The Best Online Master's in Communications 2020

Hero Image - The Best Online Master's in Communications 2020

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

Online learning gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal responsibilities. An online master's in communication program covers topics like fundraising and political campaigns, marketing, political advocacy, and public relations.

Graduates of online communication master's degree programs can work in fields like advertising, administration, and public relations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster-than-average job growth for many of these careers, including advertising, promotions, and marketing managers; public relations and fundraising managers; and postsecondary education administrators.

Top 10 Online Master's in Communications 2020

#1 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
#2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
#3 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#5 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
#6 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
#7 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
#8 University of Florida - Online Gainesville, FL
#9 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
#10 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO

The Best Online Master’s in Communications Degree Programs

Sort By
Rank School Location Apply More Information
4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

The online master's in communication at the University of Illinois centers on effective brand content, analysis, and integration; driving revenue growth; leadership and management skills; and responses to changes in emerging media, market trends, and technology.

Designed for working professionals, the 32-credit program prepares graduates to become global brand leaders. The 100% online program delivers coursework synchronously through optional live sessions offered one evening per week. Full-time students can graduate in 15 months.

Course topics include consumer insights, managing projects and teams, measurement and evaluation, and essentials of business management. The program concludes with a professional capstone project in which students demonstrate their knowledge in creating and executing a research plan, strategic repositioning, and campaign evaluation and monitoring.

Applicants submit an online application and a fee, evidence of a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. The program does not require GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
5

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY

About this school

Syracuse University offers an interdisciplinary, online communication master's degree geared toward public relations professionals interested in career advancement. The program's 36-credit curriculum includes courses from the university's management, communications, and public affairs schools.

Students meet with faculty during five-day residencies held on-site in Syracuse and New York City at the start of each semester, then continue their coursework remotely. Core courses cover accounting, communications law, finance, and public opinion research. Electives cover conflict resolution, crisis communications, and emerging technologies and social media.

The self-paced program generally takes two years to complete. The program delivers all online coursework asynchronously. All learners complete either a master's thesis or an applied research project.

Prospective students apply online and pay an application fee. Additional requirements include a resume, a 500-word personal statement, official transcripts, and three letters from academic or professional references. Candidates also complete an online video interview in which they answer four questions that are sent to them in advance.

Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
6

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Chapel Hill, NC

About this school

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers programs that prepare graduates for a changing economy, including an online MA in digital communication. Geared toward full-time professionals pursuing leadership roles, this part-time, 2.5-year program culminates in a thesis project executed in collaboration with a faculty member.

Students complete most coursework online and asynchronously as part of a student cohort. They also participate in two on-campus experiences: a two-day experience prior to the start of the program and a weeklong experience at the end of the first year. Assignments focus on issues faced by communications professionals. Core courses in the online master's in communications include multi-platform storytelling, the psychology of audiences, and media analytics.

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA, three years of experience in professional communications, and GRE scores, with verbal scores in the 55th percentile and quantitative scores in the 50th percentile. Prospective students must also submit a statement of purpose and three letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
89%
Percent Receiving Loans
28%
7

Michigan State University 

East Lansing, MI

About this school

Michigan State University offers 18 degrees for distance learners, including an online master's in communication. Students can complete the degree completely online through interactive, synchronous, weekly class sessions.

The 30-credit strategic communication curriculum covers content creation and promotion, digital media strategies, ethical concerns and controversies, and strategic messaging. The program's capstone project requires students to tackle a real-world project in a virtual team setting.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a 3.0 GPA, and three years of professional experience in communications. Prospective students must submit three references, a statement of their academic and personal journeys, official transcripts, and a resume. MSU does not require GRE scores.

Accepted students usually work in banking, broadcasting, higher education, technology, the federal government, or the military.

Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
8

University of Florida - Online 

Gainesville, FL

About this school

The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications Online offers eight digitally-oriented, professional specialties as part of its online master's in communication degree.

