MA: Strategic Communication

Take your career to new heights: Master the art of effective messaging and influence with a strategic communication degree.

Enhance your professional potential with a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, designed to meet employer demands in the dynamic world of public relations, marketing communications, and media. Professionals use strategic messaging to shape public opinion, influence behavior, build consensus, and convey information. Strategic communication is a broad field with skills valued by employers including:

This comprehensive program offers the flexibility of online studies, allowing you to balance your career, life, and education seamlessly. With a focus on strategic communication techniques and best practices, you will gain the skills and knowledge to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of effective communication strategies in the digital age.

Whether you're a seasoned communication professional or looking to transition into the field, this program equips you with the tools to excel. Dive deep into the theories and principles of strategic communication. Learn how to craft compelling messages, build strong brands, and develop impactful strategic communication campaigns. Through interactive online courses, you'll engage with experienced faculty and collaborate with fellow professionals from diverse backgrounds, gaining valuable insights and real-world perspectives. With a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, you'll be well-prepared to effectively communicate with diverse audiences, to drive organizational success, and to position yourself as a leader in the fast-paced world of strategic communication.

Program Highlights

  • Online class delivery means you can further your education without pausing your career. You only have two in-person Saturday meetings during the degree program.
  • Choose between two tracks: Professional Portfolio Track (non-thesis) or Capstone Applied Research Project Track.
  • You are more than a name on a screen. Small class sizes let you connect and interact with faculty and class members.
  • You learn from faculty with professional experience in strategic communication.
  • You will develop knowledge, skills, and best practices valued by employers in all career fields.
  • GRE/GMAT test score waivers are available for applicants with at least five years of professional experience directly related to strategic communication (See Admissions Requirements section for qualifications).

Application Requirements

Students applying for admission to the M.A. in Strategic Communication must meet the university-wide requirements for graduate admission and the specific requirements for the MASC.

Application Process

Required Application Materials

All application materials must be sent to the UT Martin Office of Graduate Studies.

  • Graduate School Online Application. All official transcripts should be requested during the online application process.
  • Official GRE/GMAT test scores
  • MASC GRE/GMAT Professional Waiver Request for professionals with at least five years of professional experience directly related to strategic communication. All waiver requests must be evaluated and approved by the Department of Communications Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • Graduate Assistant Application (if interested)
  • Current resume
  • Three current and relevant letters of recommendation. These must be professional rather than personal references (i.e., from employers, faculty members rather than pastor, friend).
  • A 500-word statement of professional goals that addresses the student’s career goals and how the MASC would contribute to the achievement of those goals.
Admissions Requirements

Requirements for Unconditional Admission

Applicants who meet the following requirements qualify for unconditional admission to the MASC.

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Must have at least a 2.50 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on all work attempted prior to completion of the baccalaureate degree (4.00 scale) from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Meet one of the following options.
    • GRE: Verbal Reasoning: 150 (450 if taken prior to August 2011), Quantitative Reasoning: 138 (350 if taken prior to August 2011), Analytical Writing: 4.0
    • GMAT: Total Score 350, Analytical Writing Assessment: 4.0
  • Have a positive review from the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (MASC) Graduate Admission Committee

Requirements for Conditional Admission

Applicants may be granted conditional admission to the MASC subject to the following conditions:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Must have at least a 2.50 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on all work attempted prior to completion of the baccalaureate degree (4.00 scale) from a regionally accredited college or university.

AND

  • Meet one of the following options.
    • GRE scores: Verbal Reasoning: 146 (390 if taken prior to August 2011), Quantitative Reasoning: 138 (350 if taken prior to August 2011), Analytical Writing: 3.5
    • GMAT: Total Score 320, Analytical Writing Assessment: 3.5
    • LSAT: 148

    OR

    • GRE: Verbal Reasoning: 150 (450 if taken prior to August 2011), Quantitative Reasoning: 138 (350 if taken prior to August 2011), Analytical Writing: 3.0, and successfully complete (with a letter grade of B or better, or pass for a pass/fail course) during the first semester of graduate classes a writing course to be approved by the MASC Graduate Coordinator.
    • GMAT: Total Score 350, Analytical Writing Assessment: 3.0, and successfully complete (with a letter grade of B or better, or pass for a pass/fail course) during the first semester of graduate classes a writing course to be approved by the MASC Graduate Coordinator.

