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Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication

In today’s competitive business landscape, mastering the art of communication isn’t just an advantage — it’s a necessity. Effective communication skills are the cornerstone of building strong relationships, fostering teamwork and driving successful outcomes across all industries.

Merrimack’s coursework provides a strong foundational overview of topics including public relations, marketing, crafting compelling messages and influencing change.

Complete 44 credits from the B.A. in Strategic Communication coursework toward the 124-credit Bachelor Degree Completion program to earn your degree.

Quick Facts:

  • 100 percent online learning.
  • Only pay for the courses you need.
  • Credit for prior coursework, certifications and more.

Take the next step and learn more about Merrimack’s Bachelor Degree Completion program.

Graduates with a bachelor’s in strategic communication earn an average base salary of $70,000 per year.

Source: Payscale, 2024

B.A. in Strategic Communication Online Coursework

All students must earn a total of 124 credits to complete a bachelor’s degree. To earn a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication, students complete 44 credits of strategic communication major coursework and capstone experience in addition to the 12 credits of professional core. The remaining 68 credits must include 28 credits of arts and sciences coursework and 40 credits of open electives. Up to 90 credits may be transferred from prior coursework, such as an associate’s degree, as well as professional certifications and more.

Professional Core (12 credits)

Through interactive approaches and real-world examples, students will explore various perspectives of health and well-being. Students will examine leading health indicators in the U.S. and around the world and will learn basic terminology and other health-related data concepts in order to have a deeper understanding of a range of health data and information. Students will apply health knowledge and skills to support health and well-being. As part of the Professional Core in the BA in Applied Arts and Sciences program, this course emphasizes: effective communication (oral and written), critical thinking, ethical teamwork, the ability to work independently, initiative and proactive planning, and real-world applications. Credits: 4

Modern living is complex due to competing desires and obligations: family, career, community, and personal needs. Learning how to balance these competing claims on our attention and affections often involves making choices based on core values. This course explores answers to a variety of timeless questions so students can come to a better understanding of themselves, their desires, and their obligations. Questions that will be explored may include: What does it mean to live a good life? What is the meaning of life? Does life have a meaning? What does it mean to be ethical and how does one know right from wrong? What makes work meaningful? What does it mean to be happy? What does it mean to be successful? What is the relationship between work, success, and happiness? To whom in my life am I responsible, and what do I owe them? Drawing on religion, philosophy, and literature, students will examine and critique a diversity of responses to these kinds of questions, reflect on the relevance of these responses in their lives, and formulate their own responses to these questions. In keeping with Merrimack College’s Catholic and Augustinian mission, special attention is paid to the Christian tradition and the life and thought of Augustine of Hippo.

As part of the Professional Core in the BA in Applied Arts and Sciences program, this course emphasizes: effective communication (oral and written), critical thinking, ethical judgment and decision-making, effective teamwork, the ability to work independently, initiative, proactive planning, and real-world applications. Credits: 4

Examination of the major issues, theories, and findings in the psychological study of positive emotions and experience (Positive Psychology). Emphasis is on the scientific investigation of such topics as the nature of happiness and well-being, psychological flow, savoring, love, optimism, resilience, character strengths and virtues, and the meaningful life. Credits: 4

Required Courses (4 courses)

This course focuses on the concepts and practices associated with effective public communication. A central aspect of this course entails the mastering of public speaking through the process of researching, preparing, and delivering presentations in a variety of formats (e.g., informative, persuasive, and impromptu). The classroom serves as a laboratory to develop the skills needed for effective public communication. In addition, students will also analyze public speaking events as a means of developing a critical understanding of the public communication process.

For personal and professional reasons, it is imperative that you are able to effectively communicate and relate with others. This course has been designed to introduce you to a series of interpersonal and organizational communication theories focused on relating with others. The theories covered in this course present a comprehensive view of each theory and how to apply that theory to personal, social, and workplace relationships. In so doing, this course will center on issues such as self-concept, perception, self-disclosure, power, and conflict. While it does not offer a formula for communicative success, students will become aware of the communication processes that both disintegrate and nurture dynamic human relationships. Credits: 4

This course presents an overview of basic public relations principles, concepts and relation of theory and practice. Students will explore the field of professional public relations covering the role, origin and trends affecting the future of the practice. Special emphasis will be placed on problem-solving and the tools and techniques of the trade as applied to real-life situations. The scope of the course will also examine the foundations of public relations as a communications discipline, as understood historically in the role of society, public opinion, effective strategy and tactics, process, identification of public, publicity techniques and effective use of media. Moreover, the course will address the ethical and legal implications of the profession. Credits: 4

This course is designed to provide you with a basic understanding of how to write for strategic communication. Writing skills are essential for any strategic communication professional. You need to write accurately and concisely. Tight-deadline writing is a critical skill that most professionals in the field must acquire in order to succeed. As developing these skills takes practice, this course is designed to be more hands-on, rather than the professor talking about writing. This means that you will write a lot in this course. Opportunities for writing in a variety of contexts, such as public relations, news, and business, will be incorporated into the assignments. This course also will give you an appreciation for the importance of having a strong work ethic and collaborating with others. Credits: 4

Communication Electives (choose five)

This course is designed for students planning to pursue careers as communication professionals in the fields of advertising, public relations, marketing, and media. This kind of employment requires skills in integrated communication and demands a more complete understanding of the strategies and tactics used in traditional advertising, public relations, and marketing. In this course, students will explore the emergence of integrated communication, analyze new dimensions of mass communication, and develop practical skills to transform the way memorable ideas are delivered. Credits: 4

This course is designed around the assumption that conflict in its various forms is an integral and unavoidable component in human affairs. The course approaches the study of conflict from a communication-centered perspective. As such, students explore how communication theory and research can add to our understanding of conflict. Wide ranges of conflict contexts are examined (e.g., interpersonal; intercultural; small group; organizational) along with contemporary models and theories of effective conflict management. Credits: 4

This course provides an introduction to the distinctive characteristics, communicative features and organizational strategies of nonprofits. Students will learn about the strengths and limitations of non-profit organizing as a model for addressing contemporary social problems, and in doing so, better understand the overall challenges related to enacting social change. Credits: 4

This course is designed to examine the study of persuasive communication as it evolved from the disciplines of psychology and sociology. Special emphasis is placed on types of social influence and how people try to influence one another attitudinally or behaviorally in a wide variety of real-life communication contexts, situations, and settings. Some topics discussed will include consistency, credibility, and compliance-gaining. The course will also investigate structuring and ordering persuasive messages, the relationship between choice and coercion, as well as tactics for resisting another’s attempt to persuade. Ethics, deception, motivational appeals, propaganda, social responsibility, and conformity are other areas critically assessed. Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

The course will examine issues that develop during and post-crisis phases and discuss unique goals and strategic practices in each phase. Emphasis will be placed on practical application of crisis communication theories and concepts to real-life issues, with historic and contemporary examples of crises and activities that public relations professionals do for crisis management. Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

This course explores deceptive communication, its causes and consequences in a wide range of contexts (family and romantic relationships, art, media, politics, etc.), and the strategies used to detect their occurrence (behavioral cues, polygraphs, etc.). We will examine the processes by which people attempt to deceive others and/or themselves. We will consider communicative processes involved in specific deception phenomena such as doublespeak, equivocation, false advertising, forgery, political spin, and white lies, among others. Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

This course examines scholarly research and current events with concerted attention toward the improved practice of communication in intercultural, international, and interfaith settings. The primary questions investigated in the course will address the dynamics of culture, ethnicity, religion, and identity in terms of issues of representation, inequality, and empowerment against the backdrop of global transition in the 21st century. The course will pay particular attention to the ways religion and ethnic identity influence each other at the individual, community, national, and international levels and will closely interrogate communication practices between people of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. The course will call upon research from critical and functional perspectives that utilize qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

Having a great idea is not enough; you have to be able to effectively communicate your idea to others. This course will examine the principles of interpersonal, organizational, and community-based communication as a means of shaping how individuals respond to advocacy efforts. The critical skills discussed will help you both understand how people are influencing you, and how you can more successfully influence others. This course will prepare you to be a competent communicator in a variety of contexts. Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

This course focuses on the enactment of leadership through communication. Students explore the relationship between leadership and communication. Traditional and contemporary approaches to leadership within various social contexts are examined. Special emphasis is given to how communication theory can enhance our understanding of leadership. Students engage in course-curriculum activities, including personal interviews, aimed at uncovering leadership as a product of human communication, as well as refining individual leadership potential and skills.
Prerequisite: COM 1020. Credits: 4

Interdisciplinary Electives (choose one)

