Online Master’s Programs In Mass Communication

Earning an online bachelor's degree in media communications can help you land a job in media, or broadcasting. Find information on salary and job outlook.

October 13, 2021

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s Programs In Mass Communication is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Earn a Master's in Mass Communication

Mass communication involves the transmission of information and ideas on a large scale, usually for corporate, organizational, or commercial purposes. Online master's in mass communication programs build on the theoretical framework of undergraduate programs, providing you with the advanced research and investigative skills necessary to design, implement, and assess media messaging. Due to the widespread use of social media and other forms of global connectedness, mass communication careers continue to expand.

By earning a graduate degree in mass communication, you can prepare to assume business leadership roles. Additionally, if your professional goals lay in media arts, master's credentials enable you to pursue higher-paying work in script writing and television directing.

This guide covers a variety of topics, including financial aid options, degree types, course offerings, and available specializations. You can also learn about career and professional development opportunities. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Mass Communication Program?

Online master's in mass communication programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete, requiring distance learners to accumulate around 30 semester credits. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer accelerated pathways or degree-completion programs that enable learners to earn their master's degree in as few as 12 months. Distance education programs offer flexible education opportunities that often appeal to working professionals. While remote learning may seem removed from university support, online students benefit from the same administrative resources and faculty attention as their campus-based peers.

Mass communication encompasses many fields, such as business, cultural studies, and international politics. For this reason, curriculum design can vary widely depending on a department’s focus and faculty expertise. Regardless, graduate students can expect to receive fundamental training in investigative techniques, including how to direct focus groups and analyze survey results. Students also delve into industry-specific research methods and ethical concerns, including media law and digital privacy. Learners who pursue an online master's in media communications develop practical skills like copywriting, while also learning how film and television representation can affect race, gender, and social constructs.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in mass communication program?

Specific course topics differ by school, and students typically individualize their degree plan by taking electives or choosing a specialization. However, most graduate mass communication students take core classes in areas like media studies, cultural identity theory, strategic planning, and qualitative research methods. Students can also look forward to completing practicum or thesis requirements. The list below details five common mass communication courses.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Online master's in mass communication programs emphasize research and application in practical scenarios. In addition to content discussion and case study analysis, graduate students can expect to complete group projects based on topics like mass media and its effects on individual opinion and social trends. Furthermore, graduate programs often require learners to participate in internships, where students pursue practice-based learning with businesses, philanthropic organizations, and government agencies.

Class projects and practica provide the scaffolding for culminating experiences in the form of an integrative capstone project or a research-based thesis. Here, working with faculty advisers, students develop and execute communication campaigns. To earn their degrees, students may also need to complete a comprehensive oral or written exam.

What specializations are available in a master’s in mass communication program?

Online master's in mass communication programs often offer a media studies specialization. Graduate students may also specialize in a sub-field, such as health communication, strategic communication, or political communication. Some degree candidates opt for a more business-focused track, concentrating on advertising, human resources, or public relations.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Mass Communication Degree?

Because graduates can apply their communication knowledge and skills to so many areas, they can pursue an array of career opportunities. For example, after completing specialized coursework, students can work in print and digital journalism, combining written communication with visual art to become photojournalists. Mass communication majors may also pursue business-related work, assuming roles as marketing, advertising, public relations, and human resources specialists. Additionally, they can opt for media careers and become art directors, film producers, and television writers. However, students should keep in mind that a graduate-level education does not guarantee career entry or advancement. Employers often hire candidates with relevant professional experience and certification/licensure.

An online master's in mass communication program covers advanced coursework and provides students with opportunities to conduct research and engage in hands-on training. Graduates can look forward to higher salaries and improved job opportunities. To further bolster their career outlook, students and professionals should also consider joining a professional organization. Membership usually entails an annual fee but can provide access to academic awards, internship placement programs, and research support. Some of these organizations also provide continuing education programs for working professionals, such as AMA’s bootcamps and training series.

Professional Organizations

Founded in 1953, AMA advances marketing excellence through strategic research and industry standardization. Members benefit from e-learning resources and professional training. They can also attend community events and peruse an online job board. ABC connects professionals through special interest groups and regional chapters. Member benefits include access to career listings, research-based journals, and grant opportunities. Mass communication students can participate in networking events and award competitions. IAMCR promotes global inclusiveness and academic excellence through educational outreach. Members collaborate through working groups in areas like the political economy and rural communication. The association also provides research and travel grants. NCA disseminates information through 11 academic journals and a resource database. Members enjoy access to grant opportunities, national conventions, and career guidance. The association also operates academic honor societies and student clubs. Established in 1909, SPJ supports its 7,500 members by advocating for freedom of press and information. The society provides ample training opportunities through partnerships with companies like YouTube and Facebook. Members can also receive career guidance and look at job listings.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Mass Communication?

According to PayScale, mass communication professionals who hold a master's degree earn an average salary of $62,000. However, salaries vary depending on a worker’s location, industry, and qualifications. The table below displays salary ranges for five common careers in this field. Marketing and public relation managers — who hold leadership positions — earn the highest median annual salary.

