MA in Communication - Curriculum

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Why a Master's in Communication Online Degree?

In the master's in Communication online degree program, you will develop media, marketing, branding and public relations skills that a wide range of industries need today. You will graduate prepared to adopt and use future communication innovations for the benefit of your employers and yourself.

The 12-course (36-credit) degree program requires seven core courses and four specialized courses. In the final capstone course, you will use what you have learned to strategize and execute a real-life communication campaign of your choice. All coursework is completed 100-percent online.

Master's in Communication Online Courses

COM-500: Communication, Media & Society
Communication, Media, and Society serves as an introduction to key concepts and theories in the study of communication and media. In this course, students will examine the foundations of the discipline of communication focusing particularly on the ways in which media and technology have impacted the study of culture, relationships, and messages. The course will explore the impact of communication on various arenas, including families, relationships, culture and the changes in communication and media over time. Students will analyze their own skills, communication patterns, networks, and resources and articulate a plan for future studies and career plans in communication.
COM-510: The Vantage Point: Knowledge & New Media
This course contends with the evolving concept of "knowledge production" in the new media environment. It focuses on strategies for independent online research, including processes for identifying, vetting, and citing appropriate sources of information, as well as best practices for writing in the online environment. Issues of copyright, plagiarism, and ethics related to the creation of online content will be evaluated. Finally, students will explore their role as producers of mediated communication, including primary authorship and the curating of content.
COM-530: Law & Ethics: A Line in the Sand
Legal issues related to communication and media in the U.S. are rapidly changing in an age where technology and the distribution of mediated messages are ubiquitous. Thus, this course contends with the major legal, ethical, and policy issues related to mass media communication particularly focusing on those issues that impact digital and public communication. Concepts related to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, libel, obscenity, censorship, right to privacy, intellectual property, and the governance of media and digital technology will be explored. Additionally, this course asks students to contend with many ethical issues and philosophies pertinent to media and communication in the interest of articulating a personal ethical framework as a graduate communication student and practitioner.
COM-540: Second Self: Identity & Personal Brands
Interactive and social media have opened up myriad opportunities for individuals to create, manage, re-create, and even fabricate their identity online. This course contends with the idea of a virtual or "second" self and the ways in which one navigates identities in a highly networked environment. Students will explore the relationship between professional and personal identities, privacy and security in online environments, and the creation of personal brands in various media. Students will have the opportunity to explore and experiment with various types of social media tools to develop an effective and active online brand.
COM-600: Communication for Leadership
This course aims to prepare students for a variety of leadership roles in dynamic organizations and environments. Students will analyze key aspects of leadership, relationships, and organizations such as: organizational culture, conflict in interpersonal and organizational settings, organizational roles and socialization, power in personal and professional relationships, and group communication theories. Students will contend with these concepts from a personal standpoint by using examples from their own relationships and workplaces to apply best practices and improve their own communication and leadership skills. Additionally, this course takes a systems theory approach to organizations and teams, looking at the interrelationship of events, people, and ideas and the systemic impact of small and large changes.
COM-610: More than Words: Communication by Design
Illustrations, photos, infographics, videos, animations, and dynamic interfaces often tell a consumer more about a brand or product than the product itself. It is increasingly important that media consumers and creators be fluent visual communicators. This course presents fundamentals of good visual design and presentation in media focusing on the best practices for a variety of design tools. Students will engage with key concepts related to visual production and consumption, media and web design, storytelling and narrative in visual formats, and accessibility of content for diverse audiences.
COM-620: Strategic Communication in a New Age
In today's public climate, political rhetoric is no longer just a tool of the immensely powerful or those who have access to a podium and speakers. The dissemination of mass messages can occur in any number of avenues and can reach audiences that were previously inaccessible or disinterested. Communication professionals today are in a powerful position to shape messaging and distribution strategies for many contexts: politics, popular culture, business, nonprofit advocacy, social movements, advertising, and marketing. In this course, students should develop the perspective and skill sets necessary to respond effectively and creatively to complex social problems and opportunities in written, verbal, and visual communication mediums.
COM-690: Communication Capstone
This capstone course integrates previous coursework and practical experience with a focus on authentic demonstration of competency in the student's chosen specialization in communication. Instead of introducing new concepts, students will synthesize prior learning to design, develop, and execute a communication campaign on their chosen subject as a culmination of their studies. The course will be structured around this critical task, so that students have the appropriate support and resources required to be successful.

Choose either a Concentration or any four of the electives below:

