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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 earn an average annual salary of $62,340, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities within this industry will increase by 6% over the next few years. 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 and 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 and pay an average in-state tuition of $17,500.

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 (M.A.) or a Master of Science (M.S.). 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.

It would help if you considered your specific area of study before enrolling in a program. Media communication degrees offer different concentrations, but only some institutions provide elective coursework and resources for each specialization. Common topics for more in-depth study include corporate communication, video editing, public relations, social media, advertising and marketing, web design, and media ethics.

Research schools and programs

After deciding on an area of study, research regionally-accredited institutions housing online media communications degrees with those course offerings. Some top media communications degrees receive programmatic accreditation through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

From there, consider the following:

  • In what format is online coursework delivered? Because of the team-based nature of this field, many online media communications degrees operate through scheduled, remote sessions. This format allows students to collaborate on projects and form a network of future colleagues. Working professionals seeking more scheduling flexibility might instead opt for programs with asynchronous, independent offerings.
  • 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.

You can find most of this information on each program’s webpage. For further details, attend virtual open houses or FAQ sessions.

Prepare for tests and applications

Check the admissions requirements to ensure you meet each program’s eligibility standards. 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 include 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.

Select your program

Based on your research, determine which online media communication degrees meet your professional goals, budget, and scheduling needs. Once you’ve selected your program, you’ll likely submit a deposit or enrollment fee to hold your spot. Pay attention to deadlines and choose early if possible; some programs are more competitive and select a small cohort each semester.

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.

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, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the schools on our list have been accredited by 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 tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student 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 the 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; 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. Participants study real-world case studies to gain practical knowledge 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.

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 average cost of an online master’s in media communications is $17,500, with some in-state tuition as low as $12,000 and others topping $23,000 or more. Many schools set the same per credit cost, regardless if a course is in-person or online. To find a more affordable program, research only those schools for which you qualify for in-state residency. Out-of-state tuition is considerably higher.

In addition to tuition, obtaining your master’s in media communications incurs additional expenses, including books, computer hardware (webcams, microphones, and laptops), and high-speed internet. You should 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). Those with prior transfer credit could graduate sooner.