Online Master’s in Communication Programs for 2024: What Are Some of the Best Options?
Some of the country’s most prestigious, accredited universities now offer online masters in communication programs. These programs often allow students to complete their degrees part-time while simultaneously continuing to work. Wondering how to know if an online master's program is right for your career goals, and if so, how to choose the right school? Keep reading for all the information you'll need to consider before taking the next step.
Online programs, found at several highly esteemed and accredited institutions, offer students the flexibility to complete coursework on their schedule from anywhere in the country. While just as rigorous an academic program as their traditional classroom counterparts, online programs may be a better fit for students who plan to continue working while in school.
Already know an online program is right for you? Click here for a complete list of online master's in communication programs.
As more students seek to pursue a master’s degree while balancing full-time work, family responsibilities, and other commitments, the popularity of online master’s in communication programs persists, particularly given the prevalent “work from home” mindset. With the rising demand, many institutions are now offering this convenient option. The abundance of choices can be overwhelming, which is why we have curated our list of the Top 10 Online Master’s in Communication programs for the year 2024. Our rankings consider cost, reputation, and program features to aid prospective students in making informed decisions. Explore our 2024 rankings below:
#1) Purdue University – West Lafayette, IN
Purdue University’s Online Master of Science in Communication program stands out in the league, featuring captivating courses led by professors with extensive industry experience. The curriculum prioritizes branding and messaging strategies that are relevant across various industries. This 30-credit program provides specialized concentrations in Strategic Communication/Public Relations, Integrated Communication and Advertising, Communication and Leadership, and Health Communication, enabling students to tailor their studies to their strengths and interests. Graduates of the program emerge well-equipped with the media and communication skills needed to assume leadership roles and make informed decisions.
Learn more about the PU offering here.
- No GRE required
- No in-person residency required
- Most coursework is offered in an asynchronous format
#2) Johns Hopkins University – Washington, DC
For those who appreciate choices, Johns Hopkins University’s online Master of Arts in Communication program provides a range of sought-after concentrations. Students can select from the six available concentrations: Applied Research in Communication, Public Media and Relations, Political Communication, Health Communication, Digital Communication, and Corporate and Nonprofit Communication. The 10-course curriculum allows for completion in 12 to 24 months, depending on the student’s scheduling preferences.
Learn more about the JHU offerings here.
- Full-time and part-time options are available
- 30 total credits required
- An in-person program option is also available at the Washington, DC campus
#3) UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – LOS ANGELES, CA
Designed for optimal flexibility, the online Master of Communication Management program at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism caters to both novices and seasoned professionals. The comprehensive program, completed in just 16 months of full-time study, offers a choice between a generalist degree in communication management or specialization in key areas like Marketing Communication, Strategic and Organizational Communication, or Market Research and Analytics. As a culmination of their studies, students undertake a capstone practicum project aligned with their specific area of interest, providing a hands-on application of communication theory.
Learn more about the USC offering here.
- Part-time enrollment is available on request
- Approximately 32 credit hours required
- Students can connect with over 15,000 USC Annenberg alumni worldwide
#4) Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ
Individuals intrigued by the exploration of communication theory and strategy may consider enrolling in Arizona State University’s Online Master of Arts in Communication program. ASU Online’s curriculum comprises ten courses, delving into leadership concepts, data analysis, conflict resolution/negotiation, and more. The program culminates in a capstone experience, wherein students engage in a customized project addressing a contemporary communication challenge under the mentorship of a two-faculty member committee. Upon completion, graduates are equipped to assume roles in leadership, specialized positions, management, and education within the communications field.
Learn more about the ASU offering here.
- 30 credits required
- Each online course is delivered in a 7.5-week format
- The program can be completed in 18 months
#5) West Virginia University - Morgantown, WV
West Virginia University’s Online Master of Arts in Communications Studies focuses on Corporate and Organizational Communication. Students in the program acquire innovative strategies to address organizational crises, developing into effective problem-solvers and leaders. The curriculum, comprising ten courses such as Applied Communication Theory and Communication in the Organization, aims to enhance core communication competencies. Graduates of the program are well-prepared to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving communications landscape.
Learn more about the WVU offering here.
- Online courses delivered in an asynchronous format
- 30 total credit hours required
- No GRE/GMAT is required
#6) University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, IL
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign presents two prestigious online master’s degrees in communication: the Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication (SBC) and the Health Communication Online Master’s (HCOM). Individuals keen on steering brand development and leveraging analytics, social media, advertising, and other tools to achieve objectives may find the SBC program suitable. On the other hand, those aspiring to deepen their understanding and collaborate with healthcare leaders may be better suited for the HCOM program. Both programs conclude with capstone projects, allowing students to apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge.
