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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Strategic Communications

Frank E. Dardis, Lead Faculty of Strategic Communications
Office: 212 Carnegie Building

Degree Conferred

Master of Professional Studies (MPS)

The Graduate Faculty

Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Communications

The MPS degree in Strategic Communications is a 30-credit program of study for individuals who are in the early and middle stages of their strategic communications careers, currently in or aspiring to managerial positions. The content of the program will be appropriate for such individuals employed in a wide range of functional specialties and industry sectors, including advertising, public relations, and strategic communications.
The MPS degree in Strategic Communications examines the process and application of purposive mass communication that is delivered to specific target audiences through varied mass media and other communications channels. Program content exposes the student to a broad range of strategic communications theory, research, and practical application related to developing and implementing effective communications plans for companies and organizations of all types. Courses examine how persuasive communication functions through mass media and other communication channels; how specific communications goals are developed based on theory and rationale; how strategic communications plans and campaigns are created and executed; and how the effectiveness of communications plans is measured and evaluated.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Educational Background

A minimum 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale) is recommended. Students also are expected to have some industry work experience prior to admission.

Language of Instruction

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. Consult the English Proficiency section of the Graduate Bulletin Application and Admission Procedures page for more information.

Core Application Packet

  • Completed official online Graduate School application and payment of nonrefundable application fee.
  • Statement of purpose: a 2-3 page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrates the student’s written communication skills.
  • A current vita or résumé.
  • Three letters of recommendation that attest to the student’s readiness for graduate study and document the requisite industry experience. Letters must be submitted through the online application. Within the online application you will be asked to enter the names and email addresses of three individuals who will be providing your recommendation. Those individuals will receive a note via email asking them to complete a brief form that will serve as your recommendation. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Total required credits for the MPS: at least 30 credits at the 400, 500, or 800 level; at least 27 must be at the 500 or 800 level, with at least 6 at the 500 level.

1. Student must take the following 21 required credits (7 courses)

Course Number

Course Title


COMM 530

Research Methods in Strategic Communications


COMM 531

Strategic Communications: Theory and Implementation


COMM 830

Strategic Communications Industry


COMM 831

Digital Media Analytics


COMM 832

Multimedia Content Development and Delivery


COMM 833

Ethics and Decision Making in Strategic Communications


COMM 834

Strategic Communications Campaigns (Capstone Course)


2. Student must take at least an additional 6 elective credits (2 courses) from the list below:

Course Number

Course Title


COMM 835

Social Media Communications


COMM 836

Strategic Communications Leadership


COMM 837

Reaching Multicultural Populations with Strategic Communications


COMM 838

Strategic Communications Law


COMM 839

Advanced Digital Media Analytics


3. Student must take at least an additional 3 elective credits from any World Campus course(s), which can be at 400-level (this includes all elective courses listed above).

Culminating Experience:  (3 credits)

  • COMM 834 -- Strategic Communications Campaigns (Capstone Course)

The culminating experience provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the theories and principles concerning strategic communications to a practical campaign project. Specific campaign clients and scope can vary, but all representative aspects of each project would include: setting effective communications goals; identifying proper target audiences to best achieve the goals; developing specific, effective messages for each target audience; creating the message content across multiple media platforms; implementing a message-delivery plan that optimizes effectiveness and efficiency; and evaluating campaign performance against predetermined, measurable benchmarks.

Course Substitutions

Substitutions for the above prescribed courses, either with resident-education courses, alternate online courses, or courses from other institutions, will be considered on a case-by-case basis subject to restrictions outlined in the Transfer of Nondegree and Certificate Graduate Credits, and must be petitioned and approved in advance by the program administrator, with input from the student’s adviser.

Student Aid

Refer to the Student Aid section of the Graduate Bulletin. World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Last Revised by the Department: Summer Session 2017

Blue Sheet Item #: 46-01-000

Review Date: 8/22/17



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