A communications degree can land you a position in almost any field with any organization. The degree focuses on effective communication through spoken word, social media, mass media, print and digital media.
A Master’s Degree in Communications takes your education even further by teaching you presentation, writing and advanced researching skills.
Master’s Degree in Communications Programs: What to Expect
A master’s in communications is a broad degree. Many students choose to focus on a concentration to align their education with their own specific career goals. There are many core communications classes every student will get in a well-rounded education, no matter the concentration. However, the remainder of your program can focus on your chosen concentration.
Communications Degree Concentrations
Communications is a customizable degree with an incredibly diverse set of paths available for students. The concentrations commonly available within a Master’s Degree in Communications program include:
- Business/ Corporate Communications
- Communication Theory
- Digital Communications
- Global and International Communication
- Health Communication
- Interpersonal Communication
- Marketing Communication
- Mass Communications
- Media Communication
- Political Communication
- Public Relations
- Strategic Communication
- Technical Communication
Common Core Courses
- Strategic Communications and Ethics
- Professional Writing
- Global Strategic Communication
- Social Media Communications
- Communication Research Methods
- Survey, Analysis, and Reporting for Communications
- Healthcare Communications
- Personal Branding
- Persuasive Communication
- Crisis Communication
- Integrated Marketing
A common requirement for students earning their Master’s Degree in Communications is a capstone project. The project can be in the form of a thesis, publishable paper, applied project or a comprehensive exam. The project is typically worked on throughout the length of the degree program. A benefit of the capstone project is that you can add it to your resume along with your new degree. An impressive capstone project could catch a recruiter’s eye while digging through applicants for a position. Let’s explore the forms more in-depth below.
A thesis is a research paper a student prepares for extensively. Unlike normal research papers that are 20 to 35 pages, a thesis consists of more than 100 pages. Schools usually give students the option to do a rhetorical, qualitative or quantitative thesis paper. The paper is commonly started during the last half of their post-graduate education.
The thesis is a good option for students who may move on to getting their doctoral degrees because it prepares them for the PhD program and a potential career in academia. However, it is the most common form of capstone project regardless of a student’s plans to pursue their doctorate.
Individually, publishable papers are much shorter in length when compared with a thesis paper. However, once taken into account overall, your total published papers may be just as long as a thesis. They are often research-based like thesis papers. This is another good option for students planning to earn their PhD.
This form of capstone project has a tangible final result such as a marketing plan, website, mobile app or a consultation. Typically, this project attempts to solve a problem with communication by using theories.
Students work with a faculty member to assist in developing an idea and for approval. This form of project is best for students who plan on going into the industry after they complete their master’s degree. An applied project usually takes less time and effort than a thesis project. Because of this, some programs require additional work apart from the applied project.
Comprehensive exams are composed of both oral and written components. There may be some questions pertaining to the students’ interests after completing questions related to core courses. This means the exam is customizable.
For students who do not have a lot of time to dedicate to a more time-consuming option, an exam may be the best choice. Students with jobs, internships or families typically opt for a comprehensive exam.
Considering all of the above Master’s Degree in Communications program elements, you may be wondering how long it will take to complete all your courses and how much it will set you back in terms of cost.
The length of a program depends on the student. Many online degree programs offer flexible course loads, so students can be either part-time or full-time learners. This allows many students to work while obtaining their degree.
Most often, it takes about one to two years for someone to complete a master’s in communications degree. There are anywhere from 30 to 45 required credits, which equates to about 10 to 12 courses on the degree plan. For most colleges, you must take four or five courses a semester to be considered a full-time student.
The cost of getting an online Master’s Degree in Communications varies from college to college. Some schools may offer a discounted price for students who are in-state residents. However, most schools offer a flat rate per credit hour for every student.
There is often financial aid available for students who are veterans, demonstrate financial need or qualify based on other factors. It is important to look at the school’s financial aid page and policies before applying.
Typically, you can expect to see schools charging anywhere from $400 to $600 per credit hour. Considering most programs are anywhere from 30 to 38 credit hours, the total tuition can be between $12,000 to $23,000.
One of the benefits of attending online programs is that they are typically cheaper than going on campus. Let’s explore online learning benefits in more detail below.
Benefits of Taking Online Courses
Getting your Master’s Degree in Communications online has its advantages, as follows.
