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McMaster University

Program of Study Alex Sevigny Twitter MCM Facebook MCM YouTube

The MCM curriculum was developed based on exhaustive research, including a thorough literature review of professional communication and communications management scholarship, interviews with top communications managers worldwide, a national survey and focus groups of professional communication practitioners.

MCM Program Learning Outcomes:

  • Expanded knowledge in public relations theory, research, communications law and management;
  • Richer understanding of strategic planning, counseling and decision-making processes;
  • Firmer grasp of business, finance and marketing; and,
  • Leadership, interpersonal and small group communications skills.

Program Structure: The academic program provides the participant with core courses in key areas

Public Relations Core:
(4 required courses; 12 credits)
Management Core:
(4 required courses, 12 credits)
  • COM MGMT 711 Organizational Public Relations
  • COM MGMT 712 Public Relations Research
  • COM MGMT 714 Strategic Public Relations Management
  • COM MGMT 715 Applied Ethics in Communications Management
  • COM MGMT 721 Strategic Management
  • COM MGMT 722 Financial Reporting and Management Accounting
  • COM MGMT 723 Managerial Finance
  • COM MGMT 724 Marketing Management
3 courses (9 credits)
Capstone Project:
(3-credit project)
  • COM MGMT 731 Reputation and Brand Management
  • COM MGMT 732 Communication Frontiers: Social Media 
  • COM MGMT 735 Negotiation: Theory and Practice
  • COM MGMT 741 Crisis Communications
  • COM MGMT 742 Social Media and Mobility: Strategy and Management

 *This is a small sample of potential electives

  • Students will do a professional capstone project (equivalent to one course) and three electives.

Course Descriptions

(All course and program descriptions can be found in the School of Graduate Studies Calendar)

Public Relations Core

*711 / Organizational Public Relations

The course focuses on how excellent public relations are carried out in organizations. Management theories applied to public relations, public relations roles and models, strategic management processes, theories of organizational effectiveness, and such organizational characteristics as participation and authority, culture, diversity, globalization, and change. The framework of excellence permits an examination of the history, research, social effects, and ethics of public relations.

*712 / Public Relations Research

Nature, formation, and communications of attitudes and public opinion in public relations settings. Application of methods for measuring attitudes, opinions, and public relations performances. Sampling, interviewing and data analysis techniques.

*714 / Strategic Public Relations Management

Relates management function of policy formation to the communication process of disseminating ideas and information to the organization’s public. Applies management science techniques to communication planning and information dissemination.

*715 / Applied Ethics in Communications Management

This course will use the case study method to investigate contemporary applications of the theory and philosophy of ethics in the practice of communications management. Case studies will be taken from corporate communications, media relations, investor relations, advertising, brand journalism, government relations, public affairs, political communication or other sub-fields of communications management.

Management Core

*721 / Strategic Management

An integrative course that pulls together, through the concepts of “strategy”, fundamentals learned in previous management courses. Business “fundamentals” are used to study full organizational issues. A basic premise is that functional area decisions cannot and should not be made in isolation. Such decisions need to be consistent in ways that provide an organization with a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace and enable the most effective and efficient achievement of the firm’s short and long term goals. Case studies are used to assist students to learn how to analyze the competitive structure of industries, how to assess and choose the “best” strategies for organizations, and how to ensure that the various functional area decisions follow from and help facilitate, rather than obstruct, the realization of chosen strategies.

*722 / Financial Reporting and Management Accounting

Accounting information is fundamental to business decisions. Managers are familiar with accounting systems and their potential for providing them with critical data and information about their organizations. Given this perspective, this course provides sufficient understanding of the accounting process and how to recognize the potential of accounting information to become a more effective manager. What accountants do and why they do it, not how they do it, is the focus.

*723 / Financial Management

An introduction for the non‐finance manager to the issues faced by the finance managers of large businesses. No prior knowledge of business finance is expected from the students. However, understanding of the basic accounting principles (balance sheet and income statements) is a prerequisite. The course begins by examining a corporation’s responsibility to its various stakeholders – stockholders, employees, customers, and society. This leads to a well‐defined objective of financial management. Various decisions and responsibilities of the financial manager consistent with the objective above are studied. These may be divided into two components: capital acquisition and its deployment. Key aspects of the financial environment and some methods of determining the financial health of a corporation are also studied.

*724 / Marketing Management

The fundamentals of marketing and the management decision‐making skills related to the design of marketing strategy. By the end of the course, students can: (1) understand the role that marketing plays in an organization; (2) analyze how the environment affects marketing strategy; (3) analyze how consumers make a purchase decision; and (4) design a marketing strategy for a product or service.


*716 Communications Law for Public Relations Advertising

A basic understanding of communications law as it relates to public relations. Students will gain knowledge in major areas of communications law; application of specific areas of communications law to public relations practice; management of legal risks faced in public relations; the role of public relations in a client’s litigation strategy; and dealing with lawyers.

*728 / Investor Relations and Financial Communications 

This course introduces students to the knowledge and skills requirements for proficiency in the complex and regulated world of investor communication and relations. Many senior publicly traded corporations operate in a multinational marketplace, often with the shares of their companies traded on numerous exchanges in time zones that encompass the planet. In all cases there are regulatory expectations for precise, transparent and timely disclosure of strategic and financial information which may impact on share values. A reputation for integrity in the area of investor communication is of paramount importance to all stakeholders in the corporation. Thus professional competency in all aspects of this communications field is critical. We will examine these competencies, the regulatory framework in which such work must be carried out, together with examples of good and not-so-good practices.

