The Best Online Master’s in Communication
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Online Communicaton Master's Programs
An online master's in communication program covers topics like fundraising and political campaigns, marketing, political advocacy, and public relations.
Graduates of master's in communication online 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 communications careers, including advertising, promotions, and marketing managers; public relations and fundraising managers; and postsecondary education administrators.
Featured Online Master's in Communication Programs
The Best Online Master’s in Communication Programs
Online Master's in Communication Programs Ranking Guidelines
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.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
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What Is a Master's in Communication Degree?
Communication master's degree programs explore advanced topics such as branding, strategic communication management, persuasion, political communication, and multimedia writing. Most communications programs also include writing courses in areas such as 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.
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 Communication 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 communication 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, plan accordingly.
The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Communication
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 communication 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 communication 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 below.
Average Salary by Degree Level
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Master of Arts in Communication
Choosing an Online Communications Graduate Degree Program
When choosing an online master's in communication program, take your time. Being selective 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 criteria you value in a school, including program cost, transfer policies, and school size and type. Keep these criteria in mind during your search.
- Program Cost: Program cost is the top consideration for many students. 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 halfway through your degree or enroll in a supplemental program elsewhere. Attending a school with regional accreditation makes transferring 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 can have more one-on-one time with 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: Double check a programs on-campus requirements, even if the programs is advertised as being online. 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 other requirements in addition to 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 Communication Master's Degrees
For students pursuing a communication master's online, accreditation should be a top consideration. If a school is accredited, it means it's regularly evaluated by an accrediting agency to ensure high educational standards. Although the U.S. Department of Education 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.
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 communication. 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 Communication 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.
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 Communication 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 consists of just family members and friends.
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.
Often, communication professionals must oversee organization-wide communication. 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.
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.
What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Communication?
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 communication have these skills and can secure these positions.
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.
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.
Social media directors use online platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to communicate with target audiences. These professionals often work 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.
These professionals oversee an entire communication department. They evaluate public messages, manage crisis communications, maintain relationships with the media, and organize internal communications. Communication managers must have excellent public speaking and interpersonal skills. The ability to multitask is also essential.
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. They also have the final say on whether or not a story gets published.
Common Questions About Master's in Communication Degrees
Is a Master's in Communication Worth It?
A master's in communication can lead to fulfilling careers that earn above average salaries. According to Payscale, the average salary of individuals with a master's degree in communications is over $65,000.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Communication?
Graduates with a master's degree in communication can work in marketing, public relations, and advertising, and administration.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's Degree in Communications?
GA master's degree in communications typically takes two years to complete, though students in part-time or accelerated programs may take more or less time.
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