Program Sequence (36 Points)

Strategic Communication Management3
Principles in Persuasion3
The Compelling Communicator3
Communication Research and Insights3
The Reflective Leader3
Digital Media and Analytics3
Elective Course3
Elective Course3
Elective Course3
Elective Course3
Elective Course3
Capstone Project3

Elective Courses

Students may also choose up to two courses in another program, school, or department, subject to Program Director and Instructor approval.

Core Courses

Required Course List

Principles in Persuasion. 3 pts.

How do we change minds and move people to action? It’s an eternal human question and one that’s critical for strategic communicators. This course focuses on key principles in persuasion, from classical rhetoric to social psychology. Students learn to gauge audience needs and desires, anticipate decision-making processes and choose the persuasive strategies that best fit the situation. Because our aim is audience-centered communication, we also consider the ethical basis for persuasion.

Strategic Communication Management. 3 pts.

This course examines the strategic role for communication in driving organizational outcomes. It covers key aspects of communication management, including how to plan, implement and measure strategic communication initiatives. Students learn to assess organizational needs, identify stakeholders and draft messaging that speaks credibly to a variety of constituencies, both internal and external. We also emphasize fundamental business skills, such as interpreting financial reports and understanding the language of business.

The Compelling Communicator. 3 pts.

The ability to communicate clearly is a key factor in career advancement. Whether leading teams, pitching new business or attempting to influence clients, colleagues or bosses, effective workplace communication can quickly set us apart from others. But it’s a skill that requires practice. In this course, students learn the verbal and interpersonal skills needed to thrive in a variety of communication and leadership roles.

Communication Research and Insights. 3 pts.

To make informed decisions about communication, we need a clear understanding of our audience and its motivations. We begin by asking the right questions and interpreting the results. This course covers essential market research methods, including quantitative and qualitative techniques. Students gain direct experience in collecting and analyzing data, developing insights and choosing research-driven communication strategies that meet client objectives.

Digital Media and Analytics. 3 pts.

As communication work becomes increasingly mobile and social, students need a solid foundation in current practices and emerging technologies. This course covers major themes in digital communication, from content strategy to mobile and programmatic marketing. Students learn how to read and interpret data analytics within the context of integrated media campaigns.

The Reflective Leader. 3 pts.

Beyond general intelligence and technical proficiency, what separates effective leaders from average managers are individual skills—such as the ability to make sound decisions—and social skills—such as the ability to manage teams effectively. This course will help you identify these critical leadership skills, and will provide ideas and tools for improving them.

Capstone. 3 pts.

The Capstone Project is an opportunity for students to synthesize and apply learnings from throughout the Strategic Communication program. Under the guidance of expert advisers, you’ll investigate a real-world communication issue, devising solutions and strategies that bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Elective Courses

Industry Insider. 3 pts.

This course gives students visibility into the rapidly changing communication industry and the wide range of careers available. Curated site visits take us inside world-class agencies and corporate/nonprofit organizations to see how they use strategic communication in the real world. Students gain firsthand exposure to leading practitioners while learning the dynamics of collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. Relevant coursework provides additional perspective.

This course is waived for students in the part-time format, who will take an additional elective in its place.

The Strategic Storyteller. 3 pts.

This course teaches you how to craft and deliver presentations that engage audiences and inspire action. You will learn how to find a theme that resonates with your audience and create “sticky” content through image, metaphor, emotion, and story. Particular attention will be paid to the elements of story, how to find good stories, and how to tell them for greatest effect. Presentation skills will be sharpened through on-camera practice and storytelling exercises.

Building Internal Engagement. 3 pts.

Through strategic internal communication, employees are focused on driving business results and encouraged to act as brand ambassadors on behalf of their organization, building the organization's reputation. This course focuses on communication from the inside-out, addressing the opportunities, challenges, and issues communication professionals face today in dealing proactively and reactively with internal stakeholders.

How can leaders build credibility with employees in an authentic way? How do you influence your CEO to take a leadership position and act as the champion of the employee communication effort? How can an internal communication strategy ensure truthful and respectful communication during times of change?

Crisis Communication. 3 pts.

This course covers the basic elements of crisis communication and the procedures for creating crisis communications plans and for reacting to crises when they occur. How best to develop various plans for different critical audiences and understand the most effective strategies for communicating your organization’s message during a crisis is explored. The course examines various types of crises that can occur with corporations and nonprofit organizations and the differences and similarities among them. How to avoid the classic and common pitfalls of crisis communication are addressed, as are ethical issues that arise during crises. Numerous case studies are discussed in class and exercises both in and outside of class are assigned so students gain experience in crisis communication situations.

The Master Narrative. 3 pts.