- No GRE is required for SBC; it is only needed for HCOM applicants with a GPA below 3.0
- Programs require 32 credit hours
- Programs can be completed in 17-24 months
#7) Ohio University – Athens, OH
Ohio University’s Master of Communication program, provided by the Scripps College of Communication, is a fully online offering. Tailored for professionals across various industries, the program features a flexible format that enables students to learn at their own pace. The curriculum incorporates communication theories and tools for effective teamwork and strategic problem-solving. Students are required to complete a total of 30 credit hours, including a Master’s Capstone course. The program covers various topics, including Crisis Communication, and Digital Media Transformation & Innovation.
Learn more about Ohio U’s offering here.
- No GRE required
- The program can be completed in as few as four semesters
- 5% scholarship available for alumni and military service members
#8) Arkansas State University – Jonesboro, AK
Individuals seeking a fully online program with a quick completion timeframe of just 12 months may find Arkansas State University’s Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies program suitable. The curriculum enhances skills in human communication, covering areas such as multicultural and nonverbal communication, research and writing techniques, and more. This adaptable program is crafted to assist students in reaching both their personal and professional goals, offering customizable electives aligned with their interests. Course offerings encompass a range of topics, including Communication Theory, Audience Market Analysis, Communication Regulation and Policy, and others.
Learn more about Arkansas State University’s program here.
- 30 credit hours required
- Multiple start date options
- The curriculum includes four core courses and six electives
#9) SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY - SYRACUSE, NY
Syracuse University’s online Master of Science in Communications program delivers a comprehensive foundation in digital communications practices through five core courses. Students can tailor their studies to specific interests by choosing one of four specializations-advertising, public relations, journalism innovation, or media management. Taught by expert faculty through live online classes, the program also includes two in-person immersions and a capstone project focused on digital communications innovation. With specialized coursework and connections to a diverse network of passionate professionals, these programs aim to deepen industry knowledge and prepare students for success in the ever-evolving communications field.
Learn more about Syracuse's program here.
- Complete the program in as few as 15 months
- No GRE or GMAT is required
- Access to 28,000 alumni
#10) NOTRE DAME OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY - BALTIMORE, MD
The online Master of Arts in Contemporary Communication program at Notre Dame of Maryland University equips students with the knowledge to master innovative communication approaches and enhance new media and entrepreneurial communication skills. This program emphasizes applying critical analysis, creative insights, and technological competence in the current professional landscape. Graduates are well-prepared for emerging positions in various fields, including social media development, public relations, organizational communication, and communication management. This comprehensive program provides a foundation for individuals seeking to advance their careers in the dynamic and evolving field of contemporary communication.
Learn more about Notre Dame of Maryland's program here.
- Rolling admission
- Multiple start dates
- Expert faculty
Prospective students looking for a post-grad communications program often have two pathways to choose from: a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) / Master of Applied Science (MASc) in Communications. While both degrees will prepare students for advanced roles in the communications field, there are some differences between them, and students may want to fully understand these differences before deciding which one suits their needs.
Generally speaking, an MA and an MS/MASc in Communications will differ in their coursework and educational approach. More specifically, an MA Communications program will emphasize liberal arts courses and focus the curriculum on practical and/or social applications of theories. MS and MASc Communications programs will incorporate more scientific theories and processes within the communications field, focusing more on complex frameworks. For example, those interested in communications data, analysis, and strategy may want to consider a Master of Science program. At the same time, those leaning more toward writing, media relations, and global applications may prefer earning a Master of Arts. While MA communications programs are typically more common, MS/MASc programs are sometimes considered more academic and may hold more weight within certain professions than their MA counterpart. In either case, a professional with a master's in communications is poised to ascend to higher levels in the industry.
When choosing between an online master's in communication program and a traditional classroom experience, many students feel drawn to classes online whenever and wherever is convenient. Online programs offer significant flexibility for students to complete their degree while working full- or part-time in their chosen industries.
However, besides flexibility, there are other considerations for aspiring online master's students to keep in mind, including:
- Difficulty of Program: Don't assume that just because a program is online will be easier than an on-campus program. Online programs are usually just as rigorous, if not more so, than their classroom counterparts. Read up on the required curriculum for various programs before deciding.
- Discipline: Unlike a classroom environment, no one will hold you accountable for completing coursework or attending lectures in an online program. Successful online students must be motivated to succeed and committed to completing their coursework without the prodding of professors or peers.
- Cost: While online programs may be more affordable than traditional programs, comparing costs among your top schools and including one or more classroom programs in your comparison is essential. Remember, commuting costs will add to the bottom line for a classroom or hybrid program.
You've decided an online master's program is the next step in reaching your career aspirations, but how do you choose from the many programs out there? Before investing in application fees, here are some questions to ask when researching online programs:
- Is This School Reputable? The country's top universities and colleges offer many programs, and name recognition can be a powerful tool in securing your dream job. At a minimum, schools you consider should be fully accredited and have experience offering an online master’s in communication program for several years.
