Online Master’s Degrees in Communications
A master's degree in communications can lead to new career opportunities. Here, we list the top programs available.
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Master's in communications programs prepare graduates for leadership roles in diverse industries. Graduates can pursue roles like public relations manager, advertising manager, and internal communications manager. Many media and communication jobs offer above-average salaries and strong job growth potential.
Our list ranks the top online master's in communications programs for 2021. Prospective students can use the rankings to find the best fit for their career goals and budget. This article also introduces salary data for communications jobs, common courses, and scholarships for communications graduate students.
Frequently Asked Questions: Master's in Communication
Graduates with a master's in communications can work as public relations managers, internal communications managers, marketing executives, and content creators.
Earning a master's in communications typically takes two years for full-time students. Accelerated programs may offer a faster route to the degree.
Graduates with a master's in communications can pursue lucrative roles, like public relations manager and advertising manager. Both public relations managers and advertising managers make median annual salaries above $115,000.
Multiple communications career paths offer strong projected job growth, including roles in public relations, marketing, and advertising.
AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.
Featured Online Programs
Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.
Why Get a Degree in Communications?
A graduate degree in communications trains students in advanced communication strategies, communication management, and communication leadership. Many master's in communications programs offer concentrations in areas like public relations, journalism, advertising, and business communications.
A master's degree helps graduates advance their career and increase their earning potential.
After earning their degree, graduates can pursue roles as public relations managers, lead writers, corporate communications managers, and marketing managers.
Many top-ranked, accredited universities offer online master's programs in communication. The online learning format often gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.
How Much Does a Communications Degree Cost?
Tuition rates vary by factors like school, location, and delivery format. In general, public universities charge lower tuition rates than private schools. For example, Arizona State University, a public school, charges $707 per credit for its online master's in communications program, while Gonzaga University, a private school, charges $1,000 per credit for its online master's in communication and leadership.
Graduate students who choose an online learning format may benefit from tuition discounts and savings. Some public universities offer a flat tuition rate to fully online students regardless of where they live, which can save out-of-state students a significant amount. Online learners also save on the commuting costs that many on-campus students incur.
How Much Do Communications Majors Make?
Communications professionals can work in several fields, including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, and corporate communications. Graduates with a master's in communications can also pursue opportunities as writers and editors. Salaries vary widely by factors like job title, experience, and location. For example, writers and editors make median annual salaries of $63,000-$67,000 per year, while reporters and journalists make around $49,000 per year.
Management-level roles, such as public relations manager, often offer higher earning potential. For instance, public relations managers earn a median annual pay of over $118,000. Similarly, advertising managers report median salaries of nearly $142,000 per year.
Courses in Communications
Communications master's degrees build strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills. Students learn how to design public relations plans, write compelling stories, and communicate effectively in different environments.
Many programs incorporate hands-on assignments or an internship to give students professional experience. Master's students may also culminate the program with a master's thesis, project, or comprehensive exam.
While each communications program sets its own curriculum and course descriptions, the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master's in communications programs.
Strategic communication involves crisis communication, strategic planning, and integrated communication plans. In the course, students learn how to communicate an organization's brand, design communications campaigns, and implement media relations strategies. Students also explore social media strategies and effective crisis communication. The class prepares graduates for roles in corporate communications and public relations.
Corporate and organizational communication courses train graduate students in strategic communication, internal communication, and communication technology. The course covers organizational communication in large and small businesses, nonprofits, and private associations. Learners read recent research on corporate culture, global corporations, and communication theory. The course prepares graduates for careers in organizational communication.
Learners in this course explore storytelling with digital media tools. Coursework examines narrative styles in digital formats and communication strategies for the digital age. Other topics include social media sharing and digital audiences. Communications professionals in journalism, writing, editing, and public relations often draw on digital storytelling skills.
Storytelling in Digital Environments
Certifications and Licensure for Communications
Communications professionals can pursue voluntary certifications to demonstrate specialized skills and move into advanced roles. Certified professionals typically must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their credential. The following list outlines several certifications for communications professionals.
