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Media communications is a rapidly evolving field. Individuals in these occupations frequently adapt to new technology, ethical and privacy considerations, and the changing values of their audience. A master’s degree in media communications helps current communications professionals specialize their skills and achieve leadership roles.

Media and communication-related occupations have an average annual salary of $66,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A master’s degree in media communications prepares graduates for advanced positions in marketing, public relations, government, nonprofit, or business environments.

Online master’s programs in media communications require between 30 to 38 credits to graduate; in most cases, attendees complete at least three credits of internship or project-based work. Students pursuing a full-time course of study can graduate with their master’s in less than two years.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Media Communications Program

Choose your area of study

Media communications degrees are available as either a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS). The former tends to be more interdisciplinary, whereas the latter is more data and research-driven. Either course of study will prepare you for a career in media communications.

These programs often allow you to focus your studies on a particular speciality area. Common concentration options include corporate communication, video editing, public relations, social media, advertising and marketing, web design, and media ethics. Take some time to define your career goals, then look for the programs that best match those goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in media communications program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for communications education.

From there, consider the following:

  • Will students develop a creative portfolio? Some media communications programs facilitate a project-based approach, helping students develop a professional portfolio throughout their coursework. This portfolio is valuable for your future job search.
  • Can online attendees benefit from student support resources? Your tuition should include student support resources, including mental health counseling, academic advising, research databases, and technical assistance. If you have specific learning-based or physical accommodations, contact the school’s disability services office to determine how each program can meet your needs.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit their website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each school and program have their own set of application requirements. You must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university; most schools also set a minimum GPA requirement for your undergraduate coursework (often a 2.75 or higher).

Communications programs rarely require GRE scores, though your application packet may need to include transcripts, a personal statement, a portfolio of your previous work, and letters of recommendation. These materials can take several weeks to assemble, so give yourself ample time to prepare before application deadlines. Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a few in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Submit a FAFSA form even if you won’t take out federal loans. Some grant opportunities and scholarships require you to have a FAFSA form on file to qualify. Then, speak to a financial aid counselor for the school to discuss potential funding options; some schools have merit- or needs-based scholarships.

If you’ve already earned any graduate credit or have professional experience in the media industry, contact an academic advisor to ascertain whether you can receive transfer credit, ultimately saving you on tuition. Students who have served or whose families served in the military are likely eligible for additional discounts. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Media Communications Programs

Best Online Master's in Communications Degree Programs

University of Florida

University of Georgia

Webster University

Stephen F. Austin State University

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online master’s in media communications programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, regionally accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education. Many of the options on our list also have programmatic accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of media-related programs.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online master’s in media communications programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Media Communications Program?

Students enrolled in an online master’s degree program in media communications gain a deeper understanding of the responsibilities involved in developing campaigns, leveraging new technology, and managing budgets. Throughout their study, participants build a professional network with fellow students and faculty, and they engage in hands-on, team-based projects that they can later feature in their portfolios.

Full-time students can graduate within two years. Degree programs integrate a final, comprehensive assignment, often as a three-credit internship or capstone experience. Coursework is typically delivered remotely through scheduled lectures and discussions; some programs incorporate occasional in-person networking events.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in media communications program

  • Managing Communications Systems. Students review real-world case studies to gain the practical knowledge needed to effectively manage a comprehensive media project. Coursework emphasizes the necessary skills to manage a creative team, a project budget, external vendors, and production schedules.
  • Digital Media Writing and Production. Students develop competencies in online storytelling and best practices for audience engagement. Participants understand the principles of building a community around digital content.
  • Public Communication Technologies. Participants learn how current communication tools are evolving alongside the advent of new digital technology.
  • Corporate Media Ethics and Issues. Course content evaluates digital media through the lens of moral considerations. Students develop the skills required to navigate complex ethical situations within the workplace, including privacy and credibility.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Media Communication?

Career outlook

In our digital age, effective communication has become a driving force behind success in various industries. An online master’s degree in media communications equips individuals with the skills, strategies, and insights needed to navigate the complex world of modern media and make a significant impact. From digital marketing and public relations to journalism and content creation, there is a diverse array of opportunities for those who earn an online master’s degree in media communication.

Indeed, organizations across industries are seeking skilled professionals who can effectively communicate their messages to target audiences, manage an online presence, and build meaningful connections. With the growth of social media, digital advertising, and online journalism, the need for individuals who understand the nuances of media communication has become increasingly important.

An online master’s degree in media communications opens doors to a wide range of dynamic career paths. Here are some possible options for graduates to consider:

  • Public relations or fundraising manager — Public relations managers direct the creation of materials that will enhance the image of their clients, while fundraising managers write grants and direct other efforts to raise money.
    • Median annual salary: $125,620
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 7,800 annually
  • Advertising, promotions, or marketing manager — Conduct market research, plan advertising and promotional campaigns, and supervise marketing staff.
    • Median annual salary: $138,730
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 34,000 annually
  • Film and video editor or camera operator — Capture, arrange, and manipulate moving images for television, movies, and other media.
    • Median annual salary: $62,420
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 8,200 annually

Online Master’s in Media Communications Degree Frequently Asked Questions

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

Apply online through each graduate school’s application portal. While media communications programs have their own specifications, most applications include the following:

  • A completed application (with a processing fee)
  • Letters of professional or academic recommendation
  • A resume
  • A personal statement including your career goals
  • A portfolio of written, visual, or audio work
  • A writing sample
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)

Before officially applying, contact an admissions advisor with questions or to walk you through the process.

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

The cost of an online master’s in media communications ranges from $13,000 all the way up to $61,000. Private schools tend to charge much more than public schools, and public schools typically charge out-of-state students much more than in-state students.

In addition to tuition, obtaining your master’s in media communications will involve expenses such as books, computer hardware (webcams, microphones, and laptops), and high-speed internet. You should also consider video editing, web design, and other specialty software costs.

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

A typical master’s degree in media communications comprises 30 to 36 credit hours. Full-time students can graduate in less than two years (sometimes as little as 16 months). Part-time students can earn their graduate credentials in two years if they take courses each semester (fall, spring, and summer).

Is an online master's in media communications worth it?

Pursuing an online master’s degree in media communications offers considerable advantages and the potential for a rewarding career. This advanced degree equips you with a skill set that is applicable across industries and positions you to excel in the rapidly evolving world of media.

One of the key benefits of earning a master’s in media communications is the potential for increased earning potential. Graduates of this program often qualify for higher-paying positions, particularly in leadership roles that require strategic communication expertise.

Online master’s programs in media communication offer flexibility, allowing you to balance your studies with work or other commitments. Virtual learning platforms give you access to multimedia tools, discussions with peers and professors, and networking opportunities, enabling you to enhance your knowledge and skills from anywhere.

In addition, the networking opportunities you have with an online master’s program are invaluable. You’ll have the chance to connect with fellow students, faculty, and professionals in the field, expanding your professional network and potentially leading to job opportunities and collaborations.

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