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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SBC?
The SBC is an online master’s degree program in global Strategic Brand Communication (SBC). It is an interdisciplinary degree offered through a collaboration between the Department of Business Administration in the Gies College of Business and the Sandage Department of Advertising in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

How could this degree benefit my career?
This degree is designed to prepare you to become a global brand leader in your industry. Executives today need to learn the latest techniques and strategies to market, advertise and deliver brand communications across multimedia channels to grow revenue effectively. The MS SBC will help today’s professionals become the best in the field.

How will the courses be offered?
The courses will be taught online through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign eLearning platform. Students can attend all courses online from anywhere in the world with a wireless connection, while working full time. There are no overlapping classes — everything is designed for students to work full time, while earning their MS SBC degree.

One live session is held each week in all courses. These live sessions are conducted in the evenings (Central Time) in the middle of the week. They are not mandatory, but highly encouraged as it is a great way to connect with your instructors and fellow students.

How long does it take to complete the degree?
Provided that the student completes all courses within the recommended period of time, the SBC degree can be completed within 17 months.

Will non-degree graduate students be able to take SBC courses?
SBC courses can be taken by non-degree students, but registration will be limited to the remaining capacity with department consent. Please see Certificate and Course Options for more information.

What are the requirements for admission?
Please refer to the requirements listed on our Admissions page here: https://sbc.illinois.edu/admissions/.

Do I have to take the GMAT or GRE to apply?
No, test scores are not required. If you want to submit scores, you can do so with your application, however they are not required.

Do I need to hold an undergraduate degree?
Yes, you must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent degree from an accredited institution in a foreign country.

What if I do not meet the minimum educational requirements?
It is possible that some applicants with very strong professional backgrounds may not meet minimum educational GPA criteria. We will evaluate such candidates’ professional experiences on a case-by-case basis and may determine an adequate substitute for the appropriate academic credentials. However, work experience will not be accepted as a substitute for an undergraduate degree.

Are letters of recommendation required?
Yes, each applicant is required to submit three letters of recommendation. We strongly recommend that your references come from individuals who know you in a professional setting and can speak to your leadership abilities and to your commitment to succeed in a rigorous program.

Can somebody who is not a US citizen or permanent resident apply?
Yes, international applicants are welcome to apply. However, the MS SBC program will not sponsor your visa for a stay in the USA.

Can I get Financial Aid?
The MS Strategic Brand Communication program is a self-supported program. Therefore, assistantships, scholarships, tuition waivers, and fellowship funding are not available. However, you can apply for Federal Student loans if you are a US citizen or permanent resident through the Financial Aid Office on the UI campus: Office of Student Financial Aid.

Can I waive the application fee?
The application fee is collected by the Graduate College to defray administrative costs of processing the application. This fee cannot be waived unless the application meets the following criteria specified in the Fee Waiver section of the application (international applications are typically not eligible for fee waivers). Please see http://www.grad.illinois.edu/admissions/faqs-app-fees for more information.

Do I have to accept my offer of admission by the 15 day deadline?
We encourage you to pay your $500 deposit and accept your offer of admission as soon as possible after you receive it from the Graduate College to secure your seat in the SBC program. If you are unable to accept your offer by the 15 day deadline, please let us know by emailing ms-sbc@illinois.edu.

Why is there a deposit?
The $500 deposit holds your seat in the program and is pre-payment of tuition. It will be posted to your student account during your first semester. It is non-refundable and non-transferable.

Is the full tuition due when the program starts?
No. Tuition is assessed each semester based on the number of courses offered and credit hours registered in the semester. Tuition for the SBC program is $959 per credit hour. The amount of tuition due each semester differs due to credit hours taken each semester. There are four semesters in total and the number of credit hours is broken down as follows: 

Fall 1 = 9 credit hours 
Spring = 9 credit hours
Summer = 6 credit hours
Fall 2 = 8 credit hours

For a visual breakdown of the cost per semester, please visit https://sbc.illinois.edu/admissions/.

How much is the tuition?

Tuition for the MS SBC is $959 per credit hour for a total of $30,688 for the complete 32 credit hour degree. Tuition/fee based on students taking a full load. Subject to change based on student load.

Is there a payment plan for tuition?
Yes, it is possible to pay the tuition in installments. For more information, see https://paymybill.uillinois.edu/paymentplan.


If you have questions or would like additional information, please fill out the Request for Information form.

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