Health Communication Concentration Courses

COM-575: eHealth and Technology
eHealth, telemedicine, and cybermedicine are quickly becoming the new 'face' of medicine in today's world. Patients and consumers are looking for ease of access to healthcare information and are met with an abundance of electronic resources. This course provides an introduction to the role of electronically-mediated communication in health communication and campaigns and asks students to engage with how technology can improve, hinder, and/or evolve health literacy and health communication practices.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-576: Health Communication & Culture
Health literacy is an increasingly important component of any health care system as patients and communities struggle to integrate appropriate interventions, and these interventions are always shaped by the cultural and social contexts of the communities affected. This course provides an advanced investigation into relevant cultural concepts that shape health care and health communication, focusing on strategies to improve health literacy ethically and empathically.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-577: Healthcare Ethics
Certainly ethics is important in every branch of communication. But when conveying messages about subject matter as sensitive, high-stakes, and emotionally-charged as health care, ethics takes on a new level of significance. In this course, students will re-examine general principles of responsible communication in the new context of health communication. Through investigation of relevant case studies, students will logically extend and add definition to their existing moral frameworks. The course will emphasize the nuance and complexity of health-related ethical issues, including the impacts of technology on health privacy, stigma surrounding controversial health issues, illnesses, and treatment options, and one's moral responsibility to ensure accuracy in disseminating public health information.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-578: Contemporary Public Policy and Strategy
Particular to the field of health communication is the significant role governmental policies, initiatives, and practices will play - from the content of one's messages to the way in which they are conveyed. Additionally, as a health communication professional, it is likely that one may be called upon to draft, disseminate, and promote health legislation and associated initiatives. In this course, students will examine contemporary legislation and health care policy trends, so as to adeptly devise strategies and craft messages for effectively communicating this essential information. Attention will be paid to best practices for responsibly addressing controversial political issues in one's health communications.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510

Public Relations Concentration Courses

COM-655: Reputation Management: Building a Brand
The public relations field distinguishes itself through its emphasis on capturing hearts and minds. Above and beyond the marketing goal of persuading target consumers to the desired economic end, it is the task of the public relations professional to persuade individuals and groups to accept a certain belief or opinion. In this way, the topics of messaging and branding take on new meaning within the context of public relations. In this course, students will make that transition in to the world of public relations by re-examining and building upon core principles to build a foundation for the public relations concentration.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-656: Spread the Word: Social Media Practices
The ease of self-publishing using blogs, the dedication of entire mainstream news segments to the "conversation" on Twitter, the use of RSS feeds to immediately deliver customized messages and other personalization of communication all hail the dawn of a new era that is at once global and highly individualistic. For a public relations professional, social media technologies present unique challenges and opportunities to develop and protect one's brand. In this course, students will engage in thorough investigations and practical applications of the specific technologies, outlets, platforms, networks, and mediums that will populate their professional tool kit. Students will gain proficiency in particular, relevant tools, as well as add to their general fluency in the language of technology.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-657: Crisis Communication in a 24/7 World
The pervasiveness of social media, 24-hour news coverage, and mobile communications has transformed the role of public relations specialists. What constituted 'private' has become increasingly public given individuals' immediate access to multiple platforms and technologies to publish sensitive information. Protecting a brand and maintaining a consistent message in the maelstrom of broadcasted opinions is certainly more difficult than ever before. This course addresses the topics of public relations ethics and crisis management through the investigation of landmark cases and hypothetical crisis scenarios, preparing students to develop crisis management, prevention, and response skills crucial for today's media environment.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-658: Integrated Public Relations Campaigns & Measurement
Developing and executing a public relations campaign requires the integration of skills, strategies, and tactics to create a cohesive, dynamic whole. Similarly, this course integrates components from previous coursework by addressing topics such as the life cycle of the campaign, campaign management strategies, effective tracking and measurement, and making modifications based on data analysis. Students will evaluate past successful and unsuccessful campaigns in order to glean and substantiate best practices in campaign design and execution. Finally, students will create structured components of public relations campaigns in order to prepare for the critical task in the capstone course.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 and COM-510

New Media & Marketing Concentration Courses

COM-565: Communication with Media Technology
Media technologies are changing so rapidly that those currently designated as 'new' could become obsolete before the impact to the communication field is even fully understood. Communication professionals must seek to understand the catalysts of technological changes by conceiving of them as products of the values and assumptions held by the societies that create them. This course is focused on how new media technologies have developed, how they might modify previous understandings of the relationship between technology and culture, and how they have shaped industries (particularly media industries) today. Students will investigate the practical aspect of various technologies of interest in order to become more savvy consumers and critics of emerging media tools and resources.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-566: Pen to Platform
A corollary to and resulting challenge of new media technology is the need for messages that are applicable and effective in a myriad of different contexts. In this course, students will craft and structure written work so that it may be more easily translated to different platforms. Different writing processes, such as information mapping, will be employed to demonstrate new ways of thinking about information. Students will apply best practices for effectively communicating across different media and actualizing varied communication in their writing.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-567: Digital Tools and Teams
Although modern technology empowers the individual to do far more with limited resources than ever before, it is certainly impossible to live and work in a vacuum in today's globalized society. Striking the balance between DIY, collaboration, and contracting help requires adept decision making and project management that must be rooted in the overall strategy and mission of the communication plan. In this course, students will explore and employ the practical resources, tools, economics, and logistics of new media and marketing. Additionally, students will determine and practice effective means for utilizing diverse networks of colleagues, mentors, clients, and critics to shape their media strategies.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 or COM-510
COM-568: New Media Campaign Design & Marketing
Developing and executing a new media campaign requires the integration of skills, strategies, and tactics to create a cohesive, dynamic whole. Similarly, this course integrates components from previous coursework by addressing topics such as the life cycle of the campaign, campaign management strategies, effective tracking and measurement, and making modifications based on data analysis. Students will evaluate past successful and unsuccessful campaigns in order to glean and substantiate best practices in campaign design and execution. Finally, students will create structured components of new media campaigns in order to prepare for the critical assessment in the capstone course.
Prerequisites:
COM-500 and COM-510

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