Strategic Communication, Bachelor of Science

Strategic Communication

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This bachelor of science degree in Strategic Communication offers a strong core of advertising, public relations, and communication courses, to engage students in a variety of professional communication environments. Students may pursue one of three emphases to allow deeper skill mastery in advertising, merchandising, and public relations.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Advertising - Emphasis
  • Merchandising - Emphasis (ending Summer 2021)
  • Public Relations - Emphasis

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 42 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • For this major the liberal studies prefixes include ADV, MER, or PR

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA 2.5
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement
Recognizing the integrated nature of communication fields, Strategic Communication at Northern Arizona University provides a structural umbrella to enable advertising, merchandising and public relations students to master core principles and theory, as well as, develop critical thinking and practical skills essential in developing and implementing communication strategies across disciplines in a dynamic, consumer-based economy. Students learn techniques demanded by industry to be competitive in today’s job market yet recognize the social and cultural implications that their work has on our broader society.

Strategic Communication Program Values

  • Respect for the ideas and opinions of others
  • Active engagement in the classroom
  • Critical thinking in adapting to a rapidly changing media environment
  • Ethical behavior in the classroom and the profession
Student Learning Outcomes
Program Level Student Learning Outcomes for Strategic Communication BS
  • Students will explain the roles of advertising, merchandising, and public relations in a dynamic, consumer-based economy.
  • Students will recognize key concepts and tools related to the advertising, merchandising, and public relations professions.
  • Students will summarize the history of advertising, merchandising, and public relations beginning with the early 20th century.
  • Students will apply theoretical concepts regarding communication and consumer behavior to explanations of common practices in strategic communication.
  • Students will master verbal, visual, and written communication styles essential to success in strategic communication profession.
  • Students will summarize career paths available in all three emphasis areas of the Strategic Communication Program.
  • Students will contribute to the effective development of a capstone experience (the development of an advertising campaign, the development of a public relations plan, or the development of a fashion retail entrepreneurial business).
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency with relevant technology used in the strategic communication profession.  

Emphasis Level Learning Outcomes – Advertising
  • Students will interpret an organization’s marketing information and write advertising objectives appropriate for stated marketing goals.  
  • Students will define important advertising terms relevant to media planning, design and copywriting.
  • Students will describe a general history of advertising beginning in the early 20th century and extending to current time.
  • Students will describe key concepts in advertising and communication theory and relate those concepts to current practices in advertising.
  • Students will construct individual elements of advertising campaigns including writing and design for print advertising, writing radio copy and developing television storyboards.
  • Students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of career paths on both the client side and agency side of the advertising profession.
  • Students will contribute effectively to the development of a full advertising campaign in the capstone class.
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in Adobe InDesign. Students will also demonstrate fundamental understanding of online advertising including search, social media and online display advertising principles.  

Emphasis Level Learning Outcomes – Merchandising
  • Students will apply aesthetic principles of design to the development, selection, and evaluation of apparel and other textile products as well as retail environments.
  • Students will develop a global awareness of the social, economic, technological, cultural and aesthetic factors influencing trends in design, merchandising, production, distribution, and consumption of textiles and apparel.
  • Students will recognize the interrelationships of off-shore and domestic sources of textiles and apparel in meeting world consumer demand.
  • Students will understand the impact of regulations, laws, and trade agreements on manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.
  • Students will develop sensitivity to ethical aspects of decision-making processes and develop a personal code of ethics and problem resolution.
  • Students will recognize relationships among aesthetic, cultural, economic, historic, psychological, sociological, and technological factors as a basis for understanding trends in fashion.
  • Students will demonstrate logic in solving analytical problems through location of appropriate supporting information and materials, evaluation of the information, and critical interpretation of results.
  • Students will apply knowledge of interrelationships among factors (materials, design, quality standards, production methods, profitability, end use, and consumer expectations) related to product development for specific target markets.
  • Students will understand the activities and technical and analytical skills involved in careers in the textile and apparel industry and related fields. 
  • Students will know textile and apparel terminology as used in scientific, business, and consumer communities. 

Emphasis Level-Learning Outcomes – Public Relations
  • Students will interpret an organization’s communication goals and develop appropriate achievable objectives that will show progress toward the achievement of those goals.
  • Students will define important public relations terms relevant to media relations, traditional constituent communication tools and online communication tools.
  • Students will describe a general history of public relations beginning in the early 20th century and extending to current time.
  • Students will describe key concepts in public relations and communication theory and relate those concepts to current practices in public relations.
  • Students will construct and write proficiently for key public relations tactical material including, press releases, backgrounders, fact sheets, newsletters, web pages and social media.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of work in the five job settings typical of public relations practitioners: corporations, nonprofit organizations and trade associations, governments, public relations agencies, and independent public relations consultancies.
  • Students will contribute effectively to the development of a full public relations campaign in the capstone class.
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in Adobe InDesign. Students will also demonstrate proficiency in understanding and using online public relations processes including search engine optimization and social media engagement.

Major Requirements
    • Advertising Emphasis (18 units)
      Take ADV 311W to meet NAU's Junior-level writing requirement and ADV 411C capstone, for this emphasis.
    • Public Relations Emphasis (18 units)Take PR 372W to meet NAU's Junior-level writing requirement and PR 471C capstone, for this emphasis.
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.