The program delivers courses 100% online, and students choose from the following concentrations: audience analytics, digital strategy, global strategic communication, political communication, public interest communication, public relations, social media, and web design. The school's website offers an online quiz to help students determine which concentration to pursue. Each concentration employs its own core curriculum and capstone project.

Catering to working professionals, the program takes two years to complete. Graduates can expect an $18,000 average salary increase, and 78% of alumni report receiving a raise and/or promotion after completing the program.

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores of 156 verbal and 146 quantitative.

Graduation Rate
90%
Percent Receiving Loans
19%
9

Purdue University-Main Campus 

West Lafayette, IN

About this school

Catering to working professionals, Purdue's online communication master's degree offers four concentrations, plus the option to design a custom degree. The program takes 12-20 months and has no in-person requirements. The core curriculum teaches students to develop strategic plans, target messages, think critically, and communicate effectively.

Concentration areas include integrated communication and advertising; strategic communication and public relations; communication and leadership; and health communication. Each concentration consists of 30 credits. All students take courses in strategic communication, communication research methods, and strategic communications and ethics, plus concentration courses or electives.

The program delivers all coursework asynchronously, and students use chatrooms, discussion boards, and email to interact with faculty and fellow students.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 3.0 GPA and an online application, plus an application fee. Prospective students must also submit a resume, a 500-word personal statement, official transcripts, and three professional letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
10

University of Missouri-Columbia 

Columbia, MO

About this school

The University of Missouri offers a 37-credit, blended master's in communication with an emphasis in strategic communication. Administered by the School of Journalism — one of the oldest journalism schools in the world — the program consists mostly of online coursework, but also includes a single weekend intensive.

The curriculum centers on developing strategies to solve communication problems through critical thinking. Core courses cover advertising, mass communication, media business models, and public relations. For a capstone, students choose either a thesis focusing on journalistic research or a project seminar that seeks to solve a problem in journalism. Graduates typically pursue positions in fundraising, media relations, and proposal coordination.

Prospective students must have three years of experience in journalism or strategic communications, a bachelor's degree, and a 3.0 GPA for their final 60 undergraduate credits. Applicants submit three references, a resume, and three essays. Essays cover work and volunteer experience, personal interests and professional goals, and research skills.

Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
11

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

Students can earn an online master's in communication within two years at the University of Alabama. The 30-credit program blends application and theory to teach interpersonal communication, negotiation, persuasion, and public discussion.

The program delivers coursework both synchronously and asynchronously. Core courses include communication and diversity, gender and political communication, human communication theory, and qualitative research methods. The program offers each student two tracks. The professional track caters to professionals working in the field who want to advance their careers, while the academic track prepares graduates for doctoral programs or professorships.

Applicants must score a 300 on the GRE or be in the 50th percentile of the MAT. They must have earned a 3.0 GPA during their most recent degree. Prospective students also submit an application fee, official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three academic references.

Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
43%
12

American University 

Washington, DC

About this school

American University's location in Washington, D.C. gives it access to big-name faculty and guest speakers, even for online programs like AU's online master's in communication.

The program prides itself on its placement rate; more than 95% of program alumni earn employment within six months of graduation at organizations like NPR, Microsoft, Reuters, and the U.S. State Department. The curriculum brings together communication and public relations in the contexts of advocacy, political science, and public service. Students can choose between two concentrations: advocacy and social impact or digital communications and analytics.

The program delivers all coursework asynchronously. Interaction among distance learners takes place through online discussions, email, and instant messaging. Students complete 30 credits and can usually finish the degree in 20 months.

Admission requires an undergraduate degree, a statement of purpose, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. American University charges the same tuition for online and on-campus programs.

Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
56%
13

Washington State University 

Pullman, WA

About this school

Washington State University's Global Campus offers several degrees entirely online, including an online master's in communication. The 30-credit, asynchronous program serves aspiring professionals in advertising, communications, corporate communication, and public relations. Its multidisciplinary approach integrates traditional media with emerging ideas to teach the critical thinking skills necessary to develop effective communication strategies.