Scholarships for Communications
Master's in communications students can take advantage of scholarship opportunities to help lower the cost of their degree. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. In addition to the following opportunities, degree-seekers can research scholarships based on factors like their school, state, and career goals.
|Scholarship||Amount||Who Can Apply|
|Up to $3,500||The American Copy Editors Society offers multiple scholarships for graduate students, including the Bill Walsh Scholarship and the ACES Aubespin Scholarship. Recipients must be enrolled in graduate school during the award period.|
Ford Emerging Voices Scholarship
|$4,000||The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation partners with the Ford Motor Company to offer scholarships to women pursuing careers in media. Applicants must submit an essay.|
Advancement of Women in Sports & Entertainment Scholarship
|$1,000||The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation offers scholarships for women enrolled in graduate-level programs with the goal of working in the sports and entertainment field. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.75 GPA and enroll full time at an accredited school.|
Online Master's Degrees in Communications
As one of the top communication schools in the country, USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism also boasts the best online master’s program, Master of Communication Management. The program is designed for mid-career professionals and acknowledges the broad scope of communications careers through its six areas of focus: marketing communication, media and entertainment management, health and social change communication, international and intercultural communication, new communication technologies and organizational and strategic corporate communication. The curriculum is incredibly flexible with only three required courses of eight total. The remaining five courses can be fulfilled by taking any course within the communication management program, two of which can be taken outside the School of Communication. This flexibility allows students to concentrate in their desired area, but also build crucial skills outside their immediate concentration that would help them advance in their field. For example, while a student may concentrate in health and social change communication, they could also take courses related to new communication technologies in order to build important digital communication skills relevant to the health field. Because the program is self-paced, students can take from one to four years to complete it (with a maximum of three courses per term).
“Data-driven strategy” and “real-world application” are central to the communication management program. The program strives to teach students to understand and analyze data deeply as a foundation for making important decisions. The program emphasizes experiential learning as most students work while they’re in school and can apply those newfound skills in real time that can lead almost immediately to career advancement. 100 percent of 2016 online communication management graduates found employment within one year of graduating as senior account executives, market research analysts and media directors, to name just a few examples.
Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication’s online M.S. in Communication program is designed for communications professionals wishing to advance their career and, to ultimately, earn higher salaries. Courses are taught by a faculty of practitioners who are experts – and currently working – in the fields which they teach about. These experienced faculty offer insight and knowledge that students can apply to real world settings immediately.
The program has two concentrations – strategic communication/public relations and integrated communication and advertising – making it an excellent match for prospective students working in public relations, advertising, marketing or corporate communication or those interested in transitioning into one of these areas. The program highlights communication with a global audience, ethical principles underlying communications and social media engagement which is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the field.
This 30-credit, 10 course online program can be completed in about 20 months. There is a general track where students take three core courses and seven electives. In the concentration track, students take the three core courses, then three courses from their chosen concentration (strategic communication/public relations or integrated communication & advertising) and four elective courses. The elective course list has an array of options that are specific to public relations, marketing and organizational development, but it also offers courses in strategic communication and social media and healthcare communications.
The student body itself offers a great deal of opportunity for building professional relationships. Graduates that have gone through the program work at organizations and companies such as UNICEF, NCAA and Coca-Cola. By joining the student body, a student joins a strong and connected alumni network of communications professionals.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s M.S. in Health Communications program is designed specifically for people in the health communications field. Current students can come from healthcare operations, marketing and public relations or even social work. This is a theory-focused program designed to give health communicators insight into the latest research in health communications and the tools to apply those theories in their profession. The areas of study explore the relationship between communications and health in interpersonal relationships (e.g. doctor-patient, social networks, familial networks), in healthcare organizations and mediated contexts (e.g. health campaigns or behavior change methods).
This two-year program (full-time, part-time is an option) requires 32 hours of coursework (28 hours completed within the Department of Communication) taken 100% online in asynchronous courses. The required courses include “Health Communication Research Methods 1 and 2” and the final capstone project. The rest of the program is entirely up to the student and their professional interests from the areas of exploration previously mentioned. The capstone would conclude the student’s work in the program by giving them the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge to their healthcare issue of choice. This could come in the form of a literature review, creating a webinar series, the design of an organizational intervention, designing a media campaign or implementing a project the student designs that would apply what they learned in the program.
Strong advantages of this program are its small cohorts and close interaction with faculty. While most interactions occur through the online courses, the program maintains those close connections to ensure professional networking and growth takes place among the cohort members and with faculty.
