Before embarking on any degree program, it’s important to consider the program’s outcomes and objectives to ensure that they align with your career goals and long-term plan. After all, the decision to pursue a graduate degree should be made only after careful thought and consideration. Pursuing a masters degree requires time, commitment, preparation, and dedication, not to mention skills in the areas of time management, interpersonal communication, project planning, teamwork, technology, and self-motivation.
If you are considering Purdue’s MS in Communications degree program, or if you are simply unclear about the program’s objectives, the following information should be very helpful for you.
The MS in Communications program develops students who are:
By the time you complete your degree, you will have explored strategic communication – in-depth – from multiple perspectives. You will have examined numerous real-world case studies and learned about important theories that directly impact professional practice. You will have also developed a broad fund of knowledge that will equip you to effectively manage an array of communication scenarios and challenges.
Strategic thinkers have their eye on the organization’s objectives and the bottom line. With your MS from Purdue, you will understand the importance of goals, performance, leadership, and best practices so that you can create, implement, and measure effective, profit-oriented communications initiatives.
Tactical proficiency is required of every savvy communicator. Tactics can include news releases, electronic press kits, media advisories, brochures, pitch letters, speeches, videos, special events, and so much more. Your MS degree will prepare you to identify and utilize the right tactics for the right audience.
Today’s communicators realize that business and communications are global efforts, and they seek to understand and connect with audiences around the world. Purdue’s MS in Communication program includes a practical and informative course in strategic global communication. This particular course enables students to thoughtfully examine the nuances and importance of culture, language, beliefs, protocol, and practices in major regions of the globe, and to develop strategic communications plans designed to foster relationships and business expansion in these regions.
Professional communicators are finally becoming recognized as important members of the senior leadership team. As such, they must be able to lead, consult, direct, and collaborate at all levels – and they must be comfortable and savvy enough to coach members of the C-suite and board of directors when necessary. To do this, communicators must be polished leaders themselves. By the time you complete your Masters program, you will have had the opportunity to engage and work with fellow students and professors, many of whom are CEOs, business owners, and accomplished leaders themselves. This rich experience, some of which is gained through various group projects, gives students keen insight into best leadership practices, as well as key leader behaviors, skills, and attributes.
Anyone embarking on or wishing to advance their communications career must be highly adept in the realm of social media. As traditional media are quickly being usurped by social media platforms, communications efforts (and budgets) are also moving to the online space. This requires agility, technical know-how, and a thorough understanding of audiences, measurement, and online communities. The Strategic Communication and Social Media course provides a wealth of relevant and useful information to help students design, manage, and evaluate social media campaigns.
You may have heard the saying, “It’s not if a crisis will happen, but when.” Crises are inevitable in business, but they can be managed successfully. The Seminar in Crisis Communication course provides thought-provoking examples and meaningful learning content that prepares students for real-world crisis situations. Students leave this course knowing that leader preparation, as well as contingency/scenario planning, are critical success factors in any organizational crisis.
I think we all know that strategic communication is a writing-intensive profession. Communicators must be skilled at writing numerous types of communication materials, and they must be able to do so creatively and without errors. The different types of writing assignments in Purdue’s MS in Communication program afford students the opportunity to master both business writing and scholarly writing – so important for today’s communication scholar-practitioners.
Objective analysis and evaluation are necessary skills for every professional communicator. Critical thinkers are able to analyze and interpret data in an unbiased manner. They are also able to reign in their own feelings and opinions so that their messages are factual, credible, and free of subjective influence.
Strategic communicators understand how intelligent and substantiated communications can positively influence audience perceptions and behaviors. They also understand that strategic communication never sells; rather, it informs, educates, and persuades. The mastery of these skills (a) develops graduates who are credible influencers and (b) helps elevate Purdue’s MS in Communication graduates above their competition.
Finally, as a graduate of Purdue’s MS in Communication program, you will have developed your knowledge and skills as a “scholar-practitioner.” One of the primary goals of the program is to prepare graduates who are adept at research methods, analysis, and data interpretation (essential skill sets for today’s communicators). In addition, scholar-practitioners are able to effortlessly weave relevant communication theory into successful and meaningful real-world practice. These high-level competencies help Purdue graduates gain the trust and respect of business leaders around the world.
Following are the core program objectives from the Purdue MS in Communication web page:
MS in Communication Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of Purdue’s online master’s in communication program, students will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in the following areas:
• Evaluation of communication to a global audience
• Methodological foundation of strategic communication
• Application of ethical principles and decision making
• Audience considerations, credibility and ethics
• Writing as it relates to media, public relations and advertising
• Analysis of social media engagement
If you have any questions about the program, the program’s objectives, or what to expect from your masters degree experience at Purdue, please contact an admissions adviser at 877-497-5851.
Debra Davenport Ph.D. is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
About the Author
Debra B. Davenport is the president and CEO of Davenport Public Relations, a full-service firm with offices in Phoenix and Los Angeles. She is a faculty member with Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication where she teaches in the Strategic Communication masters program.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.