Strategic Communication, Bachelor of Science


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This degree 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 two emphases to allow deeper skill mastery in advertising or public relations.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Advertising - Emphasis
  • 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 including at least 21 units of emphasis 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, PR, or STR

  • 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
Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Emphasis Required

An emphasis is required for this major.

Purpose Statement

Communication develop an understanding of communication theory and how messages are spread among groups of people. They apply analytical skills to the development and evaluation of communication plans. They also master practical skills needed for the implementation of those communication plans.

Upon graduation, students emphasizing one area of strategic communication will often find themselves working closely with other professionals focusing on skills in other areas of Strategic Communication. However, the emphasis areas tend to differentiate from each other in the following broad ways.

Advertising emphasizes the use of paid media in communication efforts and will often focus more on specific calls to action. These students focus on advertising campaigns for digital and heritage media. They will develop skills relevant to planning ad campaigns and important aesthetic concepts in advertising.

Public Relations focuses more on the use of earned and owned media for the development and maintenance of ongoing relationships with important publics. Courses tend to focus on understanding the dynamics of group communication and developing strategies for building strong relationships between organizations and important publics. Coursework tends to focus on writing and oral communication skills for digital and analog channels, as well as communication analysis skills necessary for planning and evaluating communication efforts.

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
Strategic Communication involves the development of planned communication efforts with target publics that focus on achieving a variety of communication outcomes. Program Level Student Learning Outcomes for the Strategic Communication BS can be broken into three broad categories: Conceptual, Practical, Analytical.

  • Students completing the Strategic Communication BS will recognize key theoretical concepts related to communication among various communities in various commercial, political, and media contexts.
  • Students will summarize typical strategies used by organizations to communicate to target communities in order to achieve political, commercial, and humanitarian outcomes.
  • Students will implement communication plans through the mastery of industry-standard communication tools and strategies.
  • Students will produce communication material that conforms to industry standards in style, design, and display.
  • Students will develop skills in contemporary qualitative and quantitative research methods and apply their research findings to the development of effective communication plans.
  • Students will develop skills in contemporary qualitative and quantitative research methods and use those skills to evaluate the impact of communication plans.
Emphasis Level Learning Outcomes – Advertising
  • Emphasis Level Learning Outcomes in Advertising focus on the display of tightly controlled messages through the use of paid media.
  • In the conceptual sphere, students will describe typical strategies for segmenting audiences and delivering targeted messages through paid media.
  • In the practical sphere, students will master communication software and apply design standards to comprehensive communication efforts.
  • In the analytical sphere, students will use industry standard research tools to identify target audiences and appropriate media channels for reaching them. They will formulate paid communications and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of those plans through the application of best industry practices.
Emphasis Level Learning Outcomes – Public Relations
  • Emphasis-level learning outcomes in Public Relations focus on the use of earned and owned media for the development and maintenance of relationships between organizations and the publics that can affect their success.
  • In the conceptual sphere, students will identify strategies for developing and maintaining productive relationships with target publics through the use of owned and earned media.
  • In the practical sphere, students will apply writing skills that apply industry standards to various media channels. Students will master software used to create and deliver messages over various media channels.
  • In the analytical sphere students will implement quantitative and qualitative research methods in the formulation and evaluation of ongoing communication efforts.

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 42 units distributed as follows:

    • Strategic Communication Core Requirements: 21 units
    • Emphasis Requirement - Select One: 21 units
      • Advertising Emphasis
      • Public Relations Emphasis

    Take the following 42 units with a minimum GPA of 2.5:

  • Emphasis Requirement - Select One (21 units)
Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program
    • This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan wherein a student may start a master's degree while simultaneously completing their bachelor's degree.

    • Students must apply to the master's program by the graduate program's application deadline, meet all admissions requirements listed in the policy Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs, as well as the admissions requirements for the specified master's plan to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year.

      Be sure to speak with the Master's Program Director/Coordinator regarding your interest in the accelerated plan.
    • Students accepted into the Accelerated Program should complete the following requirements:

    • Major Requirements

      This major requires 42 units distributed as follows:

      • Strategic Communication Core Requirements: 21 units
      • Select an emphasis: 21 units
        • Advertising Emphasis
        • Public Relations Emphasis

      Take the following 42 units with a minimum GPA of 2.5:

    • Emphasis Requirement - Select One (21 units)
      • Advertising Emphasis (21 units)


        *Note: The above three course options should be taken at the 500-level whenever possible; no more than two of the course options may be taken at the 400-level.

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.