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Graduate degrees in media communications prepare you for work in various industries, including marketing and advertising, public relations, news media, and even business management.

Annual salaries range widely for media and communications professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public relations specialists earn $67,440 per year on average, and reporters and journalists earn $55,960. Media producers and directors earn an average of $85,320 per year.

You can expect to spend a minimum of one to two years earning your degree. As of 2021, the average tuition for a graduate-level degree was around $19,749 per year. At public institutions, tuition was around $12,394, and it’s more than twice that figure at private colleges and universities.

How to Choose a Master’s in Media Communications Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Media communications degrees can serve a variety of career goals, so ensure you know what your objectives are before you apply for programs. The program you apply for if you want to grow in a journalism career might be different from the one you’d pick if you were looking for a promotion in public relations or multimedia marketing.

Some examples of concentrations you can choose from when seeking a master’s in media communications include:

  • Public relations
  • Digital communication
  • Corporate communication and business management
  • Nonprofit communication and management
  • Health communication
  • Applied research in communication
  • Political communication

Research schools and programs

Comprehensive research helps you find schools and programs that best fit your needs. Some things you might want to consider as you research master’s in media communication programs include:

  • The reputation and accreditation of the program. Consider programs that are approved by accrediting bodies, as they have demonstrated quality curriculum and teaching. You might also read up on faculty expertise and consider reviews from existing students and alumni.
  • Networking opportunities. Depending on your objectives, you may want to participate in internships, work-study programs, or general networking opportunities. Look for a program that effectively supports such things. Consider factors such as a school’s proximity to media hubs and technology resources.
  • Costs and potential financial aid. Look at the cost per credit hour, additional fees, and other expenses related to a program to understand whether it fits your budget. Talk to the financial aid office at each school about options for help covering the cost of your degree.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you have a shortlist of potential master’s in media communication degree programs, prepare to submit applications. Some common steps in this process include:

  • Taking tests required by schools for admission into graduate programs. Common requirements include either the GMAT or GRE exam. Check with each school’s admissions office to find out about specific requirements and necessary scores.
  • Getting transcripts and letters of recommendation. You may need to have transcripts sent directly to the school. If you need letters of recommendation, plan ahead to allow plenty of time for people to write them.
  • Completing application documents. You can typically complete applications online. Take your time and proof your application before you submit it.

Select your program

If you apply to several schools that make your shortlist, you may get into more than one. Once you receive a response to all your applications, take some time to compare the pros and cons of each program you got into. Select the one that best meets your needs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Create a plan for covering the cost of your master’s degree program. This might include a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, work-study opportunities, and personal savings. Always check in with the financial aid office at your school for options you might not know about, and consider whether attending part-time attendance might be an option if you want to pay for your education as you go.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Media Communications Degree Programs

Best Master's in Media Communications Degree Programs

Baylor University

University of Colorado Boulder

Texas Tech University

University of Iowa

Louisiana State University

University of Washington

Michigan State University

San Diego State University

Clark University

NYU Steinhardt

Colorado State University

Resident: $324
Non-Resident: $824

Northwestern University

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How we rank schools

The master’s in media communications programs that we have identified as the best in the country offer both Master of Science degrees and Master of Arts degrees. Many are earned through their university’s school of journalism or communication, while others are pursued through general liberal arts programs and colleges of humanities, arts, social sciences, or education.

All of the programs that we’ve included on our list have earned accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies that ensure that graduate degree programs are providing their students with a high-quality education and relevant curriculum. In some cases, the programs on this list may have earned additional programmatic accreditation through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Media Communications Degree Program?

Master’s in media communication degree programs cover various topics related to strategic communication, research, media theory, digital media, and production. Typically, you’ll need to complete 35 to 40 credit hours of coursework, and you may need to take additional classes if you don’t have prerequisites from a previous degree or professional experience.

Depending on the type of program you enter and how many courses you take each semester, a master’s in media communications degree can take one to three years to earn on average. If you attend part-time, it might take longer.

In addition to passing all required classes, you often have to complete a thesis project, which involves writing and presenting a thesis or completing a relevant, independent project. Throughout your degree program, you can expect to be involved heavily in tasks such as research and writing, and you may have to complete work as part of a group.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in media communications degree program

  • Crisis Communication. This course aims to prepare students for reacting and communicating appropriately on a large scale during corporate or other crises. It might address topics such as creating press materials, developing a communications disaster response plan, and protecting brand reputation.
  • Media Resource Management. Resource planning and management courses look at how communications leaders can best utilize staff, technology, and other resources. You might also learn about managing communications across various departments, such as aligning brand messaging across PR, advertising, and marketing teams.
  • Strategic Communication. These courses deal with media theory and strategy and how to apply those concepts in real-world situations. The exact information and skills taught in such courses can depend heavily on your concentration. For example, a concentration in digital marketing and advertising might be concerned with lead generation and conversion, and a concentration in news media might be focused on the impact of journalism.
  • Audience Research. Research and analytics coursework focuses on gathering and analyzing data to understand audience dynamics and trends, which should inform media strategies of all types. This helps students learn how to identify a target demographic and craft a strategy to focus on those pain points or interests.

Master’s in Media Communications Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in media communications degree program?

To apply for a program, you’ll need to complete an application package. Research each school’s admissions requirements — talk to the admissions office at each program for specifics and potential tips on creating a successful application package.

Ensure ample time to gather documents such as transcripts and recommendation letters and take required tests. Some schools may require minimum GRE scores, especially on verbal and writing assessment sections, and if you don’t do well enough on the test the first time, you may want to try again.

You can start the application process with most schools online. Note that you will likely pay a nonrefundable application fee, but many schools put that fee toward tuition if you’re admitted.

How much does a master's in media communications degree cost?

The cost of your program depends on how much each credit hour is. For example, the cost per credit hour at Georgetown University for the fall 2024 semester is $1,620. A master’s in media communication program requiring 30 credit hours at this rate would cost around $48,600.

When considering the costs of your chosen program, factor in expenses such as fees and books. You might also want to consider transportation costs if you are commuting back and forth to classes.

How long does it take to earn a master's in media communications degree?

In an accelerated program, you may be able to complete your degree in around one year. These programs often take into account someone’s existing expertise and may not require the same amount of credit hours as traditional programs.

Traditional programs can be completed in 1.5 to two years when attending full-time and three or more years when attending part-time.

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