Marketing ManagerLess than $48,150$129,380More than $208,000+10%
Public Relations ManagerLess than $61,130$111,280More than $208,000+10%
Technical WriterLess than $42,410$70,930More than $113,810+11%
Interpreter or TranslatorLess than $25,620$47,190More than $82,290+18%
Market Research AnalystLess than $34,510$63,230More than $122,770+23%

Source: BLS 2018

The careers above represent some of the fastest-growing opportunities for mass communication professionals. Based on the importance of data-driven decision making in all business sectors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% growth for market research analysts. This number exceeds the average for business operatives by about 14%. Similarly, interpreter and translator positions stand to increase by 18% due to broadening global ties and strong international trade relations. Technical writers, public relation managers, and marketing managers should also benefit from similar growth patterns.

The Center on Education and the Workforce reports that the education level of professionals in public relations, mass media, and journalism significantly affects their earning potential. Mass communication professionals who possess a bachelor's degree earn about $54,000 a year, while workers who hold a master's earn about $68,000. This $14,000 rise in annual salary shows that workers with an advanced degree see their wages increase by an average of 26%.

Online Master’s in Mass Communication Program Accreditation

To confer valid degrees, colleges and universities must maintain certain educational standards and earn national or regional accreditation. The ED and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation oversee these accrediting agencies. For-profit and vocational schools typically earn national accreditation, whereas nonprofit colleges and universities generally apply for regional accreditation. Regional accreditation — typically considered to be more prestigious — is awarded by one of six organizations, depending on a school’s location.

On top of national or regional accreditation, individual programs at a school can earn specialized accreditation. For example, online master's in mass communication programs can receive recognition from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). More than 100 programs currently hold ACEJMC accreditation. To earn this recognition, programs must satisfy nine professional education standards. By earning an accredited mass communication degree, students ensure their training aligns with current industry standards. Holding an accredited master's degree also allows professionals to sit for certain certification and licensure exams.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Mass Communication Degree

Earning an online master's in mass communication requires a significant investment of time and money. Fortunately, many funding opportunities exist that can help reduce the expense of an advanced degree. Sources include government aid, university awards, and private scholarships. Many graduate students can also take advantage of research and teaching opportunities, which provide valuable work experience and financial incentives.

Online Master's in Mass Communication Programs 2021

  1. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL



    A major public college based in Gainesville, UF offers an online master's in mass communications. The program features eight specializations. Examples include global strategic communication and political communication. Learners can also specialize in public interest communication. Candidates may earn graduate certificates in areas such as audience analytics and social media.

    Most program tracks include 33-37 credits. Besides core courses, candidates take mass communication courses and electives. They also complete a capstone project.

    Full-time learners can graduate in two years. Most students complete 1-3 courses per semester. UF's online courses combine synchronous and asynchronous components. All courses occur fully online, without on-campus visits. Each week, students can view recorded lectures and finish assignments at their own pace.

  2. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA



    Located in Athens, UGA hosts a top-ranked online master's in mass communications program. The program highlights digital communication and emerging media. Students learn how to design and manage new media communications in diverse industries.

    The 33-credit degree includes 10 required courses and one elective course. Required courses cover topics such as new media production, media research, and digital media storytelling. Electives explore specialized topics such as social media analytics and digital communication strategies. Candidates can also complete an internship or a self-directed study course to fulfill elective credits.

    All candidates complete an emerging media capstone project at the program's end. The capstone combines major program topics and demonstrates overall student learning.

  3. Stephen F Austin State University

    Nacogdoches, TX



    A public college based in Nacogdoches, Texas, SFA enrolls more than 12,000 students annually. Candidates pursuing the master's in mass communications online can choose from three specializations. These include advertising and public relations, broadcasting, or journalism.

    The 36-credit online program includes 12 core credits and 18-24 elective credits. Core courses cover topics such as media theory, media research methods, and media law and ethics. Electives explore topics such as media and politics, media history, and international media.

    Candidates can finish the degree with a thesis, non-thesis, or media project track. The six-credit thesis track requires original research on a media or communications topic. The six-credit non-thesis track includes six more elective credits and a comprehensive final exam. The media project track requires students to complete a hands-on activity. Examples include a media management plan or a public relations campaign.

  4. Webster University

    Saint Louis, MO

    Webster's online master's in mass communications ranks among the top programs in the Midwest. The master's in media communications examines major media contexts and perspectives. Students explore media as a product and a process. They learn to create effective media presentations and commentary.

    The 36-credit online program includes 21 core credits and 15 elective credits. Typical courses include media and culture and media organization and regulations. Students also take a class in media production management. To fulfill elective credits, students can take any course Webster's School of Communications offers.

    The program prefers applicants with a communications background. Students who lack relevant experience may need to complete prerequisite courses. Advisors determine specialized prerequisites for each student depending on academic and professional experience.

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