Strategic Communications professionals in the workplace

Bachelor of Arts in
Strategic Communications

Program summary

Learn to create powerful strategic communications through modern research techniques, messaging construction, and post-campaign analysis with the course work available through this online strategic communications degree program.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 21

Credits and costs

120 Credits $620/$664 per credit

Nationally Recognized

US News and World Report Bachelor's badge
Our bachelor's degrees are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Understand the Strategy Behind Communications — 100% Online Degree Program

The Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications explores a number of disciplines needed for developing and delivering effective content. These include generating an impactful and relatable message, selecting the best communication channels for proper message distribution, and evaluating communication efforts against established goals and benchmarks. You'll have the opportunity to study psychology, statistics, law, research, and other disciplines that can be used to build a strong foundation for effective communication for any company or organization.

If you're a professional who wants to advance your career in strategic communications or you are looking to change to a communication-related career, this program is designed for you. It's an ideal course of study if you want to work in a dynamic environment, gathering and analyzing information to create targeted, comprehensive communication strategies to advance your organization's objectives.

Your Strategic Communications Courses

In this 120-credit interdisciplinary program, you can develop and enhance these skills to help you become a strategic communicator:

  • complex problem-solving
  • oral, visual, and written communication
  • research and analytic techniques
  • goal-setting and evaluation methods
  • creative thinking
  • cultural and social awareness

The curriculum includes 35 required credits, plus an additional 3 credits of Strategic Communications course work that you will choose to personalize your education. You must also successfully complete 24 credits of Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements and 45 General Education credits.

Your Opportunities as a Strategic Communications Graduate

As a successful graduate, you can expand your career opportunities in a wide variety of fields involving communications and may have the opportunity to:

  • analyze and manage advertising, public relations, and integrated marketing communications efforts to ensure a positive public image of a company or brand
  • develop and maintain relationships and communication with an organization's stakeholders
  • cultivate an organization's image and reputation based on analysis of the political, economic, technological, media, and social environment to increase its revenues and foster goodwill
  • set goals and plan projects to help an audience retain your message
  • conduct organized communications campaigns to influence the public image of a person or an organization, or to promote a product or initiative with maximum efficiency


The Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications program requires you to complete a minimum of 120 credits.

A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better in all prescribed, additional, and supporting courses required for the major.

Students can earn up to six (6) COMM credits through the credit-by-portfolio process. However, it is important for students to know that completing the credit-by-portfolio process does not guarantee that the credits will be awarded.

If you are a transfer student, the number of credits you must take will vary according to the courses that transfer into the program. Once you are admitted to the program, your assigned academic adviser can help you select courses to fulfill the remaining requirements.

Prescribed Courses (29 credits)

  • 1

    Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage skills required of journalists.

  • 3

    This course is an introduction to writing for various kinds of mass communication media. Students will practice writing public relations news releases; public information announcements; print, television and radio advertisements; and news stories and editorials. Students will be given weekly writing assignments, some of which will be re-writes of earlier submissions. In-class exercises will include various writing exercises designed to get students more comfortable with writing for media.

    • Prerequisite

      ENGL 15 and ENGL 202

  • 3

    Provides an overview of the various media and communications methods that comprise modern integrated marketing campaigns.

  • 3

    Analysis of laws and regulations affecting online advertising and strategic communications.

    • Prerequisite

      COMM 428A and permission of the program

  • 3

    Framework for applying public relations and advertising tools across media platforms and across cultures.

    • Prerequisite

      COMM 428A, COMM 428D and permission of the program

  • 3

    Online research methods for strategic communication, including web analytics, online surveys, online interviews, and content analysis.

    • Prerequisite

      COMM 428A, STAT 200 and permission of the program

  • 3

    Social media — including social networks, visual content, podcasts, blogs and other collaborative content creation platforms — are changing the field of public relations. To effectively deploy social media to reach brand objectives, public relations professionals need to understand the critical roles of strategy as well as content creation. This course narrows the focus from the broad field of social media to cover the specific tools and best practices needed to conquer current and future use of social media in public relations

  • 3

    Methods of economic analysis and their use; price determination; theory of the firm; distribution.

  • 3

    Introduction to general psychology; principles of human behavior and their applications.

  • 4

    Descriptive statistics, frequency distributions, probability, binomial and normal distributions, statistical inference, linear regression, and correlation.

Additional Courses (select 3 credits)

  • 3

    Nature and theories of law; the Supreme Court and press freedom; legal problems of the mass media.

  • 3

    Ethical problems in the practice of journalism; principal public criticisms of news media; case study approach.

  • 3

    Sport and media relationship in American culture.

Supporting Courses (select 3 credits)

Select 3 credits of COMM courses other than COMM 100 or COMM 120.

Electives (26 credits)

Students should choose 26 additional credits to satisfy the electives requirement.

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GWS courses.
  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GQ courses.
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    This requirement only applies to students starting in summer 2018 or later. Learn more about the Integrative Studies options and consult your academic adviser when choosing courses to fulfill these requirements. Integrative Studies credits may be completed within the thirty Knowledge Domain credits and must be completed with either Inter-domain or Linked courses, not a combination of both.

Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements

Some Bachelor of Arts requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major, General Education courses, or electives. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Foreign Language: 0–12 credits
    Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language.
  • B.A. Fields: 9 credits
    Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (cannot be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)
  • Other Cultures: 0–3 credits
    Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $620 per credit $664 per credit
12 or more $7,527 per semester $8,125 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate or have completed your GED. 

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need the following items to complete your application:

High school transcripts or GED transcript — First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR). Official high school transcripts will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

Official college or university transcripts, if you attended another institution, and/or official military transcripts (if applicable) — All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please send your transcripts by mail or electronically through Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where course work was attempted.

Submit official documents by mail to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions. 

If this is your first time applying to Penn State, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Review the application instructions before beginning.
  2. Complete the online application and submit all official documents.
  3. Pay the application fee.

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status." Your decision letter (confirming your acceptance or denial) will be mailed four to six weeks after receipt of all application materials. An admissions counselor will contact you if additional information is required.

Technical Requirements

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

* required 1/3

I agree to be contacted via phone, email, and text by Penn State World Campus and affiliates. I understand my information may also be shared with select providers to offer ads that may be of interest to me. Privacy Policy. reCAPTCHA protected. Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Learn more about this program

Download Program Brochure All my programs 

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

A team of business professionals listening to a woman speak in a meeting

This degree program can make you a valuable asset for businesses, corporations, government, and nonprofit organizations. You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Communications Manager
  • Communications Specialist
  • Media Specialist
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Public Relations Manager (PR Manager)
  • Public Relations Specialist (PR Specialist)

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Public Relations Specialists

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Public Relations Managers

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Advertising and Promotions Managers

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Contact Us

To learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications, offered in partnership with the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Michelle Baker, Ph.D.
Assistant Teaching Professor & Director of Online Programs in Strategic Communications
Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications
The Pennsylvania State University
115 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802
Email: [email protected]


Graduate poses with her children
At Penn State World Campus, I didn't have to compromise, Penn State News

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State bachelor's degree?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply