Best Online Master’s in Communications Degrees

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Sharpen your critical thinking skills and pave your pathway to success with an online master’s in communications.

If you are seeking the skills necessary to succeed in a wide variety of careers, a degree in communications might be the program for you. In one of these degrees, you will learn how to express your ideas in a wide variety of formats – and to increasingly diverse audiences. Whether you are seeking employment as a public relations specialist or as a technical writer, a master’s in communications can help you achieve the skills and notoriety you need to be successful.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Communications Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
4 Northeastern University Boston, MA
5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
6 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
7 American University Washington, DC
8 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
9 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
10 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
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What kind of communications degree should you get?

If you are a strong writer and speaker, you likely already have some of the qualifications needed to be successful in the communications industry. However, finding the right program can be tricky. You should look for a degree that provides you with essential training in topics such as technology, digital media strategies, organizational leadership, and advertising, for example.

If you are already working in the communications field – or looking to change from an existing career into a communications pathway – it can be difficult to find the time to pursue a degree. An online program can provide you with the flexibility and affordability you need to be successful. Still not sure if an online degree in communications is the right choice for you? Make sure you check out our comprehensive ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities for a broader view of the best schools.

How much money do people make with a master’s degree in communications?

Your average salary and job growth after receiving a communications degree will likely vary depending on the specific career you pursue. These jobs are expected to grow at an average pace by 2026, with an expected addition of 43,200 new jobs. The demand for these positions remains high as more professionals are needed to create, disperse, and edit new information across a variety of digital, print, and multimedia platforms.

Depending on the career you choose, you can expect to earn an average salary of about $57,530 per year. This is considerably higher than the median wage for all occupations, and many professionals earn even more. The highest paid individuals in the communications sector, those who are employed in technical writing, earn well over $70,000 per year.

What can you do with a master’s degree in communications?

With a degree in communications, there are a wealth of opportunities available to you. You might choose to become a public relations specialist, working to maintain favorable public images for organizations or individuals, or you could go into social media marketing. You might find yourself working as a photographer, a writer, or an editor, or you could become a broadcast news analyst.

What do all of these careers have in common? They require you to think on your feet to craft favorable messages for the individuals, organizations, or ideas you represent. As a communications professional, you will constantly be innovating, creating, and broadcasting purposeful messages to a wide variety of audiences.

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in communications?

To obtain a master’s degree in communications, you will need to first complete an undergraduate program of study. Although this degree should ideally be in a communications-related field, such as English, journalism, or marketing, you could easily pursue graduate studies in communications after completing an unrelated undergraduate program. You may also be required to take and submit scores from the GRE.

While enrolled, you will take classes in the humanities as well as in topics that are specific to your individual communications pathway. For example, you might take electives in technical writing, public relations, or broadcast journalism, depending on your final career goals.

Best Online Master's Degrees in Communication Badge

What are the best online master’s degrees in communication?

We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer not only fair prices, but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in-depth description of our data.

Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These not only represent the best degrees you can get, but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Gainesville, a booming city in northern Florida, the University of Florida has a massive 2,000-acre campus as well as a thriving online community. Students are welcomed with extensive support services, such as a Counseling and Wellness Center, a Career Connections Center, and even an online library. The asynchronous online degree in Communications takes most students about three semesters to complete, with 36 to 39 credit hours of full-time study required.

    Program Features

    Choose from one of eight specializations when studying in this program. The school offers customizations in audience analytics, global strategic communications, public interest communication, social media, web design and online communication, public relations and communication management, political communication, and digital strategy. Regardless of the pathway you choose, you will take core coursework in topics such as:

    • Mass Communication Theory
    • Strategic Communication and Ethics
    • Inbound Strategy
    • Copywriting for Digital Messaging

    Notables

    All courses in this program are offered asynchronously, allowing students to log in at any time to complete their classes. Courses are offered via live office hours and recorded lectures. With an impressive freshman retention rate of over 96 percent, this school is dedicated to student success. All students are given an entry quiz upon enrollment that assists them in determining their ideal specializations, and most students can complete their studies in less than two years. Additional certificates in topics like media sales and web design are also available.

  2. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Southern California graduated its first class in 1880, and has blossomed into a top-ranked institution of higher education ever since. A private school located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California offers a 32-credit master’s in communication management that is geared toward professionals and new learners alike. The degree addresses critical aspects of global business communication, as well as organizational planning, communication research, and other vital topics for career success.

    Program Features

    This degree requires most students to take about two courses per term, allowing them to graduate in as little as sixteen months. Classes teach students to analyze audiences and determine strategies for corporate communication, as well as how to communicate effectively in the workplace. Each student must complete a practicum project related to their career focus. Required classes include:

    • Integrated Marketing Communication Strategies
    • Audience Analysis
    • Global Marketing Communication
    • Managing Communication
    • Strategic Corporate Communication

    Notables

    The University of Southern California is ranked as one of the best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, a profound testament to the school’s dedication to student success in virtual learning. The school has an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of just 9:1, but as a large school of nearly 19,000 undergraduates is still able to offer exceptional opportunities to learners. The communications degree is housed in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and is taught by a highly respected faculty comprised of editors of leading journals, government consultants, and officers in national and international professional associations.

  3. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Originally known as Kings College, Columbia University was founded in 1754 and renamed in 1896. The university is now home to over 33,000 students, offering a range of dynamic programs. Among them is the online master’s in strategic communication. This degree combines both classic and contemporary communication skills, requiring students to become experts in strategic communications. For students with less than six years of related experience, the school also offers a master of science in executive communication.

    Program Features

    Columbia offers course waivers for students who have prior experience in strategic communications. Each student must complete a capstone project that proposes a specifically tailored answer to a common communications dilemma. Other learning experiences include group assignments, independent projects, and asynchronous online tasks. Required classes include topics such as:

    • Navigating the Digital Frontier
    • The Evolving Industry
    • English for Communications Practice
    • Active Audience
    • Influencing Decisions

    Notables

    In this program, students benefit from learning experiences designed and orchestrated by faculty members who are academic and industry experts. They can pave a pathway to success with a range of electives and opportunities for practical study. The school offers opportunities for professional network expansion via face-to-face coursework and experiences in New York City and San Francisco and helps students achieve notoriety in the field by providing internships, resume expansion, and alumni partnerships.

  4. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern originally launched its high-quality programs in 1898. The school now offers courses on its main campus as well as in Washington, California, Canada, North Carolina, and, of course, online. The university provides students with over 60 choices for online degree completion, including the hands-on Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication. This program trains students in methods of assisting businesses through enhanced communication.

    Program Features

    This degree is highly customizable, allowing students to choose between eight different concentrations in topics such as leading communication strategy and development, public relations, social media and online communities, usability/user experience, project management, leadership, and more. A sample schedule might include classes such as:

    • Ethical Issues
    • Strategic Communication Management
    • International Field Study
    • Crisis Communication
    • Personal and Career Development

    Notables

    This degree can be completed in two or three years of full-time study, but there are also accelerated pathways for students with certain credentials in human resources. Additional certificate options are available for students seeking more diversified options, with pathways including social media and online communities as well as public and media relations. Northeastern has one of the most well-respected communities of alumni in the country, with graduates receiving networking opportunities with over 3,000 employers and enjoying top-ranked positions at Harvard University, Boston Globe Media, and more.

  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located just 140 miles south of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a master’s degree in Health Communication as well as one in Strategic Brand Communication. These programs offer pathways to students seeking employment in fields like business, media, marketing, patient advocacy, administration, public health, and more. All classes are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete their coursework at the times most convenient for them.

    Program Features

    This degree consists of 32 credit hours and can be completed entirely online in just 15 months. Additional certificate options are available in topics like media and analytics as well as in a self-guided and created track. All certificates require three additional online classes, with core coursework required in topics such as:

    • Emerging Technologies
    • Social Media Platforms
    • Brand Development, Management, and Delivery
    • Strategic Brand Communication Essentials

    Notables

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is ranked as one of the best public and national universities by U.S. News & World Report, and it’s no wonder as to why. Despite having a large student body of over 45,000 students, the university offers extensive support services. All students have access to library resources regardless of whether they are studying online or on campus. Each student may also choose to enroll in a study abroad program. The university currently operates study abroad pathways in Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Australia, Israel, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and more.

  6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this university is just one of many campuses in the University of North Carolina educational system. It is the oldest and first public university in the country and is renowned for its groundbreaking research, innovative teaching, and compassionate public service. The school offers over 110 different master’s programs, with many available entirely online. One of the most popular programs is the Master of Arts in Digital Communication, which is offered through the School of Media and Journalism.

    Program Features

    This degree is designed for working professionals and enables them to acquire the skillset hands-on experience necessary to become leaders in the field. It can be completed on a part-time basis by taking just two courses per semester, a pathway that allows most students to graduate in just two years. Required classes include topics such as:

    • Digital Data and Analytics
    • New Media and Society
    • Strategic Communication
    • Usability and Multimedia Design
    • Research Methods and Applications

    Notables

    The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill offers some of the best student support services in the country. Students have access to all kinds of resources, including technology support, Adobe software, and extensive libraries. All classes are small and taught by industry experts. They allow students to network with alumni, program graduates, and fellow classmates, enhancing their learning as they work among their peers in a fully online setting. Students are placed in cohorts and only 20 distance learners are admitted each fall – a setup that provides for fantastic learning experiences across the board.