This course explores theories of leadership, leadership philosophies and styles, as well as how leaders achieve institutional goals in an increasingly complex and challenging world. It addresses questions such as who can be a leader, society’s biases and norms about what constitutes leadership, the differences between leadership styles (i.e., collaborative, cooperative, problem-solver, and hierarchical), concepts such as mentorship and sponsorship, as well as the challenges, opportunities, and obstacles faced by marginalized groups who seek leadership positions. Students will have an opportunity to address their relationship to leadership and strengthen their capabilities through interactive and engaging assignments and activities, including Harvard’s Implicit Association Test, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Leadership Style Self-Assessment and Optional Thinking Leadership Assessment, among others. Credits: 4

Leaders as change agents necessarily drive change in an ever-evolving ecosystem. Navigation of organizational change requires leadership competencies in change management, new approaches and tools to increase leaders’ understanding of transformation, and formal organizational strategies, such as structure, business processes, management systems, technology, products, services, culture, and the like. This course will explore change in the context of people and processes. “People” refers to the human dynamics that either influence the change or are triggered by it. These dynamics include dealing with people’s emotional reactions, turning resistance into commitment, motivation, engaging people in shaping the change, learning new behaviors or skills, changing mindsets, dealing with politics and relationships, and addressing cultural implications of the change. “Process” refers to how the organization will transform and the decisions and action steps it will take along the way.

This course is a study of successful change processes and the leader’s role in creating a culture conducive to change; establishing a vision, buy-in, and purpose among the influencers, and implementing sustainable, transformative change within an organization. Through the examination and discussion of change theory, case studies, and change agents, this course considers effective approaches to confronting resistance and to leading change both vertically and horizontally.

This course explores leadership in relation to principles, power and persuasion. These three elements aid a leader in navigating various leadership challenges, styles, and access to positions of power and influence. Defining successful leadership is not done in isolation — it requires an understanding and close examination of what guides a leader’s assumption, beliefs, and actions in concert with their pursuit of power and ability to persuade others,including those who are different from themselves. Learning how to maintain one’s principles even while reaching a compromise is a necessary leadership skill. Holding position, power and influence, and using them ethically and for the greater good are also ideals and aspects of leadership. Persuading others to embrace a workplace change, adapting an organizational mission in an agile environment, or commanding and holding attention are essential skills for leaders. Credits: 4

This course builds on the knowledge and skills developed through the Business Enterprise core courses. The course will focus on individual and group-level organizational behavior within domestic and international contexts, with specific emphasis on leadership, power, communication, negotiation, organizational change and self-managed team processes. This course is designed to deepen students’ understanding of behavioral theories and provide them with opportunities to apply that learning to interpersonal, group, and organizational problems. This is an experiential course and it is recommended for students planning to apply to graduate school in business or related areas. Prerequisite: MGT 1100. Credits: 4

This is a broad survey course providing a comprehensive overview of several human resource functions, including recruitment and selection, compensation, training, performance evaluation, labor and employee relations. Students will consider HRM topics as they relate to all employees with different roles and perspectives for supervisors and subordinates, and how these topics apply to creating strategic directions for an organization. Using an applied setting focus, instruction methods combine interactive lectures, experiential exercises, current events, case review, and external project analysis and presentation. Prerequisite: MGT 1100. Credits: 4

The marketing course introduces marketing as a functional area of a business enterprise. You will study numerous marketing principles and functions, including the marketing concept, the marketing mix, buyer behavior, market segmentation, product position, and marketing research, all within a global context. Prerequisite: MGT 1100. Credits: 4

Businesses are currently facing a fundamental change in the ways that consumers interact with brands and each other. Social media has connected consumers with family and friends while also giving them considerable power over marketers and brands. This course offers an overview of how marketing has changed due to the increasing prominence of social media as a digital marketing tool. The curriculum of this course is designed to equip students with the relevant knowledge, perspectives, and practical skills required to both develop and present an effective social media marketing strategy. Prerequisite: MKT 2205. Credits: 4

Emphasizes the centrality of social context in our psychological processes. Explores how people think about, influence and relate to each other. Prerequisite: PSY 1000. Credits: 4

