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Online Master's in Strategic Communication

Program Length: 20 Months
Credit Hours: 30
Total Classes: 10
Cost per Credit: $2,000 (AY 24-25)
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What are the program start dates?

Summer 2024

Fall 2024
Late August

Spring 2025
Early January

At a Glance

Captivate a Digitally Connected Audience

Learn how to use strategic planning and compelling messages to gain a powerful advantage in the marketplace. American University’s (AU) online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication will show you exactly what it takes to capture your audience’s attention and prepare you for this fast-paced field. You will gain greater understanding of how to pivot messaging and market strategies amid rapidly changing environments and trends.

Today’s environment requires strategic communication professionals who can develop, manage, and launch communication campaigns that integrate public relations, advertising, and marketing techniques, so you will focus on high-level concepts and strategies that encourage the type of flexible thinking needed.

The School of Communication’s diverse, dynamic faculty of accomplished experts teach you how to develop a strategy to address any communication challenge.

Program Objectives

Engage Your Audience with Key Communication Skills

In our Online MA in Strategic Communication, you will learn how to take on a challenge and develop a strategy to address it. You will also understand how to target an audience, create compelling messages and advocate in the changing digital and social media world. By graduation you will be able to:

  1. Develop Communication Campaigns

    Create plans that incorporates research, situational analyses, strategies, tactics and evaluation.

  2. Use Research Effectively

    Understand the role of qualitative and quantitative research in strategic communication and how to apply the findings.

  3. Solve Communication Issues

    Think analytically about communication problems and identify creative solutions.

  4. Write to Engage Your Audience

    Write effectively and strategically in a range of formats and media.

  5. Select the Right Digital Tools

    Understand the role of digital strategy and analytics platforms in integrated communication campaigns.

  6. Align Others to Your Goals

    Communicate confidently and persuasively.

  7. Choose Best Practices

    Use established theories and best practices to inform the field of strategic communication.

See How We Set the Standard

American University prepares you for the real world with experiential learning throughout all of its courses.

  1. Choose an Optional Concentration

    You can select a career-focused concentration in Digital Communication Strategies & Analytics or Advocacy and Social Impact or complete the degree with your choice of electives.

  2. Manage Complex Communication

    Gain the skills to oversee challenging campaigns and plan for a crisis situation for local and global audiences.

  3. Gain Real-World Experience

    You will complete an in-depth capstone project that supports experiential learning and an optional summer internship to build your experiences further and add to your portfolio of work.

  4. Earn Industry-Recognized Certifications

    Within the program you can earn industry-recognized certifications in Meltwater, Hootsuite, and Google Analytics platforms.

Admission Requirement
Curriculum Description
Careers and Outcomes
Student Experience

Admission to American University’s online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

*The application fee is typically waived if the application file is complete within a three-week period.

Online Merit Scholarships

$10,000 — No Separate Application Required

Prospective students who have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or above (on a 4.0 scale) in their undergraduate program can qualify for the Online Merit Scholarship in award amounts up to $10,000.

As part of your application process, your academic history will be reviewed to see if the scholarship can be applied; there is no separate application to fill out.

You will be notified of the scholarship status when you are admitted to the program, or shortly thereafter.

To receive the scholarship, which is applied equally to the first and fifth semester of the program, you must remain in good academic standing.

Gain the rare combination of a creative, strategic mindset and pair it with real-world experience to be the leading candidate for the role you want.

Coursework maintains a strong academic and professional foundation — the work you do in our program helps you build skills and a diverse portfolio that will allow you to advance your career even before you graduate. You will expand your learning by connecting with domestic and international peers through group work, role-playing, and dynamic online discussions.

Details can be found on our Program Curriculum page.

Career Success with Your Master’s in Strategic Communication

Step into a career in strategic communication or a role that needs strong writers and communicators. Your knowledge of industry trends combined with a demonstrated ability to think critically and flexibly make you a top candidate in today’s media environment, which requires practitioners who can design, manage, and launch communication campaigns that integrate a variety of public relations, advertising, and marketing techniques.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that career opportunities for media and strategic communication professionals will grow at the average rate of 6% between 2021 and 2031, resulting in 68,600 new jobs. This reflects the demand for experts who can help companies, public entities, and nonprofits navigate the complex new avenues of digital, public, and advocacy communication.

While Washington, D.C. is one of the strongest PR hot spots in America, where the average annual salary of a PR specialist is $104,37004, your MA in Strategic Communication prepares you to work wherever you wish.

Graduates of the online MA in Strategic Communication can step into roles such as:

  • Media Relations Managers
  • Publicists
  • Public Relations Consultants
  • Social Media Outreach Coordinators
  • Campaign Managers

Of course, trends, technology, and platforms will change over time, but the conceptual tools and strategic-thinking skills gained in this program will empower you to adapt to developments and be continually successful throughout your career.

