Strategic Brand Communication master’s degree prepares professionals for career pivots and accelerates career paths
Traveling across eight time zones in nine countries didn’t stop Michelle Floyd from earning her master’s degree in strategic brand communication. While creating campaigns for class, she also competed at five Olympic-level softball tournaments and spent two professional softball seasons in Italy. Enrolling in the online program was the best decision she could have made, she said, because of its flexibility.
“Besides the networking with my classmates and the bonds created with them and the professors, the most useful aspect of the program was the all-around knowledge I was able to gain,” said Floyd, who graduated in 2019. “There are so many aspects of branding that apply to different facets of a company, and having this understanding was a game changer for my career.”
Developed as a collaboration between the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising in the College of Media and the Department of Business Administration in Gies College of Business, the MS Strategic Brand Communication program combines contemporary business management education with the latest in strategic integrated marketing, advertising, and multimedia communications. The first cohort graduated in Fall 2018. In 2020, the SBC program was ranked #1 for Best Online Master’s Degrees in Communications by Best College Reviews and #3 for Best Online Master’s in Communications Programs by Best Colleges.
Designed for working professionals, all classes are taught online and the degree can be completed within 16 months.
“Through live sessions and group projects, our students build a community within their cohort that lasts for years after graduation,” said Brooke Bear, senior operations coordinator for the SBC program. “The personal and professional growth, and accomplishments of SBC students and alumni continues to amaze and inspire me.”
“I love how SBC attracts students from such diverse backgrounds and for so many different reasons,” said Shachar Meron, SBC academic director and senior lecturer in advertising. “These are curious and ambitious people looking to move up into corporate leadership, make a career shift into brand and marketing strategy, launch their own businesses and products, complement athletic careers or military service, or even go into teaching afterwards.”
Bari Goldman enrolled in the program because she was looking to learn more about marketing and branding overall. Previously, she had been working in a non-profit communications role and thought more formal instruction would be useful for her career growth.
“My classmates and professors are invaluable connections,” Goldman said. “They are a strong professional network and good friends that I wouldn’t have met anywhere else.”
The SBC program gave her the confidence to apply for her first marketing role and, after graduating, she landed a position as a marketing associate for a financial technology start-up called Boro.
“I got the chance to try many different aspects of marketing, fell in love with content marketing, and got promoted to senior content marketing manager this year,” Goldman added.
Upon completing her degree, Floyd accepted a trainee position with the Atlanta Braves in corporate partnerships. She said the skills she learned through the program are what helped her land her job and succeed in the position. She is currently working in telecom and freelancing branding positions.
“I believe this program would benefit the ‘busybody’ who wants to further their education or change their careers,” Floyd said. “I joined this program knowing I wanted to get into a new sector while I was traveling and playing softball professionally. This program allowed me to still carry on where I was in life.”
The SBC program is currently accepting applications for its next cohort. For Fall 2021, early bird applications are due April 20, and the priority deadline is June 1. The final deadline for the semester is July 15 for consideration. Non-degree certificates are also available for those who wish to complete three courses or take an individual course from the program. For more information, see sbc.illinois.edu.
—Da Yeon Eom, Communications and Marketing Intern