald, one of two daily campus newspapers and also interned in a Capitol press office. Upon graduation, Jaeger started as the weekend assignment editor at Fox 9 News (KMSP) in Minneapolis and was soon promoted to evening assignment editor. He is currently a producer for the Fox 9 Morning News. His academic interests include viewer/reader engagement, integrating new media into traditional media and political communication.

Reshma Kapadia

KapadiaReshma Kapadia is from India and holds a MBA in marketing from the University of Mumbai. She has over 10 years of work experience in business development and marketing. At Airtel, India’s largest telecom service provider, she led the customer acquisitions portfolio where she was responsible for growth in customer market share, consumer research and product development. She moved to Minneapolis more than a year ago with her husband and has been actively volunteering with the marketing and fund-raising teams at YWCA. Kapadia’s academic interests include product and brand development, social media and mobile advertising.

Elyse Paxton

Elyse PaxtonElyse Paxton, originally from Chicago, Ill., earned her B.A. in Speech Communication from Iowa State University. She is currently the communications coordinator for Academic Support Resources at the University of Minnesota. Her main responsibilities include writing and executing strategic communication plans, creating internal newsletters, editing course and program descriptions and creating tutorials for faculty and staff. Prior to this position, Paxton was an editor for Gardening How-To and FenderBender magazines. She is most interested in factors affecting strategic communication and intercultural communication processes and aspires to earn a management position in communications that involves her love of writing and editing.

Madeleine Saxler

SaxlerMadeleine Saxler holds B.A. degrees in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She's currently the communications specialist for the South Washington County Schools, where she develops and implements communications plans to support the district's mission of igniting a passion for lifelong learning. Previously, she served as both a communications intern and communications specialist in a similar role for a smaller school district, West St. Paul - Mendota Heights - Eagan Area Schools. The areas of strategic communication that she is most interested in studying include strategic communications planning and management, public relations and branding. Saxler hopes to use her degree to work in positions that focus on strategic planning and brand management.

Jennifer Veile

VeileJennifer Veile previously earned a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a B.S. in Mass Communications and English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. For the past three years, she has worked for the University of Minnesota Libraries as the multimedia site manager and media consultant. Previously, she worked for NPR and PBS in Illinois and PBS in Duluth, Minn. She is primarily interested in how non-profits and academic programs/services can highlight their visibility. Specifically, she is interested in strategies to cut through the din of communication to make an impact and get noticed and communicate internally. Veile enjoys teaching people how to communicate and would eventually like to guide an organization or individuals on how to brand themselves. She envisions using video as a communication tool that can help others accomplish their branding goals. 

Heather Voorhees

VoorheesHeather Voorhees, an internal communications consultant for Fairview Health Services, has worked in the communications industry for 10 years. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communications (with an emphasis on print journalism) from Minnesota State University Moorhead, she worked as a journalist for small-town newspapers and local magazines throughout Minnesota. In 2008, she joined the internal communications team at Fairview Health Services, where she works to effectively and efficiently relay educational and inspirational messages to more than 20,000 employees throughout the Fairview system. Communication is a passion of hers, both on and off the clock: in her free time, she teaches a monthly career exploration course for Dakota County, leads a new homeowner class through Habitat for Humanity and serves as public relations chairwoman for Rotary District 5950.

Jered Weber

WeberJered Weber of Verndale, Minn. earned his B.A. degree in English and Mass Communications, with a minor in history and a certificate in publishing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. He currently serves as the director of communications for the Minnesota State University Student Association. He is primarily interested in learning the psychology behind effective strategic communications. In addition, he would like to learn how to couple this understanding of the “human” element in communications with the latest tools and strategies to more effectively move public opinion towards solving the greater public policy challenges of this generation; most notably, that of climate change and energy independence. In the future, Weber hopes to find a position in the nonprofit, government or private sector where he could work towards creating a clean, independent energy future through effective communications and public outreach.

Jenna Williams

WilliamsJenna Williams holds a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota in Environment and Natural Resources. She currently serves as the communications coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources where she plays many roles, including recruiter/marketer for undergraduate programs, newsletter editor, social media manager and events coordinator. The areas of strategic communication that Williams is most interested in are communication strategy development, social media and marketing. In the future, she would like to continue to work in the field of environmental/natural resource communications and eventually hold a leadership position for a team of communicators.

Alumni

Class of 2013

  • Kelly Auxier
  • Elizabeth Cooper
  • Alyssa Davidson
  • Bryan Engleson
  • Lindsay Grome
  • Elizabeth Harvey
  • Judy Hohmann
  • Sarah Howard
  • Nathan Kells
  • Daniel Nicklin
  • Katy Romer
  • Shabnam Shakibi
  • Sarah Shindelar

 

Class of 2012

  • Katie Beaudet
  • Jill Copeland
  • Shannon Eisentrager
  • Jeff Falk
  • Jennifer Grasswick
  • Amelie Hyams
  • Kess Knight
  • Nancy Linden
  • Kay Pavel
  • Amanda Rotella
  • Virginia Schmidt
  • Brian Sonnenberg
  • Matthew Tveter

 