*730 / Leadership, Persuasion and the Successful Executive

Leadership, Persuasion and the Successful Executive offers an intensive examination of the leadership-communication connection. In other words, how do successful executives engage employees, teams and organizations to effect change and influence behavior in an often- contested and challenging environment through effective communications? This course focuses on how executives successfully exert their leadership in the broader external environment.

*731 / Reputation and Brand Management for Public Relations Professionals

The word “brand” is everywhere. Each year 3,000 new brands enter a marketplace already cluttered with sagging older brands and filled with fickle consumers. Strong brands make companies profitable, yet remaining a top brand is tough. It’s not just about selling a product but about creating a lifestyle or personality that truly engages people’s emotions. In so doing, products and services become brands that forge strong connections and relationships with customers. Effective brand building involves the communications efforts of the entire organization. With this in mind, this course focuses on branding principles culled from a variety of new theories on the subject and case studies and interactive exercises to point out successful communications techniques in brand building.

*732 / Communications Frontiers

Preparation for developing business, regulatory, and technical trends that will be part of the students’ careers as communications managers. These trends include globalization and industry consolidation. Specific trends in broadcasting, print, satellite, cable, and the internet are examined. The class looks for evidence of some of these trends as they are experienced in public relations through an original research project.

*733 / Communication Theory

An introduction to the process of interpersonal, group, and mass communication. Perception, attitude, opinion, and other principles of psychology, social psychology, and other social sciences related to the communication process are explored.

*734 / Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills

Successful public relations managers need highly refined communication and conflict resolution skills in today’s stressful and competitive business environment. This elective course helps students learn about practice, and further develop some key fundamental behaviours designed to establish powerful rapport with business personnel and clients, and to manage conflict creatively and constructively when it occurs. Core skills include reflective listening, matching and pacing, managing agreement (assertion), problem solving, and negotiation. Approaches to learning include theory presentation, skill demonstration, skill practice, and critique.

*735 / Negotiation: Theory and Practice

Introduction to negotiation theory and the skills associated with successful practice. Explore tensions between distributive and integrative negotiation principles of interest-based negotiation. Importance of preparation, sources of power, role of culture, and ways to overcome dirty tricks and other barriers to successful negotiation. Interactive learning approach, using lecture, discussion, exercises, and simulations to build personal capacities for successful negotiating. Exercises include two-person to more complex multi-party negotiations, in both domestic and international cases.

*736 / Conflict Resolution in Groups: Facilitation and Conflict Management

This workshop focuses on the role and competencies of the facilitator in effectively managing group process, group dynamics, and differences among group members. Among the subjects explored are contracting around role and outcomes, design of agenda and process, states of group development, observing and giving feedback about group dynamics, and managing conflict. Format provides opportunities for intensive practice, coaching by instructors and reflective work in a Personal Learning Plan.

*737 / Interpersonal Conflict Resolution Skills

Enhanced communication rapport building skills to interact more effectively and solve problems creatively. A foundational course that emphasizes reflective listening, problem solving, assertion and managing conflicts among needs and values. Includes theory, demonstrations, skill practice, and critique.Designed to have immediate and wide applicability in interpersonal and group settings.

*738 / Mediation: Theory and Practice

Mediation theory and skills to facilitate the resolution of disputes and differences.Techniques of third-party intervention with individuals and groups. Learning approach includes lectures, simulations, demonstrations, and practice mediations in a variety of areas, including community, workplace, family and commercial settings. Participants receive the 25-hour skills training required of them as mediators.

*739 / New Technologies in Communication

New communications technologies are emerging on the Web like blogs (web blogs) and podcasts. This course will deal with uses of these technologies, issues around social presence, privacy, and openness in communication. Students will learn to use these technologies and will run projects applying them to communication problems.

*740 / Professional Project

The Professional Project course is seen as an independent research project that results in a communication product or program (“deliverable”). The Professional Project embodies original and/or secondary research and solves a specific problem or challenge for an organization or industry or the greater public relations/communications management profession.

741 / Crisis Communications

Crises are a fact of organizational life. From the small, not-for-profit organization to the global, multi-national corporation, crises can suddenly disrupt an organization’s ability to efficiently and effectively achieve its mission. Organizational crises rapidly consume unbudgeted financial and human resources and diminish an organization’s reputation and goodwill. The economic, social, and political fallout from organizational crises have been significant and warrant a renewed focus on research and scholarship.

742 / Social Media and Mobility: Strategy and Management

This course examines how social media and mobile communications technologies such as smartphone, smartwatches and tablets are transforming the practice of communications management. Focusing on new strategies in campaigns, community building and organizational management, for different sorts of organizations in the public, private, not-for-profit and political realms. Interdisciplinarity is at the core of this course, since social media and mobile communications technologies are a crucial part of public relations, marketing, employee communication, crisis communication, government relations and stakeholder relations. The impact of social media and mobile communications on privacy, compliance and ethics is also examined. This course uses the case study method.

COM MGMT 743 / Independent Study

This course enables an MCM student to craft reading list and a plan of study with an MCM faculty member on a individual basis on a topic not currently offered in the list of MCM course offerings. The course must have a significant deliverable (case study, research essay or technical report) supported by qualitative or quantitative research.