Quinnipiac’s online M.S. in Interactive Media and Communications is an excellent fit for working professionals who want to move into a career in digital media or for students who would like to update their knowledge and apply their new skills to their existing career. Digital media is essential in today’s communications marketplace and this program brings digital storytelling to the forefront by not only preparing students to be “creative thinkers” and “visual leaders,” but also to help students establish the almost-requisite digital presence with an online portfolio of work through the capstone project. The diverse set of fields from which the student body comes helps bring myriad perspectives to the coursework. Students may be studying alongside others from various career backgrounds, such as musicians, fine artists, designers, computer programmers, journalists or public relations professionals.
Through coursework, students explore a variety of aspects of digital media including web design, social media analytics and digital audio, video and graphics. The flexible program structure allows students to work through the program in a way that is most useful to them and their career. To graduate, students need 30 credits. This includes the nine-credit core (“Foundations in Graduate Studies,” “Writing for Interactive,” and a master’s capstone) and seven elective courses. Elective offerings vary but can focus on visual storytelling, social media, understanding audience, and audio and visual design among many others that would be relevant to a career in digital media. To further advance their careers and appeal to prospective employers or help advocate for a promotion, students have the option to pursue two graduate certificates in social media and user experience design which can be integrated into the program.
Because the program is so focused on high quality digital media, students can be confident that program faculty will use the most advanced online learning technology. Students can take all of the coursework online, but there are available courses on Quinnipiac’s Connecticut campus for those interested in participating in person for a portion of the program. And finally, the practice-based capstone is unique in that, instead of one project at the end of the program, it is a portfolio showcasing the student’s accumulated work. For many jobs in digital media, a web presence is required in order to be even considered for the position. This capstone allows students to graduate with a high-quality, web-based portfolio that they can immediately take into the job market.
Northeastern’s M.S. in Corporate and Organizational Communication is an excellent fit for almost anyone wishing to advance or start their career in communications, but might appeal even more to professionals in the fields of public relations, corporate communications, human resources or non-profit communications especially in an international context. The program prides itself on basing coursework on the latest research and communication trends, providing interactive learning formats and offering experiential learning opportunities. Course offerings are diverse and flexible with eight concentrations: social media and online communities, public relations, human resource management, usability/user experience, project management, leadership, cross-cultural communication, and leading communication strategy and development. Faculty teaching these courses are communications practitioners skilled in bringing their real-world knowledge from the non-profit sectors to the online classroom.
The program also emphasizes its unique experiential learning opportunities which are essential to online learning. Those opportunities include a choice of two 12-week capstone courses. One they describe as an online “co-op at work” experience which is a project designed around the student’s current workplace. The other opportunity is excellent for those new to communications – a virtual consulting project. Another elective course offered that falls within the experiential learning category is the international field study experience. This would appeal to a student who could travel internationally (or who is already based at an international location) to conduct a field-based research project.
The 15-course degree can be earned through full- or part-time enrollment, which would take about two to three years to complete. Applicants do not need communications experience as the curriculum includes core courses to bring those students into the field quickly. A unique feature to the program is the recognition of prior certifications in the pubic relations and human resources field through credit transfers. Students with accreditation in public relations, or APR, receive a credit transfer of nine quarter hours (a 20% savings) and must complete only 12 of the 15 required courses. Human resources professionals with SHRM-CP certification receive three quarter hour credits (6% savings) and must take 14 courses and students with SHRM-SCP save six quarter hours (13% savings) and must take 13 courses.
Loyola of Maryland’s M.A. in Emerging Media program does what the program title suggests – it focuses on how the media and communications landscape evolves and develops. While much of the program touches upon the important areas of most communications programs (e.g. strategic thinking and best practices in communications), it also provides an important opportunity to focus on the social responsibility of a communications professional and understand how that applies to one’s area of work within the context of modern media. For example, there is coursework to think critically about how to use social media effectively and how race, class, gender and ethnicity impact an audience’s access to mediums of communication including technology (an example course offering is “Social, Political, Economic, and Cultural Issues in Emerging Media”) and legal, ethical and regulatory issues relevant to new media (e.g. copyright and piracy, net neutrality, free speech and privacy).
Students will need 33 credit hours (nine three-credit courses and a six-credit capstone project) to graduate. Full-time students can complete the program within 12 months and part-time students taking one course at a time can complete in 44 months. For students who wish to visit Loyola’s Baltimore campus, there is an optional two-week summer residency course with the first week focusing on content creation and the second focusing on ethics in emerging media. This residency includes hands-on learning opportunities, field trips around Baltimore and nearby Washington, DC and expert panels.
