The study of media and communications has long been a popular choice among college students interested in a career in public relations or broadcasting. Students in an online media communications program learn to master their communication skills while also gaining experience in problem-solving, expressing their creativity, and using the latest media technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that public relations specialists, especially those who are social media savvy, will experience 9% job growth by 2026.
Choosing a Program
Earning an online media and communication master’s degree is not just for aspiring PR professionals. An online master’s degree in mass communication media studies emphasizes a well-rounded set of core skills in written and spoken communication, interpersonal relations, adaptability and flexibility, and technology. Most programs also offer a wide variety of concentrations and electives to allow students to customize the curriculum.
Schools generally offer concentrations that correlate with career prospects after graduation. For example, if you plan to pursue a career in public relations, you might choose a concentration in public and media relations. If you aspire to work for a nonprofit, you might want to choose a school with an emphasis in advocacy and social impact or nonprofit communication. Some programs include a focus in cinema studies or multicultural communication. Additionally, many schools now offer a concentration in digital media and communication. Most online media and communication master’s programs conclude with a capstone project or presentation.
For career information, skip down:
Online Master’s in Media Communications Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Master’s in Media Communications Programs
1University of Florida
Located in sunny Gainesville, The University of Florida offers one of the preeminent online media and communications master’s in the country. UF’s online master of arts in mass communication with a concentration in digital strategy is an accelerated degree path that allows students to graduate in just one year of full-time study, taking 12 credits per semester for a total of 36 credits. The University of Florida offers three semesters per academic year.
Students can watch recorded lectures at their own pace, while meeting weekly objectives and assignments for the class. UF faculty and active professionals in mass communications teach an expansive curriculum. Coursework includes lead generation and marketing, user experience, and inbound strategy. All professors maintain live office hours, making it easy for busy distance learners to discuss projects or concepts if they need a little extra assistance.
Students have three different start times per academic year to choose from for added flexibility in scheduling the next step in your education. Applications are due November 1 (Spring), April 1 (Summer), and July 1 (Fall).
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
2Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University in Lubbock is dedicated to ensuring every student has the chance to complete one of its degrees, including distance learners undertaking an online master’s in strategic communication and innovation. The 30-credit program prepares graduates to compete for senior-level roles at national and international agencies. This program targets communications professionals whose careers stand to benefit from continued education.
Degree seekers complete 21 hours of required courses, including studies in research methods, mass communication theory, and an applied research project capstone. You choose which electives fill your remaining nine credit hours; options include multimedia storytelling, audience/data analysis and reporting, and advanced social media practice.
Students can complete courses asynchronously and log in at any time. Applicants must submit a 300-500 word personal statement, resume, writing samples, references, and undergraduate transcripts with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. Once admitted, distance learners can begin the program during the fall or spring, or either of the two summer sessions.
Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
3 Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
One of the Big Ten schools, Michigan State University in East Lansing offers students an exceptional education, on- or off-campus. MSU’s reputation for excellence extends to its online master’s in strategic communication. Most applicants are experienced communications professionals.
Composed of nine courses totaling 30 credits (plus a capstone project), students enrolled full-time can finish in less than two years. This master’s degree in media and communication is the newest online degree at MSU.
Digital communications continue to evolve, and the courses for MSU’s master’s in strategic communication reflect the dynamic nature of the field. Courses are available in crisis communication, persuasion techniques for working professionals, and ethical concerns and controversies for emerging thinkers.
The department maintains an active digital footprint, with regularly updated blogs, student stories, and faculty profiles. Interested distance learners can attend one of the school’s regularly scheduled informational webinars. According to recent data, 95% of graduates find work or move into an advanced degree directly after leaving school.
Michigan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4Washington State University
Ten percent of Washington State University’s 30,000 students are distance learners. WSU’s online master’s in strategic communications welcomes veterans and newcomers alike who want to work in communications.