    OR

    • The GRE/GMAT entrance exam requirement may be waived for applicants who demonstrated sufficient academic achievement as an undergraduate student or who have a significant amount of professional experience related to strategic communication (i.e., public relations, marketing, advertising, campaign planning, fundraising, organizational management, etc.)
      • Academic Waiver Option
        • For applicants with less than five years full-time professional experience in strategic communication who demonstrated academic excellence as an undergraduate student and had a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25. Applicants must submit at least two strong letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty that speak to the students’ ability to successfully complete a graduate degree. Applicants for the academic waiver must also submit a sample of academic writing (research paper, essay, project with substantial amount of writing, etc.) and must receive a positive overall review from the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Graduate Admission Committee to be approved for the academic waiver.
      • Professional Waiver Options
        • For applicants who have at least seven years of full-time professional experience in strategic communication, hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and have at least a 2.50 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on all work attempted prior to completion of the baccalaureate degree (4.00 scale) from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants must demonstrate career advancement after completing the bachelor’s degree and receive a positive overall review from the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Graduate Admission Committee to be approved for the professional waiver.
        • For applicants who have at least five years of full-time professional experience in strategic communication, hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and have at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on all work attempted prior to completion of the baccalaureate degree (4.00 scale) from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants must demonstrate career advancement after completing the bachelor’s degree and receive a positive overall review from the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Graduate Admission Committee to be approved for the professional waiver.
        • Applicants requesting the test score waiver might be required to submit evidence of satisfactory academic writing ability or successfully complete (with a letter grade of B or better or pass for a pass/fail course) during the first semester of graduate classes a writing course to be approved by the MASC Graduate Coordinator.
  • Have a positive review from the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (MASC) Graduate Admission Committee. The committee review will include the quality of work experience, previous academic performance. Statement of goals and letters of reference.

Requirements for Early Unconditional Admission for UT Martin Undergraduate Seniors

Undergraduate seniors currently enrolled in the final semester for a baccalaureate degree at a university/college in the U.S. have the option for early admission to the MASC.

According to the UT Martin Graduate Catalog, “a senior at UT Martin who needs less than 30 semester hours to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree and has at least a B (3.00) cumulative average may take sufficient work for graduate credit to make a combined total of undergraduate and graduate credit hours of not more than 15 per semester, subject to the approval of the dean of graduate studies.” Strategic communication graduate courses may be taken only if a student meets all undergraduate prerequisite course requirements and must meet the requirements for unconditional admission. Students cannot earn both undergraduate and graduate credit for the same course.

The Graduate Studies Office must have received official qualifying exam scores, which equal or exceed the minimum requirement, current official transcript from the institution currently being attended and one official transcript from any other colleges/universities attended previously. The applicant must also meet the requirements for unconditional admission to the MASC, which may exceed the university's minimum requirements.

Financial Aid

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available on campus. Students should direct all inquiries to the Graduate Studies office. Graduate Assistant responsibilities vary according to assignment. Assistantships carry a fixed stipend and provide a waiver of all tuition charges, including out-of-state fees, for GA’s with at least 30 percent appointment. International students may not apply for an assistantship until they have completed at least one term of full-time work at UT Martin.

Graduate assistants/teaching assistants are expected to enroll in no more than the appropriate fraction of the maximum course load.

  • Assistants employed 20 hours per week—maximum of nine (9) semester hours.
  • Assistants employed 15 hours per week—maximum of 12 semester hours.
  • Assistants employed 12 hours per week—maximum of 15 semester hours.

Assistants employed 12 hours per week—maximum of 15 semester hours.

