The Strategic Communications graduate program is designed for experienced communications professionals and for those in leadership positions across a wide range of industries having communications as a critical competency.
The 16-month program focuses on the critical thinking, analysis, and practical skills essential to developing and implementing communications strategies that advance an organization’s goals and mission. The program is offered on an executive education schedule, combining on-site Saturday courses, two four-day residencies, and two Saturday and Sunday weekends. When not at Columbia, students access resources, submit assignments, and communicate via an online learning platform.
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Students build a far-reaching network with Columbia’s extraordinary community of scholars, faculty practitioners, industry leaders, fellow students, and more than 500 Strategic Communications alumni who hold pivotal roles in branding, nonprofit, strategy, and consulting organizations. Faculty members are expert teachers, as well as practicing professionals – and leaders – in their areas of communication.
The program teaches students how to develop effective communications strategies and to foster the thinking habits that will allow them to offer strategic counsel to any organization. Students become familiar with the complete range of current communications tools and how to use them in an integrated, strategic way. Students collaborate in teams to complete a Capstone project with a real client, giving them the opportunity through research and analysis to propose a comprehensive communications program. In addition students work individually on an integrated communications plan for a real client. Both these projects can be used to demonstrate proficiency in strategic communications and students use them as examples of their mastery as they seek to advance in their careers.
In addition, from the first residency and throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to curate their own professional toolkit comprising relevant classwork and assignments, and to refine their professional brand through reflections in a personal journal. This individual development and reflection culminates with a focused “user manual” that defines students’ leadership styles and preferences as well as a short video and in-person presentation to faculty, industry colleagues, and recruiters demonstrating their accomplishments.
“Edith Updike’s class was unequivocally one of the best courses that I have ever taken. It helped me land my dream job at Conde Nast. I closed the deal with letters that were attention-grabbing, compelling, and showcased my sense of humor—a formula that I crafted under Edith’s tutelage.” Michael S. Mueller
Graduates will be prepared to:
- Lead a research driven, analytical approach to addressing business challenges and opportunities in the private and public sectors by means of strategic communications.
- Segment potential audiences to define a target, and develop deep understanding of the target’s motivations and behavior as the foundation for effective communications strategies.
- Create strategies that employ an optimal mix of communications channels and techniques for reaching desired audiences, and which deliver measurable impact.
- Construct persuasive, reasoned arguments to influence a variety of audiences, and express thinking clearly, concisely and compellingly.
- Practice leadership in a transparent and ethical way while collaborating successfully with diverse constituents.
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Who Should Apply
The Master of Science in Strategic Communications program is an intensive, accelerated, graduate-level immersion experience for motivated individuals who have already demonstrated significant professional accomplishment. The program seeks high-potential applicants who have clearly established their leadership potential and who can show a strong record of professional achievement.
Most applicants will currently be in a communications role, and a minimum of five to seven years of experience is required. However, those applicants in leadership roles for whom communications is a critical competency will be considered and often are accepted.
Because the student mix within the cohort is a critical value of the program, we look carefully at representing diverse industries and experiences within every incoming class.
As a Graduate
Strategic Communications graduates hold positions as diverse as Chief Strategy Officer, Director Corporate Communications, Executive Director, Development and Communications Director, Global Marketing Manager, Vice President - Internal Communications at organizations such as Viacom, Bloomberg, Girl Scouts of America, Starwood Hotels, and Advertising, Public Relations, Strategy, and Digital agencies in NYC and beyond. They hold executive positions in all industry sectors including financial services, healthcare and pharmaceutical, entertainment, media, and government and nonprofit.