Sela Sar, Director of Graduate Studies
121B Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
PH: (217) 244-1229

Major: Advertising
Degrees Offered: MS

Major: Strategic Brand Communication
Degrees Offered: MS



Graduate Degree Program

I. The Department of Advertising offers a graduate program on campus leading to the Master of Science degree. This program is designed to prepare graduates for an advanced degree in advertising research or industry careers in research and strategy. The preparatory nature of the curriculum combines the theoretical foundations, methodological tools, and practical applications.  The Department of Advertising at the University of Illinois is the oldest such program in the country.  We are grounded in the principles of our founder and "father of advertising education" Charles H. Sandage, that students must understand the theory of advertising as well as the practice.  His goal was to enable students to become leaders and problem solvers.  We honor that vision by maintaining a cohesive curriculum that provides foundational courses, but also allows for flexibility of interest through electives both within and outside the college.  

II. The Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication (MS SBC) degree is an online program jointly sponsored by the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising in the College of Media and the Department of Business Administration in the College of Business. The degree program launched in August 2017, and graduates from this program receive the MS SBC degree awarded by the Graduate College. Strategic Brand Communication (SBC) is a data-driven, purposeful conversation with a brand's stakeholders. SBC combines traditional advertising practices with contemporary business thinking that pertains to delivering consistent, meaningful messages to consumers. In so doing, SBC seeks to integrate multiple consumer contact points that occur through the purchase of commercial messages in paid, earned, and owned media to deliver persuasive and impactful statements about brands and companies.

This management process integrates all aspects of strategic brand marketing communications such as advertising, public relations, digital media, social media, promotion, and revenue development marketing. Such integration impacts a firm's business-to-business, marketing channel, customer-focused, and strategic integrated communications.

The MS SBC degree program is designed for working professionals. The proposed online program is designed to be completed in 15 months. The curriculum will prepare students to be strategic leaders in an ever-changing global medial environment; be analytic and integrative thinkers; be effective brand communicators and managers; respond agilely to new technologies, emerging media, new demographics, and market trends; be team-oriented in their approach to management and communications; and be prepared to continue to learn as the media environment evolves.


I. Admission to graduate study in advertising requires completion of the requirements for a bachelor's degree in an accredited institution of recognized standing. Applicants are required to submit results from either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and are required to upload to the application a short essay indicating why they want to pursue graduate work in advertising. The Department of Advertising requires non-native English-speaking applicants to show evidence of English proficiency, which is provided by a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum scores for TOEFL (international students only): 253 (CBT), 104 (IBT), 607 (PBT), and IELTS greater than 6.5.  Three letters of recommendation are required. Transcripts from all universities that you have attended  must be submitted (note: can be uploaded in your application). The required method of applying is online through the Graduate College Web site, and the Graduate College admission requirements also apply, see Completed applications are due February 15, and applications are accepted for fall admission only.

II. Admission to the MS in Strategic Brand Communication program, applicants are expected to have a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) for the last two years of undergraduate study and a 3.0 for any previous graduate work completed. All applicants whose native language is not English must submit a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) score of 102 (iBT), 253 (CBT), or 610 (PBT) or minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam scores of 6.5 overall and 6.0 in all subsections. Prerequisite: course in Statistics or Calculus from an accredited institution.  The admissions criteria will be based upon an evaluation of each applicant's academic and professional experience, GPA, English aptitude, and letters of recommendation.

A minimum GPA of 2.75 is required for continued enrollment.

Faculty Research Interests

Faculty profiles are available at the Advertising Department's Web site.

M.B.A. Joint Degree Program

Students in this unit may choose to earn their major degree and simultaneously complete an M.B.A., with 12 fewer required hours than when pursuing both degrees independently. Students must be enrolled in the M.B.A. program for three terms and complete all the requirements of their primary degree. Interested students should see the joint program requirements and contact the M.B.A. program and their major department office for more information.