The University of Tennessee at Martin is strongly committed to increasing the enrollment of graduate students from underrepresented groups. Access and Diversity scholarships are available for qualified groups. Recipients are selected based upon the nomination by graduate coordinators/designee.

Fee Waivers

The university accepts fee waivers for UTM employees, UT system employees, and Tennessee state employees. For more information, see http://www.utm.edu/offices-and-services/office-of-bursar/forms.php.

Federal Direct Loan Program

The Department of Education offers Unsubsidized Stafford loans and Graduate Plus loans to students to help pay educational expenses. To be eligible, a student must complete a FAFSA, be admitted to a graduate program, be enrolled in at least 6 hours and have good standing with the university. The aggregate amounts of guaranteed student loans shall not exceed $138,500, including undergraduate loans. Students will be notified of eligibility. For more information concerning the various types of financial aid available, students should contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance located in 205 Administration Building or visit their website at http://www.utm.edu/offices-and-services/financial-aid-and-scholarships/.

Academic Program Requirements

The MASC combines the flexibility of engaging online coursework with a small amount of required attendance on campus (four total days). This approach allows working professionals the flexibility needed to accommodate busy work schedules and provides an opportunity to develop relationships with faculty mentors and peers through on-campus weekends.

Degree Requirements

Degree Program Overview

33

Credit hours required to complete the degree

5 to 7

Number of semesters required to complete the program depending on the amount of hours taken each semester

95%

Amount of coursework that can be completed online

The majority of students complete the 33-hour Porfolio option. Under this plan, students take 33 hours of coursework and create portfolio containing project and assignments completed in MASC courses to demonstrate mastery of the program learning outcomes.

All students are required to complete the following courses with a final letter grade of at least a “B”.

Foundations (6 total credit hours)

All students are required to complete the following courses with a final letter grade of at least a “B”.

  • COMM 701—Professional Seminar I (1 credit hour; requires one in-person meeting on a Saturday for program orientation.)
  • COMM 702—Professional Seminar II (1 credit hour; requires one in-person meeting on a Saturday)
  • COMM 703—Professional Seminar III (1 credit hour; requires one in-person weekend for comprehensive exams)
  • COMM 720—Media and Communication Theory for Professionals (3 credit hours)
  • COMM 790—Capstone Professional Project (1–3 credit hours)

Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (3 total credit hours)

  • COMM 710—Applied Research Methods for Professionals (3 credit hours)

Leadership (3 total credit hours)

  • COMM 740—Leadership Theory and Practice (3 credit hours)

Communication Strategies and Tactics (21 total credit hours)

  • COMM 534 International Public Relations (has an opportunity for travel study)
  • COMM 605 Social Media Management
  • COMM 700 Issues in Strategic Communication
  • COMM 706 Independent Readings and Research
  • COMM 730 Organizational Communication
  • COMM 745 Crisis Communication
  • COMM 765 Persuasive Strategies and Techniques
  • COMM 766 Propaganda
  • COMM 767 Public Communication
  • COMM 770 Communication & Global Audience
  • COMM 785 Communication Law

Sample Plan of Study and Course Rotation

Sample Course Rotation

Course Descriptions

Professional Seminars

  • COMM 701 Pro-Seminar I (1 credit hour): An introduction and orientation to the Master’s in Strategic Communication program, including exploration of resources supporting the program, instruction in academic research and writing skills. Students are required to attend one Saturday on-campus meeting at the beginning of the semester for orientation.
  • COMM 702 Professional Seminar II (1 credit hour): Seminar focusing on strategic communication and professional practice. Introduction to portfolio or capstone requirements. Includes one on-campus weekend. Prereq: Earned grade of at least a “B” in COMM 735 or permission of instructor.
  • COMM 703 Professional Seminar III (1 credit hour): Completion of written comprehensive exams and portfolio at the culmination of coursework for the M.A. in Strategic Communication program. Prereq: Earned grade of at least a “B” in COMM 701, 702, 710, 720 and 12 hours of graduate-level elective courses.

Courses

Students can take no more than 6 credit hours at the 500-600 level.

