Strategic and Digital Communication MS

Major: Strategic and Digital Communication
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 45.0
Co-op Option: graduate co-op available for full-time on-campus students
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 09.0909
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code:

About the Program

Drexel’s Master of Science in Strategic and Digital Communication prepares students for careers in a wide range of professional activities relating to communication in media environments and communication contexts that are characterized by advanced digitization.

With a robust core curriculum consisting of seven courses (21.0 credits), the program provides a strong foundation in theoretical approaches to communication, ethics and media/communication policy. This theoretical basis is designed to ensure that, as the field changes, students will continue to have an intellectual framework for evaluating and implementing new technology and changing media environments. Furthermore, the program trains students in leadership skills that will help them to lead teams to be innovative communication professionals in digitized media environments and different organizational communication contexts.

The program emphasizes flexibility, encouraging each student, in consultation with a faculty advisor, to craft an individual course of study tailored to the student’s individual interests and career goals. Throughout the curriculum students use four Communication electives (12.0 credits) to increase communication skills or to further develop areas of specialization. An additional four free elective courses (12.0 credits) can be taken in Communication or in other departments across the university. This allows students to continue to tailor their plan of study, to add on a graduate minor, or to complete a certificate program.

In order to gain valuable practical experience outside the classroom, students are expected to complete the equivalent of a six-month non-credit bearing internship. To complete the internship component, students can either enroll in Drexel’s graduate coop option (for full-time on-campus students only, more details available from the Steinbright Career Development Center), or they can work in one or several full-time or part-time communication positions of their choosing. Students entering the program already possessing significant communication-related experience and thereby meeting the internship requirement can apply for an internship waiver. The program director works with each student on an individual basis to see what option best meets their needs. 

The program specializes in two areas:

  • Strategic Communication (public relations)
  • Digital and Social Media Communication

Strategic Communication

Strategic Communication has much to offer for those looking to work in public relations as well as for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Students typically choose from courses such as PR Writing and Planning courses, Crisis Communication, Media Relations, Nonprofit Communication, and others.

Digital Communication

With Communication being an area characterized by ongoing digitization, the program offers courses such as Strategic Social Media Communication, Digital Publishing, Digital Media Environments, Social Media Concepts That Matter, and others.

Students can attend classes on campus, full-time or part-time, or fully online on a part-time basis. They can begin the program in any academic quarter, and they can complete all required coursework in the evening. The degree requires 45.0 credits of graduate coursework and can be completed part-time in as little as two years or full-time in five quarters (just over a year).

Additional Information

For more information, visit the MS in Strategic and Digital Communication webpage.

Contact Julia May, Director of the MS in Strategic and Digital Communication program, at for more information.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to graduate studies. Prospective students must also submit:

  • A 750-1,000-word statement explaining why they want to enter the program. The statement will be reviewed to evaluate each applicant’s writing skills and sense of purpose.
  • Two letters of recommendation from either academic instructors or professional supervisors
  • Transcripts of all college-level coursework
  • A current resume

GRE scores are not required but are recommended for applicants with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0. GRE scores are evaluated based on the applicant's performance in the verbal reasoning and analytical writing sections. If GRE scores are not available, you are still encouraged to apply as applications will be looked at holistically with consideration to the applicant's writing skills, relevant professional experience, and academic aptitude.

For international students for whom English is not the official language, a TOEFL score of 100 (iBT) or IELTS Overall Band Score of 7.0 is required.

Degree Requirements

Required Core Courses
COM 500Reading & Research in Communication3.0
COM 574Organizational Communication in Project Management3.0
COM 610Theories of Communication and Persuasion3.0
COM 613Ethics for Professional Communication3.0
COM 615Media Environments in a Digital World3.0
COM 651Media and Communication Policy in a Digitized World3.0
COM 698Managing Communication Professionals' Identities in a Digital Age3.0
Program Electives12.0
Choose four of the following courses:
Campaigns for Health and Environment
Communicating Health and Risk in a ‘Fake News’ World
Science Writing
Document Design and Usability
Modern Desktop Publishing
Digital Publishing
Strategic Social Media Communication
Copy Editing
Foundations of Public Relations
Public Relations Writing
Public Relations Planning
Media Relations in a Digital Age
Crisis Communication
Creative Content Production
Fundamentals of Journalism & Newswriting
International Negotiations
Event Planning
Grant Writing
Nonprofit Communication
Communication for Civic Engagement
Focus Groups
Strategic International Communication
Graduate Seminar in Communication
Social Media Concepts that Matter
Investigative Journalism
Independent Study in COM
Independent Study in COM
Special Topics in Communication
Special Topics in Communication
Graduate Electives *12.0
Optional Co-op Experience **0-1
Career Management and Professional Development for Master's Degree Students
Total Credits45.0-46.0

Students can select up to 12.0 credits of graduate-level electives (500-799) in the following subject areas: AADM, AAML, ACCT, BUSN, CCM, CHP, COM, CRTV, CW, DIGM, ECON, EDAM, EDHE, EDLT, EDUC, ENTP, ENVP, ENVS, EOH, HMP, HRM, LING, MGMT, MKTG, MUSL, NPM, ORGB, PBHL, PLCY, PROJ, PRST, RMER, SCRP, SCTS, SMT, TVMN. Other graduate courses outside these areas might be taken pending approval from the graduate advisor or program director. These 12.0 credits of graduate-level electives can be used towards a graduate minor or a graduate certificate program outside the COM discipline.