Core courses cover crisis communication, multimedia contact creation, professional ethics, and research methods. Students can engage in practical training from industry leaders through the program's advanced online platform. Students graduate with a professional, peer-evaluated, online portfolio that can be used for job interviews. Services for distance learners include instructor office hours; student self-assessment tools; and discussion boards, email, and video conferences.

Prospective students can apply online to the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications, where a selection committee evaluates their applications. Requirements include a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, academic transcripts, a professional resume with three references, and a statement of purpose. Online students pay in-state tuition and work through the program as a member of a cohort. Alumni have have worked for the Associated Press and Seattle's King 5 news station.

Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
14

Drexel University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Drexel University offers a robust selection of distance learning options that includes an online communication master's degree. The 45-credit, 100% online program trains communications specialists who can formulate effective messaging in print and virtual media. Graduates can pursue careers in digital media, technical writing, grant writing, journalism, marketing, public relations, and social media.

Students can choose from three concentrations: public communications, science and health communications, and technical communications. Drexel delivers online coursework asynchronously. Students choose from a diverse list of electives and can complete a six-month internship, and graduates leave the program with a complete, professional portfolio.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, preferably with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants who do not meet this threshold must submit GRE scores. Required documents include an online application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and an essay describing the applicant's academic and professional work, career objectives, and interests.

Graduation Rate
74%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
15

University of Denver 

Denver, CO

About this school

The University of Denver's 48-credit, online master's in communication teaches communication as an art and a science. Graduates emerge prepared to lead organizational change, develop strategic communications plans with measurable impact, and tell effective, data-driven stories. Students can earn their master's degrees in 18 months and can choose between synchronous, hybrid, and asynchronous delivery methods.

Core coursework focuses on communications plans, challenges, and inclusive practices. There are six available concentrations: dispute resolution, leadership communication, learning and development, marketing communication, organizational development, and public relations.

Core curriculum covers applied critical thinking in communication, business fundamentals for communicators, and storytelling through research and measurement. Students must complete either a thesis or a portfolio capstone in which they reflect on their studies and summarize what they have learned. All students also participate in a zero-credit seminar that addresses the transition back to school, including academic writing, connecting with peers, time management, and university services.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts, two references, a resume, and a personal statement.

Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
16

Colorado State University-Fort Collins 

Fort Collins, CO

About this school

Primarily serving working professionals, Colorado State University's 30-credit, blended master's in communication combines online and face-to-face learning. Students meet as a cohort in person one evening per week, but complete most of their coursework online. The hybrid program takes two years.

The curriculum employs a case-study model and includes six core courses and several electives. In their first year, all students take digital media writing and production, managing communication systems, and public communication technologies. In their second year, learners study organizational media production, digital media research and evaluation methods, and strategic digital communication. Notable electives include corporate media ethics and issues, media history, and writing for specialized magazines.

While not required, the program encourages students to create a professional portfolio of their work and the case studies they've developed.

Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA, an online application, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Prospective students must also submit three scholarly or professional writing samples.

Graduation Rate
71%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
17

West Virginia University 

Morgantown, WV

About this school

West Virginia University offers hundreds of classes and programs for distance learners, including an online master's in communication studies. Administered through the Eberle College of Arts and Sciences, the program seeks to develop organizational leaders with strong critical thinking, interpersonal, and writing skills.

Designed for working professionals, the 36-credit program offers three concentrations: communication in instruction, corporate and organizational communication, and communication theory and research.

Students in the first two concentrations take a comprehensive written and oral exam at the end of the program, while communication theory and research students write a thesis instead. Core courses include instructional communication, media in communication and education, and theory and research in mass communication.

To graduate, students must maintain an overall 2.75 GPA and a 3.0 GPA in their communications courses. Prospective students must apply online to the graduate school and submit transcripts. The graduate school prefers applicants with a 2.75 GPA from an accredited college or university, but does not require test scores or letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
60%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
18

Texas Tech University 

Lubbock, TX

About this school

Texas Tech University offers an online master's in communication with a focus in strategic communication and innovation. The program consists of 30 credits of courses designed to prepare communications professionals for high-level leadership roles in an increasingly digital and global environment.

