University Senate                                                                      Proposed: April 26, 2002








WHEREAS,     the Education Committee has favorably reviewed a proposal from the Arts and Sciences (and the proposed School of Continuing Education) to establish the M.S. in Strategic Communications, and


WHEREAS,     the Committee is satisfied that the proposal has been approved by the Executive Committee of Continuing Education, and


WHEREAS,     the proposed degree program does not duplicate the existing degree programs offered by the several schools of the University, and


WHEREAS,     Continuing Education has established that the proposed degree program would provide a much needed program of professional preparation for careers in the communications professions in the City of New York, and


WHEREAS,     the deans of the professional schools have no objection to the creation of such a degree program, and


WHEREAS,     the proposed degree program has been approved and endorsed by the Provost of the University;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,       that the new School of Continuing Education be authorized to offer the M.S. in Strategic Communications.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,      that the Senate forward this resolution to the Trustees for appropriate action.






Committee on Education

New York City is the dominant national and international center of the communications industries. Yet, surprisingly, there is no serious graduate program offered in the New York metropolitan area to prepare people for professional responsibilities in advertising, public relations, and related fields. Nationally, a number of research universities offer such a graduate degree. The most serious are offered at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication, and Boston University’s College of Communication. Locally, New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers only low-level certificate programs in public relations and marketing/advertising.

      Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism’s distinguished program prepares print and electronic journalists, but does not offer any courses in public relations. Columbia’s Graduate School of Business offers a broad curriculum in the field of marketing (including a course in advertising management), but does not offer courses in the “nuts and bolts” of advertising per se. Columbia’s School of the Arts offers a distinguished graduate writing program focused entirely on fiction, dramatic writing, and poetry. 

      The School of Continuing Education proposes to offer a practical “hands-on” program to prepare graduates for professional positions either in advertising and public relations firms or in the advertising/marketing and public relations/public affairs sectors of corporations, agencies, or other organizations. To the extent that there are faculty in the three above-mentioned schools with an interest or expertise in the field, it would invite their participation in the development of a first-class program. However, since there are not full-time faculty teaching in these fields, the SCE would expect to mount such a program largely hiring as faculty part-time Lecturers in Continuing Education drawn from the advertising and public relations industries themselves.




Strategic Communications Master’s/Certificate ProgramPreparing Professionals for Communications Roles in the Corporate and Nonprofit Worlds


Strategic Communications is a dynamic expanding professional area requiring the ability to understand and apply integrated communications solutions to business challenges. The rapid advances in technology, the opportunity for global communication and the importance of conveying a cohesive identity are all factors propelling organizations to find the best strategy to reach and affect their constituencies. Today, professionals in this field have at their disposal an enormous, varied and growing assortment of communications options. They need to be well versed in internet marketing, data management, direct marketing, customer relationship management, behavioral and opinion research, written and verbal communication, strategic planning, creative thinking, and have a broad understanding of the media.

      The Strategic Communications Master’s program will prepare students to become communications professionals, teaching them the analytic and practical tools necessary to think strategically and operate effectively within a number of different communications spheres. Students will develop a comprehensive knowledge of the vast number of communications options available to an organization and acquire a critical awareness of the issues facing professionals in the planning and implementation of integrated communications efforts. Students will become proficient in focusing, managing, and giving creative direction to an organization’s communications needs, learning how to identify and target audiences, think globally, and execute tactical campaigns to successfully reach potential customers, using a full range of media.

      The Strategic Communications program will combine theory with practice, with an emphasis on integrating communications solutions and carefully targeting audiences. Learning how to solve problems will be integral to each course; case studies will be presented and analyzed by practitioners from New York City’s top marketing, advertising and public relations firms, and nonprofit institutions. The program instructors are senior level communications executives and every course will include opportunities to learn from them and visiting professionals.

      The Strategic Communications Certificate program offers studies to professionals already working in communications fields who wish to enhance existing skills or become proficient in a new area.

      The curriculum assumes that students will not have substantial experience in communications, though those with a background in some areas may refine and expand their knowledge to better equip themselves for career advancement. The most important qualification for admission to the program is a demonstrated capacity to write clearly, grammatically, concisely, and compellingly. The ability to use basic office software, and a familiarity with the Internet, is required.

      On both the national and local levels there is a growing need for a new breed of highly skilled professionals with strong communications skills who can translate and integrate complex and sophisticated information and ideas for internal and external audiences. The demand for these communications specialists is increasing in the corporate world, but particularly rapid growth is taking place in the nonprofit sector: in health care, education, and the arts as well as organizations concerned with public policy.

      Program graduates will find career opportunities in organizations concerned with policies and ideas as well as those promoting products and services; public relations and advertising agencies as well as corporations, non-profit institutions, civic organizations and public agencies, which need help explaining their missions and their purposes to multiple constituencies.