Dr. Jeremy Fyke and students learn in a Belmont classroom
Graduate & Professional | In-Person

Strategic Communication and Leadership, MS

Learn the top, most-desired skills by employers in every field, through our Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Leadership program, held in one of the most dynamic cities in the U.S.

Why Study Strategic Communications and Leadership? 

  • Nashville is the Best Big City for Jobs in the U.S. according to Forbes. Nashville is home to large global companies– Dollar General, Bridgestone, Nissan North America, Sony Music, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Asurion– allowing opportunities to excel in every field imaginable in our city’s thriving and diverse job market. 
  • Join a robust community of professionals who share a passion for leading people and a desire to hone their communication skills.
  • Flexible program structure built for the full-time employee
  • Design a professional capstone project alongside faculty experts to build a portfolio and propel you in your career
  • Learn how to grow employers’ most-desired skills in areas of strategic thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. Our unique blend of soft and hard skill and dual-degree focus in a single program, will leave you transformed as a thinker, communicator and leader.

Organizations of all sizes in all industries need leaders who can think creatively, motivate, navigate change and strengthen culture. In short, they need leaders who are strategic.

The Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Leadership at Belmont seeks to equip and empower students to communicate effectively internally, externally and across multiple platforms.

Our recent graduates are thriving leaders in every industry across sectors including healthcare, education, government, nonprofits, retail and entertainment. This program offers in-person classes designed to fit the schedule of a working professional as well as synchronous online elective courses taught by industry experienced faculty and business leaders. Nashville is a thriving hub of businesses of every type, and this program places you in the center of it all, ready to lead and communicate, strategically.

Career Competencies Developed

The 2020 LinkedIn Learning Report emphasized that employers’ most-desired skills are in areas of strategic thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. With our emphasis on a unique blend of soft and hard skill emphasis and dual-degree focus in a single program, you will leave transformed as a thinker, communicator and leader.

Program is designed for:

  • Anyone anywhere on their career journey—recent college graduates, early- and mid-career professionals.
  • Those working in any size organization—public or private, for-profit or non-profit, departments or agencies.
  • Individuals who want to enter or advance their careers in communication, public relations, marketing communications, training and development, consulting, etc.
  • Professionals Accredited in Public Relations (APR) or Accredited Business Communicators (ABC) or who have another acceptable professional certification (e.g., GCCC® certifications) may apply for an academic waiver of three (3) directed elective credits from the program requirements.

What You'll Learn 

Through our intentional application of research directly to practice, you will:

  • Acquire the analytical tools and ethical frameworks necessary for high-order executive thinking, planning and strategizing.
  • Learn how to diagnose organizational problems and propose meaningful solutions.
  • Sharpen your interpersonal skills critical for group decision making, creative problem solving and conflict resolution.
  • Polish your oral and written communication skills and learn to apply them flexibly between methods and environments.
  • Strengthen skills in emotional intelligence, while learning how to inspire and motive people.
  • Develop your ability to take ownership and empower others through leadership and collaboration.

Career Possibilities

  • Leadership Development Program Manager
  • Staff Officer
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Consultant
  • Community Service Manager
  • Health Communications Professional
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Brand Manager

Program Details

Features & Opportunities

  • No entrance exams
  • Fall, spring, summer entry with rolling deadlines
  • Thesis or professional capstone project designed for a specific organization
  • Significant tuition discount for affiliation with the Center for Nonprofit Management in Nashville.

M.S. in Strategic Communication & Leadership (30 Credits)

See all program requirements


4 Required Courses (12 Credits)

SCL 6110, Foundations of Strategic Communications (3)
This course explores how individuals and organizations use purposeful communication to achieve strategic goals. It offers an overview of the principles, history, and theoretical concepts that guide strategic communication and considers its effective practice in a variety of individual and organizational contexts. The goal of this course is for students to develop an understanding of the field of strategic communication and apply its principles and theories in real-world contexts.

SCL 6120, Foundations of Leadership (3)
This course explores leadership history, processes, theories, and approaches, as well as opportunities and challenges presented to the 21st century leader. This course challenges students to reflect on themselves as leaders and on the type of leader they would like to be. In short, a primary goal of this course is to equip students to understand leadership in depth and be able to practice it effectively throughout life.