Because of its online nature, it is easier for students to fit classes into their schedule. Many students going to school for their master’s degree are already employed and online classes make it easier to attend classes and do school work after completing their workday.
Online students also do not worry about classes conflicting with their schedules because there are no set times or days for classes. This allows students to take the classes when it best suits them.
Because online universities have fewer expenses to support students, they can offer cheaper tuition prices.
No Commute or Relocation
Because there is no specific location, students can take classes from their own home. There is no need to commute or move, saving thousands of dollars per year.
Master’s in Communication Degree Job Prospects
If you are looking for a higher income, getting your master’s degree would be a wise decision. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, the average yearly salary is $59,868, according to PayScale. With a master’s degree, this average increases to $69,000. This higher average income is due to professionals with master’s degrees holding more senior positions.
If you are looking for a career switch, getting a master’s degree could help make that possible. Even if you got your degree in a field like business, psychology, education or health, you can transition into the communications field.
Earning a master’s in communication can allow you to change careers, get paid more for a position or get a leadership position. Getting a master’s degree also prepares students to get their doctorate.
Some possible job positions someone with a master’s in communications can hold are as follows:
- Human Resources Manager
- Internal Communications Manager
- Marketing Account Executive
- Marketing Consultant
- Marketing Research Analyst
- Political Campaign Manager
- Public Relations Manager
Best Online Schools for Master’s of Communications Degrees
Northwestern University offers both online and hybrid programs, as well as a Saturday-only program to accommodate their students’ lives. The program is designed so students take just one class at a time, for five weeks each. There will also be a capstone project that integrates the program’s coursework into a three-part project.
The curriculum at Northwestern University’s Master in Science in Communications program combines theory and application. Students will sharpen their conceptual, applied and produced knowledge to have a competitive advantage in the professional world.
There are four seminars students are expected to attend in person if they chose the hybrid format. The seminar topics are:
- Cultural Intelligence and Managing Inclusion
- Crisis Communication Management
- Leading Collaboration
- Executive Presence and Elegant Communication
Perspective students need to provide their resume, official transcripts, letters of recommendation and schedule an interview with the university.
The University of Southern California’s online Master’s in Communication Management program offers students three focus areas:
- Marketing Communication
- Strategic and Organizational Communication
- Market Research and Analytics
Its courses are taught by experts with extensive experience who teach students to solve real-world problems with their knowledge of communication skills. Students learn the most current trends in the field of communication to excel in the professional realm. The world-class education at USC teaches data-driven strategy and real-world application.
One-hundred percent of program graduates are employed within 12 months of their graduation. Graduates from USC have been employed by well-known companies like Google, Disney, Apple and Sony.
The University of Denver offers a four- or six-course certificate, as well as a master’s degree attainable in as few as 18 months. Here, students learn skills like creating and implementing communication plans, using data and theories to solve challenges, and how to implement inclusive communication practices.
The concentrations within its master’s degree program include:
- Learning and Development
- Marketing Communication
- Organizational Communication
- Organizational Development
- Public Relations
- User Experience Strategy
Courses are offered in the evenings or online. Each semester is 10 weeks long. There are no GRE or GMAT scores needed for admission into the program.
Webster University offers several master’s degree programs, including:
- Master of Arts in Advertising and Marketing Communications
- Master of Arts in Communications Management
- Master of Arts in Media Communications
- Master of Arts in Public Relations
These degrees are available both on-campus and online.
Webster University’s award-winning faculty prepares students to excel in the real world. The program is 36 credit hours and students must have a grade of B or better in any prerequisite courses.
Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program and have maintained a minimum GPA of 2.5.
The Queens University of Charlotte’s online Master of Arts in Communication program combines communication theory and practical application to prepare students to “employ emerging media and technology to create effective messages to lead work teams, organizations, and diverse audiences.”
Their program is available both in-person and online. Small class sizes allow students to develop relationships with their professors. The class load is at your own pace, but the 30 credit-hour program must be completed within two years.
There is an opportunity to specialize in Strategic Communications and/or Organizational Communication with select electives.
Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Two letters of recommendation and a resume are also required.
Getting your online master’s in communication degree can open countless doors in your future, without the need to put your present life on pause. Online school is generally cheaper and more flexible.
Communications is a broad degree that allows students to focus on what they are passionate about. The above online master’s programs are sure to provide students with everything needed to excel in academia or the workforce.