Another unique offering from this school is its health communication certificate program that would be ideal for communications professional working in the health field (note: the program is currently pending MHEC approval because it is a new program). This program requires five three-credit courses that could be completed in just under a year. Many students continue on to complete the full master’s program (just six more courses) upon successful completion of the certificate.
UF has an incredibly comprehensive M.A. in mass communication program with seven, highly focused specializations. Boasting graduate degrees “for the digital age,” it offers a track for almost any communications professional. Available specializations include audience analytics for market analysts and researchers, political communication for communications professionals working in politics or public affairs, web design for digital media professionals or graphic designers, digital strategy for digital marketing professionals, public relations for market analysts and public relations professionals, global strategic communication for international development professionals or communications directors working for global corporations and social media for professionals in any communications field wishing to gain new skills in the medium.
While credit requirements are different within each specialization, students need between 33 and 38 credit hours to graduate, typically taking two to three courses per 12- to 16-week term. Each program is taught by industry professionals who also serve as the curriculum advisory board for each specialization. Some specializations have more core requirements than others, but elective courses often overlap. For the global strategic communication specialization, which has a strong component of cross-cultural communication, students can also choose another concentration to dive deeper into a specific area.
A unique element to the social media specialization is that students receive Hootsuite certification. The public relations program has an educational and mentoring partnership with APCO Worldwide, a global communications consultancy. Students in this specialization will learn from and work on APCO Worldwide projects and have connections to the company's top executives throughout the world.
8Ithaca CollegeSCORE: 97.42COST: $27,776.00
According to Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communication, its M.S. in communications innovation is designed for “high-potential professionals” who have “mastered their craft” and “want to design its future.” This 24-month executive-style program is structured almost like a successful collaborative corporate environment where up to 10 students per cohort participate in their learning as they would a think tank. The program thrives on a student body from diverse professional backgrounds that strengthens both the learning and the teaching in the program. Students who have graduated from the program have gone on to become teachers, corporate vice presidents, television producers, organizational development managers, communications directors, cross-cultural communications experts and sustainability managers among a variety of other professional backgrounds.
The focus on innovation is highly intentional. In 2015, the Park School commissioned a communications innovation study where 148 senior executives from the communications field were surveyed. The study found that 82% said that innovation plays a significant role in driving their business forward. Many of those surveyed also expressed concern about keeping up with the ever-changing dynamic of technology in communications and wanted to gain more insight into leadership, social media, analytics, running international teams and developing personal public relations through speaking engagements. The communications innovation program strives to ensure their students graduate with a solid foundation in all of the above.
This 24-month full-time hybrid program requires 32 credit hours of online, asynchronous courses and five long-weekend intensive courses at different sites. Past intensives were held in Austin, TX with the SXSW education conference, in Portland, OR for social networking and in Burbank and Anaheim, CA for an environmental storytelling intensive. One other unique aspect of the program is that students graduate with credentials to teach college-level courses.
Liberty University has two master’s communications programs with distinct focuses: M.A. in strategic communications and M.A. in communications. The strategic communications program is designed for marketing, public relations, social media and promotions professionals who want to gain a stronger foothold in effective media outreach. The master’s in communications is designed for professionals interested in developing their leadership, management and professional communications skills for their business, non-profit or public service roles. Both programs require 36 total credit hours. Previously earned, approved program hours (up to 50%) may be transferred. All online courses are eight weeks long.
Through the strategic communications program, students will gain the skills to create action-oriented messaging for their business’ audience. There is a strong focus on the latest digital media and outreach methods through hands-on projects that blend theory and practice. The program concludes with either a final “Challenge Examination” or a capstone project.
The master’s in communication program focuses on building skills in research, writing and presenting to train students to be effective communicators. The marketable skills and knowledge will give students an excellent advantage for promotions into external-facing roles at their organizations. This program is an excellent fit for those in public service or ministry roles that require an understanding of cross-cultural engagement, as well as anyone working in crisis communications or politics. Example courses include “Conflict Analysis and Resolution,” “Communication in Nonprofit and Christian Ministry” and “International and Intercultural Communication.” Students who complete the master’s in communication will also be prepared for doctoral studies or K-12 and college-level teaching.
