Strategic Communication Advising Guide

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What is Strategic Communication?

Strategic communication is the study of how organizations and individuals use advertising, visual communication, integrated marketing, research and technology to establish brand identity. This concentration focuses on all aspects of strategic communication in American society including, creative, media, research, and advertising's impact on audiences and institutions.

Through these disciplines, strategic communication focuses on the promotion of services and products to build relationships with consumers. Nonprofit and government professionals use this form of communication to move audiences and to influence public policy. Students may specialize in Advertising Account Planning, Public Relations, or Visual Communication.

 

Career Opportunities in Strategic Communication

Strategic communication can prepare you for a number of careers in the fields of advertising creative work, account planning or strategy and development; public relations practice; and visual communication:

  • Advertising Account Executive
  • Project Manager
  • Digital Strategist
  • Copywriter
  • Media Planner
  • Public Relations Director
  • Vice President for Public Relations
  • Market Researcher/Analyst
  • Strategic Planner
  • Brand Manager
  • Media Relations
  • Public Information Officer
  • Sports Communication

 

Salary Trends in Strategic Communication

Salaries earned by strategic communication graduates vary from $35,000 – $256,000 depending on experience and responsibilities.  For example:

  • Copywriter I, $37,000 and Advertising Sales Director, $256,000
  • Public Relations I, $35,000 and PR Director or Vice President, $256,000

Unlike more vocationally-oriented majors, such as majors in business, engineering, or the health professions, A&S majors tend to study a greater range of topics outside of their immediate major area. This greater breadth provides an interdisciplinary perspective that complements the more linear education in the student’s major area. 

As a result, A&S are majors compatible with a wide-range of career options. A large 2012 survey of employers found that 81% of employers will consider any degree, so most employers do not require a specific degree. So A&S majors typically find post-graduate employment at rates comparable to more vocationally-specific degrees, Furthermore, longitudinal studies which have followed college graduates over time have shown that Arts and Sciences graduates' rates of salary growth often exceed those of more vocationally-specific majors. For example, a 2010 longitudinal survey of college majors after graduation found that:

“Occupationally specific degrees are beneficial at the point of entry into the labor market but have the lowest growth in occupational status over time. Students earning credentials focusing on general skills, in contrast, begin in jobs with low occupational status but subsequently report the greatest growth.

Another longitudinal study concluded that:

"Employment across educational fields is almost identical for individuals aged 35-44, and beyond age 45, humanities graduates actually have higher rates of employment than those in other fields. After age 45, humanities and social science majors’ salaries overtake those of counterparts in other fields."

Finally, A&S majors have on average the highest rates of increase from starting to mid-career salary, with Math, Philosophy, International Studies, Physics, Political Science, Chemistry, and Journalism all scoring in the top 10 among all majors in rate of salary growth to mid-career.

 

High School Preparation

Excel in English and communication classes. Work on the student newspaper, radio station, TV station (if you school has any of these), or the yearbook.  Volunteer to sell advertising for student media or for events.  Take any opportunity to work on designs or event planning. Get involved with a club and volunteer to be its public relations person.

 

How to Major in Strategic Communication

To major in strategic communication, students must complete CA 110, Public Speaking, and 42 hours in the strategic communication concentration. At least 5 communication classes must be numbered 300 or higher and must be taken at USA. Only three hours of credit from CA 394 or CA 494 can be used to satisfy this requirement. 

Strategic Communication Core Requirements: CA 101, CA 220, CA 260, CA 300, CA 445 Required: CA 224, CA 321, CA 324-W, CA 381, CA 485, CA 486/487

Choose 3 classes from one of the following groups:

Group 1 - Advertising Account Management: CA 322-W, CA 383, CA 384, CA 470, CA 474, CA 496

Group 2: Public Relations: CA 383, CA 453, CA 470, CA 496

Group 3 - Visual Communication: CA 271, CA 322-W, CA 370, CA 371, CA 383, CA 471, CA 496

 

Strategic Communication Highlights

You will have many opportunities to take courses that will prepare for meeting the demands of the working world. One of the last courses you will take will be a campaigns course wherein you will work in a team for a real client.  Students also have the opportunity to get course credit for working at a study-run strategic communication agency in our department.  Moreover, students have access to participate in advertising and/or public relations organizations that frequently interact with working professionals.  The department offers students the opportunity to complete an internship in advertising or public relations, or a related field.

 

Study Abroad Opportunities

There are frequent opportunities to take courses on international strategic communication or related topics in London or other foreign cities that will count toward completion of your communication degree. 

Studying abroad is an exciting and meaningful experience that will contribute to your academic and personal development.  Participating on a study abroad program can be one of the most profound decisions of your college life, and can lead to many new and interesting opportunities.  It can help develop your critical thinking skills, sense of independence, and confidence.  When you depart on your study abroad program, you will go with excitement, trepidation, and uncertainty about the world and your place in it.  When you return home, your deep connection and affection for your host culture will be overwhelming, and will only be matched by a newfound respect and appreciation for your home.

Study abroad is the opportunity for USA students to spend time in a different country while earning credit towards your degree through taking classes, interning, volunteering, and more.  There are many different types of study abroad available to you at USA. They include faculty-led programs, international exchange programs, and direct-enroll and affiliate programs. 

Students on faculty-led programs will travel as a group led by USA professors and take classes in various locations. All courses taken on these programs are USA courses and offer USA credits that will apply to your degree. International Exchange programs are partnerships with specific universities around the world with which USA has a special, reciprocal relationship. Students enroll directly at the host university, and students from the host university attend USA. USA affiliate programs allow students to enroll at a partner university or program through a third-party provider. GPA requirements vary by program.

You should think of the Study Abroad Office as a one-stop shop for information related to your study abroad experience. The Study Abroad (http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/) team is excited to assist you as you navigate through the process of choosing a program, and will help you from the advising stage until you return from your program.  You can get started by coming to meet with an advisor during Walk-In Advising hours. During an advising session, you can gain general information about the many programs available, how the application process works at USA and general guidance on where to begin.

Be sure to visit the OIE Study Abroad website at http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/ to begin your research.  The website contains information on how to get started, financing your program, and a comprehensive list of pre-approved study abroad programs and partners. While researching a passport or visa programs, consider the following: eligibility requirements, location, course offerings, and costs.  You should also meet with your faculty advisor for assistance in selecting a program based on courses related to your degree.

Studying abroad can be one of the highlights of your university career, giving you wonderful and challenging experiences that will allow you to grow both academically and professionally. Where will you study abroad?

 

Academic Plan

Academic plans are in place to help you stay on track to graduate in four years.

To see our academic plans for Strategic Communication, please click here. Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.

For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.

 

For More Information

Please contact Dr. Patricia Mark at pmark@southalabama.edu with questions about our strategic communication program.

You can find us on campus at:

Communication Building Rm. 108
6021 USA Drive South
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 380-2800

Website: www.southalabama.edu/colleges/artsandsci/communication

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USACommDept?ref=bookmarks