Career Services

American University’s Career Center offers its services to online and on-campus students as well as to all alumni, so you will continue to receive support for as long as you need it.

This means you will have access to resources for your job search, career advising, internships, and scholarships. You can also network, look for jobs, and apply for positions by making an account at AU Career Web, our online career search tool.

Alumni Employers

As passionate change-makers, our alumni are responsible for using their policy skills to make an impact. You can find some of them working at these outstanding organizations:

  • Discovery Communication
  • NPR
  • Fox News
  • Edelman
  • Ogilvy
  • Microsoft
  • Reuters
  • U.S. Department of State

We’re especially proud of our faculty—prominent scholars and real-world professionals at the top of their fields who value mentoring students as much as they value excellence in the classroom. Through their teaching, scholarly achievements and first-hand experience, you’ll gain a special entry point to strategic communication.

Visit our Program Faculty page to learn more about our faculty. 

Learning Online

American University welcomes its online students as a part of its community. As an online student, you’ll learn from the same outstanding faculty and be held to the same learning standards as students who attend courses on campus. On-campus and online programs deliver the same outcomes, and important support systems, like career resources, are set up for online learners as well. The only difference is you’re allowed to learn when and where it’s best for you so you can earn your degree and advance your career without putting the rest of your career and life on hold.

We Bring AU to You

Our digital campus was intentionally designed based on extensive research behind what makes online learning successful. We combine advanced technology, hands-on experiences, and full access to the American University community. Here, you’re not an online student, you’re an AU student.

Rigorous Courses

Online courses are as challenging as their on-campus counterparts and taught by the same connected faculty members and prominent lecturers.

100% Support

New-student orientation, 24/7 help desk for technical issues, a student services coordinator, financial aid advisers, and more are all available to ensure your success.

Expert Faculty

Home to some of the most acclaimed scholars and thought leaders in the world, you’ll learn from award-winning scholars and policymakers, diplomats, authors, artists, attorneys, scientists, journalists, and more.

Collaborative Learning

Use virtual tools to talk about your coursework, work in teams with classmates, build strong connections, network with others and ask your professor questions and turn in assignments.


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Military Education Benefits

American University is dedicated to supporting military service members, veterans, and their families.

As an online student of the Master’s in Strategic Communication program, you can transform your military experience and leadership skills into new career possibilities as you earn your degree, regardless of where you live or are stationed.

We support a full range of military education benefits such as:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)
  • Tuition Assistance (TA)
  • Yellow Ribbon Program

Additionally, if you’ve served in any branch of the U.S. military on active duty within the past three years, you’re eligible for an application fee waiver. We accept transfer credits from military coursework, have a dedicated Office of Veterans Services to help connect you to benefits, and maintain an active Veterans Services Support Network.

We welcome you to learn more about our military benefits and how to apply for them.

Take Your First Step Today

Become an American University student. A passion for public service, an emphasis on active leadership, and a global outlook are the hallmarks of the American University learning experience. We create graduates who stand out from their peers as active, socially aware, and compassionate leaders who work toward creating meaningful change in our world.

Join Us.

To learn more about our MA in Strategic Communication program online or on campus, complete an info form, request an appointment, or call us at +1-202-885-2040.

Program FAQs

Graduates of the online MA in Strategic Communication can step into the following roles and more.

  • Media Relations Managers
  • Publicists
  • Public Relations Consultants
  • Social Media Outreach Coordinators
  • Campaign Managers

Admission requirements for the MA in Strategic Communication program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

Applicants will need to submit the following:

All applicants are considered for the Online Merit Scholarship of $10,000 during the application review — no separate application is required.

*The application fee is typically waived if the application file is complete within a three-week period.

A TOEFL score of 600 (or 100 on the internet-based test), a minimum score of 68 on the Pearson Test of English, or a minimum IELTS score of seven (7) is required. Additionally, applicants with international transcripts must have them evaluated course by course. For a list of acceptable evaluators, go to

Applicants will complete a phone interview with the Program Director and will need to submit:

Yes, it is not a requirement to have an undergraduate degree in communication.

The program can be completed in as few as 20 months. However, at a pace of two courses each semester, the average time to completion is 24 months. Taking more than two courses per semester is not recommended due to the rigor of the program.

No. If you elect to do an internship, it can be taken in your local area.

No, a GRE test is not required.

Our application deadline varies based on the term you are applying for. Please note that the earlier you submit your application, the sooner you will know whether you have been awarded the Online Merit Scholarship. Please contact our online admissions advisors for a specific timeline as to when your application file needs to be fully submitted.

The spring semester starts in January. The summer session begins in May. Our fall semester starts in August.

Yes, online students can easily request a Student ID online to take advantage of all the same resources as our on-campus students.