In today's fast-paced world - of business, of academia, health, government policy, and more, we need up-to-the-minute communication. Technology has added an extra layer and increased the demands of the audience. Especially in 2023 when work-from-home professional settings are widely accepted and social distancing is the way.
However, we don't just need more communication, we need higher quality and rapid delivery of those messages. We must also ensure messages are targeted at the right audience at the right time, and in the right way.
A master's degree in communication is the ideal graduate program to help you enter a career in communications. In an era where people increasingly work from home, and flexible becoming standard, such a program is ideal for learning how to communicate to people of wide and diverse needs and experiences.
A master's degree in communication will set you on the right path for career development, and of course higher salaries on average, and broaden the number of careers open to you.
Are you ready to begin your search for the best master’s in communication for you and your career? We have all the information you need right here to find the ideal school and program for you, organized locally and across the country. Consider an online master’s in communication program. We’ve ranked the 2023 best online master’s in communication programs as well. Take a look!
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
A master's degree is a graduate program (also known as a post-graduate degree) that students who have completed a relevant bachelor's degree undertakes. The main purpose is further study, skills development, and knowledge acquisition. Graduate degree programs are open to most students with a bachelor's, typically those who have a minimum grade for their first degree. This minimum entry requirement, however, may vary between institutions.
Master's in communications degrees may be a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS / MSc). However, there are also MComm degrees in the communications field.
Most of your choices at present are MA or MS.
Which type you study will depend on what and how you study and influence your career options:
- MA degrees in communication will cover the art of comms such as journalism, media, and social media outreach
- MS degrees are for those wishing to study the mechanics, research, and theory behind communications
- The MComm mixes elements of both the MA and MS. As stated above, these are not yet common, and most students still prefer the traditional choice of MA or MS
Students on any communication master's or related will take their studies, skills, and tools to the next level. They learn advanced techniques and, in most cases, psychological theory behind communication methods. They also help students enhance niche areas and engage in practical projects for professional skills to take into their intended career areas.
Students may enter a master's degree straight after completing a relevant bachelor's degree or they may re-enter study and commence a graduate program after many years in a profession.
Further details on the types and subjects that come under Communications Master's Degrees are below. For now, it is important that candidates understand that while there are a variety of masters' covering specific areas, in most cases you will cover the most important aspects of methodology, practice, and theory.
With a wide variety of master's in communications programs out there, students can find one that is tailored to their interests and future career goals. Some of the program options available to aspiring master's students include:
Communication & Media Studies: For those interested in any aspect of media, from broadcast news and magazine journalism to documentary filmmaking and social media management, the master's in media communications degree is a slam dunk. Typically completed within 2 years, students enrolled in the program learn about communication technology, media tools, and strategy, and are prepared for leadership roles within the media arm of communications. Find an online master’s in media communication.
Communication Management: A master's in communication management is a broad-scope degree designed to give students the tools to tackle complex communications issues within organizations. Graduates of this program go on to management positions in such industries as non-profit, marketing, international business, public relations, and more. The master's in communication management program typically takes 1-2 years to complete. Find an online master’s in communication management.
Communication Studies: A master's in communication studies is a graduate degree pathway for those interested in learning advanced concepts in communication theories. This degree choice is popular amongst those looking to go into teaching or research positions. Other careers suited for this degree include consultancy, sales, publishing, and more. Find an online master’s in communication studies.
Emerging Media: Also referred to as a master's in digital media communications, an emerging media program teaches students the most effective ways to use online and social media platforms, and how to conduct research on emerging media and issues in online and offline consumer behaviors.
Global Communication: Those interested in communications and international business are the target audience for the master’s in global communications degree. This program weaves together concepts in cross-cultural communications, business, public diplomacy, global public relations, and more. Graduates of this degree pathway can go into careers as foreign news reporters, international business spokespersons, and content managers/webmasters for international firms, amongst others. Find an online master's in global communication.
