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.

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 You, 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.

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.

Collaboration & Technology

Learn more about Professor Jeremy Birnholtz

This course focuses on understanding communication and behavior in groups, with a particular focus on the unique and sometimes difficult issues raised by the social use of technologies to collaborate in the workplace. Topics include theories of group and organizational behavior, interpersonal awareness, privacy, trust, technology-mediated communication, and technology evaluation and adoption.

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.

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.

Leadership & Decision-Making

Learn more about Professor Paul Arntson

This course investigates how individuals influence group decisions during online meetings and in person meetings. Student groups use online meeting spaces and are video-taped in decision making interactions in order to assess and improve their leadership and analytical thinking skills in groups. This course also includes face to face meeting times during the third In Residence weekend.

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 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 either the development of a training and development package or through the realization of a strategic communication assessment. Third, students will demonstrate their communication skills through a public presentation about the added value their MSC degree confers. 

*Classes subject to change.

Learn More: Blog Posts

  • How do I find a Communication Masters that fits my schedule?
    How do I find a Communication Masters that fits my schedule?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 ... Read more
  • How many Classes do I need to earn a Masters in Communication?
    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