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The intersection of theory and application


Our program will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to reach your peak effectiveness in communication and leadership.
Learn to be a more effective and valued leader through an integrated curriculum that is built on proven research in the fields of communication, management, ethics, and innovative technology.

In addition to providing frameworks to guide you through the challenges you face in your organization, our Master of Science in Communication programs incorporate professional development and networking opportunities at every stage. These opportunities empower you with the skills and confidence you need to gain and sustain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Our small communication master’s classes ensure that you will receive personalized attention from our world-class faculty, leading academics, and industry experts who draw from extensive hands-on experience. Their expertise in communication strategy, leadership, organizational behavior, information technologies, and global economies is at the heart of a flexible and broadly relevant curriculum that can be applied to almost any industry.

“I was able to apply many of the things I learned from the MSC courses in real-time, which gave me greater visibility in my career and was highly valuable to my employer.”

– Paul Sevilla, Class of 2014

Learning Themes

These themes should be fundamental to any MS in Communication curriculum. You will find them in everything we do.
Chess piece signifying managing complexity

Managing Complexity

The business landscape today rewards individuals that are both responsive to and embrace complexity. The MSC programs train you to assess complex organizational environments and achieve your communication goals. You will be trained to analyze and leverage networks, use new open-technologies and systems to innovate, engage online stakeholders, and respond to organizational crises.
Gears signifying collaborative leadership

Collaborative Leadership

We believe that collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors is critical in addressing today’s complex challenges. Our experientially-focused curriculum enables you to learn about collaborative leadership and decision-making through appraising team needs, building professional relationships, managing collaborative technologies, and facilitating group interaction.
E signifying elegant communication

Elegant Communication

Elegant communication is the most sought after competency in the workplace today. The MSC programs cultivate leaders who are able to critically analyze messages and to create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context. Analytics, communication evaluation, and strategic communication planning will become second nature.

Categories of Knowledge

Within each learning theme there are three types of knowledge that are critical for real-world success.
A chart showing conceptual, applied and produced knowledge all fall under each learning theme

Conceptual Knowledge

Conceptual knowledge is synthesizing decades of concepts and theories of the interdisciplinary field of communication. Our expert faculty make conceptual knowledge digestible and tangible to you through lectures, readings and activities to give you the confidence to make decisions and lead others.

Applied Knowledge

Applied knowledge is the comprehensive study of concepts, theories, and themes in the professional world. You’ll study where those themes intersect and how they have been applied in the complexity of the real world. You’ll read case studies and share your professional experience with classmates while our faculty will share their consulting stories and experiences with you.

Produced Knowledge

Produced knowledge is the heart of our program learning objectives. The MSC program believes that in order to master the art of communication, you must be able to produce expert level communication rather than simply reproducing what you’ve been taught. In each course and in your capstone project you will demonstrate advanced understanding of both conceptual and applied knowledge by producing knowledge and skills of your own.


Our learning themes and categories of knowledge are present in both the Custom Leadership and Hybrid Leadership Programs.  The unique demographic makeup of these programs requires different course offerings.

Master of Science in Communication Custom Leadership Program

Custom Leadership Program

The flexibility offered in the CLP curriculum meets your needs as you experiment with a potential career change.
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Master of Science in Communication Hybrid Leadership Program

Hybrid Leadership Program

As a more seasoned professional you will enjoy a curriculum designed to advance your career.
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World-class instructors accessible to you
Northwestern’s top-ranked School of Communication faculty is comprised of world-class instructors who possess extensive hands-on experience as leading academics and industry experts in their discipline and as consultants to business, government, and foundations.

View our complete faculty list