Health Communication: Those looking to apply communications and public relations to the healthcare industry can look no further than a master's in health communication degree. This rewarding career path can lead to jobs in hospitals, insurance or pharmaceutical companies, or even specialized medical public relations. Students enrolled in a graduate-level health communication program take courses in medical topics as well as communications, paving the way to be the intermediary between healthcare administrations and the public. Find an online master’s in health communication.
Marketing Communications: For those interested in blending marketing with niche communications specialties, such as public relations, social media, and more, an online Master's in Marketing Communications is the pathway of choice. This degree type blends several aspects of integrated marketing and communications, training students in both traditional and digital modalities to create cohesive business strategies. Graduates of this program go on to careers as digital marketing managers, directors of marketing, and many more. Find an online master’s in marketing communications.
Mass Communication: Those interested in communications and international business are the target audience for the master’s in global communications degree. This program weaves together concepts in cross-cultural communications, business, public diplomacy, global public relations, and more. Graduates of this degree pathway can go into careers as foreign news reporters, international business spokespersons, and content managers/webmasters for international firms, amongst others. Find an online master’s in mass communication.
Organizational Communication: Earning a master's in organizational communications will put you on the path to improving both internal and external communications for companies, non-profits, government agencies, and more. Organizational communications professionals utilize persuasion, negotiation, and awareness to analyze and overcome communication barriers to manage and resolve crises and challenges. This degree may lead to careers in HR, media/public relations, marketing, labor relations, and more. Find an online master’s in organizational communication.
A master's degree in political communication is an ideal educational move for those interested in government, politics, and media. This program teaches fundamentals in political campaigning, engagement, and media strategy, including digital and social media. With a graduate degree in political communication, career opportunities such as campaign communications director, political correspondent, public affairs strategist, and more will be available. Find an online master’s in political communication.
The master's in strategic communications prepares students for a range of PR/marketing-related careers where strategy and organization across multimedia platforms are utilized to solve challenges. Grads of this degree pathway go on to become communications directors, PR account executives, and information officers, amongst others. Find an online master’s in strategic communication.
A master's degree in technical communications is ideal for those looking to advance to careers in technical writing and editing, design, management, and other tech areas. Students enrolled in this type of program hone their skills in a multitude of visual communication styles and techniques, with the goal of presenting data and concepts in a clear and understandable way. Find an online master’s in technical communication.
Similar Degrees of Interest
- Online Master’s in Communication Disorders including Speech Pathology
- Online Master’s in Journalism
- Online Master’s in Marketing
- Online Marketing MBA
- Online Master’s in Public Relations
- Online Master’s in Social Media
Undergraduate Degrees of Interest
It is likely you are considering applying for a MA or MS in communications for one of three reasons.
In the first case, further development, promotions, or other career advancement is not currently open to you without such a qualification due to the skills and tools they provide.
Second, you might need certification or membership of a professional body to advance - both of which may need a minimum qualification of a master's degree.
Third, you might be looking for a career change - to a new department or industry for which you have only partial skills to make the leap. Such skills and background may not otherwise be available as on-the-job training anywhere. The best or only way to attain them is to take a relevant graduate program, ideally in the niche that you want to join.
The full list of admission requirements will depend on a number of things and vary by university. In some cases, the more prestigious the individual department, the more competition there is and the higher the entry requirements.
Your regional state university, for example, will have lower entry requirements than an Ivy League institution. However, if your state university department is considered a top performer, it may have similar requirements to your most eligible Ivy League University.
- An accredited bachelor's degree in a relevant subject like Communications, Media, or Journalism
- Minimum GPA varies between universities. A typical range is from 2.5 at the lowest to 3.5 at the highest. Most are around 3.0
- Letters of recommendation or references from past faculty. If you are applying to the same university, they may waive this element of the application. In cases where you completed your bachelor's degree many years ago, employer references are acceptable and usually required. Two or three letters are typical
- Submit a personal statement along with your application, usually five hundred words
- Some colleges may ask you to attend a mandatory orientation day which will usually include an interview to determine whether you are a suitable fit for them beyond academic achievements
- An essay or essays answering questions about the industry that you should be able to answer either from work experience or studying for your bachelor's degree or relating to your personal career development goals. Things like "how will this master's degree help you in the pursuit of a career?"
