Online Master’s in Communication Programs for 2021
Some of the most prestigious, accredited universities in the country now offer online masters in communication programs. These programs often allow students to complete their degree on a part-time basis 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.
A growing number of students are choosing online masters in communications programs over traditional classroom programs. Online programs, which can be found at a number of highly esteemed and accredited institutions, offer students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own 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.
With more students looking to earn a master's degree while continuing to work full-time, take care of their families, and/or attend to other obligations, the online master's in communication route continues to be a popular choice especially with the new work from home mentality. With the demand growing, many schools are starting to offer this convenient option. This can make choosing the right online master's in communication program a bit overwhelming, which is why we have narrowed down our 2021 Top 10 Online Master's in Communication programs across the country, based on factors including cost, reputation, and program features. Take a look at our 2021 rankings below:
#1) Johns Hopkins University - Washington, DC
Johns Hopkins University offers a trio of outstanding online master’s in communication programs, including an Online MA in Communication, an Online MA in Communication/MBA, and an Online MA in Communication and Certificate in Nonprofit Management. These programs can typically be completed within 1-2 years, with entry dates in Fall, Spring, and Summer terms. The traditional MA in Communication option requires 10 courses, including Communication Ethics in Action, Analytic Techniques in Communication Research, Introduction to the Digital Age, and much more. The program’s flexibility allows students to take anywhere from one to four classes per semester. Admissions and course requirements are the same for the online course as they are for the on-site course, so students can mix and match if they prefer to complete some of the curricula on campus.
Learn more about the JHU offerings here.
- No required campus visits
- Students can access coursework on Blackboard 24/7
- Students can take up to 5 years to earn their degree (most finish in 2 years)
- $4,506 per course; additional costs for MBA/nonprofit certificate options apply
#2) University of Florida - Gainesville, FL
The University of Florida is home to eight online master's in communication programs through its College of Journalism and Communications. Students can choose from online MA degrees in Audience Analytics, Digital Strategy, Global Strategic Communication, Political Communication, Public Interest Communication, Public Relations, Social Media, and Web Design. Each pathway can be completed entirely online through recorded lectures as well as live class meetings and office hours. With full-time and part-time study options available, most students are able to continue working while they earn their graduate degree, and most finish the program in under two years. Combination degree options are also available, allowing undergrad students to take graduate-level courses and finish their undergraduate degree and their MA in just one extra year.
Learn more about the U of F offerings here.
- 33-37 total credit hours required, depending on specialty
- Start dates in Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters
- Graduate Certificate programs in several of the specialties also available
Tuition: Full program tuition is between $17,441-$34,545
#3) University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA
USC Annenberg's School for Communication and Journalism offers an Online Master of Communication Management for professionals who value flexibility in education. Enrolled students can choose a generalist pathway or specialize within three focus areas: Marketing Communication, Strategic, and Organizational Communication, or Market Research and Analytics. All courses are taught by experienced, world-class faculty who are leaders in their fields. Upon graduating, students are able to engage effectively with professionals from diverse industries, solving real-world problems with cutting-edge communication management knowledge and techniques.
Learn more about the USC offering here.
- Access to digital libraries, professional networks, and alumni across the world
- Approximately 32 credit hours needed to complete the degree program
- Curriculum consists of 8 total courses
- Approximately $1,995 per unit in addition to mandatory fees
#4) Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
Purdue University’s innovative Online Master of Science in Communication gives students the tools they need to build strong strategic communication skills in a number of specializations. The four concentration areas Purdue offers aim to create niche experts and includes Strategic Communications/Public Relations, Integrated Communication & Advertising, Communication & Leadership, and Health Communication. Each of these programs takes just 12-20 months to complete in an affordable, 100% online format, and students learn and expand on concepts such as building and managing relationships via social media, influencing decision-making with investors, developing brands, and analyzing/identifying organizational problems. Purdue’s programs have working professionals in mind, as roughly 86% of enrolled students work full-time and 49% hold management roles.
Learn more about the PU offering here.
- No GRE or residency requirement
- 24-week online Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management also available
- Alumni satisfaction rate for the program tops 90%
- $15,600 for in-state students
- $24,600 for out-of-state students
#5) Bay Path University - Longmeadow, MA
Massachusetts’ Bay Path University offers prospective students multiple pathways to a grad degree in communications: the online MS in Communications and the online MS in Communications and Information Management (CIM). Coursework for these 36-credit program options is delivered in a fully online format and can be completed in just 1-2 years. Key objectives taught include the integration of digital and traditional media, social media communication, project management, and much more. Students get the benefits of learning in a small, interactive web-based community. Graduates of Bay Path’s programs go on to careers in telecommunications, consulting, advertising, public relations, and more.
Learn more about the Baypath offerings here.
- No GMAT or GRE requirements
- Accelerated 8-week program format can be taken full or part-time
- Graduate certificates also available
- Around $830 per credit
#6) University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, NC
UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media provides an Online MA in Digital Communication designed for working professionals to advance their education. Those desiring leadership roles within digital communication can take advantage of the program's focus on strategic thinking and management-level decision-making. The curriculum includes courses such as The Business of Media, Visual Literacy and User Experience, Reputation Management, Media Innovation in Practice, and much more. Students also complete a final thesis project. While coursework is delivered online, students must participate in two on-campus experiences: a two-day orientation at the start of the program, and a five-day summer residency.
Learn more about the UNC offering here.
- Program consists of 30 credits taken over two years and one summer term
- Students complete the program part-time (two courses per semester)
- Valid GRE scores required for those who don't qualify for a GRE waiver
- In-state tuition: $2,262 per course
- Out-of-state tuition: $4,698 per course
#7) Queens University of Charlotte - Charlotte, NC
Queens University of Charlotte’s Online Master of Arts in Communication program weaves proven principles in communication theory with current media and technology. The convenient online format utilizes Skype, instant messaging, shared blogs, and more to engage distance learning. Students can complete the curriculum, which includes courses in Organizational Identity and Brand, Expanding Communication Boundaries, Communicating Mindfully, and others in just 24 months. The program is applicable to a broad array of communications professionals, including those in journalism, health communication, training/consulting, HR, and more.
Learn more about QU of C offering here.
- No GRE requirement for students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
- No thesis requirement; students instead complete a digital portfolio and final project in their area of interest
- No campus visitation requirements, but online students are welcome to meet with faculty and/or participate in commencement on-site if they wish
- $884 per credit hour
#8) Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ
Arizona State University offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication program designed for students who want to sharpen their skills in communications, leadership, and strategic planning. The degree consists of 30 total credits taken as 10 courses in a 7.5 week-per-class format. The innovative curriculum includes courses in Communication and Conflict Transformation, Communication in Global Contexts, and Negotiation Theory & Practice, all taught by award-winning faculty. Enrolled students also have the ability to earn an optional certificate in Conflict Management and/or Civil Dialogue. Graduates of the program are poised for careers in corporate/sales management, marketing, HR management, and much more.
Learn more about the ASU offering here.
- Online curriculum includes interactive lecture and seminar videos
- Final capstone experience tailored to students’ interests and goals
- Program can be completed in 18 months
- Total program tuition is approximately $11,548
#9) West Virginia University - Morgantown, WV
Students who want to enter a graduate degree program that will allow them to navigate diverse networks and communicate strategically can enroll in West Virginia University's Online MA in Communication Studies. The program is delivered in an online, asynchronous format for maximum flexibility. Students are prepared with courses such as Instructional Communication, Communication Training and Development, Theory and Research in Mass Communication, and much more. With an emphasis on digital media and communication competency within interpersonal and group environments, graduates of the program are well prepared to advance in the communications workplace.
Learn more about the WVU offering here.
- Two start dates per year (August and January)
- 36 total credit hours required
- No GRE/GMAT scores or letters of recommendation required for admission
- $633 per credit hour
#10) Michigan State University - East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University offers students a rigorous, professional Online MA in Strategic Communication. This program is rooted in digital communications and its applications in advertising, PR, marketing, media, and more. The online curriculum includes interactive weekly lessons, with course titles such as Strategic Message Development, Crisis Communication, Media Analytics, Social Media Storytelling, and many others. Students also complete a capstone course that provides practical experience utilizing a service-learning format in a virtual team setting. At the conclusion of the program, students are empowered with the leadership skills needed to succeed in diverse business environments.
- Cohorts begin in the Fall, Spring, and Summer
- No GRE required
- Part-time and full-time options available
- In-state tuition (full program): $23,572
- Out-of-state and International tuition (full program): $46,320
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 place emphasis on 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, while 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 the convenience of taking classes online whenever and wherever is convenient. And online programs do 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 it will be easier than an on-campus program. In fact, online programs are usually just as rigorous, if not more so, than their classroom counterparts. Make sure to read up on the required curriculum for various programs before making your final decision.
- Discipline: As opposed to 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, it is important to compare costs among your top schools, and include one or more classroom programs in your comparison. 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 now how do you choose from among the multitude of programs out there? Before investing in application fees, here are some questions to ask when researching online programs:
- Is This School Reputable? Many programs are offered by the country's top universities and colleges, 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 a number of 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, try to find out 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 classes 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 also 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're looking to secure the following completion of 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 in general, 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 a variety of 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 on your undergraduate studies. A few schools require GRE scores for all applicants, so make sure to 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 and 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 obviously critical for participation in an online course of study, so check with your top schools on their individual technology requirements and make sure you have the right tools.
- What Is the Deadline to Apply? Many schools are on 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
Sacred Heart University
5401 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
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
Western New England University
1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
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
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