Online Master’s in Communication
Everything You Need To Know
Effective communication is the ultimate universal currency that keeps the world moving forward. Every field values prolific communicators who are skilled in shaping and facilitating written, verbal, and visual communication on both interpersonal and organizational levels.
But going back to school to advance your education in any field–especially in something broad like communication– is a huge commitment. It’s natural to have your mind inundated with questions like, “What will I even learn in an Online Master’s in Communication?,” “What’s the workload like,” “Are their scholarships available for financial assistance?”– and other important questions that you might think are silly.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at all the facets of a Master’s in Communication program online. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of everything that such a program might entail.
What is a Masters Degree in Communication?
A Master’s in Communication is a graduate-level degree that explores how information is synthesized and shared among people. This degree positions students to succeed across public and private sectors in a variety of settings, including research, teaching, media relations, production, advertising, and management.
Depending on the program, the students will be able to hone the essential skills necessary for leadership roles such as marketing managers, directors, diplomats, and even higher.
These include skills like critical thinking, communication analysis, business writing, and public speaking. Students will also learn persuasive communication techniques. Some communications programs will allow students to specialize in specific concentrations, which we will later get to in the article.
Master’s in communication programs come in two forms:
- Master of Arts– Geared towards students who want to combine their knowledge of communication with arts, culture, and social growth. Online master of arts in communications is well suited for those seeking a career in philosophy, education, or social program development.
- Master of Science– MSc in Communications is applicable for students seeking a career in healthcare, public affairs, and business. Online master of science courses focus heavily on the science of communication and its application in fast-paced industries.
Why Choose an Online Master’s Degree in Communication?
Students come from all walks of life. Some are mothers, fathers, while others might be working two jobs, making it impossible to drive themselves to graduate school each morning. The freedom or even the option to attend a graduate program in a traditional setting isn’t there.
The remarkable thing about an online master’s degree in communication is that busy folks still get the chance to reach their academic goals.
Here is an overview of all the significant benefits of obtaining your master’s in communication degree online:
- Flexibility to take courses and projects at any time of the day, which is an attractive advantage for those whose schedules are jam-packed with work and family obligations
- Ability to view recorded lecture on-repeat to understand concepts thoroughly
Easy access to competitive graduate programs that may be outside of the student’s immediate geographical location
- A broad range of specialization options available that may not be offered in a local program
- Ideal for those who have to frequently relocate due to being in the military or other situations
- In-depth exposure to various digital communication technology since the entire program will be based online. The familiarity with various collaboration and communication tools will come in handy in fields like IT, media communication, and digital marketing.
Demand for distance learning is soaring. Online programs are now just as rigorous and competitive as their traditional alternatives. That said, it needs to be noted that students attending a graduate program in communications online require more self-discipline and motivation than those taking courses in an in-class setting. Still, if the will, vigor, and tenacity are there, the rewards reaped will be plentiful.
Is An Online Master’s Degree in Communication Accredited?
When comparing your options, it’s essential to consider an institution’s accreditation status. Credits earned from an accredited program are both respectable and valid.
They are also transferrable to another institution in the future. Joining an accredited master’s program in communication will ensure that you are eligible for grants, loans, and scholarships.
Check the institution’s website to ascertain the current accreditation status of the program you want to join. You can also verify a school’s accreditation using CHEA’s online database.
Note that programs part of respected online universities, or traditional universities offering online programs, are most likely accredited. But, it’s still a good idea to verify the school’s national and regional accreditation standing before making a commitment.
Online Master’s Degree in Communication Admission Requirements
Admission requirements may vary depending on the program. Still, there are a few general criteria that apply to all online master’s degree in communication.
A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is necessary to qualify for an online master’s in communication program. You will need to submit college transcripts to be considered for enrollment. In most cases, you don’t need a degree in a related field. So pre-med, criminal justice majors, and engineers can also apply.
The minimum GPA threshold for most programs is 2.5 to 3.0. Depending on the school, they may look at the cumulative GPA or only on the grades you got during your last two years (final 60 credits). Note that most students granted admission hold a higher than the minimum required GPA. It depends on the size of the program and the competitiveness of the admission process. Also, if a student doesn’t meet the minimum GPA requirement due to extenuating circumstances, they may still be offered conditional admittance.
GRE scores are used by some schools to access a student’s aptitude. Many online programs do not require the GRE score if you meet a specific GPA threshold, or if you have a master’s degree in another field, or have extensive work experience. If you have a borderline GPA, consider taking your GRE even if it isn’t required by the program you are interested in. A good GRE score may offset the low GPA.
Most online master’s programs in communication seek students with strong writing skills, so a writing sample is an integral part of your application. This sample is your opportunity to show the key-decision makers how the program matches your strengths, qualifications, and future career goals.
Letters of Recommendation
Programs typically require students to submit two to three letters of recommendation from professors who can verify your potential to succeed in the program. Supervisors from your internship or past work can also provide letters of recommendation.
While not necessary, relevant work experience will increase your chances of being accepted into an online master’s degree in communication program. Especially if you have your bachelor’s in an unrelated field. Relevant internship and volunteer experience will also be helpful.
What is the Typical Curriculum for an Online Masters in Communication Program?
The curriculum in the master’s degree in communication Program is divided into core courses and electives.