This course will explore cultural perspectives on what it means to be a leader and how notions of leadership are both socially constructed and reinforced in ways that reify gender norms, as well as gender, racial, and other biases. Using the lenses of feminist theory, critical race theory, queer theory, and intersectionality, students will explore how racialized notions of masculinity and femininity, along with heteronormativity and ability, function to determine culturally valued standards of leadership. We will look at historical and contemporary contexts, locally and globally, in which leaders emerge and the ways in which leadership has been/is defined and represented. In effect, then, this is a course that examines power and how norms and biases are deployed to grant or limit access to leadership. The course will examine leadership in times of crisis and across a range of categories and fields such as political leadership (Congress/presidency); social movement leadership; and business/corporate/workplace leadership. This course will explore the ways in which leadership is represented in media, as well as the language and symbols associated with leadership. Finally, our study will focus on both those who seek leadership roles and “unintentional leaders” — people who find themselves thrust into leadership positions by circumstances (i.e., Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thunberg). This course culminates by examining whether (and how) leadership as a concept can be reimagined and reinvented to allow for greater diversity. Credits: 4

Required Capstone Experience (1 course)

The purpose of the capstone is to provide a personal culminating experience for students in which they both look back on their education thus far and look forward to next steps in their career and life in general. This reflection on experience is distinctly Augustinian. Each capstone experience will be designed by the student in consultation with an Education Specialist, and approved by the Chair of the Bachelor Degree Completion Faculty Learning Council and one member of the Faculty Learning Council who is serving as the faculty of record for the course. The capstone experience will take the form of an independent study that could include but is not necessarily limited to the following approaches: the creation of a professional development plan, an environmental scan and analysis of a particular industry, a scholarly research project and/or a portfolio development project. The course will conclude with public dissemination of the student’s capstone experience and a self-reflective paper. Credits: 4

Only Pay for the Credits You Need:
Transfer up to 90 Credits Toward Your Bachelor’s Degree

Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward their 124-credit bachelor’s degree including work experience or job training such as EMT training, licensures, certifications, professional development and prior work experience that aligns with your degree path. 

All coursework from all accredited institutions, including four-year colleges and community colleges outside of Massachusetts, will be considered for transfer credit.

Bachelor’s + Master’s Pathway*

Master’s Tuition Savings

Did you know students who complete their bachelor’s degree at Merrimack can automatically save at least 25 percent off the total tuition for some online and on-campus master’s degrees at Merrimack?

Two Free Graduate Classes

Additionally, students can complete up to two free graduate classes during their final two Bachelor Degree Completion program semesters.

*Graduate certificates and some master’s degrees may not offer all benefits.

What Our Students Say

“I really enjoyed my experience in the BDC program and I am actually now going to Merrimack for my master’s in clinical mental health counseling. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to continue their education.”

Graduate, 2023

“The bachelor program is a good program that allows you to use and adapt your personal experience into the course materials. Going back to school was probably one of the most daunting things to me but I really enjoyed it. It was easy to break down, easy to take on and I’m glad I did it.”

Graduate, 2023

“The professors made sure you had an understanding of the materials, I really liked that, especially after being out of school for a while.”

Graduate, 2023

“I’m in the Business Administration specialization and I’m moving on to a master’s in management. The program has helped prepare me for career progression. I was really looking for that in a program.”

Graduate, 2023

It’s Easy to Apply Online

A complete application includes:

  • Online application (no fee).
  • College transcripts from all institutions attended.*
  • English proficiency exam for non-English speaking applicants.

*Students need at least 12 credits in prior undergraduate work from an accredited community college, college, or university. If you do not have prior undergraduate coursework additional options may be available.

Key Dates and Deadlines

This program enrolls six times a year. Each term is eight weeks.

Application Deadline
Classes Begin
Summer II
Monday, June 17, 2024
Monday, July 1, 2024
Fall I
Monday, August 12, 2024
Monday, August 26, 2024
Fall II
Monday, October 7, 2024
Monday, October 21, 2024
Summer II
Application Deadline
Monday, June 17, 2024
Classes Begin
Monday, July 1, 2024
Fall I
Application Deadline
Monday, August 12, 2024
Classes Begin
Monday, August 26, 2024
Fall II
Application Deadline
Monday, October 7, 2024
Classes Begin
Monday, October 21, 2024

At Merrimack College, we’re proud of our long history of providing quality degrees to students entering the job market. Our faculty are more than just teachers. We are committed to helping you grow — academically, personally and spiritually — so that you may graduate as a confident, well-prepared citizen of the world.

  • Most Innovative Schools (No. 14)
  • Regional Universities North (No. 33)
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching (No. 31)
  • Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (No. 86)
    (at schools where doctorate not offered)
  • Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 14)
  • Best Value Schools (No. 47)
  • Merrimack College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
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