  7. American University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    True to its name, American University is located in the nation’s capital and is comprised of eight schools with over 160 different programs of study. This private university enrolls over 13,000 students in high-quality degree programs. The online master’s degree in Strategic Communication is one such program, allowing full-time learners to complete accelerated degrees in just 10 months. Part-time learners can finish their studies in as little as two years.

    Program Features

    In this program, all courses are asynchronous and last just eight weeks. Four optional concentrations are available, with topics including advocacy and social impact, corporate communication and reputation management, public diplomacy and global affairs, and digital strategies and analytics. All candidates will take classes in areas such as:

    • Communication Theory
    • Ethics in Strategic Communication
    • Social Marketing for Social Impact
    • Grassroots Digital Advocacy
    • Writing for Strategic Communication

    Notables

    American University prides itself on small class sizes. In fact, the university upholds an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1. Classes are taught by a diverse body of faculty members, many of whom are politicians, PR experts, social change advocates, writers, correspondents, and more. Ninety-five percent of graduates from the School of Communication are either employed or enrolled in graduate studies within six months of graduation. As a result, the school is ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report’s best national universities.

  8. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, and is a private research institution with an exceptional reputation. In addition to its 240-acre Illinois campus, the school also operates campuses in Qatar as well as online. The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University houses the Master of Science in Communication. This degree is one of the university’s most popular, and it’s no wonder why. The graduate degree is available in a hybrid online/on-campus format as well as entirely online.

    Program Features

    This degree has four in-resident experience requirements, requiring students to come to campus to learn in a more hands-on setting. Learners are taught the skills necessary to give them the competitive backgrounds they need to succeed in any work environment. Students will also take classes such as:

    • Foundations of Strategic Communication Management
    • Using Data to Make Informed Decisions
    • Collaboration & Technology
    • Information Design
    • Leading Collaboration

    Notables

    At Northwestern, class sizes are small, with most learners enjoying an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 7:1. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and boasts a proud commitment to teaching, research, and personal and intellectual growth. Students receive access to cutting-edge virtual learning technology, enjoying a curriculum that is personally tailored to working professionals.

  9. Marist College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Marist College is nestled on the shores of the Hudson River in idyllic Poughkeepsie, New York, and offers an online master’s in Communication that is designed for busy adult learners. The school offers two ways to earn an online master’s degree in communication – while one version of the program focuses on organizational communications and leadership, the other focuses on integrated marketing. This provides students with maximum flexibility as they are planning their studies and careers.

    Program Features

    Candidates can graduate in just a single year of full-time study after making their way through short classes that only last about eight weeks at a time. Each candidate can choose between writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive examination as the degree is completed. Required classes include topics such as:

    • Research Strategies and Methods
    • Interpersonal and Organizational Communications
    • Persuasion
    • Media Relations

    Notables

    Marist College is one of the most affordable options for distance learners, who pay the same per-credit tuition regardless of residency. Significant financial aid is available, and while classes only begin once a year, in August, students may submit their applications at any time throughout the year. Classes are small, with most learners enjoying a small student-to-faculty ratio of just 16:1. They receive individualized attention from faculty members who are experts in the diverse field of communication.

  10. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a Christian university that integrates biblical teaching into all subject matter. The school offers a 36-credit Master of Arts in Communication that blends academic theory and theological underpinnings with hands-on professional practice. The school has eight potential start dates throughout the year and provides students with the opportunity to complete all coursework asynchronously in an online setting. The degree serves as an excellent pathway for candidates hoping to enter into doctoral study as well as those seeking to enhance their skills in communication.

    Program Features

    Students must complete four core courses before moving on to select communications electives that closely meet their professional interests and career goals. Each student is also required to take a sequence of research-based courses that teach them how to think critically and engage in high-quality research. Learners may take classes such as:

    • Professional Communications and Nonprofit Development
    • Event Planning and Donor Relations
    • Conflict Analysis and Resolution
    • Problem Solving and Collaborative Communication

    Notables

    Liberty University is considered a pioneer in the field of distance education, offering over 550 programs of study in a completely online setting. Classes are delivered through Blackboard and most feature a low student-to-faculty ratio of just 17:1. Most learners can complete their studies in just a year and a half, enjoying a liberal transfer credit policy that allows candidates to apply prior credits to up to half of their total degree requirements. In addition, all online students at Liberty pay the same tuition rates regardless of residency.

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