While all graduate students have to take core courses, you do have the flexibility to choose which electives you receive depending on your professional communication program goals. Depending on whether you apply for the Master of Arts or Master of Science in communication, the core courses will be slightly different. Still, they are likely to cover the following key aspects:
- Human psychology
- Theories of communication
- Communication research methods
- Role of effective communication in leadership
- Fundamental principles of communication strategies, including how to identify the target audience, how to create tailored messages
- Integrated marketing communication
- Communication ethics across various fields including politics and education
- Copyright and trademarks
- Using communication for social, political and economic change
Aside from coursework, the final module for those pursuing an MA in communication will be an Applied project. Those taking MSc will have to complete a research project.
Online master’s in communication programs typically last two years. Here is a year-by-year breakdown of important milestones.
Students will brush up on the concepts and skills they learned as part of their Bachelor’s degree during the first year. This year is essential for those who majored in a field unrelated to communications. All students also learn new communication skills they can immediately apply to their field.
Students will take courses to sharpen critical research and writing skills, which will be put into practice in future projects.
By the end of year one, students will be expected to have decided on their capstone thesis topic or applied projects.
Students will have the option to choose advanced courses in a specific concentration. For example, those interested in political communication will have electives that explore campaign management, polling strategies, and lobbying.
Students will be required to apply what they learn in their day-to-day jobs.
Students will spend the last few months finishing their Applied project or thesis and preparing for their final exam.
What Are the Common Specializations For An Online Master’s Degree in Communications?
Different schools offer programs that emphasize specific fields of communications, which you’ll find under electives. These courses are taken after you’re done with the required set of core classes. Some programs will offer courses across various concentrations, while others might provide multiple courses under one field.
We recommend that you research the specialization options available under the program you are interested in applying.
Here are the most common ones:
Public relations- a comprehensive overview of PR models, communication theory, planning and executing public relations campaigns, and applying critical thinking when using research to gain consumer insight to solve marketing challenges.
Students learn necessary training to develop and disseminate written, verbal, and visual communication required to advance the organization’s mission. Students of strategic communication can further specialize in political advocacy, community education, brand building, and more.
Students learn the role communication plays in forming and negotiating different types of relationships. Suitable for those who want to pursue roles in crisis communication, conflict mediation, counseling, and communication consulting.
Prepares graduates to work as health communication specialists in various industries, including government, insurance, healthcare, and healthcare publishing. Medical journalism and science writing is part of the coursework.
Electronics and Digital Media
Provides students with comprehensive knowledge of engaging audiences online, digital marketing, social media, copywriting, branding, and consumer conversions.
Graduate students learn how to effectively communicate with people across national and international borders, which can be beneficial in various industries, especially business and politics.
Trains students for communication professionals role such as campaign communication managers and strategists, speech writers, media consultants, and political strategists.
Students will learn the creation and positioning of content in print, electronic, digital, and mass media.
Students study the role of communication in creating identities, workplace culture within organizations. This is perfect for those interested in a career as a communications professional in human relations, communication management, or corporate training.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in Communication Online?
Most master’s in communications degree programs require 30 to 48 credits or 10 to 16 courses. The typical duration for degree completion is between one to two years. Still, the exact time depends on three main factors– structure, preference, and focus.
This is the most significant variable that determines how long it will take for you to complete your master’s in communications. Full-time students can take larger workloads per term, which helps them to finish their degree faster, i.e., in one to two years.
Working professionals or those who have busy schedules outside of school pursue their degree on a part-time basis. They can only take on fewer credits per term, which gives them more flexibility to attend to other commitments but adds to their program’s duration. In this case, it can take up to three years to finish.
Also, some programs may offer courses year-round, including summers. In contrast, another program may have a set schedule for each course.
This refers to the options and flexibility students have in their chosen pathway to completing the degree.
This includes the number of courses they take per semester. Some online schools will give you the flexibility to decide how many and in which order you take your courses.
They may not require you to attend all year round, which offers great flexibility for those juggling multiple commitments. Still, it can push the time it takes to complete the program. Some school of communications degree will cap it at five to six years.
If your program has an applied communication focus (MA), you will not require a thesis, and you will be able to finish your program quickly than those requiring a thesis (MS).
Are There Scholarships Available for an Online Masters in Communication Program?
Despite stipends, fellowships, and other financial aids to reduce the education-related expenses, most students still struggle to afford the financial burden education adds to their lives. This is one problem that keeps people from pursuing higher education in the first place.
Scholarships are available to assist students in paying their tuition and supplement their income while pursuing a graduate degree.
Here are 3 Online Masters in Communication Scholarships:
AKA EAF Scholarships
Overview: Two scholarships available- Financial and Merit-Based
- Full-time student in an accredited institution
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 (Merit-based) or 2.5 (Financial-need based)
- Community service
Ford Emerging Voices Scholarship
Overview: Available for two female students based on essays
Amount: $3,000 for winning applicant; $1,000 for runner-up. The scholarship amounts for the winning students will be directly deposited to their educational institution, and the winners also eligible to write two blog posts for All Women in Media (AWM).
Eligibility: Interested applicants required to write a 750 to 1000-word essay based on a prompt.
Chester Burger Scholarship for Excellence in Public Relations
Overview: Available to graduate students studying public relations, journalism or other related fields.
- Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
- Two letters of recommendation, plus one from someone who can reflect on your potential in public relations
- One page Resume
- 1000-word essay on a topic in their application
Other than these, please keep in mind that most online institutions offer scholarships exclusively available to those in their program. You should check in with your chosen university to see if they have any assistance available for graduate students. They likely do.