The MSC Custom Leadership program is designed to train you in the essential skills you need to have an immediate competitive advantage in the workplace.
Our part-time, Saturday-only schedule means you’ll be boosting your career, not pausing it.
You’ll take the lessons from class each week directly into the workplace, improving your effectiveness and
standing out from the crowd. The program is 10 months
, minimizing the disruption.
The “Custom” aspect of this programs means you’ll be able to customize the curriculum to meet your unique goals. You’ll
take core courses with the entire cohort that will cover the fundamentals, and then be able to select an elective to take each quarter with a smaller group so you can really dive in. Choose classes to either strengthen
expertise or stretch
yourself by exploring a topic outside of your comfort zone.
You’ll learn alongside professionals from multiple industries, job functions, geographies, and even generations. Whether
you’re a C-suite executive, an emerging leader getting your professional start, or anywhere in between, the dynamic cooperative learning environment
thrives from the lessons everyone in the program
“MSC opened doors in current role and provided me the confidence and skills to volunteer for assignments I would not have felt capable of prior to the program.”
– Kent Cato, Class of 2008
You will enroll in one core course and one elective course each quarter. In addition, right from the start, you will begin working on a capstone project. At the end of the academic year, you will have completed nine credit units to receive the Master
of Science in Communication degree.
Leading Collaboration – Fall Quarter
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.
Change Management – Winter Quarter
At its core, organizational change management is about implementation of new ideas and practices. Because organizational change requires individuals and units to change, this course examines both how an individual’s attitudes and behavior might be altered
and how an organization’s policies and practices might change. Consequently, this class will focus on material related to persuasion, bargaining and negotiation, and organizational campaigns. These theories will be drawn from a variety of disciplines
including organizational behavior, industrial relations, political science, social psychology, and communication. Although the primary method of teaching will be lecture, students are encouraged to ask questions and offer examples.
Understanding and Leveraging Networks – Spring Quarter
This course provides students with the concepts, insights, and techniques that will give them a competitive edge as they discover, diagnose and design 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 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 rewire them
to achieve any desired individual or organizational goal.
Communication, Management and Ethics – Summer Quarter
This course provides a program for systematic reflection on the ethical dimension of managerial communication. The program of study will raise both “philosophical” and “practical” questions, and focus in particular on that zone of human interaction where
it is difficult to be either wholly principled or merely practical. The course will include discussion of representative texts and case studies, including attention to predicaments encountered or observed during the term. The readings will refer to
several perspectives on ethical judgment, the demands and evasions defining various communicative practices, the conflicting responsibilities of institutional work, and the relationship between private and public interests as well. The analysis of
specific cases will culminate in a final paper on a characteristic moral predicament in communicating effectively.
Leadership & Decision-Making
This course investigates how individuals influence group decisions. Students are videotaped in decision-making interactions in order to assess and improve their leadership and analytical thinking skills in groups. This course is highly interactive – allowing
students to evaluate and practice real world challenges in this content area.
Foundations of Strategic Communication Management
Traditionally, the study of business communication has been divided into marketing communication (advertising, marketing and public relations) which is primarily addressed to outside audiences for purposes of selling, promoting or spinning; and organizational
communication which is addressed to both inside and outside audiences for the purpose of defining the parameters of the company or business unit. Developments in Communication Studies over the past 20 years have shown this distinction to be spurious and,often,
detrimental to the achievement of individual and group goals. In addition, the very parameters of the organization and who counts as its members have been called into question. Strategic communication is the study of the integrated messaging among stakeholders
of an organization which acknowledges the contested boundaries of contemporary organizations. The course will explore the way language is used to construct meaning for an organization and how mission statements can be used to develop authentic, nuanced
messages among stakeholders that will augur to the long-term benefit of the organization and its stakeholders in the broader sense. We will use business cases and other examples to explore the ways in which strategic communication can be purposefully
and consistently implemented in a variety of organizations.
Managing Global Teams
Globalization, information and technology access have transformed the face of the business world in the last decade. Although multinational organizations continue to increase their influence worldwide, these trends have also transformed and impacted businesses
of all sizes, locations, and industries. The speed of change and the instant interactions between cultures have created immense business opportunities. Whole industries have been re-defined, (i.e. impact on cost structure by foreign manufacturing, speed
of product development, and ability to leverage global resources for almost any business need). These opportunities also create new challenges for today’s managers. As managers, it is critical to become more effective leaders in a multicultural and
global economy. This course uses an action-oriented approach to develop a good understanding of international management and their practical implications when leading and managing teams.
Strategy in the Global Economy
This course will discuss the issues (problems, challenges, and opportunities) arising from the confluence of commerce, culture and politics under the current regime of globalization. While there is more to globalization than economics (integration of
markets and finances) and technology (mobility and connectivity within the knowledge based and information driven wired/wireless world), one has to begin by attending to the techno-economic forces transforming the world today. On the other hand, even
though our world driven by technological innovations and economic imperatives it is rapidly globalizing, the cross-border differences—cultural, political and geographical—still matter a great deal. Paying attention to and leveraging those differences
is critical for the success of any individual manager and also any corporation or nation now compelled to compete on the global stage. This is where strategy or global strategy becomes relevant. This course will explore, by way of case studies and
theoretical reflection, how to identify, negotiate, and overcome/or utilize differences strategically. Please note that this is not a “business model” course, even though there will be ample use of corporate case studies.
Understanding Media Markets: Users, Makers and Metrics
Digital media create an attention economy where an endless number of options compete for a limited supply of public attention – an economy where building audiences is a prerequisite for making money or exercising influence. This course explains how
the preferences and habits of media users, the strategies and constraints of media makers, and the growing prevalence of media metrics form a dynamic marketplace that shapes public attention. Topics include theories of media choice, the role of social
networks, sharing economies, audience-making strategies, biases in measurement, recommender systems, big data, audience fragmentation, and the marketplace of ideas.