- Academic writing such as essays and research projects may be required to ascertain academic performance and suitability for master's level study
- Master's in communication programs that concern skills development (like public relations and corporate communication) may require a resume with an extensive list of work experience
- Some programs may ask for a minimum amount of work experience to apply, typically 2-3 years
- Non-native English speaker? You will need to submit TOEFL certification or equivalent. 90 if taken online, 233 on computer, and 577 for a paper test. You will also need to provide formal proof of English communication if English is not your first language. Other suitable programs include IELTS and PTEA. Others may accept ELS112 or DuoLingo
This is a typical list of requirements. No matter where you apply, check the school's website for any additional expectations.
What are the Admissions Requirements for Entry to a Master's In Communication Program?
Admissions requirements vary from school to school, but in general applicants to a master's in communications program will need to have completed a four-year bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of at least 3.0 on all undergraduate work. Applicants may also need to submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), as well as an up-to-date resume, letters of recommendation, and relevant writing samples with their admissions application. Find a No GRE master’s in communication program.
Communication is a broad field with applications right across the spectrum. It's vital in business (for marketing, corporate outreach, PR, media) government policy (election campaigning, policy development, public awareness of laws and regulations), health, charity, and a wide range of other areas.
To help take your career into your chosen area, universities around the US offer communications master's in a variety of niches (as discussed above). However, your choices do not end there. To help you enter this type of career, they also offer you many ways to study. You may work in a traditional classroom with a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops, and labs, through distance learning where everything takes place fully online, or mix the two methods for the best of both worlds.
Traditional Campus-Based Programs
On-campus study takes place in the classroom environment at the university with information communicated in person from professor to student - much like a bachelor's program. You may study full-time or part-time, typically over 2-3 years.
There are many advantages here, including vital social interaction, group work, and access to campus resources such as the library, computer rooms, and workshop areas. There is only so much the virtual world enables and it's still the major preferred method.
Advantages to schools that offer campus study include more opportunities for internships. However, there is a lower degree of flexibility which is why some people prefer either fully online or hybrid programs.
Also known as "distance learning," fully online programs allow you to study a master’s in communication over the internet using a combination of video lectures, interactive programs, gamification, and online submission of papers and other assessments used to measure progress.
You may work from home, public libraries, or any other remote location including online access to resources that the university offers such as online library, JSTOR, and others. However, you may or may not be able to use the brick & mortar library. Check each university for further details. You may complete the program in the same length of time as a full campus-based program or spread study over several more years.
Further flexibility is available; students may be offered flexible deadlines or some input on deciding assessment dates and course structure to help them work around other commitments.
This method is ideally suited to those who live too far away from a state university or who does not have ready access to transportation to get there. Also suited to parents, part-time employees, and those with caring responsibilities.
Hybrid Master's in Communication Study
Hybrid programs are exactly what they sound like - a mix of online and virtual learning. Many students prefer to have the best of both worlds when studying for a master’s in communication. Most of the study, coursework, lectures and other classroom study takes place online.
However, there are program elements that the student simply must attend the campus. These may be workshops for direct experience using specialist equipment, or seminars. These are small discussion groups in a classroom setting that can work online but can also be set with problems.
How much in-person contact you have depends on the university, the department, and the course makeup. Some programs require more face-to-face interaction while others may keep it to a minimum. This study method is perfect for those students desiring flexible distance learning but who also need the social interaction of university life.
Ordinarily, most master’s students can expect to complete their studies in two years. That is the standard length of time for traditional on-campus study at a full-time pace. However, that is not universal. Some programs take less than two years while others take longer. Part-time, online study, flexible learning and other methods designed to help students move at a suitable pace can all contribute to the time commitment.