In addition to learning about theories and methodologies behind successful strategic communications, WSU students are also provided with hands-on teaching about the latest platforms, tools, and applications being deployed in the field. This online media and communications master’s program includes 12 professional core credits, 15 credits in strategic communication, a three-credit capstone project, portfolio, and comprehensive presentation.
Standout classes include professional digital content promotion and professional marketing communication management and campaigns. The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication consistently ranks well for its graduate degrees. Students work closely with industry professionals and PhD faculty scholars. Applicants must provide a written statement of purpose and an official transcript that shows an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students can start during the summer, fall, or spring semesters.
Washington State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
5 University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
The University of Iowa’s cutting-edge distance education program allows distance learners to seek an online master’s degree in strategic communication from anywhere in the country.
For current professionals and those with no experience in communications, UI’s curriculum supports learners aiming for a variety of careers. Graduates have gone on to meaningful roles in event planning, political campaigns, crisis communications, writing, health communications, and public affairs.
Initial courses work to instill foundational professional skills in students. From there, classes transition into a nuanced study of advanced communication strategy and development. In addition to required classes, degree seekers can also choose from a number of electives – either from within the program or from a complementary department in the university.
Unlike other online master’s of communication in digital media programs, UI’s degree is not taught asynchronously. Classes meet online once per week in the early evening. Some electives may also require occasional classroom sessions in Iowa, so students who live far away may want to speak with an advisor before committing. Because many enrollees are working while studying, UI offers two-, three-, and four-year graduation plans. You can also take up to two courses in the program as a “non-degree seeking” student before admission to the master’s degree program, allowing you to make sure the program is a good fit for you.
Applicants do not need to complete the GRE, but must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit a statement of purpose, writing samples, resume, and three letters of recommendation.
The University of Iowa is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6 Florida International University
Florida International University in Miami offers an online master’s of science in mass communications with an emphasis in global strategic communications, a focused degree program preparing graduates to take on advanced, international roles at some of the world’s top corporate, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. This accelerated program can be completed in just one year of full-time study and costs $25,000 regardless of where you live.
Offered in partnership with the school’s Center for Labor Research and Studies, degree seekers may also earn a graduate certificate in conflict resolution and consensus building while enrolled in the master’s program. This is an especially exciting option for individuals looking to set themselves apart from other job applicants following graduation. The 30-credit program covers communication management and digital communication. Students complete four classes (the equivalent of 12 credits) each semester. Notable courses include global strategic communication management, communication for change management, and mediation techniques.
To be considered for admission, prospective students must submit a completed application, transcripts with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, proof of degree, two recommendation letters, an essay, and a resume. If the applicant has a demonstrable history of professional accomplishment or already has a master’s degree, they may petition for a waiver of the GRE requirement.
Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
7 Webster University
Webster Groves, Missouri
Webster University in St. Louis, MO, recognizes that individuals interested in completing an online master’s degree in mass communication media studies hail from many different backgrounds. Regardless of the unique calling of each learner, the university’s online master’s in media communications examines how communication impacts many sectors of life and explores rapidly evolving technology, culture, and digital platforms.
Created to address the needs of communications professionals, the curriculum avoids covering foundational topics and instead dives into a nuanced study of advanced areas of the field. Core classes required in this two-year degree include media organization and regulations, media production management, and international communications. Degree seekers choose one three-hour elective to help further focus their education.
Although all courses are available online, students can also take classes at one of the school’s multiple campuses across the globe, from Bangkok to Louisville. Applicants need a completed application, social security number, official transcripts, anticipated entry date, any college transfer credits, and employment history.
Webster University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8The New School
New York, New York
A leader in innovative educational opportunities, The New School in New York City continues to evolve with the needs of students and industries.
The school’s 39-credit online media studies master’s degree features a rigorous curriculum that includes two core courses (media theory and media design), two production courses (practice and project), and one course in research methods. Unlike other online master’s in media and communications with a mandatory capstone project, presentation, or portfolio, The New School’s students choose either a thesis or non-thesis route.