The asynchronous, fully online curriculum includes three electives and culminates with a capstone project. Students complete six required courses, including studies in research methods, communications in organizations, and strategic communication planning and writing. Electives cover audience/data analysis, multimedia storytelling, and social and digital media. The capstone project requires students to complete an applied research project.

Applicants apply to the graduate school online. Admission requirements include a personal statement, academic and professional writing samples, three references, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Applicants who do not meet this threshold can submit GRE scores to improve their chances.

Online students pay the same tuition as on-campus students.

Graduation Rate
60%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
19

Gonzaga University 

Spokane, WA

About this school

Gonzaga University provides Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic education. Its hybrid master's in communication and leadership emphasizes understanding audiences and communicating clear messages. The program blends asynchronous, online learning with required, in-person experiences.

Students in the program can choose from six concentrations: change leadership, college teaching, digital media strategies, global leadership, servant leadership, and strategic and organizational communication.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 3.0 GPA. Students with lower GPAs can still apply, but should provide an explanation of why their GPAs fell below 3.0. Prospective students must also submit at least one reference, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Start dates are available in January, March, May, August, or October.

Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
51%
20

Florida International University 

Miami, FL

About this school

The first and only public research institution in Miami, Florida International University offers a fully online master's in communication with a focus in global strategic communications. Graduates become socially-responsible, globally-minded leaders in communication and innovation.

Students can complete this 30-credit program in one year. Courses explore branding, crisis management, professional ethics, and reputation management. Core courses include applied research methods in mass media, theories of mass communication, and a mass communication professional project in which students conduct field research. Electives include change management, conflict resolution, digital age communication, and dispute resolution.

Prospective students complete an online application and pay a fee. All applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and an essay that describes their academic and professional goals. Admissions may waive GRE scores for those with demonstrated professional accomplishments, a master's degree, or an exceptional academic record.

Admitted students can start in fall or spring. Online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.

Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
22%
21

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

Regent University is a private, Evangelical Christian school. It offers more than 130 areas of study for distance learners, including an online master's in communications. Regent offers several resources for online students, including peer mentoring, tutoring, and post-graduate internship and career support.

Communications students can choose one of three 33-credit, fully online concentrations: media and arts management and promotion, political communication, or strategic communication. In each case, Regent delivers all coursework asynchronously.

Core courses encompass business and finance, law and government, and communications. All concentrations include a capstone course taken in the final semester. Depending on their concentration, students complete either a project or a thesis. Political communications students can choose to complete an internship instead.

Regent offers nine start dates throughout the year. Learners graduate with skills in social media and internet marketing, applying research methods and analysis, and crisis communication.

Prospective students submit an online application and a fee, among other materials. Regent charges the same tuition regardless of residency, but also imposes a substantial online services fee.

Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
93%
22

South Dakota State University 

Brookings, SD

About this school

In a bid to become a leading university in communications, South Dakota State University offers an online master's in communication. The program serves both working professionals and students seeking professional communication skills. Program graduates are prepared for careers in advertising, marketing, public relations, and print or broadcast media.

The curriculum focuses on practical skill-building. All students must present and defend a professional master's project at the end of their studies. Core courses cover topics like conducting professional research, cross-platform storytelling, and media law case studies.

Students enroll in the 32-credit program in a cohort of 10-15 peers and they typically graduate in two years. Working professionals can opt to add four credits to the program to complete a professional portfolio. Students complete their degrees completely online, using faculty-posted lectures, assignments, and discussion boards.

The school prefers applicants with undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0. South Dakota State's online tuition is about half that of typical online master's programs.

Graduation Rate
56%
Percent Receiving Loans
68%
23

Sam Houston State University 

Huntsville, TX

About this school

More than 75% of students at Sam Houston State University work while pursuing degrees. SHSU's distance learning options include an online master's in communication studies tailored to professionals and aspiring doctoral students. Students in the program learn about conflict resolution, gendered communication, interpersonal and family communication, and organizational communication.