SCL 6210, Applied Research in Practice (3)
Applied Research in Practice examines the role and techniques of applied research in strategic communication. Using both the qualitative and quantitative research traditions, the course guides students in how to use primary and secondary research to drive organizational processes, make data-driven decisions, and anticipate and solve organizational issues.

SCL 6310, Value-Aligned Communication & Leadership (3)
This course explores the intersections of values, communication, and leadership. Importantly, it considers the role of values, ethics, social responsibility, and courage in critical leadership competencies (e.g., decision making, change, developing others). It will equip students with frameworks and perspectives necessary for reflecting on and refining their own behavior and leadership skills in light of ongoing challenges to organizing and leading in the 21st century.


5 Required Courses (15 Credits)

SCL 6410, Human Dynamics (3)
This course examines the multidimensional elements of human communication within organizations. Emphasis is placed on interpersonal and group dynamics, verbal and nonverbal communication, diversity and culture, and the importance of communication in engaging members of the organization.

SCL 6420, Organizational Culture (3)
This course evaluates, critiques, and applies historic and contemporary perspectives on organizational culture. It examines the vital role communication plays in organizational culture, and helps students lead others to reach their full potential to thrive in their ideal organizational culture. In all, it facilitates an appreciation and in-depth understanding about our participation in the organizational cultures that we currently engage as part of our organizational lives.

SCL 6430, Strategic Planning & Management (3)
This course applies leadership theories and skills to nonprofit organizations. It helps students to develop an understanding of strategic planning and management, to know the ethical implications of the process, and to be able to apply the process by developing a strategic plan for an organization. Topics include strategic planning, change management, program evaluation and improvement, and board management.

SCL 6440, Communication & Change (3)
This course examines the critical elements required to be a successful leader of change. Emphasis is placed on the application of communication and change theories for analyzing, managing, and leading change in organizations of all types. Students examine change potential and develop communication approaches to successfully manage change and communicate effectively.

SCL 6450, Branding & Influence (3)
This course explores the relationship of branding to influence. Emphasis is placed on the development of one’s personal brand to leverage strategic communication platforms to lead conversations on critical topics to support one’s mission and vision. Branding principles and practices will be extended to the organizational context.

SCL 6460, Training & Development (3)
This interactive and application-based course is designed to enhance students’ understanding of and experience with the design, development, presentation, and evaluation of organizational training programs. This course will build students’ capacity to create and deliver a training program that can be adapted to an implemented in an organization.

SCL 6470, Organizational Consulting (3)
This course acquaints students with significant issues pertaining to the design, implementation, and assessment of consulting projects. It introduces consulting and the design and implementation of consulting in various settings and industries. Students learn how to effectively gather data and use their findings to offer theory-grounded recommendations to a client. In addition, they learn how effective communication helps to successfully manage client relationships. Finally, this class prepares students to address ethical issues that relate to consulting work.

SCL 6510, Foundations of Nonprofits (3)
This course fosters an understanding of nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit section Emphasis is placed on the history of nonprofits, essential vocabulary and concepts, organizational structures, the role of the staff and board, legal and compliance issues, the role of nonprofits in a democracy, basic current issues, and the social, legal and moral implications of being a nonprofit.

SCL 6520, Governance in Nonprofits (3)
This course examines the principles and practices of effective governance along with current trends and developments in the governance of nonprofit organizations. Emphasis is placed on board selection and management, governance leadership structures, legal duties, relationship to the executive director and the staff, and its role in securing the future of the organization it governs.

SCL 6530, Fundraising in Nonprofits (3)
This course examines current trends in fundraising and financial sustainability in the nonprofit sector. Emphasis is placed on major gifts, foundation and corporate relations, board engagement, community-based support and the development and implementation of fundraising planning.

SCL 6540, People Management in Nonprofits (3)
This course explores the challenges of managing the array of people necessary for a nonprofit to succeed, including employees and volunteers. Emphasis is placed on recruitment, onboarding, training, evaluation, and development of individuals and groups.

SCL 6890, Special Topics (3)
Seminars on trends and issues relevant to strategic communication and leadership may be offered as elective options. Topics will vary and students may repeat this course with different topics.

