Skip to main content

The Reed College of Media and College of Creative Arts will merge to form the new WVU College of Creative Arts and Media as of July 1, 2024. Get details.

Specializations in Integrated Marketing Communications that Will Make You Stand Out



It’s an increasingly-competitive world, and it seems to get more competitive all the time. It can be tough to stand out and differentiate yourself from other professionals in the field of marketing communications. So, what can you do to truly set yourself apart?

Many young professionals find that an advanced degree or certification can have a profound impact on their job searches. Recognizing the ambition and efforts of our students, the WVU Reed College of Media examined how we could assist.

For young practitioners, academic credentials can be extremely helpful in differentiating themselves, and the more specialized a credential, the greater impact it can have in the most competitive searches.

“In my experience overseeing WVU’s IMC program and watching it grow and evolve over the last 14 years, there has been a pretty dramatic shift in our student profile which, among other variables, has seen our practitioner-focused program’s average student age decrease by a few years. Young professionals are choosing graduate studies earlier, in some cases directly after earning their undergraduate degrees, in an effort to stand out and steer their careers in a direction they are passionate about.” —Chad Mezera, Assistant Dean of Online Programs

To create opportunities for specialized learning programs/credentials, the Reed College of Media created new specialized Areas of Emphasis (AOE) in the following areas:

1. Hone Your Creative Skills with an AOE in Creative Strategy

The Creative Strategy AOE prepares students for careers focusing on the creative aspects of IMC planning and execution. An AOE in Creative Strategy will provide a student with the advanced knowledge to hone their creative skills and apply it to IMC campaigns. The courses include: Advanced Creative Concepts, Digital Storytelling, Visual Information Design, and Content Marketing.

This specialization specifically prepares you for:

  • Designing marketing and communications branding to create a visual identification for an IMC brand strategy to apply different types of content generation to new and traditional marketing channels.

  • Conceiving, developing and expressing complex visual ideas and concepts, translating them into a coherent visual identity that builds a brand and reinforces its marketing objectives.

2. Plan Strategically with an AOE in Data Marketing Communications

The Data Marking Communications AOE provides access to data-driven coursework for students whose career aspirations include utilizing available data as part of a greater integrated marketing communications strategy. Being able to analyze data has been a key piece in strategically planning successful marketing campaigns. This specialization can be beneficial in marketing roles, and can pave the way to analyst positions. The courses include: Introduction to Data Marketing Communications, Audience Segmentation, Campaign Planning and Programmatic Media Buying and Campaign Metrics and Assessment.

This specialization specifically prepares you for:

  • Describing how marketers use current analytic methods such as segmentation, profiling, and RFM to deliver ROI for their clients and identifying key performance indicators.

  • Distinguishing between the different types of primary and secondary data available to marketers from response data, to compiled and crowd sourced data.

3. Be Prepared for the Digital Age with an AOE in Digital and Social Media

In an ever-growing digital realm, a specialization in Digital and Social Media will prepare students for careers utilizing digital and social media as part of a greater integrated marketing communications strategy. The courses include: Digital Storytelling, Social Media and Marketing, Web Metrics and SEO and Digital Media Production.

This specialization specifically prepares you for:

  • Identifying, incorporating and implementing digital and social media marketing tactics in an integrated marketing communications strategy and developing digital content relevant to the target audience for owned, earned, and paid digital and social media channels.

  • Planning digital content to utilize on social media sites: i.e. vlogging, video news letters, short video for social media site production, podcasts, etc. and developing digital content relevant to the target audience for owned, earned, and paid digital and social media channels.

4. Create a Strategic Healthcare Communications Plan with an AOE in Healthcare Communication.

An AOE in Healthcare Communication prepares students for careers focusing on implementing a comprehensive IMC strategy within the healthcare industry, including course work focused on legal and ethical issues that apply to healthcare communications. The courses include: Cause Marketing, Healthcare Marketing, Content Marketing, and Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in IMC.

This specialization specifically prepares you for:

  • Effectively develop healthcare communication campaign plans using an integrated marketing communications strategy and plan content to utilize in web and social media assets: i.e. b/vlogging, video news letters, short video for social media site production, podcasts, etc. for public education, advocacy and/or corporate purposes.

  • Identify target audiences and understand behavior change theories as they relate to healthcare marketing campaign planning for these audiences and recognize how to brand, build credibility, and effectively manage public relations efforts.

5. Focus on Institutional Branding and Recruitment with an AOE in Higher Education Marketing

Successfully utilizing integrated marketing communications strategies for student recruitment and institutional branding is made possible with the Higher Education AOE. The courses include: Content Marketing, Social Media and Marketing, Higher Education Marketing, as well as choosing between Multicultural Marketing and Diversity and Inclusion in IMC.

This specialization specifically prepares you for:

  • Researching target markets and developing an understanding of cross-cultural marketing communications while developing brand strategies and explaining how to track metrics and demonstrating how to target specific markets through social media campaigns.

  • Defining ethical marketing in a multicultural society and creating a strong multicultural and social media IMC campaign.

6. Direct and Manage PR at Your Company with an AOE in Public Relations Leadership

Specializing in Public Relations Leadership will prepare students for a career in the public relations department for a company or running their own PR firm. The courses include: Applied Public Relations, Crisis Communication, Internal Brand Communication, and Executive Communications and Leadership. This specialization specifically prepares you for: Defining the role of public relations
  • in executive leadership, including methods to analyze an organization, identify and develop favorable messages to persuade a variety of internal and external publics, and disseminate messaging through available media.

  • Developing a comprehensive organizational public relations plan to support C-suite thought leadership and business objectives and learning to anticipate and differentiate among different types of crisis and how to communicate effectively about them to both internal and external stakeholders/audiences.

Introducing Reed College of Media's Graduate Certificates:

WVU's Reed College of Media has also created Graduate Certificates for 6 of the AOEs, as well as a certificate in IMC. The certificate programs are 15 credits (5 courses) and can be started in the early fall, early spring or summer session. Certificate-seeking students take the prerequisite course, IMC 610 - Introduction to IMC, followed by (in any order) the four electives associated with their chosen area of emphasis:

The specialized certificates are a perfect way for IMC alumni to continue their education and stay on top of the latest marketing communications trends. Students who have already completed IMC 610 can replace those credits with any other course to earn their graduate certificate.

IMC's AOEs are officially available as of Fall 2019:

As someone who's passionate about the field of marketing communications, we encourage you to request more information today to learn more about our cutting-edge graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. And if you have any immediate questions, please contact our Enrollment Specialist, Shawn Henry, at or 304-293-6278. We can't wait to help you transform your future as a marketing professional!

Marketing Communications Online Programs

The marketing communications landscape is constantly changing. Our programs are focused on what is happening next in marketing. Learn more about our innovative programs.

Request More Information

Marketing Communications Online Programs in Data, Digital and Integrated Marketing Communications

Meet the Author

Stefanie Moore

Stefanie Moore
Marketing Manager

Stefanie is a marketing manager in the Marketing Communications Online Programs through the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. She is an alumna of WVU's M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and has been working in marketing for over 6 years after beginning her career in the newspaper business. She's a marathon runner and she recently ran a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

Marcom Today

Marketing Communications Today is a collection of resources for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Learn industry insights through the Marketing Communications Today blog, podcast, as well as Integrate Online.

Subscribe to get the Latest Trends in Your Inbox

Marcom Today