This course focuses on the challenges of leading a nonprofit organization that stretch even the most seasoned leaders – exploring concepts related to maximizing both the social impact of their work and financial obligations of the organization. In this
course, students delve into the challenges of nonprofit leadership with an overview of the nonprofit sector and the leadership roles in typical nonprofits. Students learn about the sector in general, the fiduciary and normative roles of board members,
and typical responsibilities of chief executives. In addition, special attention is given to the relationship between the board and staff, which can be managed in a variety of ways.
Current Issues in Law, Technology & Strategy
This course covers business and regulated industries and uses the communications industry as a model to discuss two important general business concepts: strategies for operation in regulated environments and the intersection of technology and regulation.
The general concepts are then extended and applied to several example industries. Students will learn about the policy and law surrounding businesses as well as the practical applications of strategies of dealing with operational challenges and regulation
in a way that can be applied to any business in any industry (financial, pharmaceutical/medical, auto/transportation, etc.). The course and the exercises combine theory and practice and deals with real-world strategies of communication and business.
The strategies discussed in this course will be of immediate use to students.
Contemporary society is inundated with visual messages. Aside from the pervasive images and icons used in advertising, visual information permeates every aspect of our lives (from politics, fashion and architecture to data, computers and the domestic
objects that require our daily use). While visual information in society has become more prominent in the digital age, many of the methods for communicating visually remain the same. Visual Communication uses a set of universal principles to effectively
communicate through the design and layout of images and data. Through the study of Design, Cognitive Science, Cartography, Human Machine Interface, Typography and semiotics, this class will study the ways that we perceive visual messages, how we interpret
them, how to create them for a variety of purposes, and how to problem solve visually.
Inequality: Challenges in Workplace Communication
This course gives students the opportunity for dialogue on the idea of inequality as it relates both to our workplace and to our daily lives. In so doing, we will also study adjacent terms relevant to understanding inequality’s relationship to culture
and the workplace: equality (inequality’s partner term), bias, discrimination, hierarchy, authority, and others. In this course, we will study the philosophical parameters of inequality; survey the myriad expressions of inequality (and debates over
its meaning) in the American economy, culture, and psyche; and finally, focusing on the communication workplace, students will discuss various case-based strategies and approaches geared toward decreasing inequality all while managing the inevitable
complications of a full commitment to equality in a modern workplace (expertise, authority, age, etc.).
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.
Workplace Learning & Communities of Practice
This course emphasizes learning and development for adult and organizational change in many different settings – educational institutions, business and non-profit or government institutions, and community settings. It is grounded in research focusing
on learning at work, through work and for work. To meet the complex global challenges found in the workplace, it is necessary to develop new kinds of professional expertise and knowledge, new types of work identities, new forms of collaboration, and,
foremost, new ways of learning. Students will analyze and synthesize forms of learning that enable people to engage in transformative and innovative rather than in rote and reproductive learning, and in networked and social learning rather than isolated
and individual learning, as well as, in ethical and (organizational) value-conscious rather than ‘value-free and objective’ learning. Students in this course will also gain perspectives on teaching as a complex intellectual activity through an in-depth
study of andragogy within an integrated and interdisciplinary model. All of these components require deep, research-based study and participation in simulations and (re)creations designed to uncover of how learning takes place and how it can be generated
and enhanced in workplaces.
Content & Influencer Marketing
Marketing communication in the digital age plays by a new set of rules yet is founded in the timeless art of persuasion. This course will connect evidence-based audience evaluation techniques with persuasive messaging that will empower learners to manage
content as a business asset. This course will explore the mechanics of content, online networking and the power of influencers, social media and email promotion, and web analytics and marketing ROI. The skills you will learn in this course will focus
on ways to engage an audience, using content to drive profitable behaviors. You will learn how to win better results through content for yourself, your company and your clients.
The MSC Capstone Project integrates all of the coursework and practical experience of the MSC program. Students will demonstrate that they have achieved all of the learning outcomes of the program through a three-part class that extends the entire duration of their program. First, using an ePortfolio format, students will reflect on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies they gained in the MSC program and provide tangible samples of work as substantial evidence of these accomplishments. Second, students will demonstrate that they can apply their knowledge and skills to new problems through case interview or through developing a written case. Third, students will demonstrate their communication skills through a public presentation about the added value their MSC degree confers.
International Student Seminars
Each quarter MSC offers two courses in the primary curriculum and one seminar course or independent research project designed exclusively for international students. International students typically do not take any courses outside of the MSC curriculum,
though English written and verbal proficiency courses are available and encouraged.
Experiential Learning Practicum – Fall
This course is designed to give students practical experience working in teams on a project related to strategic communication or training and management. Additional topics such as presentation, implementation, and evaluation are included to enhance
students’ understanding of creating, sustaining, and carrying a project through to completion. Each class also includes discussion and activities pertaining to working with clients. Students will have the opportunity to sharpen communication skills
in an applied context through in-class activities as well as individual writing assignments that require the development of content for different audiences.
Using Data to Make Informed Decisions – Winter
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 decision when presented with organizational and market research.
*Classes subject to change
Learn More: Blog Posts
- While a new cohort of master’s students starts at the MS in Communication program each year, invariably the incoming professionals tell us the same reasons they decided now was the time to go back to school; they are looking for advancement in their careers, more responsibility at work, or a way to transition to a ... Read more
- Completing the Northwestern MSC degree can be viewed a few different ways. The communication masters curriculum requirements indicate you must complete nine (9) credits. Each credit is one course.
The masters in communication length is designed to be completed in one (1) academic year – from September to August.
The MS Communication hours depend on which delivery model ... Read more