Make Your Mark. Communicate With Impact.

We live in the midst of a media revolution. Digital tools and social media platforms have created a tidal wave of content. But does that content have an impact? Is it improving society?

Based in Washington, D.C., the epicenter of national political and social movements, the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication at American University teaches the skills you need to advance your career and make a mark as a strategic communicator in a variety of settings, including corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Our program offers you the cutting-edge tools and insights you need to develop and implement strategic communication campaigns. Our diverse, dynamic faculty of accomplished experts teach you how to create a strategy to address any communication challenge. You’ll learn how to use information in creative and innovative ways so you can make the impact you want in the world and your career.

Our mission is to educate students in the most recent trends and empower them with strategic tools and insights that set them apart from their peers. Our diverse, dynamic faculty of accomplished writers, documentarians, correspondents, PR experts, politicians, and social change advocates teach you to grasp a communication challenge and create a strategy to address it; to target an audience; to create a compelling message; to write persuasively; to advocate in a changing digital media world. Expertise in these areas will allow you to build on ideas and images, persuasion and information, strategy and tactics in creative and innovative ways.



Tailor Your Degree to Your Goals

The Public Communication faculty has created concentrations that will allow you to focus your studies in your areas of interest. Although you are not required to pick a concentration, they are an ideal way for students to build upon areas of expertise and showcase that expertise on your resume, online portfolios, LinkedIn and other social media profiles.

Students must take a minimum of three courses in a topic area to list a concentration.

We see a future where students create meaningful change, and address society’s current and emerging challenges. You’ll learn the skills and tools  to make that vision a reality.

Each day, individuals and organizations compete for attention online. Each week, new tools and platforms are introduced. We help you identify and leverage strategies that will make your client or organization stand out.

Corporate leaders increasingly believe in the importance of reputation and its value as a corporate asset. You’ll learn how to manage and protect that asset.

Globalization requires communication practitioners to improve their knowledge of business, political, and social cultures. We provide the guidance and structure for success.

Promoting diversity and communicating across cultures are urgent societal obligations and an emergent career path. DEI issues are a focus in this track.

We Know Success

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both
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Flexible Degree Options to Meet Your Needs

We offer full-time, part-time, and online courses of study.

Full-time students are generally expected to complete the program in 1 year. Part-time or online students are expected to take a minimum of two courses each semester and complete their program in less than two years.

The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity. 

While previous academic or professional work in the field is not required, you'll need to demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in this field. Your essay on your desire to and reasons for pursuing graduate study in the program will be essential, along with other required application materials.

Faculty Research Fuels Innovation

The School of Communication's world-class faculty member's excellence in the classroom, achievements in their respective fields, and deep commitment to personalized mentorship have helped launch thousands of rewarding careers in the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors.

Their cutting-edge research activities and professional engagements play key roles in national and global policy development. Faculty fields of study encompass strategic and political communication, intercultural and global communication, public and media relations, social change campaigns and digital media studies, public opinion research and public service advertising, broadcast news and media production, and race relations and public diplomacy, among many other areas.

Specific research areas in strategic communication have included how internet politics can improve civic engagement; the impact of new media technologies on advocacy, activism, and political communication; the interaction between courts and the media; how media, public relations, and society intersect; and explorations in social media and personal branding.

Our faculty here will actively help you shape our world in positive ways. You'll engage in meaningful work with a profound impact as you strive to expand the constructive power of communication and media.

Financing Your Education

The MA in Strategic Communication is a 30 credit hour program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards, named scholarships, and fellowships are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administrated by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience, specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Some merit awards come in the form of graduate assistantships, which consist of graduate tuition remission, a stipend, or both. Tuition remission will vary in the number of credits offered. If you are offered a stipend, you must be employed as a graduate assistant for a School of Communication faculty member for 10 hours per week.

Research fellowships at academic centers within the School of Communication and throughout the university may also be available.

Your Network of Success

The School of Communication's highly selective graduate mentoring program bridges the gap between the classroom and the professional world to help you continue to build your career.

Each year, graduate students who are admitted to the program are paired with top alumni through a partnership among the School of Communication, our development team, and the AU Career Center. Whether it is helping you meet short and long term career goals, sharing tips to improve your resume and portfolio, or helping you build a network of success, professional mentors are invaluable sources of knowledge and experience for students.