With so few required courses, The New School encourages students to create a plan of study that suits their academic interests and professional ambitions. Many students focus in an area of study created within the School of Media Studies, such as media analytics, documentary studies, digital cinema production, and transmedia and digital storytelling.
Online students complete program requirements in an asynchronous format and are welcomed to the school and department through a digital version of the new student orientation. During the first semester course Understanding Media Studies, you can get to know your fellow distance learners in special online discussion sections. Online degree seekers are also allowed to earn up to six credits by completing approved internships or assistantships.
The New School is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
9South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
Located in the flourishing town of Brookings, South Dakota State University offers a stellar online master’s of mass communication for individuals who are already working in the field and want to expand their mastery of the discipline. The program is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Students choose between a 32 or 36 credit path to graduation; the former program requires a professional project and the latter a professional portfolio. Rather than following a traditional semester-based schedule, learners complete accelerated eight-week sessions to move through the coursework quickly. Online students who complete two consecutive eight-week classes (and one per summer) can finish the program in less than two years.
Online courses at SDSU average about 15 students. In addition to required classes, students can also pick from a wide range of electives, including opinion writing, health campaigns, and social marketing for health and behavioral change. All classes are available asynchronously and include a 24/7 virtual classroom where learners can access all the materials needed to complete assignments and projects.
South Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10 Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire University began offering online education programs more than two decades ago and continues to be a nationally recognized leader in the field. The school has a vast array of online degree programs available, including a master’s in communication with a specialization in new media and marketing.
For people with experience in digital strategy and those who are new to the field alike, this affordable and accelerated degree is a great option for students of all ages. The curriculum requires 36 credits and includes seven core classes, four electives, and a capstone. Course topics include knowledge and new media, identity and personal brands, and digital tools and teams. Classes are taught on rotating 10-week terms, allowing students to finish the degree in as little as 15 months.
Classes are taught asynchronously, so you can watch lectures at your convenience. Rolling admissions decisions allow degree seekers to begin their studies during any of SNHU’s five start dates. SNHU also boasts an expansive global alumni network that can be useful in finding a job after graduation. SNHU does not require applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores.
Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
11Austin Peay State University
Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee offers two specializations and two concentrations for an online master of arts in communication arts degree. Students can specialize in corporate or general communication and concentrate in either marketing communication or media management. Regardless of concentration or specialization, all distance learners can graduate after completing 34 credits.
Each of the concentrations and specializations requires a unique set of classes, research requirements, and electives. For instance, the corporate communication specialization covers topics ranging from integrated corporate communication and applied communication theory. The media management concentration covers topics like economics of mass media and communication research methods. All specializations also require a research paper.
Classes are taught online in eight-week sessions and students can take up to two courses per session. Applicants aren’t required to have any previous academic or professional experience in communications, making it easy for career changers or those with unrelated bachelor’s degrees to flourish.
To be considered for admissions, students need to have at least a 2.5 cumulative undergraduate GPA and submit scores from the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE. No GRE score is required for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or greater.
Austin Peay also offers graduate assistantships; degree seekers need to have a 2.75 undergraduate GPA and submit three letters of recommendation outlining why the student is likely to experience success in the role.
Austin Peay State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
12 National University
La Jolla, California
Established in 1971, La Jolla, California-based National University offers affordable online degree programs for adult learners, including an MA in strategic communications.
NU’s curriculum focuses on both theoretical and practical studies in communications. Students graduate with sophisticated knowledge of the latest technologies and methodologies for interacting with audiences. Rather than following standard academic hours, NU is set up on a quarter hour system and mandates that students take 45 quarter units to graduate. The nine required courses run the gamut of communications and include topics in integrated marketing communication, campaign and program management, persuasion, and research methods. The degree concludes with an extensive capstone project.
NU is an excellent option for students who want to graduate quickly, as most classes are only four weeks long. Classes at National are taught synchronously and require students to watch streaming videos, participate in real-time discussions, and interact with professors and classmates throughout the program.
