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Online Leadership Program

Gain a competitive advantage with an online Master's degree program designed for rising and experienced leaders.

Get Your Northwestern Masters Degree on Your Own Schedule

Leverage an online format with 4 live virtual practicums

Strengthen your leadership skills and advance your career in the online leadership program at Northwestern University.

Develop applicable skills and frameworks to take your career to the next level. Academic content is delivered online through our innovative learning platform.

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Discover how the online leadership program at Northwestern gives students a competitive workplace advantage.

1-Course Every 5 Weeks

Focus and accelerate your degree with a virtual deep dive into the concepts one class at a time, along with four live virtual practicums.

Lifelong Career Services​

Whether you're thinking about career evolution or revolution MSC Career Services will partner with you anytime in the course of your journey.

NU Alumni Network​

Join an extensive, elite network of Northwestern University alumni — and build the career you’ve always desired.

Building Confidence & Knowledge to Take on a New Career Challenge

Ivan Jaime discusses his experience in MSC.

Ivan Jaime ’20 believes in putting in hard work, no matter the situation. As he earned his diploma and went on to study marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, he was also working his way up at supermarket chain H-E-B. Starting out as a bagger, he had risen through the ranks to central checkout manager by the time he received his undergraduate degree in 2005.

Ivan Jaime
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Course Every Five Weeks
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Professors & Industry-Leading Faculty

MS In Communication OLP Curriculum Overview

Embark on a fast-paced, ambitious program to earn your MS in Communication.​

Core Courses

The affordances of new technologies and changes in the modern business landscape have fundamentally transformed strategic communication. Where previous research and practice has separated public relations from organizational communication, the modern environment makes such a distinction not only meaningless, but dangerous. This course explores the new foundations of strategic communication, beginning with stakeholder identification and assessment. It then explores cases that demonstrate the ways the ways that external stakeholders can and should influence organizational processes and practices. Next it turns to cases that demonstrate how internal organizational processes and practices impinge on traditional public relations strategy. Finally, this class uses authentic corporate social responsibility communication as an ideal case that unites both of these forces.

Read Professor Michelle Shumate’s Biography >>

This action-oriented course builds participants’ collaborative leadership skills. Through a series of case studies, activities, and projects, students learn how to effectively lead diverse and often distributed teams. The course explores the specific challenges associated with leading teams, some of which include: building and designing teams, managing information exchange within and across teams, structuring effective group decision processes, igniting creative thinking, enabling complex problem solving, and managing team conflict.

Read Professor Leslie DeChurch’s Biography >>

In this course, students study the use, collection, analysis and application of information in organizational planning and decision-making. Particular attention is given to sampling methods, survey methodology, social media/website analytics, and focus groups. The goal is to produce students who make informed decisions when presented with organizational and market research.

Read Professor Olga Kamenchuk’s Biography >>

As we enter into the age of big data, we increasingly need ways to present that data to persuade, inform, educate, and understand large volumes of information. Information design is an emerging discipline that tells us the stories of data, helping us to understand and elegantly communicate our increasingly complex world and share our conclusions with others. While information design borrows from diverse fields like psychology, statistics, cartography, cognitive science, visual design and human machine interaction, there are a series of basic principles that make up the foundations of the field. At the conclusion of the class, students will have a solid understanding of how to secure and prepare data for visualization, how to choose a relevant visual framework to represent that data, and how to use principles of visual design to maximize comprehension, retention and appeal of those designs.

Read Professor Eric Patrick’s  Biography >>

Decision-making in organizations is increasingly delegated to formal models, algorithms, and big data. These information resources are dangerously close to replacing the dialogue between human beings. This course defines dialogue in an organizational context and examines the interactions that bring about effective, satisfying collaboration. Students will study the “Conversational Firm” and find connections between dialogue and the modern organization, as well as develop dialogic skills and learn to recognize the threats to dialogic unity.

Read Professor Randy Iden’s Biography >>

This course provides students with the concepts, insights, and techniques that will give them a competitive edge as they discover, diagnose and design these networks. The course offers a set of strategic principles for students to create, maintain and dissolve network ties. These principles vary depending on a student’s desire to explore innovations, engage in entrepreneurship, exploit existing resources, implement change, or mobilize for strategic partnerships. The course will identify the optimal principles in these diverse contexts using a set of case studies, review articles, and computer-based visual-analytic demonstrations. By the end of the course, students will have the conceptual tools and techniques to assess an existing network and specify how it should be rewired to achieve any desired individual or organizational goal.