Co-op is an option for this degree for full-time on-campus students. To prepare for the 6-month co-op experience, students will complete: COOP 500. The total credits required for this degree with the co-op experience is 46.0

Students not participating in the co-op experience will need 45.0 credits to graduate.

Sample Plan of Study

Option 1: Full-time with Internship

First Year
COM 5003.0COM 6103.0COM 6983.0COM 5743.0
COM 6133.0COM 6513.0Graduate Elective3.0Graduate Elective3.0
Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0
 9 9 9 9
Second Year
  Graduate Electives6.0 
 0 0 9 
Total Credits 45

Internships are required but are non-credit bearing. Some students complete two 3-month internships; other students complete 12 months part time. Six months of full-time experience is required.The terms in which internships are taken will vary depending on the student's plan of study. Students who come in to the program with relevant prior professional experience can get the internship waived.

Students are only eligible for financial aid during terms in which they enroll for a minimum of 4.5 credits that count toward degree completion.

Option 2: Full-time with Graduate Co-Op

First Year
COM 5003.0COM 5743.0COM 6983.0COM 6513.0
COM 6133.0COM 6103.0Graduate Elective3.0Graduate Elective3.0
COOP 500*1.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0
Program Elective3.0   
 10 9 9 9
Second Year
  Graduate Electives6.0 
 0 0 9 
Total Credits 46

COOP 500 is a non-billable course that does not count towards the academic requirement of the MS program. It is a required course for those students who choose the Graduate Co-op option.


Students earn Drexel Co-op Units to remain financial aid eligible while on Graduate Co-op. In case no suitable Co-op position is found, students must register for full-time classes to remain financial aid eligible and also need to begin to look for an alternative internship position.

Option 3: Part-time with Internship

First Year
COM 6133.0COM 6153.0COM 6513.0COM 5743.0
Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0Program Elective3.0
 6 6 6 6
Second Year
COM 5003.0Graduate Electives6.0COM 6103.0Graduate Elective3.0
COM 6983.0INTERNSHIP*Graduate Elective3.0INTERNSHIP*
 6 6 6 3
Total Credits 45

Internships are required but are non-credit bearing. Some students complete two 3-month internships; other students complete 12 months part time. Six months of full-time experience is required.The terms in which internships are taken will vary depending on the student's plan of study. Students who come in to the program with relevant prior professional experience can get the internship waived.

Students are only eligible for financial aid during terms in which they enroll for a minimum of 4.5 credits that count toward degree completion.

Strategic & Digital Communication Faculty

Ronald Bishop, III, PhD (Temple University). Professor. Investigative reporting, sports journalism, journalism history, journalism sourcing patterns, textual narrative and ideological analysis, cultural history of fame.
Karen Cristiano, MS (Temple University) Assistant Department Head of Communication. Teaching Professor. Journalism, medical writing, feature writing, copy editing, mass media and society.
Richard Forney Assistant Teaching Professor. Broadcast journalism technology and the effects of new technologies on personal and corporate communication skills.
Ernest A. Hakanen, PhD (Temple University) Director, Graduate Programs in Communication, Culture & Media. Professor. Telecommunications policy, adolescent media use, communication theory and history, global media, and semiotics.
Hyunmin Lee, PhD (University of Missouri) Director, Undergraduate Programs in Communication. Associate Professor. Social media strategies for relationship and reputation management in public relations; media messages of public health issues and its psychological and behavioral effects on the public.
Julia May, PhD (Drexel University) Director, Strategic and Digital Communication MS Program. Associate Teaching Professor. Political communication; international politics and its news coverage; public opinion; transatlantic relations; war, torture and human rights; debate in the public sphere.
Alexander Nikolaev, PhD (Florida State University). Associate Professor. Public relations, political communication, organizational communication, mass communication, international communications and negotiations, communications theory.
Douglas V. Porpora, PhD (Temple University). Professor. War, genocide, torture, and human rights; macro-moral reasoning in public sphere debate; contemporary social theory moral and political communication; religion.
Rachel R. Reynolds, PhD (University of Illinois). Associate Professor. Sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication and discourse analysis; violence against women in mass media; political economy of migration; semiotics including the textual, the visual and multimodal.
Rosemary Rys, MA (Rowan University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Public relations and marketing.
Wesley Shumar, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor. Digital media and learning; culture of higher education; entrepreneurship education; craft culture; semiotic of consumer culture.
Scott Tattar, BA (York College of Pennsylvania) Faculty Advisor, Drexel PRSSA, Communication Department Recruitment Liaison. Instructor. Public relations
Hilde Van den Bulck, PhD (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) Department Head of Communication. Professor. Political economy of media structures; media policies for digitized media ecologies; stakeholders and coalitions in media policies; digitization; convergence and legacy media; public (service) media; celebrity culture and industry; fandom and anti-fandom.
Asta Zelenkauskaite, PhD (Indiana University). Associate Professor. Social media; user-generated content; computer-mediated communication; interactivity; active audience analysis; mobile communication; gender and online identity; prosumer culture; internet of things; quantitative/qualitative research.

Emeritus Faculty

Alexander Friedlander, PhD (Carnegie Mellon University). Associate Professor. Rhetorical theory and practice, document design, writing and technology.
Lawrence Souder, PhD (Temple University) Director, Drexel Edits. Teaching Professor. Science and technical writing, communication ethics, nonprofit communication.