Class of 2011

  • Katie Beal
  • Tim Blotz
  • Jina Duchnowski
  • Rachel Dungca
  • Aleta Johnson
  • Stacey Kawakami
  • Erin Klegstad
  • Jamie Lee
  • Kevin Moe
  • Rachel Nelson
  • Steven Norman
  • Angela Rolle
  • Arik Rudolph
  • Nancy Sanchez
  • Ann Schmidt
  • Janet Swiecichowski
  • Stefanie Tschida
  • Jason Voiovich
  • Indira Zamor

 

Class of 2010

  • Shannon Breimhurst
  • Molly Dickinson
  • Megan Drabandt
  • Rachel Dungca
  • Shannon Edholm
  • Meghan Flaagan
  • Jessica Fleischman
  • Elizabeth Frees
  • Kari Fox
  • Martha Head
  • Jill Jamison
  • Danielle Linneweber
  • Aaron Miller
  • Nicole Nachazel
  • Joan O'Brien
  • Marc Pena
  • Julie Price
  • Sara Wolf

 

Class of 2009

  • Heather Arntson
  • Heidi Backer
  • Jennifer Benson
  • Terrence Blake
  • Alison Coffey-Cusick
  • Tricia Conway
  • Jennifer Hallgren
  • Rebecca Hennen
  • Stacie Mariette
  • Jennifer Max
  • Cecilia Mische
  • Michael Schommer
  • Karen Schultz
  • Molly Schwartz
  • Katherine Sophia
  • Jennifer Stoltenow
  • Michael Tankenoff
  • Jessica Anderson
  • Robyn White

 

Class of 2008

  • Rebecca Aiken
  • Ann Bechtell
  • Elizabeth Bogut
  • Anitra Budd
  • Christopher Campbell
  • Julie Christensen
  • Amy Covington
  • Tom Donaghy
  • Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez
  • Robert Gore
  • Michael Hemmesch
  • Natalie Johnson
  • Shadetra Johnson
  • Phoebe Larson
  • Sarah Mahanna
  • Samantha Moy
  • Lynnette Offen
  • Hillary Smith
  • Sandra Syfko
  • Kevin Theese
  • Nikolai Ursin
  • Eva Widder

Class of 2007

  • Amy Danielson
  • Jonathan Dueck
  • Deborah Stull Erickson
  • Kurt Errickson
  • Joshua Gerads
  • Justin Ihle
  • Karen Keller
  • Rebecca Lunna
  • Jessica Mooney
  • Shreya Mukherjee
  • Alan Olson
  • Adam Pagel
  • Matt Rogers
  • Katherine Staiger
  • Carrie Stowers
  • Kelly Weber
  • Shana Weiss

Advisory Board

The Strategic Communication M.A. program prides itself with being well connected within the community. The program regularly consults with members of its strategy review board and calls on them to enhance curriculum and enrich student experiences. Learn more about our board below.

Board members:

*Kurt Errickson, staff representative, AFSCME

Marilee Grant, director of community relations, Boston Scientific

Kelly Groehler, vice president of communications and public affairs, Mid America Energy Holdings Company

Margaret Ann Hennen, president, Hennen Communication, LLC

John Himle, principle, Himle Rapp

Judy Kessel, founder, board chair, StoneArch Creative

Matt Kucharski, executive vice president of agency services, Padilla Speer Beardsley

Beth LeBreche, vice president of strategic development, Gage

*Rebecca Luna, account director, Exponent PR

Rachael Marret, senior vice president of customer engagement, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Mary Meehan, co-founder and CEO, Panoramix Global

Eric Pehle, executive vice president, general manager, Weber Shandwick

*Karen Schultz, business development manager, Gage

Doug Spong, president, Carmichael Lynch

*Alumni who serve on the board

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What will I do with my degree?

    Graduates of the master’s program in strategic communication will develop knowledge, skills and training to be next-generation communications leaders. The foundation of successful organizational communications is strategy – and that’s the core educational focus in this master’s program. You should develop your leadership ability, marketability and productivity. It will help you be a leader. We believe the curriculum will enhance your ability to identify and develop the best communications strategy, develop creative and original approaches to solving communications problems, and make you better informed about theories that are the basis for effective organizational communications.

    Graduates of the program now work in communications positions at a wide variety of organizations – advertising and public relations agencies, trend tracking consulting firms, Fortune 100 corporations, small manufacturing companies, state agencies, school districts, area colleges and universities and many non-profit organizations. The degree itself is not the key to success – but the knowledge gained helps advance the careers of many students. Routinely, students in the program say that they can apply what they learn in class the next day at work.

  • How does this program compare to an MBA?

    This program is designed first and foremost for storytellers. You will experience the rigor of an MBA curriculum but with more focus on strategy and creativity. Many students do take elective MBA courses in marketing, consumer buyer behavior and brand management.

  • How do students balance work, life and classroom?

    Our completion rates above 90 percent suggest that students who commit themselves to our program find this degree extremely manageable. Since courses meet on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, many of our students establish a new weekly routine. Course workload is easily completed on weekends, instructors are flexible and cohorts work like a support group.

  • Do I need an undergraduate degree in strategic communications to be accepted?