Read Professor Noshir Contractor’s Biography >>

This course is an exploration of the ways in which communication can be more effectively used to exert influence and to exercise power — bringing together a variety of disciplines including rhetorical analysis, leadership theory, composition, speechwriting, and public speaking. The goal is to help students understand how the beliefs and behaviors of decision-makers and publics can be influenced by effective communication.

Read Professor Jason DeSanto’s Biography >>

Live Virtual Practicums

Your Northwestern MS in Communication degree takes place in your location of choice. However, for those experiences that cannot be honed or refined alone, MSC's live virtual practicums are crafted for the experienced professional to focus on key components of leadership communication.

This seminar rests on an understanding that our own knowledge and experiences have important limitations, and that cross-cultural engagement is an active, life-long learning process that will never be entirely completed. Instead of developing expertise or competence in another culture, the focus of cultural humility is on self-evaluation, self-critique, and developing awareness of one’s own culture. Cultural humility also gives weight to the institutional context in which a relationship exists. Learning from cultural differences is more likely once leaders have created trust, begun to dismantle systems of discrimination and subordination, and embraced a range of styles. Topics will include: social identity construction, psychological safety and trust, and giving and receiving feedback specific to inequity.

 

This seminar introduces students to the field of conflict analysis and management. Potential topics include: how to describe conflict accurately, how to assist parties in resolving it, how to negotiate and to conduct mediation, and how to manage anger, aggression, and bullying that leads to destructive conflict developments. The class materials also cover important approaches for successful conflict resolution. The student will learn skills that will be useful for application in a variety of settings: workplace, family, media, elections, business, etc.

At its core, organizational change management is about implementation of new ideas and practices. Because organizational change requires individuals and units to change, this seminar examines both how an individual’s attitudes and behavior might be altered and how an organization’s policies and practices might change. Consequently, topics will include: persuasion, bargaining and negotiation, and organizational campaigns. This practical hands-on seminar will contain stories, tools, diagrams, cases, and worksheets to help you develop your skills as a change leader, able to take people outside their comfort zones and assess and address the toughest challenges.

The CAPSTONE PROJECT

Your MS in Communication Capstone Project​​

A Cumulative Assessment You’ll Actually Use

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.

Compenent 1
Visual Portfolio

Your Visual Portfolio is a website you will create, designed to showcase you and your work. It provides a multi-media platform where assignments are reflected upon, synthesized and presented to demonstrate and substantiate your learning as an MSC student.

Component 3
Professional Identity

You will elegantly communicate your professional identity by creating thoughtfully branded collateral, often called a media kit. You will also use the items you create here as content for your website.

Component 2a
Case Interview

Use the things you have learned to solve a problem. If you choose to conduct a Case Interview, you sign up for a time, and will receive a case 24 hours in advance of your interview. The case will be closely related to your coursework. You are expected to present a brief diagnosis of the case’s problem as well as a suggested solution, and you'll receive immediate feedback.

Component 2b
Applied Research Project

Use data and the skills you have learned to solve a problem. If you choose the Case Development path, you'll use data and experiences from a real-life situation to conduct an in-depth study of the underlying causes of a problem and present a recommendation. You'll receive feedback to strengthen the knowledge you have gained throughout the program.

Stephanie Santos

“This degree gave me a real confidence boost in the workforce, which left a positive impact on my day-to-day interactions inside and outside of work.” 

Stephanie Santos ’19

Content Strategist
Google

A Masters In Science in Communication Built For Experienced Professionals

Earn your masters. Strengthen your leadership. Transform the future.

The Online Leadership Program is tailored to those with management experience.

Take your classroom learnings and immediately apply them in your workplace. You’ll see the transformative power of your degree program in real-time.

Northwestern’s MS in Communication Admissions Information

Explore the OLP program requirements and application details before applying.
MSC Degree Requirements

Find out what you need to submit an application to the MSC program.​

Tuition and Financial Aid

Learn more about the MSC program tuition and financial aid.

How to Apply

Begin your online application, save your progress, and return to complete at any time.

Discover New Skills. Lead With Confidence.

Embrace change and advance your career with your Master of Science in Communication from Northwestern.