University of Missouri’s online M.A. in communication program is a great fit for professionals with at least three years of journalism- or communications-related work experience who want to take their career to the next level. Online master’s students may choose from four areas of study: health communication, interactive media, media management and strategic communication. Each of these programs are designed to give communications professionals the skills and knowledge to succeed in leadership roles in print media, broadcasting, corporate communications and public relations among a variety of other roles. Graduates of the program immediately become a part of a vast network of industry executives and innovators. Faculty are also practicing journalists and communications professionals who provide valuable insights into career advancement in the field.
Each area of study requires 37 credit hours. While courses are all online, the small group projects allow students to gain valuable insights from their colleagues. The health communication focus is a great fit for communications professionals in the health fields wanting to advance in their field and take their organization to the next level. The interactive media study area not only provides valuable skills in digital messaging, but also goes in-depth on the psychological, social, ethical and legal issues regarding the roles and effects of digital news, advertising and public relations on society. For students who have significant professional experience and want to delve into management in publishing or advertising, the media management focus would be ideal. Finally, the strategic communication study area is excellent for those who have a great deal of practical communications knowledge, but want to delve deeper into theory and research through these five principles: strategic planning, technology, relationship building, global/multicultural communications and building a communications portfolio.
SDSU’s online master of mass communication (M.C.C.) program is specifically directed towards mid-career professionals working in journalism or strategic communications. It’s designed to focus on new media and has added emphasis in navigating the diverse nature of communications. Students come from a variety of backgrounds including print, broadcast, marketing and public relations.
The program follows a cohort model, where students take most courses together typically with 15 students per class. Each semester includes two back-to-back eight-week courses. Students have a couple completion options. The first is to complete the program with 32 credit hours and conclude with a professional project where they choose a profession-related problem, propose a solution and then carry out a creative project. This is designed to be applied towards their current work and should help position them for advancement. The other option is to complete the program with 36 hours of coursework that would require building a professional portfolio of course-related projects along the way. Because the program is focused on practical skills that can be applied immediately, at least half the courses students will take must be skills-based (e.g. health campaigns or opinion writing).
Unique to the SDSU program are the learning objectives that are geared specifically toward building awareness around diversity, inclusion, global communications and ethics as it relates to communications. For example, three objectives from the program include:
- Demonstrate an understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications
- Demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society
- Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity
While these elements are likely introduced in most of the required coursework, three courses specifically focus on these objectives: “Media Law Case Studies,” “Women in Media,” and “International Media.”
The University of Alabama’s online M.A. in communication studies program is focused on the specialization in organizational leadership. Students who complete this program excel in understanding and managing organizational dynamics and management-level communications by providing training in leadership. This is a great fit for prospective students wishing to position themselves in higher-level leadership positions within their career. The coursework covers theory and practice essential to organizational leadership including public discussion, negotiation, persuasion and interpersonal communication. Graduates of this program will leave with skills and knowledge that will help them become better leaders.
The online communications program falls within the College of Communication & Information Sciences vision to promote excellence and promoting intellectual creativity and curiosity. The college’s strategic plan focuses on the goal to bring research and dissemination to the forefront of all their programs. Students can also be encouraged by the college’s commitment to fostering diversity which would be an element throughout all the coursework. In fact, the accrediting body, AEJMC used the college as a model for the International Mass Communication Training and Research Center.
The program requires 30 credit hours (12 of which are within the organizational leadership specialization). The coursework is pre-determined for the online program. Examples of core theory courses include “Gender and Political Communications and Technology,” “Culture” and “Human Communication.” Organizational leadership specialization course examples include Conflict and Negotiation and Group Leadership. Once initial coursework is complete, students complete a professional project designed to be completed within their current professional environment.
Located about 60 minutes from New York City, Sacred Heart’s M.A. in strategic communications and public relations has a hybrid program that, while requiring in-person courses, the blended courses and “innovative scheduling” (i.e. offering face-to-face classes combined with online sessions) make for a program that works with a student’s busy schedule. This flexible schedule allows students who live in and around New York City the flexibility to continue to work in their field and develop skills in three concentrations: corporate communication and public relations, digital media public relations, and political communication and multimedia production. The diverse nature of the coursework gives students the freedom to tailor their degree to their career goals. Courses also offer students the opportunity to think critically about how the public digests information and how that plays a role in their work in communications. Examples of courses offered include “Crisis Communication,” “Gender, Identity, and Media,” and “Race, Politics, and Media.” Graduates work in or go on to careers in non-profit management, crisis communications, event planning, political communication and corporate social responsibility among others.
