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MA in Strategic Communication

Strategic Communication (MA)

Offered by the School of Communication.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must meet the minimum university requirements for graduate study. Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with at least a 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) grade point average in last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. International students whose first language is not English should take the TOEFL examination to demonstrate proficiency in written as well as spoken English. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required unless applying for School of Communication Merit Awards.

Previous academic or professional work in public communication is not required, but all applicants must demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in this field. The ability to speak and write English well is essential. Official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a 1,000-word essay on the applicant's commitment to pursuing graduate study in the program are submitted with the application. Interviews are not required, but may be recommended by the school.

Admission is open to both full-time and part-time students for the fall semester. Full-time students are generally expected to complete the program in ten months. Part-time students are expected to take a minimum of two courses each semester and complete their program in two years. The program is also available in a weekend format which takes twenty months to complete (see below).

Qualified undergraduate students may apply to a combined bachelor's/MA program and use up to 6 credit hours of 500-level courses to satisfy the requirements of both degrees.

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

Required (18 credit hours)

Electives (12 credit hours)

12 credit hours from the following courses:

Note: Students also may take an internship as one of the elective courses. Other elective courses may be taken in communication or in other fields such as sociology, business, performing arts, education, government, justice, international service, psychology, anthropology, art history, literature, economics, or statistics.

Weekend Graduate Program in Strategic Communication

With its emphasis on public relations, this program, conducted on Saturdays, is for experienced professionals who wish to enhance their skills in conducting and managing strategic communication campaigns, yet their schedules won't allow a full-time or even a part-time graduate program during the week. Admission requirements are the same as for the full-time program with the additional prerequisite of at least three years of work experience, and the program starts in the fall semester only. Degree and course requirements are also the same as the full-time program, but the 12 credit hours of elective courses will be determined by departmental offerings. Students are expected to complete the program within a twenty-month period.

Combined Bachelor's Degree and MA in Strategic Communication

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its combined bachelor's/master's programs. See Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degree for more information.

This program enables highly qualified students to earn a BA or BS in any discipline and an MA in Strategic Communication.


  • Admission to the combined program requires second semester junior or senior standing, a cumulative grade point average of 3.5, a formal application, two written faculty recommendations, a statement of purpose, and a positive review by the faculty admissions committee. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required unless applying for School of Communication Merit Awards.
  • All requirements for a bachelor's degree in the student's major at American University
    • Undergraduate students may apply up to 9 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework to satisfy the requirements for both degrees.
  • All requirements for the MA in Strategic Communication, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master's degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master's program.