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Hybrid Leadership Program

The MSC Hybrid Leadership Program is designed for seasoned professionals and is perfect if you are looking for an opportunity to boost your career while managing your other responsibilities.

Designed for experienced professionals, the Hybrid Leadership Program will teach you the skills necessary to give you a competitive advantage in the workplace. The teaching methods are tailored to the online learning environment while the curriculum combines more than 30 years of communication education at Northwestern University.

The “Hybrid” aspect of this program refers to the combined online/on-campus format. The curriculum, tailored to those with management experience, includes four in-residence seminars to immerse you in content, simulations, and skills training that cannot be honed and refined online. Seminar topics include:

  • Cultural Intelligence and Managing Inclusion
  • Crisis Communication Management
  • Leading Collaboration
  • Executive Presence and Elegant Communication
“I really enjoyed the people – my classmates, the staff, the profs were all amazing. The academic learning experience and the fact that this is an MS from a prestigious school will be helpful in career advancement, and it was also a great opportunity to refresh my academic juices. I also loved the mix of online and on-campus interactions.”

– Kunwoo Yoo, Class of 2017

You’ll participate in the online classes and spend your in-residences with a cohort of other experienced leaders, forming a greater bond than online-only programs can offer. While on campus, you will have the opportunity to network with the MSC alumni community. You’ll take one course at a time through our cutting-edge distance learning technology that will bring an interactive classroom to you. This allows professors to design the courses utilizing the best tools for each topic including asynchronous class sessions and activities, office hours for live interactions with the professors, and small-group work with your peers.


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Career Services

Career Services

Learn about the dedicated resources you have access to as a student and alumnus.


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Academic Calendar

Academic Calendar

See how the academic year unfolds and mark your In-Residence weekends early.


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Meet our world-class instructors and industry experts.


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Application Process and Materials

Application Process and Materials

Our application is quick and easy to fill out online.



360° Review

As a member of the Hybrid Leadership Program, you will participate in an individualized 360° leadership review customized by the Master of Science in Communication program. The review is tightly integrated with both the program curriculum and the personalized career coaching for the MSC program.

You will partner with the MSC executive career coach to use the 360 tool to advance your career. Your personalized feedback will be used in a series of one-on-one coaching appointments and in several in-person sessions.



Courses are designed for experienced professionals looking to develop applicable skills and frameworks to take your career to the next level. Students take one course at a time in five week sessions. Academic content is delivered online through our innovative learning platform.  This process enables you to dive deeply into the concepts one class at a time and at an accelerated pace.  You will also participate in four in-residence seminars on the Northwestern Evanston campus where you will have opportunities to master and produce the skills you have learned online while engaging with your fellow classmates.

Foundations of Strategic Communication Management

Learn more about Professor Michelle Shumate

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.

Using Data to Make Informed Decisions

Learn more about Professor Alexis Lauricella

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.

Dialogic Decision-Making

Learn more about professor Randy Iden

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.

Information Design

Learn more about Professor Eric Patrick

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.

Leading Collaboration

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.


Current Issues in Law, Technology & Strategy

Learn more about Professor Rick G. Morris

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.
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 deal with real-world strategies of communication and business.

Understanding and Leveraging Networks

Learn more about Professor Noshir Contractor.

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.

Communication Skills Practicum

Elegant communication is one of the three foundational areas of the MSC program. In this hybrid class, students are trained both in person and online in key communication skills necessary for effective leadership: cultural intelligence and managing inclusion, crisis communication management, informative public speaking, persuasive public speaking, running an effective meeting, facilitating open dialogue, mindful listening, and executive presence. This full credit course is spread throughout the year in both online and in residence sessions.

“The program really made me look inward and analyze my strengths and weaknesses. In almost every class you were able to really reflect on yourself and your career and put what you were learning to use immediately.”

– Tom Mcguire, Class of 2017



The culminating assessment of the MSC degree is a capstone project. The MSC Capstone integrates all of the coursework and practical experiences of the program and is designed to help students develop the ability to monitor their own comprehension and to make their thinking processes explicit to external audiences. Students will effectively use multiple media to demonstrate that they have achieved all of the learning outcomes of the program through a personally customized three-part project that extends the entire duration of the program.

*Classes subject to change.


Learn More: Blog Posts

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    Any master’s degree program should be able to explain in not-so-many words how it’s curriculum is designed. We can explain our curriculum in two words “Learning Themes”. Our curriculum is anchored by three learning themes – Managing Complexity, Collaborative Leadership and Elegant Communication.  The Master of Science in Communication program curriculum is deliberate and unique. We ...
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    Whether it’s finding a new role or negotiating a raise, earning a master’s degree in communication can lead to new opportunities for professionals in the workplace. In a world where people are busier than ever, it’s more important for those interested in a master’s degree in communication to find a flexible program that allows them to ...
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