- Does This Program Fit My Career Goals? With a myriad of master's in communication programs out there and several different specializations, it is critical to choose a program tailored to your specific career aspirations. For instance, if your goal is to become a broadcast journalist, you should probably consider a journalism or mass media program, and if you want to go into politics, political communication or a global communication program would be a good fit.
- Does This Course Load Fit into My Schedule? Take a realistic look at your schedule, especially if you plan to work full-time while studying. Schools should be able to tell you how many hours of study on average are required, so make sure your schedule can accommodate the workload.
- Who Will Be Teaching Online Courses? Many online master's programs offer courses taught by the same tenured faculty as their on-campus programs, while others rely mainly on part-time or adjunct professors. Either way, determine how experienced the faculty will be for your program. For instance, have they won any industry awards or have relevant industry experience?
- Is This Program Fully Online, or Will I Need to Visit Campus? Many schools offer fully online programs with classes taught exclusively online, while others offer a hybrid format that combines online courses with classroom work. The frequency of on-campus study varies from school to school, so make sure you can commit to mandatory in-person sessions if you choose a hybrid format. One benefit of hybrid programs is that they facilitate networking with faculty and other students.
- Will I Have Access to On-Campus Resources, Including Networking with Other Students? Making personal connections can be critical to getting your dream job, so find out if your top schools help students network with faculty, students, and industry professionals both online and in person. Many schools offer on-campus career services to their online students, such as career counseling or job fairs.
- What Jobs Do Program Graduates Get After Completing Their Master’s Degrees? Ask your top schools for job placement information for their recent graduates. These jobs should be similar to what you want after completing the master's program.
- What Specialties Are Available? Consider the many different specializations:
- What Are Some Related Areas with Strong Correlation to the Communication Industry?
Found your dream school, and now you're ready to apply? The application process varies from school to school, but here's what you need to know about the application and admissions process.
- What Educational Background Do I Need? Some master's in communication programs require a few years of relevant work experience before applying to a graduate program. However, others only require a bachelor's degree. While many master's of communication applicants will have attained a degree in communication, journalism, or another related field, other students may come from various educational backgrounds such as business, education, or political science.
- Are there No GRE Masters in Communication Programs? Do I Have to Take the GRE? For many schools, GRE scores are not required. For others, a GRE score is required as part of the application if you have a GPA lower than 3.0 in your undergraduate studies. A few schools require GRE scores for all applicants, so double-check with your school of choice before beginning the application process. Learn more about No GRE master’s in communication programs.
- What Are the Application Requirements? Application requirements vary from school to school, but in general, applicants to a master's in communication program are required to have a bachelor's degree and a GPA of 3.0 or higher on all undergraduate work. In addition to an application fee, most schools also require letters of recommendation, writing samples, and/or a personal statement along with the application.
- What Kind of Technology Do I Need for Online Programs? Having the right technology is critical for participating in an online course of study, so check with your top schools on their technology requirements and ensure you have the right tools.
- What Is the Deadline to Apply? Many schools have a rolling admissions schedule, meaning they review applications throughout the year. However, others only enroll for fall and/or spring semester start dates, so make sure you know the admissions deadlines for your top schools.
Select Your State:
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85281
Northern Arizona University
701 S. Osborne Dr.
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
California Baptist University
10370 Hemet Street, Suite 200
Riverside, CA 92503
University of Colorado - Colorado Springs
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Coloado Springs, CO 80918
Sacred Heart University
5401 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
Idaho State University
921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
2240 Campus Drive, Rm 2-118
Evanston , IL 60208
West Lafayette, IN 47907
2507 University Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50311
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621
One Macklem Drive
Wilmore, KY 40390
Notre Dame of Maryland University
4701 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210
Bay Path University
588 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
1844 Commonwealth Ave.
Newton, MA 2466
Minnesota State University, Mankato
230 Armstrong Hall
Mankato, MN 56001
100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900
Minneapolis, MN 55401
200 S. Capitol Street
Clinton, MS 39056
Missouri State University
901 S. National Ave
Springfield , MO 65897
8700 NW River Park Dr.
Parkville, MO 64152
University of Central Missouri
108 W. South Street
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 North River Road
Manchester, NH 03106
Eastern New Mexico University
1500 S Avenue K
Portales, NM 88130
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
215 University Place
Syracuse, NY 13244
East Carolina University
102 Joyner East
Greenville, NC 27858
Queens University of Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28274
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carroll Hall, CB 3365
Chapel HIll, NC 27599
3001 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
340 College Hall, 600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Notre Dame of Maryland University
3624 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19014
Point Park University
201 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Austin Peay State University
601 College Avenue
Clarksville, TN 37044
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
University of Washington
102 Communications, Box 353740
Seattle , WA 98195
Johns Hopkins University
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Concordia University Wisconsin
12800 N. Lake Shore Drive
Mequon, WI 53097
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
Whitewater, WI 53190