This course provides students with an understanding of how large organizations develop a compelling story, or “master narrative,” and tell that story consistently, via multiple media platforms, in a competitive communication environment. Using case studies, students will examine the process organizations undertake to define and drive a master narrative through positive and negative news cycles and understand the importance of integrating all communication — media, Internet, marketing, advertising, government and stakeholder outreach — in the effort to craft and sustain a compelling narrative.

Students will learn how to create a master narrative, how to define a message frame that fits the narrative and keep all communication within this frame, how to determine key audiences, vehicles for reaching these audiences, how to manage online and traditional media in telling a story, how to measure success and readjust a master narrative based on circumstances, how to take advantage when the 24/7 communication cycle puts an organization in the spotlight, and how to define and manage through crises to protect a master narrative.

Communication and Global Brands. 3 pts.

This course examines the discipline of global marketing communication, including the environmental factors that enabled global marketing. The course assesses early models of communication management and the current factors that enable global communication programs: the identification of global target audiences; the kinds of products and services that lend themselves to global communication and those that don’t; and the characteristics of leadership brands that are preeminent in global communication today. Students consider how levels of development and cultural values affect communication programs and how local differences can be reflected in global programs. Message creation and the available methods of message distribution are evaluated in the context of current and future trends. Students learn how to approach strategy and develop an integrated, holistic global communication program and how to manage such a program.

The Power of Opinion. 3 pts.

In this small, intensive workshop, students learn to how to express a strong, well substantiated point of view in an op-ed, speech, and media interview. Classroom work includes analyzing the best examples of each genre, articulating the differences between them, and critiquing student work.

The Business of Issues. 3 pts.

This course explores the role and responsibility of corporations in addressing social issues; as well the benefits of well developed and implemented corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. Through the use of articles, case studies, guest speakers and individual and group assignments, students will learn how strategic CSR can be a lever for social and business impact. At the conclusion of the semester, students will be empowered to develop a comprehensive CSR plan for elevating a company’s brand reputation, strengthening employee and consumer engagement, as well as driving business and social impact.

The Value of Brand: Making the Business Case. 3 pts.

This course introduces students to the economic importance of brand building activities based on the proven link between brand equity and business performance. Students examine the role that strategy and communication play in building brand equity, and explore how the changing media landscape is causing companies to rethink traditional brand-building practices. Students will use critical thinking, case-analysis, market research, and strategic presentations to persuade a business decision maker to invest in brand building efforts. For students who are interested in building stronger brand cultures within their organizations (for both the profit and nonprofit sectors) and/or for pursuing careers on the brand side of strategy, this course answers the question: Why should businesses and institutions care about branding?

Strategic Visual Communications. 3 pts.

This course focuses on exploring and clarifying the value and role of strategic visual communications within today’s broad business context. Through a combination of readings, case studies, class discussions, simulations, and media, students will recognize the importance visuals play in effective communications, gain insight into how visuals can help them to communicate more clearly and effectively, and understand the role of visuals in developing brands and marketing messages. In addition, students will build practical competencies in “the language of design” that will increase their effectiveness in selecting, briefing, leading, and evaluating design resources and their creative work.

Content Strategy: Achieving Business Goals Through Content. 3 pts.

Sitting at the intersection of business strategy, digital development, user experience, communication, and publishing, content strategy has emerged over the last few years as a discipline examining the purpose behind content (in all manifestations) and how it supports business, organizational, and user goals. While it originated in digital web design and user experience, content strategy now encompasses a much broader set of considerations and addresses content creation, distribution, and governance across multiple channels, especially the interplay among digital, social, and traditional media. Content strategy provides a holistic approach for unlocking the value behind content and for increasing its effectiveness in achieving business and organizational objectives. This course will present the fundamentals of content strategy and explore the discipline’s approaches, techniques, and tools that course participants can apply directly to the content situation in their own organization. It will draw parallels with – and highlight distinctions among – traditional communication strategy, publishing, and content strategy, and provide students with a framework to create a sustainable program grounded in meaningful, actionable content.

Ethical Decision-Making for Communicators. 3 pts.

This elective course addresses the growing need for ethical leadership among communications and marketing professionals—both to build trust among increasingly socially conscious stakeholders and protect an organization’s reputation. Students will learn—through case studies, class discussions and assignments—how to identify ethical dilemmas, analyze potential risks and opportunities by applying ethical reasoning, and to formulate persuasive arguments for winning support for their positions from within and outside their organizations. Students will also learn how to integrate ethical decision making into long-term communications and business planning. This course will concentrate heavily on current events involving issues specific to communications and marketing professionals, including the growing influence of false and misleading information, micro-targeting racial, ethnic and other groups, misuse of consumer data and other potentially career-defining challenges.

Cross Cultural Communication. 3 pts.

This elective course gives students the knowledge and skills they need in order to practice public relations and strategic communication across nations and cultures. As corporations increasingly pursue overseas markets for production and sales and countries become more dependent upon global cooperation in order to achieve national priorities, public relations practitioners for corporations, governments, and nonprofit organizations are expected to practice their craft globally. This course introduces students to the global, local, and generic-specific theories of international public relations. Students will learn how to develop effective global public relations strategies and tailor their strategies, tactics, and messages for different cultures. Additionally, students will learn how to adapt their own workplace behavior and strategies when practicing public relations in global environments.