    No. Some successful strategic communications professionals have degrees in other disciplines. Each candidate’s qualifications will be evaluated from various perspectives – with undergraduate curriculum just one of many factors.

  • When should I apply?

    We’re using a rolling admission process. That means the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll find out if you’re accepted. The application deadline is June 15— but we urge you to apply as early as possible. Enrollment will be limited to only 20 students.

  • How soon will I find out if I’m accepted?

    Once your application is completed (keep in mind that it’s a dual application process, with one for the University of Minnesota Graduate School and one for the SJMC) and your application fee is received, the process takes about four to six weeks. Candidates will be notified on a rolling basis.

  • Can I tour the facilities or speak with individual faculty members before deciding to apply?

    Yes. Program director Steve Wehrenberg is available to answer questions at wehre003@umn.edu.

  • How do I get an application for admission?

    Directions on how to apply can be found in the Application Information tab.

  • Do I have to do a master’s thesis?

    No. Instead of a master’s thesis, you will do a Capstone Project that will require you to prepare and present a final project in consultation with your academic advisor and reviewed by two other graduate program faculty members. Acceptable formats for the final project include: a publishable series or by-lined academic journal article on an important strategic communications issue or trend; an original research paper on an important dimension of strategic communication; a major paper and presentation on a specific challenge and recommended solution in strategic communication.

  • When can I start taking classes?

    All registered students begin classes in September.

  • Do I need to submit GRE scores?

    Generally, yes. However, if you already have a graduate degree in another field, the Academic Director may waive the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) requirement. GMAT scores will also be accepted.

  • Can previous coursework in public relations, advertising or journalism fulfill requirements for this degree?

    Generally this program is highly customized in advanced strategic communication. Students will be expected to take all courses totaling 33 credits in a structured schedule and program.

  • Can previous coursework for which I've received graduate credits be used to meet the requirements for elective courses?

    Yes. And graduate level courses from other programs may be considered as elective credits, subject to approval by the Academic Director.

  • Are the courses available online?

    None of the courses are available online, however you may be able to take one or more of your electives online.

  • Can I do this part-time?

    This full-time program has been designed for working professionals, so courses are offered two nights per week (generally Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5:30 - 8 p.m.) in the fall and spring and one night a week (generally Tuesday or Thursday evenings from 5:15 - 10 p.m.) in the summer. Students take six credits (or two classes) per semester to complete the program in two years. Students who want to attend on a part-time basis must consult with the program directors at the time of application.

Student Research

"Young Adult Motivations Towards Volunteering with Youth Organizations"
Amelie Hyams, M.A. '12

"The Advent Conspiracy: An exploration of the efficacy of a communications campaign in increasing charitable giving"
Aleta Johnson, M.A. '11

"Changing Attitudes: The Print-to-Digital Shift and its Implications for Magazine Advertising"
Steven Norman, M.A. '11

"Establishing Online Credibility: An Evaluative Look at Corporations' Use of Blogging"
Angela Rolle Thompson, M.A. '11

"Community Relations: Considering Effectiveness and Value"
Meghan Flaagan, M.A. '10

"Internal Communication and Its Effects on Employee Satisfaction and Engagement"
Kari Fox, M.A. '10

"Trust, Expertise, Likability...Why they matter in the financial services industry"
Heidi Backer, M.A. '09

"The name of the game: TCF Bank Stadium and Reactance Theory"
Rebecca Hennen, M.A. '09

"Re-branding a Political Candidate"
Michael Tankenoff, M.A. '09

"The Role of Online Social Networking in Professional Settings: A study of online social networking use within a business organization"
Elizabeth Bogut, M.A. '08

"Exploring the Communication Efforts of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities Organization from an Ordinary Non-Profit to an Effective Business Model"
Shadetra Johnson, M.A. '08

"Cause Branding: The Consumer Perspective"
Eva Widder, M.A. '08

"The Pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Model: Medtronic’s Way to Branding and Architectural Success"
Alan Olson, M.A. '07

"Starbucks, Taco John’s and the Typology of Brand Greatness"
Matt Rogers, M.A. '07

"New Uses of Expectancy Value and Symbolic Interpretation in Applying Complexity Theory in Labor Union Communications on Health Care Advocacy"
Kurt Errickson, M.A. '07

Testimonials

Timothy Blotz

 

 

“This is a smart program for a communications professional wants to seriously amp-up their effectiveness, think and perform more like a CMO, or simply arrive at faster solutions to communication issues.” – Tim Blotz, M.A. 2011, Reporter, KMSP-TV

 

 

Jessica Sellers

 

 

“I felt stuck in my career and wanted to learn executional tactics and strategies, not just a high-level MBA view. I truly believe this program has been one of the best decisions of my life and I loved every minute of it.” –Jessica Sellers, M.A. 2013, Marketing Account Specialist, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

 

 

Jill Jamison

 

“This program gave me the opportunity to network with individuals in the same industry from different companies, who I have stayed in touch with. It's helpful to have contacts in the same field at different companies to bounce ideas off of and for future networking possibilities.” – Jill Jamison, M.A. 2012, Principal Professional Services Consultant/Media Analyst, SuccessFactors