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Master of Professional Studies in
Strategic Communications

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MPS degree?

The MPS degree is a professionally focused master’s degree. Many traditional master’s programs prepare students for careers in research or academia. Our MPS program is designed for communications professionals who want to remain in the industry but need more knowledge or technical expertise to advance in their careers. Our MPS program is as rigorous as a traditional master’s program, but the courses focus more deeply on the knowledge and skills a strategic communications professional needs to be successful in the workplace.

Is there a minimum GPA required for admission to the program?

Though our program does not require a minimum grade-point average for admission, a junior/senior GPA of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) is recommended.

If I am completing my bachelor’s degree now, am I eligible to enroll in this program?

The MPS program is designed for students who have professional experience in the field of strategic communications and would like to expand their knowledge and expertise in theory-driven message design, digital analytics, client communication, leadership, and ethics. The concepts emphasized throughout the program necessitate a foundational knowledge of strategic communications and professional experience in the industry.

Are students only accepted into the program in the fall semester?

Students can apply to the program in both the fall and spring semesters. Classes in our core curriculum are offered during both semesters, so students will be able to register for the courses they need no matter which semester they begin the program.

The deadline for spring admission is November 15.

The deadline for fall admission is July 15.

What application materials must be submitted by the deadline?

All requested application materials, including letters of recommendation, need to be submitted by the deadline for full admissions consideration. Any applications that are incomplete after the deadline will not be considered for admission.

What kind of writing sample should I submit?

Applicants’ writing samples should exemplify their best academic and/or professional writing. Academic writing samples should include citations and references and demonstrate applicants’ analytical abilities. Professional writing samples should demonstrate applicants’ writing skills in areas such as public relations, advertising, social media, and strategic communications. While there is no length requirement, writing samples should be complete enough to fully demonstrate strong writing and analytical skills. Applicants can submit a combination of academic and professional writing samples in one PDF document. 

What kind of files should I use to submit my application materials?

The Penn State Graduate School's application system allows applicants to upload PDF and TXT files for their CVs/résumés, personal statements, and writing samples. We strongly encourage applicants to submit PDF files to preserve the formatting of their documents and any images included.

Once I submit my application, what are the next steps in the admissions process?

After students submit their applications, an internal admissions committee at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications reviews all application materials. Admission decisions are sent to each student by the end of the semester in which the applications are being reviewed. Once students accept their offers of admission, they can then begin the process of registering for courses for the upcoming semester.

Am I required to take a minimum number of classes each semester?

Students can choose the number of classes they would like to take each semester. Most students take one or two classes each semester. In addition to taking classes during the fall and spring semesters, students can also take classes during the summer. This pace affords students flexibility and enables students to complete the program in approximately two to three years.

Is there a residency requirement for this program?

This is a fully online master’s degree, so students do not need to come to campus to complete the program.

What career support does Penn State offer to students and alumni of the program?

Penn State World Campus offers career counseling, events, and opportunities for students and alumni. The academic home of this program, the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, provides students with career and internship guidance through the College’s Office of Internships and Career Services, as well the opportunity to network with College alumni and view job postings. Alumni have the ability to join the Ad/PR Network through the Bellisario Office of Alumni Relations and have the opportunity to access resources within Penn State’s Alumni Association Career Services.

If I am currently enrolled in another Penn State graduate program, can I transfer into the MPS?

All prospective students must submit the required application materials to be considered for entrance into the program. Penn State students may not transfer into the MPS program without first going through the formal admissions process.

Does this program accept transfer credits from other colleges or other Penn State programs?

Transfer credits are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the program director for specific questions regarding transfer credits.

What if I earned my bachelor's degree outside the United States?

If your bachelor’s degree was earned at a university outside of the United States, Penn State’s Graduate School verifies that the university is accredited and determines if the degree program is equivalent to a four-year U.S. program. A four-year degree requires 240 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. Applicants need to seek an academic equivalency evaluation and submit the documentation to the Graduate School before an admission decision can be made. In addition, the Graduate School requires that transcripts be submitted in English.

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