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).

Academic Program Requirements

The MASC combines the flexibility of engaging online coursework with two in-person Saturdays. 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 in-person meetings.


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


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”.

Course Descriptions

View Course Descriptions in the UT Martin Academic Catalog.

Academic Advising

MASC Academic Advisor

Dr. Chara Van Horn

305E Gooch Hall

Martin, TN 38238

Ph: (731) 881-7548


Program Outcomes

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.

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.
Career Outlook

Career Outlook

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


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


Tennessee job descriptions on including “strategic communication”


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.


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 Study Schedule

GMAT Test Prep Software

Tips for GRE/GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment


Analytical Writing Sample Essays and Commentaries

(The GRE and GMAT Analytical Writing Assignments are similar)

GRE Test Prep Software

Current Students

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.


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.

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
  • GRE/GAT test score waivers are available for applicants with at least five years of relevant strategic communication professional experience. Review waiver critieria and submit your request . Include a current resume and at least two writing samples demonstrating advanced writing abilities with your email. All waiver requests must be evaluated and approved by the Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication 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


Seniors Taking Graduate Coursework

A senior at The University of Tennessee at 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. Business courses may be taken only if a student meets all undergraduate prerequisite course requirements.

Approval must be obtained through the Graduate Studies Office each semester at registration. Eligible seniors may take no more than a cumulative total of nine semester hours of graduate credit. Students wishing to apply graduate courses taken as a senior toward a master’s degree program should consult the appropriate graduate program coordinator/designee before registering for the courses.

The student must complete a graduate application for admission and pay the application fee.

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 GAs 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.

Find out more information about Graduate Assistantships at

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

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

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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The University of Tennessee at Martin is a vibrant learning community that combines big-school opportunities with a friendly, small-town feel. Take advantage of top-quality academics that will give you the support you need to soar.

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