National University is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
13 Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers a master’s of science in mass media arts and journalism, the first graduate-level degree offered fully online by the school. Developed to suit professionals who are looking to improve their career prospects, this 36-credit degree begins with a theoretical foundation before moving into a range of professional experiences designed to enhance real-world success.
All classes and assignments are available 24/7 and students can catch up on lectures and class discussions whenever they wish. The program is also offered on an accelerated basis, where students can graduate in just 18 months. Required coursework includes courses in mass communication research, management of the communication process, and advanced public relations writing.
Students also get to pick two electives and complete a thesis or expanded research project in an approved area of communications to graduate. With careful planning, students can also earn a certificate in public relations while completing their master’s degree. To be considered for this online master’s in media and communications, students must submit official transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and a personal statement. GRE scores are not required.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
14 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Named after Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is a great choice for students seeking a comprehensive and engaging online master’s of arts in communication studies. This program is primarily designed for professionals with experience in digital strategy or public relations who want to advance their knowledge and their careers.
Once accepted to the program, degree seekers select from either a 36-credit non-internship track or 30-33-credit internship track that gives students hands-on experience at an approved company or organization. You may also earn a certificate in conflict management while completing the degree.
Regardless, all students must select from three options to complete their final three credits: a comprehensive examination and portfolio, written thesis, or a practicum. Professionals already working in communications often follow the practicum track, which allows them to undertake an audit or analysis of the current communication strategies and policies at their workplace and report back their findings.
Some of the classes required include technology of communication, intercultural conflict and communication, and criticism of mass media. Distance learners need to submit either MAT or GRE scores, have at least a 2.8 GPA, provide two letters of reference, and a statement of purpose.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
15University of Valley Forge
A Pennsylvania-based school that champions both Christianity and academia, the University of Valley Forge offers a fully online master of digital media communications. Newly admitted students typically finish all degree requirements in approximately two years. The program requires students to complete 33 credits, including a six-credit directed project.
As a Christian institution, UVF asks students to develop a personal theology of leadership and service within the framework of their studies while completing the master’s degree in digital media communications. Students also advance their critical thinking skills and research the latest trends within digital media.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in digital media or related topic with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. They also need to submit official transcripts, apply for credit transfer, provide a letter of reference, complete an interview with a member of the faculty, and submit a digital portfolio of relevant work in digital media.
If you’re looking for an online master’s degree in digital media communications taught from a Christ-centered perspective, UVF could be the perfect fit.
The University of Valley Forge is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Online Master’s in Media Communications Careers
An online master’s degree in mass communication media studies can open the door to countless careers. While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for many jobs in public relations, marketing, broadcasting, and publishing, employers increasingly prefer an advanced degree and field experience. Employers especially seek well-educated professionals for senior positions, especially in highly competitive markets in metropolitan cities and cultural hubs. Below are some of the most common employment opportunities in the field of media communications.
- Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst: Professionals in this field may work in TV, radio, or web-based or print media. They inform the public about important local, national, and international news. While reporters, correspondents, and broadcasters are not required to have an advanced degree for entry-level positions, employers prefer candidates who have completed an internship and/or have on-the-job experience. Professionals specialized skills in a niche area of reporting or research also have an advantage.
- Median Annual Salary: $38,870
- Projected Growth Rate: -10%
- Public Relations Specialist: PR specialists are responsible for drafting press releases and social media posts, helping to maintain a positive public image, and raising awareness for a particular topic. Employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in communications or a related field, as well as extensive experience in news media or PR.
- Median Annual Salary: $58,020
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Writer or Author: Writers and authors create content for all types of written media, including books, scripts, web pages, blogs, and advertising campaigns. Graduates of an online media and communication master’s degree may also be well-suited to work as writers for TV or radio news journalism. Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree and writing or publishing experience.
- Median Annual Salary: $61,240
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics