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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. The program curriculum is guided by an Advisory Council of top industry experts, with courses taught by industry professionals and University of Florida faculty.

View the degree plan.

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)

This class will serve as an introduction to the cutting edge and growing field of digital political campaigning. Students will be provided with a foundation on which to build as they move through the Master’s in Political Communication curriculum. The class will present an overview of the skills and tactics necessary to develop and implement digital strategies for success in today’s political environment.

Introduction to Digital Political Organizing (3 credits)

This course will teach the students the necessary skills and best practices of political organizing online. They will learn how to implement campaign style tactics across email, social media, website, voter targeting, advertising and field. The students will have a fundamental understanding of how to engage voters online based on self-identified and publicly available data points.

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. Students will start the semester by being introduced to a historical understanding of the web’s evolution and key industry-standard design guidelines to ensure strong, and successful online presentations. Students will also gain a foundational knowledge of website creation (concentrating on HTML5 and CSS3) to be able to apply the knowledge into the different planning, design, and development stages when it comes to creating their own websites. Critical thinking will also be encouraged through class interactions, quizzes, homework assignments, and a semester-long project.

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 a client or 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 strategy and tactics, content planning and creation, paid social, management and measurement tools, and crisis management. The course will cover blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and an array of niche social media platforms.

MMC 6727 Social Media Metrics (3 credits)

Throughout the course, you will be empowered to work first-hand with native social media data using Excel. You will develop skills to assist you in assembling an analytics report in PowerPoint or Keynote that will be delivered to the class as if it were doing a real-life presentation to managers and business executives. In addition, we will practice report delivery at different points in the course so that you are able to gain confidence in speaking and answering questions about social analytics.

This course was developed to help you a.) understand the need and importance behind social media analytics and b.) to teach you how to leverage the data made natively available by Facebook and Twitter to evaluate social marketing campaigns. Three-quarters of this course will be spent working first-hand with data in Excel. After working with the data, you will learn how to identify key data points, create charts and graphs to visualize your analysis, glean insights and make actionable recommendations based on those insights. You will then learn how to put together a robust deliverable that highlights key findings from your analysis and provides sufficient detail for stakeholders to gain a thorough understanding of social performance.

Analytics

Audience Research Methods (3 credits)

This course teaches students the skills to design, anticipate, and critically think about strategies to analyze audiences. This course will cover quantitative and qualitative research methods, underscoring strengths and weaknesses of all research methods and their suitability for various research goals, and how students should build arguments and rationale for selected research methods. Students will be able to design and strategize execution of research methods to address specific hypotheses and answer research questions regarding audiences.

Effective audience research methods and analysis are critical today, as the ability to design and integrate research designs into the media industry, marketing, public relations and advertising projects is a highly-valued skill set. Such methods also enable companies to better understand consumer behavior and audience preferences. Successfully addressing research questions and hypotheses across industries necessitates a keen understanding of both basic and advanced qualitative and quantitative methods. Understanding the theory and practical execution of these research methods will allow students to cultivate a highly-valued skill-set and become more competitive in the industry.

Research software and tools such as SPSS and Qualtrics will be used to facilitate students’ understanding and learning of how to execute particular research methods including survey and conjoint analysis. Each week, students will complete an assignment related to the research method that is covered during that particular week.

Introduction to Programming with Data (3 credits)

Introduction to Programming with Data provides a hands-on overview of how to program for data analysis. With the help of Python, students will learn how to write code for easy collection, analysis and sharing of data. The course offers an introduction to programming best practices, while quickly getting started with practical data evaluation tasks like tabular reporting and data visualization techniques.

Communications

Strategic Writing for Public Relations (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.

This course exists to teach students to write and think in order to be successful in the public-relations workplace. Its curriculum will cover and include not just writing to and for the media, but also approaching and building and maintaining relationships with members of the press corps.

Video Storytelling (4 credits)

Corporate messaging, branding, news and information, even self-published stories and opinions are more visible, shareable and potentially influential than ever before. Students will review and analyze traditions in storytelling and its evolution from traditional to modern-day structures. Students will examine narrative structures including character, arc, master plots and framing, and apply such elements to communication contexts relevant to our age of rapid communication and ubiquitous information. Students will assess and create video content that forges an emotional connection and tells a story in a memorable way without sacrificing accuracy or message.

Students will examine how organizations and brands are leveraging trans-media storytelling to reach key audiences through compelling video narratives. Students will apply storytelling techniques in authentic communication contexts relevant to today’s professional, digitized world. Building on students’ foundation in video gathering and editing, the course requires students to storyboard, develop characters and critically evaluate elements suitable for video stories. Students will create a final video using skills and techniques acquired throughout the semester.

 


Quick Facts

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

Download Info Packet

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Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
Extended to August 1

Spring Semester
November 1

Summer Semester
April 1

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