Comparison of On-Campus and Online Programs

Credits required
On-Campus & Online: 30
Time to complete
On-Campus: 12 months
Online: 20 months
Course frequency
On-Campus: Full-time: Four 3-credit courses per 16-week semester (Two courses in the summer). Academic Calendar.
Online: One 3-credit course every 8 weeks/ two courses per 16-week semester. Academic Calendar.
Class start dates
On-Campus: Fall term
Online: Fall, Spring and Summer terms
Admissions deadlines
On-Campus: Feb. 1 (For priority and award consideration) June 1 for late admissions
Online: Priority Deadlines per term - Fall term: July 15; Spring term: November 15; Summer term: March 15
Class times
On-Campus: Fixed per academic schedule
Online: Flexible per your schedule (asynchronous)
Cost per credit hour
On-Campus & Online: $1,866 (based on 2022-2023 cost per credit hour)
Financial Awards
On-Campus: Varies(scholarship, tuition remission, graduate assistant)
Online: Up to $10,000 (scholarship only)
On-Campus: Advocacy & Social Impact, Corporate Communication & Reputation Management, Digital Communication Strategies & Analytics, International Strategic Communication, Diversity & Multicultural Communication
Online: Advocacy & Social Impact, Digital Communication Strategies & Analytics
On-Campus: Take up to two on-campus courses in SOC or other schools. Take up to two online courses
Online: Take up to two on-campus courses in SOC or other schools
Career Development
On-Campus & Online: Access to AU Career Services, Alumni mentorship
AU Library
On-Campus & Online: Access to library and online resources
Student Services
On-Campus & Online: Access to Writing Center

Apply to on-campus program Apply to online program

Creating Pathways for Social Change

Communication is essential to moving audiences and influencing public policy.

Taylor Battle was inspired to use her strategic communication skills to be a pioneer for social change. Understanding that communication is essential to moving audiences and influencing public policy, she developed campaigns that address issues in social justice, the environment, global health, and education. Leveraging her experiences in politics, social change, and her AU education, she effects change in her job as an analyst for the Pathways Program with the Government of the District of Columbia.

Top 5

One of five finalists for Outstanding PR Education Program in 2019

by PRWeek

Frequently Asked Questions

You are not required to pick a concentration, but if you do have a particular area of interest or expertise, you can choose to concentrate your studies by taking three courses in one of the following five areas: Advocacy and Social Impact; Digital Communication Strategies and Analytics; Corporate Communication and Reputation Management; International Strategic Communication; or Diversity and Multicultural Communications. A concentration can open you up to myriad career options.

Yes, you can! With our online MA in Strategic Communication, we're bringing the same dynamic learning opportunities as in our full-time and part-time programs to you, wherever you live. Our program allows you to learn on your own schedule via an engaging and interactive online learning platform. You'll learn to tell compelling stories, craft messages that lead to action, and harness the power of new media and technology. Our students learn through simulations, applying best practices to new technology and media channels. The program has its own application process, but admission requirements and degree and course requirements are the same as for the full-time and part-time programs. However, the only degree concentrations available online at this time are Digital Communication Strategies & Analytics and Advocacy & Social Impact. Courses are offered in an eight-week accelerated format-you'll take two courses each semester, with the goal of completing the program within a 20-month period. You must be accepted into the Online MA in Strategic Communication Program to enroll in online courses. Request more information.

Our on-campus master's degree is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). Our program is the only graduate program in Strategic Communication in the DC area accredited by ACEJMC.

While the online program is not currently ACEJMC accredited, we have ensured that the content, rigor, and expectations of the online program meet those standards, as well as the higher expectations of the School of Communication and American University.

Additionally, American University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Therefore, all programs offered at AU are recognized by the federal government, most U.S. employers, and other accredited institutions.

  • Develop a communication campaign or plan that incorporates the key elements of planning, including situation analysis, research, objectives, strategies, target audiences, key messages, tactics, timeline, and evaluation
  • Understand the role of qualitative and quantitative research in strategic communication, and how to apply the findings
  • Think analytically about communication problems and identify creative solutions
  • Write clearly, concisely, and strategically in a range of formats and media
  • Understand the role of digital strategy and technology tools in integrated communication campaigns
  • Communicate confidently and persuasively
  • Use theory, best practices, and the latest research in the field to inform communication practice and scholarship

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