The 36-credit curriculum is offered through the department of communication studies and requires six core courses, including advanced communication theory, statistical methods for communication, and advanced interpersonal communication. Students can complete their studies and exams fully online. SHSU's support resources include a distance learning center, discussion boards, and wikis. The program culminates in an eight-hour, comprehensive written examination that must be taken on campus or at an approved testing center.

Applicants submit an online graduate application, a fee, transcripts showing an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, GRE or MAT scores (waived for candidates with graduate degrees), and three letters of recommendation. Admitted distance learners taking classes 100% online may be eligible for $1,000 scholarships.

Graduation Rate
52%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
24

Concordia University-Saint Paul 

Saint Paul, MN

About this school

A Lutheran, liberal arts-focused university, Concordia University St. Paul seeks to increase access to its programs through distance learning and affordable tuition. The university's online master's in communication delivers all coursework asynchronously and eliminates in-person requirements. Furthermore, a 2013 tuition reset decreased fees by nearly 25%.

Geared toward students with experience in the field, the 36-credit curriculum focuses on emerging technologies, innovation, leadership, and intercultural communication. Students can complete their intercultural communication courses abroad. Core courses include digital communication, leadership communication, corporate social responsibility, and ethical leadership. The program concludes with a capstone course that includes a strategic leadership project.

Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a personal statement.

Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
72%
25

Marist College 

Poughkeepsie, NY

About this school

The liberal-arts-focused Marist College houses a center for social media and a center for sports communication, which collaborate to offer an online master's in communication. The program targets working professionals, recent graduates, and professionals seeking a career change. The curriculum centers on digital interactive marketing and strategic communication, with the goal of training current and future professionals to develop cross-platform, consistent marketing plans that reflect brand values and company missions.

The program delivers all coursework asynchronously. Core courses include analytical tools for decision-making, brand management, and global consumer insights. Part-time students can finish in six semesters, while full-time students graduate in 3-4 semesters. The program culminates in an integrated marketing communication capstone in which students create an integrated brand experience.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA along with transcripts, a current resume, three references, and a personal statement. Prior to applying or accepting an offer of admission, students can try the online platform free of charge.

Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Communications Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master's in Communications

We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

What is a Master's in Communications Degree?

Communications master's degree programs explore advanced topics, including branding, strategic communication management, persuasion, political communication, and multimedia authoring. Most communications curricula also include focused writing courses in specialty areas, like writing for public relations, speeches, opinion writing, and promotional writing. Many programs emphasize digital media, which prepares students to manage online marketing and social media accounts.

Most communications curricula also include focused writing courses in specialty areas, like writing for public relations, speeches, opinion writing, and promotional writing.

Communications curricula vary widely by program, especially when it comes to concentrations and electives. When selecting a program, consider your specific interests and career goals. Research requirements can also vary by program; while advanced research topics are part of nearly every master's in communication online program, some programs require additional research in the form of a thesis or practicum.

Online Master's in Communications Programs

Online classes meet the same standards as traditional classes but offer much more freedom and flexibility. Students submit homework, take tests, and engage in class discussions online. Some online programs move in a synchronous format, meaning students must log on at a set time each day to watch live lectures or chat with peers. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete classwork and participate in discussion boards on their own time as long as they meet a set deadline.

Organized, self-motivated students thrive in online communications master's programs, which prepare graduates to work under minimum supervision; however, some online programs do have in-person components, like monitored exams or annual three-day seminars. Pay attention to in-person requirements when researching programs and keep in mind that most colleges don't pay for transportation costs. If you attend an online school in California but live in Missouri, budget accordingly.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Communications

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in communication tend to find jobs as communication coordinators or specialists. While these entry-level jobs are a valuable career starting point, earning an online communications master's degree means more opportunities. Even if you work your way up within a company, some companies set salary limits for employees without master's degrees.

Meanwhile, graduates with master's degrees in communications earn jobs as managers or directors, or work in the higher education sector as college professors, where they can teach the next generation and enjoy a flexible schedule. If you're unsure about whether you should continue your education, consider the average salary differences between professionals with bachelor's and master's degrees in the table below:

Average Salary by Degree Level

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Communications?