The program requires 36 credit hours and can be completed within one year as a full-time student (attending class two nights a week) or in two years as a part-time student (attending class one night a week). After coursework is completed, students can choose either an internship or a capstone project that can be completed within a student’s workplace to help advance their career. Students leave the program with a tangible portfolio that will demonstrate their skills in digital media. A bonus of the program is that all students receive a MacBook Pro on which they’ll receive training on the platforms they’ll need to know to advance in the field.
Queens University of Charlotte’s M.A. in communication program is offered through one of the leading communications schools in the country, the James L. Knight School of Communication. This degree is based on the foundation of theory and practice in both soft and technical skills necessary in a modern workforce. The university’s website succinctly explains that the program “emphasizes universal truths of communication and how to adapt them to complement fast-moving, fast-changing technologies and trends.” Soft skills such as interpersonal and cross-cultural communication are emphasized, as well as a strong sense of collaboration and building mentorships between faculty and students. As a result, graduates should excel in any field requiring communicating with others – from corporate managers, entrepreneurs and public relations professionals to educators and non-profit leaders. In addition to the main coursework, students have an option to concentrate in integrated digital strategy which builds knowledge and skills in digital and social media tools through four courses: “Complete Strategic Communication for Global Audiences,” “Creative and Networks,” “Organizational Identity” and “Brand.”
The program requires 36 credit hours, or 12 courses. The integrated digital strategy concentration requires one more course on top of that, making the total requirement 39 credit hours or 13 courses. Throughout the program, students build a digital portfolio and are required to complete a capstone that demonstrates their ability to turn communication theory into practice. Capstone projects are diverse and depend on the interests and career focus of each student. Examples of past projects include: “Rebranding Diabetes: Creating a conversation shift through stigma reduction in online and social media,” “Journey from social media visual to social justice movement: The meaning & meme-ing of #BlackLivesMatters,” and “The art of storytelling and emotional branding: A rhetorical analysis of the Dove campaign for real beauty.”
UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism offers a unique, accelerated, M.S. in digital communication analytics for public relations, marketing and advertising professionals. The coursework is specifically designed to provide a foundation in data management that’s essential in creating effective marketing and advertising campaigns. By combining courses in statistics, big data and data visualization with courses in journalism and marketing, students leave the program knowing how to translate data into compelling storytelling through a variety of campaigns.
The program requires 36 credit hours, 24 of which are required courses that include a variety of quantitative research courses, social media analytics and computer graphics for mediated communication among others. In addition to these required courses, students can take 12 hours of electives within the Mayborn School of Journalism to expand on their career interests.
The Mayborn School of Journalism had the honor of receiving the Equity & Diversity Award from the accrediting body, Association of Education and Journalism and Mass Communication, because of its “measurable success and innovation in racial, gender and equity and diversity.” The school hired more faculty of color and female faculty to ensure greater representation and included courses on race and gender in the media and integrated diversity and cultural sensitivity within its general coursework. Because of this concentrated work, students can be confident they are receiving an education that reflects the diversity of our society.
SUU’s M.A. in professional communication prides itself on being a professionally-focused program that can be completed fully online. It focuses on building a personal interaction between students and faculty that isn’t compromised by its online format. The program is designed for almost anyone whose job performance relies on excellent communication skills, from marketing to non-profit management. Students study messaging, message construction, dissemination and carrying out messaging goals. The program is rooted in the ever-changing and dynamic nature of the communication field through technology.
The master's degree requires 36 semester hours of coursework to graduate, 18 of which are core courses (including “Applied Communications Theory” and “Professional Writing and Presentations”), 12 semester hours of electives (which could include “Communication & Popular Culture,” “Professional Social Media” and “Visual Literacy & Application” to name a few examples) and a six semester hour capstone. While the professional communication program offers a wide variety of electives, business-focused master’s students also have the option to take courses within the MBA program upon faculty approval. For their capstone projects, students have three options depending on what they would like to get out of the degree. For students interested in academia or who intend to complete a doctoral program, they may take the research-focused thesis track; there’s an internship option for students who want to gain experience in a field different from their current environment and finally, a professional project is an excellent way for students to advance where they currently work.