SCL 6990, Independent Study (3)
This course allows students to work with an individual faculty member to explore in depth a topic related to strategic communication and leadership


1 Required Course (3 Credits)

SCL 6995, Thesis Directed Study (3)
This course is designed for students who have chosen the thesis option for their capstone project. Students will work with an individual faculty member to focus their topic, review the literature, develop research questions, determine research methodology, and seek approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

SCL 6997, Master's Capstone Project (3)
This course is the culminating experience for the M.S. in Strategic Communication & Leadership program. While enrolled in this course, students will complete a research-based special project or thesis under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

SCL 6999, Capstone Project/Thesis Continuation (1)
This course is required to maintain enrollment at Belmont when the student fails to complete SCL 6950 in one semester. Enrollment in SCL 6951 is required each semester beyond the original term the student enrolled in SCL 6950. Students may enroll in SCL 6951 a maximum of two (2) semester or one year. Credit hours earned by SCL 6951 do not count toward the requirement for graduation.

Application Deadlines

Fall: August 1
Summer: May 1
Spring: November 15

Admissions Requirements

  • Apply Online  from the BU4U application portal. 
  • Application Fee: A $50 non-refundable application fee is required. 
  • Official Transcripts: Request official transcripts from previous colleges. You may request official hard copies to be mailed, or they may be sent using a secure third party electronic service, if your institution participates (i.e. parchment, student clearing house, etc.).   Please allow 4-6 weeks for all official transcripts to be received and processed.  Official copies should be mailed to:  Belmont University, Office of Admissions, 1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN  37212. Electronic copies should be sent to  belmontadmissions@belmont.edu.
  • Recommendations: Contact two individuals for professional recommendations. These are completed after the application fee has been submitted, and are listed under the  Supplemental Items section.  Recommendations are done entirely through the BU4U portal through email. 
  • Resume: A professional resume is required, and is uploaded through your BU4U portal as a supplemental item. 
  • Interview: You may be contacted for an interview with the M.S. in Strategic Communication and Leadership Program Director. 

International Students:  Non US citizen applicants must satisfy  one of the English language proficiency requirements  (i.e. TOEFL, Duolingo, etc.) before an admissions decision can be made. The list of acceptable options may be found  HERE.  International applicants with college-level course work from foreign institutions must have transcripts evaluated by a NACES accredited evaluation service, such as  World Education Services or  Joseph Silny & Associates.  Any questions related to immigration paper work should be directed to  International Student and Scholar Services.

Application Status: Applicants are admitted on a rolling admissions pattern and will be notified of the admissions committee's decision shortly after the admissions requirements are completed. To check on the status of your application, check your  BU4U account.

Tuition Information: Determine total cost per semester on the Graduate Admissions & Aid website.

After being offered admission to Belmont, you may secure your enrollment with a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $150. This deposit will be applied to first semester charges.


For questions regarding the application or the admissions process, please contact:

Danielle Walden
Email: Danielle Walden

Alumni Testimonial

Corey Sargent

"The SCL program provides an extensive toolkit for understanding the human component of organizations and navigating the ever-changing landscape of technology, which has been the most impactful in expanding my own career opportunities. The emphasis on effective organizational leadership approaches, strategic planning, values-aligned leadership, change implementation strategy, and creating meaningful human connections in organizations have provided me with a significant personal competitive advantage in the job market today. The knowledge and experience I gained open meaningful opportunities for me daily and position me to contribute more significantly within my organization and community. "

Corey Sargent, Class of 2021

Implementation Specialist, HCA Healthcare

Whitney Allred

"When I came to Belmont I did not have a "plan" as to what was next after the SCL program. All I knew was this was the "right, next step" at that point in my life and career. Almost two years upon graduation, every seed (literally) that was planted via coursework, conversations, and connections during my time at Belmont are now breaking ground. I have successfully transitioned careers from Human Resources to Healthcare Strategy Consulting and am SO grateful for the community this program created for me as these are truly some of my closest people now and for the ambiguity surrounding class assignments as it has well equipped me in my career."

Whitney Allred, Class of 2021

Management Consultant, North Highland Company

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College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Danielle Walden
Admissions Coordinator
(615) 460.8340

Email Danielle