Senior positions in marketing and advertising often require supervisory skills, critical and creative thinking, and the ability to coordinate departments. Graduates with an online master's in communications have these skills and can secure these positions.

Communications Manager

These professionals oversee an entire communication department. They evaluate public messages, manage crisis communications, maintain relationships with the media, and organize internal communication. Communication managers must have excellent public speaking and interpersonal skills; the ability to multitask is also essential.

Entry Level

$46,000

Mid-Career

$68,000

Experienced

$77,000

Late Career

$76,000

Marketing Director

Marketing directors manage all marketing efforts within an organization, overseeing the planning, execution, and evaluation of marketing campaigns. These professionals usually work as supervisors, designing and delegating tasks for SEO specialists, social media coordinators, graphic designers, writers, photographers, and advertising coordinators.

Entry Level

$45,000

Mid-Career

$82,000

Experienced

$102,000

Late Career

$109,000

Public Relations Director

These professionals help organizations and corporations cultivate positive public images and maintain relationships with important stakeholders. They do this by responding to social media inquiries, hosting events, creating marketing campaigns, and working with media professionals to obtain media coverage. PR directors often juggle several projects simultaneously.

Entry Level

$54,000

Mid-Career

$82,000

Experienced

$95,000

Late Career

$96,000

Managing Editor

Individuals who love to write often find higher-paying positions as managing editors. These editors collaborate with other editors and journalists to produce publications. They handle big-picture issues, like how stories complement one another or conflict with adjacent advertisements, and they have the final say on whether or not a story gets published.

Entry Level

$46,000

Mid-Career

$61,000

Experienced

$70,000

Late Career

$75,000

Social Media Director

Social media directors use online platforms and blogs, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to communicate with target audiences, often working with photographers, videographers, copywriters, and graphic designers to produce content. Social media directors work closely with public relations directors to ensure that the company's social media presence matches its brand.

Entry Level

$45,000

Mid-Career

$83,000

Experienced

$100,000

Late Career

$112,000

Choosing an Online Communications Graduate Degree Program

When choosing an online master's in strategic communications program, take your time. Being picky at the outset saves you trouble in the long run. With so many quality online programs to choose from, you can definitely find one that fits your needs and budget. Make a list of what you value in a school, including criteria like program cost, transfer policies, and school size and type, and keep these criteria in mind during your search.

Program Cost

For many students, program cost is the top consideration. You can save money by attending an online school based in your home state, since many colleges offer local discounts. Some schools offer in-state tuition to all online students. However, if a school costs significantly less than others, it might be because it's not a legitimate program, so make sure to compare tuition prices.

Transfer Policies

Whether or not you have transfer credits from another institution, make sure to read your school's transfer policies. You might decide to transfer to a different school midway through your degree, or enroll in a supplemental program elsewhere, and attending a school with regional accreditation makes transfers easier.

School Size and Type

The main difference between public and private universities is cost. Public schools tend to charge less for tuition and offer more financial aid than private schools; however, private schools usually enroll fewer students, which means attendees receive more one-on-one attention from professors.

Program Length

Before choosing a school, you should decide whether you want to study full time or part time. Some schools have minimum or maximum credit requirements, so you should be careful to choose a program that matches your study plans.

On-campus Requirements

Even if a school advertises its communication program as online, double check its on-campus requirements. Some programs require in-person components, like supervised tests, presentations, or seminars, which can become an issue if you decide to attend an online college in a different state.

Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements

Most programs have additional requirements as well as the usual classwork. These requirements might include a thesis or capstone project, a fellowship, an internship, or a work requirement. Usually learners can complete these requirements locally, but students with full-time jobs might have a difficult time balancing these additional requirements with their schedules.

Accreditation for Online Communications Master's Degrees

For students pursuing an integrated marketing communications master's online, accreditation should be a top consideration. If a school is accredited, it means it's regularly evaluated by an accrediting agency. Although the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) don't grant accreditation, they do oversee accrediting agencies. You can visit CHEA's accreditation agencies database to verify accreditation for individual schools.

