Introducing the MA in Strategic Communication: Seniors Can Take Graduate Courses!

The Department of Communication is excited to announce the launch of its graduate degree, Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, beginning Spring 2024. This program caters to both traditional students and working professionals. The program is entirely new and still accepting students for the Spring 2024 semester! As a whole, it focuses on facilitating conversations, communication theory, conducting research, and most importantly, real-world application. graphic about grad program

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication offers conceptual and applied knowledge taught by scholars who study communication dynamics and by practitioners who put this knowledge into practice in industry. Throughout the 36-credit program, students will develop their skills in identifying, analyzing, and solving communication problems across a wide range of contexts, with particular attention to non-profit organizations and issues of sustainability. Core courses provide students with a foundation of knowledge and tools for communication while electives offer the opportunity to pursue individualized and interdisciplinary plans of study. An approved internship may substitute for one elective course.   

The MA in Strategic Communications at SUNY New Paltz can be completed in two years or on a part-time schedule at your own pace. It is a “low residency” program: most coursework can be completed online, but three on-campus weekends per semester give students access to campus resources and opportunities to collaborate with professors and a cohort of peers. No GRE is required! 

While some of the graduate courses have undergraduate equivalents, the level of content and expectations are fundamentally much more advanced. The graduate program heavily focuses on applications and larger projects. As Graduate Coordinator Dr. Jason S. Wrench states, “there are typically 1-2 major projects that are specific to the industry, with no in-between project busy work.” This allows the student to hyperspecialize in what they are interested in and use more practical and applicable knowledge on the subject. Because the level of work reflects a more real-world experience, it also provides the student with a broad array of content to build professional portfolios. 

The courses will be offered in two formats: asynchronous and hybrid. 

  • Asynchronous classes are entirely online with no in-person meetings. 
  • Hybrid courses primarily follow the asynchronous format but include three in-person sessions throughout the semester for discussions and collaborative projects. 

Prof. Wrench clarifies that the program was originally exclusively asynchronous to cater to students who may be working full-time or are unable to commute; however, after speaking with past students, hybrid courses were introduced. “Especially as a communication program, students still wanted that in-person connection while still having flexibility,” Prof. Wrench explains. The hybrid courses only meet 3 times during the semester for 4 hours, still giving that face-to-face contact without the commitment of a fully in-person course. The courses are taught by New Paltz’s Communication Department professors, so they will be familiar faces to those who have already taken the undergraduate program in communication. 

For the Spring 2024 semester, three courses will be introduced: 

  • CMM501: Applied Communication Research Methods (asynchronous) 
  • CMM705: Collaboration, Leadership, and Facilitation (hybrid) 
  • CMM709:  Narrative, Identity and Community (hybrid) 

 Undergraduate seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or above have the opportunity to replace major electives with these graduate courses. Additionally, undergraduates will be charged at the undergraduate tuition rate for these courses, which is significantly cheaper. Even if you choose not to pursue the MA in Strategic Communication, these graduate credits might be transferable to other graduate programs (subject to the receiving institution and specific program). You do not need to apply to the program to take these courses in replacement of an elective, so long as you meet the requirements. Students may take all 3 courses at once.  

To apply, visit MA in Strategic Communication < State University of New York at New Paltz. Click “Admission Requirements” and then “Apply Now.” The following requirements are needed for the application, which is submitted through the Office of Graduate Admissions: 

  • One official transcript providing evidence of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale.  
  • Contact information for three references who can provide a professional recommendation written on professional letterhead.  
  • Admission Essay  
  • Application for teaching assistantship (optional) — contact the department for more information. 

The admissions essay can be as short as one page and serves as an explanation as to why the program is right for you. The letters of recommendation may be professional or academic. 

Any inquiries regarding the MA in Strategic Communication can be directed to the graduate coordinator, Dr. Jason S. Wrench, at benefits of strategic comm masters degree