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Curriculum

Political Communication Curriculum

The online Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a specialization in Political Communication includes 38 credit hours: 35 hours of coursework plus three final credits in the capstone course. Program curriculum is guided by an Advisory Council of top industry experts, with courses taught by industry professionals and University of Florida faculty.

Unique Learning Experience

  • Students generally take 1-3 classes per semester.
  • Each semester is 12 weeks, with three semesters per year (Spring, Summer, Fall).
  • Full-time students can complete the curriculum in under two years.
  • All classes are online with recorded lectures, allowing students to view classes at their pace during the week.
  • Each week, students must meet weekly objectives and complete assignments.

Courses

Political Core (15 credits)

Introduction to Digital Political Campaigning (3 credits)

By the end of this course, students will understand the basics of digital political campaigning. This class will introduce students to tools of the trade that they will be using in future classes. It will also briefly explain potential job opportunities and give a high level overview of the areas covered in future classes.

Introduction to Digital Political Organizing (3 credits)

This course will teach students how to drive offline action with digital. It will cover topics like targeting and tagging voters, and how to create supporter journeys. It will also explain to students how digital is integrated into all parts of the campaign including GOTV efforts. Students will learn how to use industry leading software to drive digital efforts for campaigns and action organizations.

Fundamentals of Political Engagement (3 credits)

This course will teach students how to utilize email and other channels to engage potential voters, volunteers, and donors. After completing this course, students will know how to reach voters organically through a variety of ways. Students will learn about voter messaging and how to ask potential donors for contributions. They will also learn about email deliverability, A/B testing, and the proper use of web analytics.

Fundamentals of Digital Political Advertising (3 credits)

This course will cover the mechanics of digital advertising with a specific focus on political campaigning. Topics will include processes for creating political advertisements, techniques for maximizing engagement, and measurement of digital environments including digital publications, social networks, and digital video. Students will use top industry software to have an advanced understanding of how to use paid communications on the internet to mobilize and persuade voters.

Fundamentals of Political Rapid Response (3 credits)

This course will put students in the shoes of a Communications Manager responsible for responding to quickly changing situations. Students will learn how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more are used to respond through a political lens. They will also learn how to create long-form responses and how to optimize those responses for channels with character limits and where text isn’t optimal.

MMC 6936 Applications of Political Communications (3 credits – optional internship)

This course is designed to provide students’ knowledge of all the potential applications of political communications. This includes, but is not limited to, public office, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns. Students will learn the business of digital agencies in politics and the relationships between those agencies and in-house employees. They will also be prepared for the potential interview process for positions applicable to their degree.

Web Core (8 credits)

MMC 5277 Web Design Principles (4 credits)

By the end of this course you will be comfortable creating, coding and posting basic HTML and CSS files to the Internet. Equipped with a historical understanding of the web’s evolution and key industry-standard design guidelines to ensure strong online presentation, you will have a foundational knowledge of website creation and apply it to the planning, design and development of your own web page over the course of the semester. Critical thinking will be encouraged through your class interactions, projects, and online postings.

VIC 5325 Digital Imagery in Web Design (4 credits)

This course will familiarize students with the development and impact of imagery in interactive media. Students will learn how visual ‘language’ is the basis for developing contextual symbolic meanings that are shared throughout a culture. Semiotics, information design and persuasive communication will be explored in this course. Students will develop communicative images using their knowledge gained through lectures, discussions and Photoshop training.

Mass Communication Core (6 credits)

Mass Communication Theory (3 credits)

This course demonstrates the value of broad theories of mass communication.  Students review mass communication theory from its inception as a field of study, to past trends, current applications, and new currents of thought. Throughout the class, students will apply their understanding of abstract theory to contemporary practice.

Mass Communication Research Methods (3 credits)

Students will acquire the skills needed to conduct secondary research on the Web, and effectively use qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (surveys and experiments) research methods. The knowledge needed to effectively design, execute, and interpret data is emphasized throughout the course. The concept of measurement is defined and analyzed.  Students will be able to describe the challenges involved in valid and reliable measurement of audience behaviors, values, attitudes, norms, and consumption.