If a school is accredited, it means it's regularly evaluated by an accrediting agency.

There are three types of accreditation: national, regional, and programmatic. Schools with national accreditation are usually vocational or trade schools, and the agencies that oversee them work nationally. These universities are generally considered less prestigious than regionally accredited schools, which tend to offer more traditional liberal arts curricula. Schools with regional accreditation also have more transferable credits.

Universities can also receive programmatic accreditation in communications. The American Communication Association grants accreditation to specific programs rather than a school. Watch out for online programs that don't hold national, regional, or programmatic accreditation, as these programs lack outside oversight and likely don't meet educational standards.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Communications Degree Program?

Both private and public universities typically require about 60 credits for a master's degree. When researching online programs, pay attention to whether a school uses an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete work at their own pace, while synchronous formats have specific time requirements, like live discussions and lectures. Synchronous formats are ideal for students who need structure to keep them on pace.

When researching online programs, pay attention to whether a school uses an asynchronous or synchronous format.

Most universities set minimum and maximum credit standards for both part-time and full-time students, meaning those enrolled are limited in their course load options. If you want to finish in less than two years, you should look for an accelerated program, where the maximum credit load allows you to double up. If you must balance a full-time job with your studies, look for part-time options. Full-time students usually complete their degrees within two years while part-time students take 4-5 years.

Courses in an Online Master's in Communications Program

Advanced Public Speaking

Regardless of your specialization is, public speaking is an important component in any communication program. Online public speaking classes often require students to record and submit speeches, sometimes given in front of an audience. Typically, the audience is just family members and friends.

Interpersonal Communication

Communication directors and managers must have excellent communication skills in order to manage employees. It's also important to communicate well in one-on-one conversations with important company stakeholders. This class teaches those interpersonal communication skills, helping students improve their listening as well as their speaking.

Organizational Communication

Often, communication professionals must oversee organization-wide communications. In an organizational communication course, individuals learn to enhance interdepartmental and employee communication through internal newsletters and company events. For example, students learn to ensure that employees receive notifications about important company changes before presenting those changes to the general public.

Ethics and Legal Issues in Communication

In courses like this one, students examine case studies and learn about laws and regulations that affect communication professionals. Learners also get the chance to develop their own ethical frameworks and learn how to make educated ethical decisions on behalf of an organization.

Communication Theory

In this class, students examine popular communication theories and learn how to apply them in practical situations. This course typically includes a term paper that requires students to choose a theory and explain how it relates to a communications-related current event. Communication theory courses encourage students to take a stance on each theory and incorporate their favorites into their professional practices.

Communications Membership Associations

The American Communication Association

The ACA helps members stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in communication fields. The organization provides members with a discussion board and a peer-reviewed journal, and membership is free. The ACA also grants programmatic accreditation for communication programs. Although the ACA membership is primarily American, it encourages people from all around the world to join.

International Communication Association

Although ICA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., it connects communication professionals across the world. ICA hosts conferences and provides its members with educational publications, including a newsletter, a scholarly journal, and annual reports. The organization maintains several divisions that focus on specific topics, like health communication and public relations.

National Communication Association

NCA supports communication professionals through research and education. Members benefit from exclusive journals, regional and national networking events, educational conferences, and communication research data. NCA also provides scholarships to aspiring students and advocates for public policy that supports communication professionals.

Public Relations Society of America

PRSA aims to advance the public relations field and encourage ethical communication practices within the United States. Members benefit from educational webinars, email newsletters, regional and national conferences, and an exclusive job board. Regional chapters also host monthly or quarterly meetings where members can network with one another.

Association for Women in Communications

AWC invites women working in any communications-related field to take advantage of its networking and educational opportunities. AWC maintains an online membership directory and offers annual awards to outstanding professionals. Members also receive discounts on partner products and services and access to an exclusive job board.

Take the next step towards your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk