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MSC Curriculum

Explore the MSC Curriculum

The MSC program includes a robust curriculum designed for current and future leaders to learn and grow using different delivery models.


Enrich Your Future with a Robust MSC Curriculum Plan

Propel yourself forward with critical knowledge and skills.

Over the last 40 years, the MSC has evolved to include new formats, enhanced outcomes, and strategic frameworks. But our goal has never changed: to empower new and experienced leaders to communicate effectively and with purpose.


What You’ll learn

Learn how to make decisions, collaborate with others, lead change, and transform yourself, others, and organizations through rich instruction and hands-on experiences.

How You’ll Learn

Choose from two program paths — the CLP and the OLP — for flexible and customizable programs that help you earn your MS in Communication in-person or online.

What You’ll Do Next

Build a practical capstone project and attain your immediate and long-term career and leadership goals with the tools gathered through the MSC curriculum and programming.

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Delivery Models
Professors & Industry-Leading Faculty
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Learn and Connect with World-Class Faculty

Network With Leaders, Dive deep into thoughtful conversations with your industry’s thought leaders and experts. In the Northwestern MSC, you work with world-class faculty to question the way things are, discover new perspectives, and build a new framework to advance your leadership

Maddie Stengel

“My professional and personal growth has been entirely reshaped by the MSC program. I’m a stronger writer and a better teammate because of our classes. I have a much different perspective on effective leadership. I also built invaluable mentorship relationships – I landed my current job on the Pritzker campaign thanks to the advocacy of one of my closest professors.

Maddie Stengel

Jr. Speechwriter & Press Assistant | JB for Governor 

Class of 2022

The MSC Curriculum Framework

Expand Your Knowledge Within A Cohesive Framework

Communication is both art and science. Knowledge can be conceptual, applied, or practical. At Northwestern, we help bridge these gaps using a learning framework composed of three fundamental themes.

This dynamic framework provides you the scaffolding for learning new skills and advancing your leadership goals.

Theme 1: Managing Complexity

Proactively embrace complexity while learning to assess and navigate intricate organizational structures in the service of your broader communication goals.

Theme 2: Collaborative Leadership

Discover how to lead collaboratively through an experiential curriculum that focuses on decision-making, networking, and diverse group management.

Theme 3: Elegant Communication

Learn to critically analyze and deliver elegant messages — appropriate to your audience, purpose, and context — and evolve your strategic communication planning practices.

MSC Curriculum Paths

Two Paths to Earning Your MS in Communication Degree

Choose from one of two primary paths and connect with world-class faculty, all while gaining a competitive advantage in the workplace as you master new skills and explore new ideas.

Earn the same MSC degree and credits through two unique paths.

Custom Leadership Program

The Custom Leadership Program (CLP) offers a unique in-person experience for every student, regardless of where you are in your career.

Online Leadership Program

Focus on one course at a time with the Online Leadership Program (OLP). This online, 5-week session sprint format allows students to explore each topic in-depth.

Achievable Outcomes for Your Unwritten Future

During your coursework, you’ll build skills and develop tools for all communication and leadership challenges careers and life throw your way. Work towards these learning outcomes in a structured and incredibly supportive cohort environment — whichever program path you choose.
  • Articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and central curriculum themes of the MSC program.
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communication goals.
  • Address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.
  • Apply communication-centered scholarship to strengthen communication effectiveness.
  • Critically analyze messages.
  • Create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to audience, purpose, and content.

The MSC Degree Capstone Project

Build Your Portfolio During Your Coursework

Over the course of the program, you’ll create a three-part cumulative deliverable that integrates academic discoveries, a skills-based project, and the design and implementation of your own personal brand.

The Capstone Project serves as far more than an assessment of your learning. Your Capstone is a deep dive into the experience you take with you as you forge new paths in your career.

Applied Research: Research Project

In this project, you’ll combine knowledge from your coursework; past, present, and future career interests and experiences; and research from the academic discipline of communication studies.

Professional Identity: Visual Portfolio

Your professional identity is the sum of all parts of your brand narrative. You tell that narrative with brand collateral.

Co-Curriculum: Knowledge, Skills, & Network

We’ve designed and developed co-curriculum opportunities for you to advance your knowledge, skills, and network. These opportunities will help shape your capstone project.

Lead with curiosity and discover new opportunities with the MSC curriculum.​

Learn new skills and advance your career with Northwestern’s MSC program.