Critical Conversations. 3 pts.

Effective dialogue is one of the single most important activities of leaders today. Whether you are confronting a team member who is not keeping commitments, critiquing a colleague’s work, disagreeing with a spouse about financial decisions, or telling someone no, critical conversations are often avoided or handled in clumsy ways. This course will provide the theory underpinning these conversations, diagram their structure, and provide specific strategies for approaching them successfully.

Battle of the Mind: Using Communication to Influence Decision-Making. 3 pts.

This course places students at the intersection of two converging fields, behavioral economics and communication, to teach them how our predictable irrationality can become a competitive advantage in persuading people, groups and organizations to take favorable actions. Through lectures, case analysis, and group projects, students learn and apply a variety of psychological principles to communication thinking, planning and leadership. Students are challenged to think broadly about communication — advertising, public relations, social media, content and internal communication — in their application of cognitive bias and heuristics principles including anchoring, framing, loss aversion, group biases, time-discounting and choice overload.

Gender and Communication in the Workplace. 3 pts.

Gender and Communication in the Workplace offers professionals across sectors and industries the knowledge and skills needed to identify the social and linguistic practices enacted at work, and the opportunity to advance the interests of those who run up against barriers to advancement as a result of prejudice and stereotyping.

Art & Science of Channel Planning. 3 pts.

A critical component of strategic communication is identifying the right communication channels to use. Where and how you say something is as important as what you say. This course will focus on understanding the media landscape, consumer media behavior, and how to effectively reach the target audience to achieve brand communication objectives.

Political Communication. 3 pts.

This course is designed either for students who wish to embark on or further careers in politics and for those interested in exploring the dynamic field of political communication. Three themes anchor the course material: 1.) strategic communication, or deliberate and goal-oriented communication, which enables professionals to analyze and execute political strategy; 2.) message, which enables the crafting and critique of more or less effective political communication; and 3,) research, which political professionals use to formulate, shift and optimize their strategies.

Leadership Development. 3 pts.

Course Notes

This seminar will led by Dean Jason Wingard, Ph.D., and will be held in San Francisco during the University Winter Break period, January 15–18, 2019. Class size is capped, and interested students must apply to be selected for participation.

Enrollment is open to students enrolled in a Master's program at the School of Professional Studies who meet the following requirements:

  • Have eight (8) or more years of professional work experience or equivalent.
  • Have worked in a role tasked with leading strategy or are looking to move into C-Suite positions.
  • Are in good academic standing.
  • Are taking the course in alignment with degree requirements.

If you meet the above requirements and are interested in applying, please send your resume to Bianca Swift at with the subject line "COMM PS5011 Leadership Development" by Monday, November 12, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Decisions will be communicated by end of day on Friday, November 16, 2018.

Please be aware that students are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses. Students studying on an F-1 visa in their final semester must also be enrolled in other on-campus courses that start in January and end in May.

Course Description

Leadership Development is a process that expands the capacity of individuals to perform in progressively responsible management roles within organizations. In today’s fast-evolving business landscape, the ability to be an agile leader who can adapt to a variety of situations is increasingly valuable to organizations and the workforce. These roles demand flexibility and the ability to facilitate the execution of a company’s competitive strategy through enhancing collaboration and alignment, influencing buy-in and mindshare of critical stakeholders, and cultivating the capabilities of relevant constituents.

This experiential, executive-style seminar will help you develop the tools necessary for strategy development, organizational communication, executive coaching, scenario planning and project navigation, performance management, and, ultimately, advancing to the next level of your career trajectory. Taught by Dr. Jason Wingard, Dean and Professor of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University and former Chief Learning Officer at Goldman Sachs, this face-to-face, intensive block week course will focus on developing competencies through readings, self-exploration exercises, executive coaching, guest speakers, role-play, case studies, assessment, and feedback. Through these activities, you will build the confidence, flexibility, and skills required of 21st-century managers.

This course will immerse you in best practice review for:

  • Applying critical, analytical thinking to crucial business issues—a component of the intellectual skill set that defines exceptional leaders. In small group settings, students will receive intensive training, practice, and feedback in the construction, presentation, and evaluation of clear, concise and well-reasoned arguments. By honing critical analytical thinking skills, participants will be able to identify and communicate arguments and improve decision making.
  • Discovering the principles of design thinking (DT)—how to use DT principles to create organizational structures, work groups, and individual jobs, and to cultivate social networks, change efforts, and cultural norms.
  • Refining a set of personal leadership skills through the use of in-class scenario practicum and executive coaching—this includes influence, motivation, change management, resiliency, and communication.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.