Strategic Communication Major

Strategic communication majors will learn how communications professionals strategically communicate an organization’s objectives to target audiences and tailor messages relevant to different constituencies.

This program also gives students a broad view of mass communication, including multimedia production, news writing, graphic design, and public relations. Degree candidates are given internship opportunities, offering them real-world experience and a direct connection to professionals in the field.

Career Options

Marketing and communication manager; graphic designer; social media specialist; multimedia producer; market and survey researcher; public relations specialist; publisher; writer

High School Preparation

Business; Computer Applications; English; Journalism; Psychology; Speech

Enhance Your Experience

Students who major or minor in strategic communication oftentimes pursue additional studies in English, public relations, business, or psychology.

Degree Requirements

A. Communication Core

AR203 Graphic Design I (3 cr.)

Graphic Design I offers an introductory study of the principles, tools, and techniques of design for publishing and advertising. It includes a study of typography, designer and printer's vocabulary, and the aesthetics of graphic design. This course is taught on the computer using the most widely used software applications in publishing and printing.

COM111 Introduction to Mass Communication (3 cr.)

A study of the history, production methods, and social and economic factors of the mass media. This course gives students an understanding of print media, broadcast media and public relations by analyzing the technical development and social impact of media.

COM150 Social and New Media Communication (3 cr.)

This course provides a study of the evolution, trends, and platforms of social and new media.  This course will give you an understanding of these online and App-based media by analyzing their technical development and media, business, and social impacts.  The course will also address best practices in content creation for use of these media in news content, branding, and public relations.  Specific platforms we will cover include:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Blogs, Snapchat, Periscope, and Virtual Reality.

COM201 Beginning Newswriting (3 cr.)

Principles and practice in journalistic writing and related skills and theory, including style and conventions of journalistic writing, news judgment criteria, techniques for interviewing, ethical dimensions. Extensive writing in and out of class.

COM308 Editing (3 cr.)

Exploration of and experience in the professional skills needed to produce news and public relations materials. Includes copy editing, grammar, style and headline writing; organization and structure of texts in news and public relations; computerized editing functions.

COM350 Multimedia Production (3 cr.)

Digital media - including podcasting, multimedia storytelling and editing, and other collaborative content creation platforms - are changing the fields of public relations and journalism.  Hiring managers in communications-related fields expect new college graduates to be "experts" in all multimedia platforms.  Those who can demonstrate true expertise, however, are rare due to lack of formal instruction and training.  This course narrows the focus from the broad field of digital media to cover the specific tools and best practices needed to conquer current and future use of multimedia production in public relations, journalism, electronic publishing, and related fields.

COM488 Contemporary Issues in Mass Communication (3 cr.)

An examination of contemporary ethical situations regarding the media professional's role in determining guidelines to provide the public with relevant contextual material. Emphasis in this course is placed upon an understanding of the limits and guarantees of the First Amendment, the four major theories of the press and the practice of communications as part of a community.

COM490 Senior Portfolio Development (1 cr.)

This course is for seniors in one of the Department of Communication majors/minors only and prepares them for entering a career in a communications field.  Topics include hard-copy and electronic portfolios, professional photos, cover letters, resumes, professional expectations, job interviews, and more.  Guest speakers will be invited as available.

COM496/497 Internship: Communication (1–17 cr.)

An opportunity for qualified juniors or seniors to participate in a field experience under the guidance and supervision of competent professionals.

E295 Practical Grammar (2 cr.)

The purpose of this course is to teach students to identify basic and advanced grammatical structures. Students are asked to apply this grammatical knowledge to exercises that require them to edit for grammar and punctuation.

B. All of the following:

COM250 Intercultural Communication (3 cr.)

The Intercultural Communication course is an introduction to approaching communication across cultural differences.  It is designed to explore the impact of culture on communication and to improve each student's ability to communicate with others, both formally and informally.  We live in an era of rapid globalization in which being able to communicate across cultures is imperative to our ability to function in a diverse workplace, city, and world.  In this class, culture is defined broadly to include race, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic class, and so on.  Students enrolled in this course are encouraged to examine their own lives and the influence of their backgrounds on their communication processes.  It involves both individual and group work.  Class time consists of lectures, group activities, simulations, written exercises, service learning, presentations, and discussions.  Students will gain theoretical and practical knowledge as they study and mindfully experience intercultural communication.

COM270 Persuasion and Advocacy (3 cr.)

This course investigates seminal and current persuasive theories as a means to create change within a workplace, community, or world.  It puts into practice being a "voice for the voiceless".  Students will apply theories to create a strategic communication plan with the use of interpersonal, public, organizational, and social media tactics to be an advocate for social justice.  Students will also learn to recognize strategies used to influence their own thought processes and actions.

COM360 Ethical Communication and Leadership (3 cr.)

This course is designed for all students interested in increasing the effectiveness of the groups/teams with which they work and improving their interpersonal relationships.  Leadership, at its core, is about developing relationships and maintaining integrity.  This course will investigate the impact of ethical interpersonal and small group communication within an organization.  Topics covered will be: conversations as organizational cornerstones; emotional intelligence; ethical philosophies; small group theory; group roles, norms, and networks; dysfunctional group dynamics; gender considerations; problem solving; and ethical decision making.  This course will enable students to effectively lead groups in ethical decision making and team building processes.

COM375 Organizational Communication (3 cr.)

This course will provide students insight into the complexity of communication within organizations.  It provides an overview of how organizations work by discussing organizational theories, models, relevant research and case studies.  Students will gain a deeper understanding of organizational structure, culture, communication and strategic planning processes.  They will analyze cases and engage in experiential exercises to facilitate critical thinking and apply course content to a variety of organizational settings.

Additionally, students will engage in discussion with a variety of organizational leaders from organizations and business in and around the Midwest as part of the course experience.  This will serve as an opportunity for students to begin to create formal networks as they consider their post Saint Mary's University of Minnesota opportunities.

COM400 Public Relations Research (3 cr.)

This course provides students with an understanding of terms and applications of both quantitative and qualitative public relations research, measurement and evaluation. Students learn what public relations practitioners do to research and evaluate PR campaigns, and then conduct research projects. This course is usually taken in the junior or senior year, but must be taken prior to enrollment in COM443.

COM425 Communication Theory (3 cr.)

Students study and apply human communication theories to the study of interpersonal relationships including small groups, gender studies, work relationships, friendships and marital relationships.  Perspectives on and methods of critical inquiry and research are an integral part of the course content.  Research projects are presented to the rest of the class and could be submitted to professional organizations for review.

C. Two of the following:

COM230 Principles of Public Relations (3 cr.)

Theory, history, and practice of public relations in society; consideration of public relations programs, the process of influencing public opinion, the responsibilities of the public relations practitioner, ethics of public relations practice, and professional public relations organizations.

COM352 Digital and Social Analytics (3 cr.)

This course will cover the basic and commonly used statistical concepts used for digital information and social media analytics.  It will proved a study of the theory and implementation of different online digital information, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM) analytics.  The course will examine methods that have emerged from digital information and media prove to be of value in recognizing patterns and decision-making activities.  Data visualization and date file access will also be part of the course.  We will survey online software and students will have an opportunity for hands-on analysis.

COM410 Communication Law (3 cr.)

This course provides students with an understanding of legal and ethical issues involving print and broadcast media and the Internet, including libel, obscenity, invasion of privacy, shielding of sources, freedom of the press, copyright, and government regulation. This course must be taken in the junior or senior year.