  • COMM 534 International Public Relations (3 credit hours): Students will examine the nature of international public relations and the impact globalization has had on businesses and their communication structures. It will review global corporate communication theories, organizational structures to accommodate the rapidly changing nature of businesses beyond the historical traditional borders, the barriers encountered, the approaches using changing technology to enhance global public relations, projecting future changes, and examining trends that may influence the profession. Additionally, students will examine multiple case studies involving international public relations in an effort to establish knowledge baseline that will enable them to apply tested principles in their own work settings.
  • COMM 605 Social Media Management (3 credit hours): This course uses hands-on learning to examine the process of creating, implementing, and evaluating engaging social media programs; to learn current tools for managing social media; and to discuss factors involved in creating social media policies for organizations.
  • COMM 625 Strategic Communication Campaigns (3 credit hours): Examination and application of the principles of strategic communication campaign design. Students plan and design communication campaigns for a real client as a major component of the course. Topics cover the integrated use and design of traditional advertising, public relations, social, and non-traditional media to accomplish communication objectives.
  • COMM 655 Digital Media Production for Corporate Environments (3 credit hours): Advanced production techniques in videography, sound recording, photography, and related media technology, including practical experience in producing, editing and distribution of media content. Students will learn to use digital production tools to produce work for professional purposes in public relations, journalism or broadcast that can be shown to audiences through multiple formats.
  • COMM 700 Seminar in Strategic Communication: [Topic] (3 credit hours): Intensive treatment of selected topics not found in the regular Strategic Communication curriculum. Course content varies from semester to semester. Course may be repeated for credit in different topics. Topics will vary and will examine topics related to mass media, media design, specialized areas of strategic communication.
  • COMM 706 Independent Readings and Research (1-3 credit hours): An in-depth study of a strategic communication topic approved and supervised by a member of the graduate faculty. Prereq: Approval of the instructor and MASC Graduate Advisor.
  • COMM 710 Applied Research Methods for Professionals (3 credit hours): Students will learn about the research process and examine qualitative and quantitative research methods with a focus on application of the techniques in the professional environment. Prereq: Earned grade of at least a “B” in COMM 720 or permission of the instructor.
  • COMM 720 Media and Communication Theory for Professionals (3 credit hours): This course examines a wide range of media and communication theories that help professionals understand communication processes and strategies used to develop strategic communication initiatives in the workplace.
  • COMM 730 Organizational Communication (3 credit hours): A study of theories of organizational communication and their application to the workplace. Students will analyze communication challenges in organizations from various perspectives, including supervisors, subordinates, and peers.
  • COMM 735 Introduction to Strategic Communication (3 credit hours): An introduction to strategic communication concepts, processes, and practices. This course will provide students with an overview of the historical development of strategic communication and the ways in which individuals and organizations use strategic communication to achieve goals.
  • COMM 740 Leadership Theory and Practice (3 credit hours): This course is designed to engender understanding of various theoretical approaches and conceptualizations of leadership, as well as promote and develop interpersonal communication strategies for practical application in professional environments.
  • COMM 745 Crisis Communication (3 credit hours): An introduction to crisis communication providing insights into key concepts, theoretical perspectives, essential critical thinking and planning skills necessary for effective crisis management within organizations. Topics will include issues management, risk management, relationship management, crisis planning and preparation, case studies, and developing crisis communication management plans. In addition to traditional methods, the class will engage in simulations, field trips and individual research to master the content area.
  • COMM 765 Persuasive Communication Techniques and Strategies (3 credit hours): This course examines the theories and techniques of persuasion as they apply to strategic communication contexts.
  • COMM 766 Propaganda (3 credit hours):The examination of how propaganda differs from persuasion; the history, theory, and practice of propaganda; and, the methods used to analyze propaganda.
  • COMM 767 Public Communication (3 credit hours):This course is designed to engender understanding of various theoretical approaches and conceptualizations of public communication including the following topics: the foundations of public communication theory, the communicator, the message, the medium, the relationship, and culture of communication.
  • COMM 770 Communication and the Global Audience (3 credit hours): Communication and the Global Audience consists of the study of theoretical concepts pertaining to intercultural communication and its application to interpersonal, workplace, public and mediated communication practices.
  • COMM 785 Communication Law for Professionals (3 credit hours): Examination of the constitutional underpinnings of freedom of expression and the limitations on such freedoms as enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Students will focus particularly on libel, privacy, intellectual property, source protection, information gathering, obscenity, and government regulation.
  • COMM 790 Capstone Professional Project (1–3 credit hours): Required independent study whose purpose is to allow the student to develop substantial expertise in an area related to strategic communication. All MASC students are required to complete a capstone professional project during their last semester in the program. May be repeated for credit for a total maximum of 6 hours. Prereq: Earned grade of at least a “B” in COMM 702 or permission of the instructor.
Academic Advising