- On-campus full-time: Typically taking two years, the traditional study method which is still the preferred way to earn a graduate degree
- On-campus part-time: Typically, three years but can be spread out up to five years. The full-time on-campus study is not suitable, but this type of student prefers a traditional university learning experience
- Fully online: Typically takes two years, but sometimes shorter and sometimes longer. They can be completed in as little as one year on an accelerated program or up to five years. Full-time and part-time options are available in line with the on-campus options listed above
- Hybrid: They take anything between two and five years depending on the preferred pace as you are expected to attend campus for seminars, workshops, and practical skills such as specialist software
- Accelerated programs: Take just one year. However, if part of a 4+1 program, the student completes the bachelor's degree before heading straight into the master's
In the USA, degrees are comprised of courses. Not all courses are equal - the amount of time taken to complete just one course determines how many credit hours (and therefore credits) will determine that it is complete.
Typically, in an undergraduate degree, courses tend to be 1-2 credits. For a master's degree, it is 3-4 credits. This is because a course at master's level has more work, more assessment, and more contact hours. One academic year will usually comprise anything up to 30 credit hours for both bachelor's and master's degrees. Therefore, your master's will be 30-64 credit hours.
Important to note that cost of tuition is based on a per credit bases. It will also determine how much you might get in grants, bursaries, and scholarships.
You must pass enough classes and attain the minimum number of credits to complete your master's degree in communication and graduate.
Note for international students: The credits attained from your home country's bachelor's degree are not automatically transferred and must be converted to the USA credit system. Check your country's academic resources to work out how to do this.
Much like your undergraduate degree, you will pay for your program per credit. That means how much you will pay for your master's in communication will depend on a variety of factors:
- Location: The state the university is in and the cost of living there
- Your state residence: Out-of-state students will usually pay more than those applying to universities in their state of residence, as well international students
- University prestige: Ivy League and high performing institutions and departments are subject to higher demand from potential students. Due to their excellent resources and access to faculty, they too will be more expensive
Currently, there are over 390 universities offering Communications Master's Degrees including all subniches and variations on the title. The average tuition for the academic year 2021-22 was $10,602 per year for in-state students. Out of state cost for the same year was $19,729. However, the lowest cost programs are in the region of $4,000 per year.
In Relevant Employment? Would Your Employer Help?
It is unlikely to pay for the full amount of tuition for your master's degree in communications unless they have cast iron guarantees that they too will gain from your education. Some businesses have philanthropy schemes for employees to help them upskill and progress throughout the company.
- Bursaries, grants, or other funding, typically limited to people with strict criteria (low income, women, disabled, and other under-represented groups)
- Loans as an alternative to traditional lenders offering lower interest rates
- Some offer something called a "tuition reimbursement plan" for graduate study
Even if a company is not advertising such a scheme, it is worth enquiring.
There may also be stipulations that seek assurances from the employee. For example, they will only reimburse your tuition if you maintain a minimum GPA. It will also need to be related to your current job and relevant to your advancement within the company.
Often, such funding may only be available to full-time employees. You may also be contractually obliged to remain in their employment for a certain number of years after completion. If you leave, they are legally entitled to claw that money back.
What Are Your Funding Options for Master's Degrees in Communications?
Much like your bachelor's degree, you have multiple funding options. Always talk to the university finance department about what financial aid you might be entitled to, and your loan options. Interest rates may vary so always check this and seek external advice.
- Help secure Federal loans and help you understand eligibility for grants and bursaries
- Details about payment plans to help spread the cost of tuition. They typically have arrangements with financial providers
Scholarships, bursaries, and grants are also available. These are subject to strict criteria. Scholarships are available based on academic achievement while grants are allocated on economic need. Some are available purely to demographic identifiers (disability, LGBT+, BIPOC, religious minorities, etc.)
You may also be eligible for a fully funded master's degree in communications. However, these are highly competitive and consider a number of important factors. This includes an annual stipend as well as grants to cover the tuition. The most important criterion is that you will eventually teach in this field. As far as communications careers are concerned, this limits your career choice to academia.
A master's in communications is a jumping-off point to a number of potential career paths across many industries, including journalism, marketing, advertising, public relations, government and public affairs, business administration, education, and law. From Corporate Communications Manager to Chief Marketing Officer to News Director, there is a wealth of possible job titles for masters in communication graduates. Read on to find out more about potential career paths for master's in communication graduates.
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