Stevenson’s M.S. in communication studies is a program designed for working professionals who want to dive deeper into communication theories and understand how to apply them within their current profession. Because the coursework is fairly broad, the degree can be applied to a variety of professions. Some examples Stevenson notes include business, media, education and law or politics. The coursework involving communication ethics can be applied to careers in business such as human resource management, corporate communications and organizational consulting. Because of the focus on writing, public speaking and problem-solving, students wishing to advance in media and communications can apply their newfound skills to public relations, brand strategy or marketing management (which Stevenson points out is a high-demand career of 2016). Educators can expect to develop their interpersonal skills and abilities of coherently and clearly explaining complex topics to a wide variety of audiences that can be applied to advance careers as administrators, educational advisors or communications and public affairs directors within the education sector. Because careers in law and politics requires exceptional analytical and interpersonal skills, this program can help students advance themselves in careers as legislative aides, public information officers or campaign managers.
The program requires completing 36 credit hours of core courses. Examples of courses include “Cultures and Communication,” “Communication and Ethics in the Public Sphere” and “Nonverbal Communication” among a variety of theory-focused courses. Students may choose between a research thesis or a capstone project that can help advance them in their current work.
A professional advantage for some students is the unique reduced-tuition partnerships offered with employers and academic institutions (most of which are located in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC). If a student’s company or institution is not a current partner, there may be a way to work with an employer to partner with Stevenson.
Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism prides itself on being one of the pioneers in communications education and they see the online master’s in communications program (or Communications@Syracuse) as essential to expanding their reach and preparing students for the new media landscape. The mostly online program requires two in-person weekend-long immersion courses throughout the program which offers three specializations: public relations, advertising, and journalism innovation.
The public relations track will help students advance their strategic marketing skills with an important focus on digital messaging and social media. Graduates from this specialization can expect to position themselves for careers in non-profit public relations, corporate communications and government communications. The advertising track also builds on strategic marketing skills but further helps advance a students’ expertise in advertising campaign development through courses such as “Strategic Principles and Practices” and “Digital Branding and Strategy.” And last, the journalism innovation track provides insight and practice in digital innovation and how technology affects the way news and media are consumed. Courses in data analysis and emerging media platforms will help build expertise.
Each student takes 18 core course credits (six three-credit courses), nine credits (three courses) within their specialization and complete a final capstone project. In addition to the core and specialization courses, all specializations require two weekend-long immersion experiences, which are in-person courses that take place in different locations around the world. These courses provide in-person networking with students and faculty and immerse participants within an important communications topic through guest lectures from industry leaders and hands-on experiences. Students are encouraged to attend the annual campus-based immersion and then may choose from the offerings from around the world. Example sites and topics include a course on disrupting the status quo through strategy and innovation in Seattle, WA, a course on sustainability in Costa Rica and a course on political communication in Washington, DC.
Point Park’s M.A. in communications technology has a strong focus on what they call “social interaction technologies.” While all students engage in basic communications theory and practice, the two concentrations – social media and applied practices – are specifically centered on technology. Social media explores best practices and helps students develop cohesive and professional social media campaigns within their communications career. In the applied practices concentration, students delve into visual communication technology, web publishing and global communication. Elements of social media will also be discussed in the applied practices concentration, but not as deeply as within the social media concentration.
The online program requires 36 credit hours and typically takes two to three years for students to complete online. All courses are taught by industry experts who not only provide a strong theoretical foundation but are also able to bring insights into real-world application.
This profession-focused program prepares graduates to become experts in a variety of fields including public relations, technical writing, marketing, broadcasting and market research. For students interested in continuing on to a doctoral program, the applied practices concentration is an ideal option for creating a strong academic foundation.
ECU’s M.A. in communications is a health communication-focused program created with the lofty goal to make a difference in the health fields by training professionals from healthcare and health-related fields to become exceptional communicators. The program notes that ECU identified the pressing need to “study the health of our children, citizens, and communities from a communication perspective.” This program is their response. Their two primary goals are to integrate communication theory and practice and to influence the field of health communication. Graduates of the program have gone on to become leaders in healthcare and the non-profit sector. They also leave the program exceptionally well-prepared for doctoral work.
The program requires 30 credit hours that can be done entirely online, but students are also free to take courses in person if they’d like to travel to the beautiful Greenville, NC campus. Courses include focuses on media and health communication, interpersonal communication (including doctor-patient communication), intercultural communication and health advocacy among others. Once completing the initial coursework, students can decide to complete the program through a thesis track (six-credit research course with a final paper) or the non-thesis track, which includes twelve credits of additional electives.