MASC Academic Advisor

Dr. Chara Van Horn

Graduate Program Co-Coordinator and Assistant Professor

305 Gooch Hall

Martin, TN 38238

Ph: (731) 881-7548

Em: cvanhorn@utm.edu

Program Overview

The MASC combines the flexibility of engaging online coursework with a small amount of required attendance on campus (approximately four weekends total). This approach allows working professionals the flexibility needed to accommodate busy work schedules and provides an opportunity to develop relationships with faculty mentors and peers through on-campus weekends.

What is strategic communication?

Strategic communication is coordinated, purposeful use of communication tools to meet objectives and help an organization fulfill its mission. It involves strong research, strategic planning, leadership, and a command of a wide range of communication strategies and tactics.

Strategic communication is a broad field that includes public relations, marketing communication, crisis communication, organizational communication, political communication. Professionals use strategic messaging and persuasion to shape public opinion and behavior, to build consensus, and to convey information.

Why choose a master’s degree in strategic communication?

The M.A. in Strategic Communication is a professionally oriented degree program designed to provide the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed in a competitive workplace. Employers in all fields consistently list many of the skills addressed in the MASC program as highly valuable.

Technical Skills

  • Corporate Communications
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital Content Marketing
  • Business & Competitive Analysis
  • Journalism and Mass Media
  • Campaign Planning and Management
  • Project Management

Baseline Skills

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time Management
  • Analytical Reasoning
  • People Management/Leadership

What makes the MASC unique?

  • Be more than a name on a screen with our flexible online courses with high interaction with faculty and classmates.
  • Learn from faculty with professional experience in strategic communication.
  • Develop valuable skills that can help you succeed in many career fields.
  • Learn professional best practices within a strong academic framework.
  • Waive GRE/GMAT admission requirements if you have at least five years of professional experience directly related to strategic communication.
  • Receive course credit for approved industry training and certifications from professional associations.
Program Outcomes

M.A. in Strategic Communication Student Learning Outcomes

The Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE), which is composed of educators and public relations professionals, has studied and made recommendations about U.S.-based public relations education since 1980. The Commission’s recommendations have been widely adopted by academic programs and endorsed by professional organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America. The CPRE released the Standards for a Master’s Degree in Public Relations: Educating for Complexity report in 2012. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) also lists 13 professional values and core competencies that must be addressed in journalism and mass communication graduate programs.

Based on extensive industry research conducted by the CPRE and the ACEJMC professional values and core competencies, graduates of the M.A. in Strategic Communication at UT Martin should demonstrate proficiency in the following five student learning outcomes.

  • Strategic Planning and Message Creation—Produce advanced written, visual, and/or oral communications that effectively achieve strategic communication objectives.
  • Communication Management and Leadership—Apply basic management and leadership principles and processes in the workplace.
  • Theory, Research, and Evaluation—Use communication theory and research methods in addressing critical issues related to the students’ career fields.
  • Global Influences—Analyze the impact of global influences on professional interactions and communications.
  • Professional Ethics—Apply professional ethics in the workplace.
Assessement

The MASC coursework was developed based on extensive industry research conducted by the Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE), which is composed of educators and public relations professionals, and the educational standards of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.  The courses address the real-world skills and knowledge demanded by employers and business leaders.