Capstone

MMC 6936 Capstone (3 credits)

The capstone class is the culmination of the program and students’ opportunity to work on a project that can be used as a portfolio piece for a job interview. The capstone project will require students to use their knowledge gained during the program to demonstrate knowledge of skills like driving offline action via digital activity, email fundraising pitching, and digital advertising. The capstone project will be individual to each student and will be supervised by an industry expert who will use real-world examples to help build applied experience for the student.

Specializations (6 credits required. Choose one specialization.)

Web Design

Corporate and Brand Identity on the Web (3 credits)

This course synthesizes two different but complementary tools of communication: graphic design and assembly (both print and electronic). Students will learn the fundamental design principles and techniques for effective visual communication. These principles and techniques are applied, through projects, to achieve a communication objective across different platforms. Students can expect a practical, hands-on experience. A key tool for creating your digital work in this course is Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is an effective tool for creating original artwork, and for designing logos, banners, icons and navigational elements for online and print. The artwork can then easily be exported to the Web or imported into other programs.

Digital Media Layout and Design (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the skills and concepts that will help create documents for both print and interactivity. Using Adobe InDesign, students will apply their understanding of color, type, layout, and design to create a portfolio project. While InDesign permits several possible workflows, this course will focus on those that most readily translate into digital design.

Social Media

MMC 6730 Social Media Management (3 credits)

This course teaches students to use social media strategically to create value for an organization. An emphasis is placed on strategic collaboration, tactical execution, and measurement of social media efforts. Students will learn by doing in assignments focusing on social media post writing and publishing, management and measurement tools, a social media audit, an editorial calendar, a tactical plan, and crisis management. The course will cover blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and an array of niche social media platforms.

MMC 6727 Social Media Metrics (3 credits)

Students will learn by doing through collection and analysis of real social media campaign data. After completing the course, students will be able to describe the proper measurement mechanisms to employ, identify the data points that help clarify campaign effectiveness, master the proper approach for analyzing data, and determine how the outcomes from data analysis should modify overall strategy.

Analytics

Audience Research Methods (3 credits)

Introduces and immerses students in the primary and secondary research methods and approaches used for analyzing consumers and audiences across media platforms.

Intro to Coding and Programming (3 credits)

This course will familiarize students with software programs and languages commonly used for coding, programming, and data mining in the marketplace, including R, SQL, and Python. Such tools can be used to query data sets to uncover consumer insights, create data visualization displays, as well as perform more complex statistical analysis.

Communications

PUR 6934 Strategy & Messaging (3 credits)

This course is an intensive workshop in strategic public relations writing that is diverse in style, ranging from brief public service announcements to online news releases and web/social media contents to persuasive speeches and executive presentations. Since most formal organizational communications begin or intersect with written word, most practitioners see writing as the foundation of professional public relations practice.

MMC 6936 Digital Storytelling (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide students a skill set in digital storytelling production and analysis. Students will develop skills to create effective online stories, learn how to produce such stories using the right equipment, and understand how digital stories differ from those in print, radio, and television. Students will look at the changing roles of storytellers in news, promotion, and public service, while discussing and analyzing media consumption habits of the content produced. The course includes aspects of advertising, journalism and public relations to better understand trends online and how to tailor content to reach audiences in new ways.

Email Marketing

Political Audiences, Voters, and Media (3 credits)

TBA With Audience Analytics program.

Advanced Political Email Engagement (3 credits)

This course is tailored to the digital professional who will be engaging in large-scale political email campaigns. The course will cover ethics, autoresponders, list growth, segmentation, types of emails, messaging, send timing, and advanced analytics. After this course, students will have a mastery of the use of email in political organizations.


Quick Facts

38 credit hours
100% online
recorded lectures & live office hours
Fall Semester: August-November
Spring Semester: January-March
Summer Semester: May-August
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Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
July 1

Spring Semester
November 1

Summer Semester
April 1

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