Clarion’s M.S. in mass media arts and journalism is a broadly-focused program that would appeal to anyone working in the communications sector wishing to dig deeper into theories and apply their skills in real time. Students can expect to develop more expertise in communications strategy including building effective marketing campaigns, professionalize their skills in relevant communications technology including social media and engage in critical discussions around ethics in the fields of communications and journalism. Clarion’s mission to provide “transformative, lifelong learning opportunities through innovative, nationally recognized programs delivered in inclusive, student-centered environments” is reflected in the program structure, coursework and interactive nature of its online courses. It also hopes to create the country’s next crop of communications leaders.
This 36-credit program could take as little as 18 months for a student to complete while still working in their current job. Students will take the foundational communications, public relations and journalism theory courses, as well as courses in society, law and media technology, advanced public relations writing, management of the communication process and mass communication research. Students also have one elective course and can choose either a thesis or research study.
Texas Tech’s master’s in strategic communication and innovation came out of the College of Media & Communication’s ambitious strategic plan to create a program that was accessible to all students no matter where they lived. Flexibility is a key focus of the program and for anyone wanting to advance in their communications career. As a result, student choice is the centerpiece – students decide where to study, when to study, when to start and course load. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and admitted students can start at the beginning of any term. The asynchronous model lets students carve out the time that works best for them rather than requiring them to be in front of the computer at a specific time.
The master’s program feeds right into the college’s mission, which is to educate and prepare students for future careers in various communication industries while also earning recognition as a leader in media and communication education, research and service.
The program requires 30 credit hours which are designed to prepare students for senior level positions. There are seven required courses and three electives. The curriculum has a strong focus on digital communications and global engagement. Because the program is designed for high-level communications professionals, the flexibility honors students’ precious time while still emphasizing skills and coursework so students can complete the program with a professional portfolio that will help them advance in their career.
Mississippi College offers two online master’s programs in communication: the generalist master’s in integrated communications and a master’s in professional communication in health services administration. Online students can also continue coursework to gain a public relations graduate certificate.
Mississippi College is a Christian university that bases much of its programs on the founding faith of the institution. This is true for the master’s in communications programs and is specifically mentioned in the coursework for communication ethics courses which stem from Christian teachings as they relate to ethics. The most flexible of the programs is the integrated communications program where students can design their coursework based on their personal and professional interests. Thirty-one semester hours are required to complete the generalist program. Required courses take up 13 semester hours that include foundational courses in communications and public relations as well as a final convocation paper. Beyond the required courses are 15 credit hours of three-credit communication electives (five courses) and three credits (or one course) of an out-of-department graduate elective. Recommended elective courses include negotiation, intercultural communications and science communication among others. The master’s in professional communication in health services communication (M.S.C.) combines courses from the communications department and health services administration program that positions students to become leadership in health communications. The M.S.C. also requires 31 semester hours to complete but has a distinct track with 16 semester hours of required core courses that are foundational to communications, a three-credit elective (a choice between negotiation and science communication), and 12 semester hours of health administration courses. The health administration courses focus on the fundamentals of organizational communications and legal and administrative aspects of healthcare services.
Lasell’s M.S. in communication program offers flexibility to complete a degree within 12 to 24 months in either completely online or a blended program between online and on their Newton, MA campus. Regardless, all classes are capped at 23 students to encourage interaction between students and personal attention from faculty. Students may specialize in any of the three concentrations: health communication, integrated marketing communication, or public relations.
The health communication concentration combines lessons in public health, public policy, marketing, management, and communications theory to provide students with a strong and diverse foundation in the field. The goal of this specialization is to create a professional workforce that is positioned to make waves in the health communications field. They do this through hands-on collaborative projects that provide real-world insight such as creating a Zika safety campaign or addressing policies on international travel regulations. The integrated marketing communication concentration focuses on building strategic planning and knowledge around consumer behavior and brand development. The public relations concentration is rooted in developing the skills to translate messages and building relationships between agencies (be it media, government or non-profit) and their target communities. Each of these concentrations have a strong foundation in theory and strive to build leaders in their fields as directors of marketing, directors of communication, social media managers or communication campaign strategists.
The program, no matter the concentration, requires 36 credits of coursework. The core curriculum is 21 credits of foundational courses, nine credits of concentration-specific courses, six elective credits and a practice-based capstone course.
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