Through the MASC coursework, students will learn

  • to use strategic communication management skills to increase the opportunity for career advancement in related or integrated disciplines.
  • to integrate basic management and leadership principles and processes into the communication process.
  • to use communication theory and research methods to address critical  communication questions and issues in the workplace.
  • to analyze the impact of global market forces on professional interactions and communication.
  • to apply professional ethics in the workplace.
Career Outlook

Career Outlook

The career outlook for individuals with strategic communication training is strong in the Mid-South region and nationally.

180,000

U.S. job descriptions on Indeed.com including “strategic communication”

2,600

Tennessee job descriptions on Indeed.com including “strategic communication”

9%

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected job growth in the public relations sector through 2026

Additionally, many employers prefer or require a graduate degree for many communication roles.

Resources

Prospective Students

Students applying for admission to the M.A. in Strategic Communication must meet the university-wide requirements for graduate admission and the specific requirements for the MASC.

Apply Now

GMAT

GMAT Study Schedule

GMAT Test Prep Software

Tips for GRE/GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

GRE

Analytical Writing Sample Essays and Commentaries

(The GRE and GMAT Analytical Writing Assignments are similar)

GRE Test Prep Software

Current Students

Advising

Dr. Tracy Rutledge

Graduate Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor

305 Gooch Hall

Martin, TN 38238

Ph: (731) 881-7554

Em: masc@utm.edu

APA Style

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): APA Formatting and Style Guide Website

Mastering APA Style: Student’s Workbook and Training Guide, Sixth Edition (ISBN: 978-1-4338-0557-8)

This self-paced workbook will teach you APA style through a series of exercises and practice tests.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (ISBN: 978-1-4338-0561-5)

This is the comprehensive APA manual. It includes writing style rules, grammar and language guidelines, and citation information. It is available in hard cover, soft cover, spiral bound, and Kindle formats.

Concise Rules of APA Style, Sixth Edition (ISBN: 978-1-4338-0560-8)

This is a more concise version of the APA manual and addresses essentially writing standards.

Capstone

How You Can Write a Successful Master’s Thesis in 8 Steps: The Secret to Completing Your Master’s Degree in Mass Communication, by Thabo Nkomo

This e-book explains the eight steps to completing a capstone research project or thesis in a practical way. It is only available as a Kindle book from Amazon. You can download the Kindle app and read the book on any device.

Capstone Project Proposal and Final Project

Comprehensive Exams

COMM 703 Syllabus with Comprehensive Exam Breakdown

Scholarly Research and Resources

Paul Meek Library Database

Google Scholar Database

Statistical Analysis

Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics, Fifth Edition, by Neil J. Salkind (ISBN: 978-1452277714)

This book is an easy-to-read, practical book for research statistics. It explains statistical concepts and tests in plain English with an emphasis on practical application. Each chapter ends with a discussion of how to use SPSS to con- duct the statistical test. The ow charts are invaluable.

Using SPSS for Windows and Macintosh: Analyzing and Understanding Data, Sixth Edition, by Samuel Green and Neil Salkind (ISBN: 978-0205020409)

This book includes detailed descriptions, instructions, and sample APA results sections for the most common statistical tests performed in SPSS. Some of the terminology is a little dated—it still references a “floppy disk” — but it’s still a great reference book. Note: There is a newer edition but it is not significantly different. Save a little money and order the sixth edition.

Fly higher than ever before with UT Martin
“The MASC program’s asynchronous modality allowed me, a non-traditional student, the flexibility of completing assignments online with limited disruptions to my busy work and home life.The faculty was exceptional; they were knowledgeable, supportive, and always available to answer questions and provide assistance. I was particularly impressed by the instruction I received during the program. ”
Justin Brown
Justin Brown
MASC Graduate

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Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication
CONTACT:
Dr. Robert Nanney, Chair
LOCATION:
305 Gooch Hall
The University of Tennessee at Martin
Martin, TN 38238
SOCIAL MEDIA: