Best Master’s in Mass Communication and Media Studies Programs

Find out what makes the best master's in mass communication and media studies programs stand out from the rest of the pack.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on July 21, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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A master's in mass communication and media studies program explores the circulation of information and the cultural and societal impacts of the media.

Students develop advanced research, writing, and critical thinking skills in these programs. They can also gain experience and expertise with various media forms, including social media, news, and public relations.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The appeal of advanced communication degrees and careers helps students make their graduate school decisions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14% employment growth in the media and communications field between 2020 and 2030. The median annual salary for these professionals is $62,340, as of May 2021.

However, rising program costs and the prospect of graduate school debt can prove overwhelming for some.

Here, we rank the top master's in mass communication and media studies programs from on-campus and online schools to help you in your search. We showcase the most promising of the available programs to highlight the best of what the field has to offer.

Our Top Pick

Stanford University — Stanford, California

Why It's #1: Stanford gets our top spot in the rankings because the school performs well in several important categories. First, Stanford boasts one of the highest graduation rates among schools offering a master's in mass communication and media studies.

The school also offers one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios. While students pay higher tuition rates at Stanford, a low percentage of them receive financial aid through loans. This means scholarships, grants, and other aid make up the bulk of their funding.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Master's in Mass Communication and Media Studies Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Stanford University

School Information
Location Stanford, California
Admission Rate 4%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter

In State | $12,240

Out of State | $12,240

Credits to Graduate

45

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Stanford offers a coterminal master's degree in communication program, which allows learners to complete a master's degree and bachelor's degree simultaneously. Students can choose from media studies or journalism tracks. The media studies track includes courses in social research and media processes and effects. 

Students must also complete six additional media courses and an original media studies master's project. Admission requirements for prospective students include reference letters from two Stanford professors, plus prerequisites and a statement of purpose.

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Columbia University in the City of New York

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $2,428

Out of State | $2,428

Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Columbia's master of science in strategic communication program provides students with the skills to develop communication strategies. The core courses include communication management, digital media and analytics, and communication research and insights. Students can also complete workshops, a capstone project, and a summer practicum.

Columbia offers full-time and part-time paths, which provide 12-, 16-, 24-, and 36-month completion times. For admission into the full-time track, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, plus 1-2 years of professional experience or significant internship experience.

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Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Online | Scheduled and Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Course

In State | $6,429

Out of State | $6,429 

Credits to Graduate

9

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The master of science in communication at Northwestern emphasizes collaborative leadership, embracing complexity, and elegant communication. The school offers an on-campus custom leadership program, with specializations in strategic communication and organizational leadership. Students can also take an online leadership program that features three virtual practicums in strategy or leadership. 

Both programs have a three-part capstone project requirement. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, reference letters, and a completed interview.

View School Profile

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $8,454

Out of State | $17,110

Credits to Graduate

36 or 39

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Carolina's master's in media and communication program features journalism, strategic communication, and visual communication tracks. Each track features core courses in media law and reporting and writing news, plus a final thesis project. Learners planning to pursue a doctorate may take a theory and research track with a specialized curriculum.

Media and communications students also complete a comprehensive exam in their final semester. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

Brigham Young University-Provo

School Information
Location Provo, Utah
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 78%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $467-$934

Out of State | $467-$934

Credits to Graduate

33

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Students in Brigham Young University's master's in mass communications program examine the link between media and society. The program allows learners to create their own concentrations, such as international media and communications, health communications, and social media. Degree-seekers also complete a six-credit thesis project.

The average student spends 2.5 years completing this degree, but some finish in less than two years. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Year

In State | $61,050

Out of State | $61,050

Credits to Graduate

40-48

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Boston University's communication department offers a master of science in mass communications and a master of arts in emerging media studies. The master's in mass communications program features two concentrations: marketing communication research and communication studies. Both specializations include core courses in contemporary mass communication, writing, and communication theory. 

The emerging media studies program features a final project and a three-semester research project. The university provides internship opportunities in all communication programs. For admission, prospective students must have a bachelor's degree.

View School Profile

Villanova University

School Information
Location Villanova, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 28%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $845

Out of State | $845

Credits to Graduate

33

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Villanova's master of arts in communication examines leading communication theories and research. The program includes core courses in communication perspectives and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Learners also complete a capstone examination or thesis project.

Degree-seekers fill out their program with electives from three fields: practices, principles, and contexts. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, three recommendation letters, and a goals statement.

View School Profile

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter

In State | $6,019

Out of State | $10,510

Credits to Graduate

45

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Washington's master of arts in communication emphasizes six areas: cultural communication, social interaction, communication technology, political communication, rhetoric, and international communication. The program also features three tracks that include communities and networks, digital media, and Native voices.

The first two tracks feature research methods and law and ethics requirements, while the Native voices track features a documentary research and final project requirement. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

University of Miami

School Information
Location Coral Gables, Florida
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $20,790

Out of State | $20,790

Credits to Graduate

30-36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Miami's master of arts in communication studies program features four concentration options: communication studies, intercultural studies, health studies, and organizational communication. Learners can take a thesis or a non-thesis track with each of these concentrations.

Each track covers core studies in research methods, communication theory, and qualitative research methodologies. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a goals statement, and GRE scores. To qualify for the thesis track, students need to secure a project supervisor.

View School Profile

University of Wisconsin-Madison

School Information
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Year

In State | $12,176

Out of State | $25,504

Credits to Graduate

30-41

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Wisconsin Madison's master of arts in communication arts features four tracks: communication science; film; media and cultural studies; and rhetoric, politics, and culture. Depending on their specialization, students may have a comprehensive exam or thesis requirement. 

The university provides professional development opportunities via teaching assignments, department colloquia, and the school's media center. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The communication department prefers a minimum 3.25 GPA in relevant courses.

View School Profile

Stanford University

School Information
Location Stanford, California
Admission Rate 4%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter

In State | $12,240

Out of State | $12,240

Credits to Graduate

45

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Stanford offers a coterminal master's degree in communication program, which allows learners to complete a master's degree and bachelor's degree simultaneously. Students can choose from media studies or journalism tracks. The media studies track includes courses in social research and media processes and effects. 

Students must also complete six additional media courses and an original media studies master's project. Admission requirements for prospective students include reference letters from two Stanford professors, plus prerequisites and a statement of purpose.

View School Profile

Columbia University in the City of New York

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $2,428

Out of State | $2,428

Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Columbia's master of science in strategic communication program provides students with the skills to develop communication strategies. The core courses include communication management, digital media and analytics, and communication research and insights. Students can also complete workshops, a capstone project, and a summer practicum.

Columbia offers full-time and part-time paths, which provide 12-, 16-, 24-, and 36-month completion times. For admission into the full-time track, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, plus 1-2 years of professional experience or significant internship experience.

View School Profile

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Online | Scheduled and Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Course

In State | $6,429

Out of State | $6,429 

Credits to Graduate

9

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The master of science in communication at Northwestern emphasizes collaborative leadership, embracing complexity, and elegant communication. The school offers an on-campus custom leadership program, with specializations in strategic communication and organizational leadership. Students can also take an online leadership program that features three virtual practicums in strategy or leadership. 

Both programs have a three-part capstone project requirement. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, reference letters, and a completed interview.

View School Profile

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $8,454

Out of State | $17,110

Credits to Graduate

36 or 39

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Carolina's master's in media and communication program features journalism, strategic communication, and visual communication tracks. Each track features core courses in media law and reporting and writing news, plus a final thesis project. Learners planning to pursue a doctorate may take a theory and research track with a specialized curriculum.

Media and communications students also complete a comprehensive exam in their final semester. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

Brigham Young University-Provo

School Information
Location Provo, Utah
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 78%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $467-$934

Out of State | $467-$934

Credits to Graduate

33

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Students in Brigham Young University's master's in mass communications program examine the link between media and society. The program allows learners to create their own concentrations, such as international media and communications, health communications, and social media. Degree-seekers also complete a six-credit thesis project.

The average student spends 2.5 years completing this degree, but some finish in less than two years. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Year

In State | $61,050

Out of State | $61,050

Credits to Graduate

40-48

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Boston University's communication department offers a master of science in mass communications and a master of arts in emerging media studies. The master's in mass communications program features two concentrations: marketing communication research and communication studies. Both specializations include core courses in contemporary mass communication, writing, and communication theory. 

The emerging media studies program features a final project and a three-semester research project. The university provides internship opportunities in all communication programs. For admission, prospective students must have a bachelor's degree.

View School Profile

Villanova University

School Information
Location Villanova, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 28%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $845

Out of State | $845

Credits to Graduate

33

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Villanova's master of arts in communication examines leading communication theories and research. The program includes core courses in communication perspectives and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Learners also complete a capstone examination or thesis project.

Degree-seekers fill out their program with electives from three fields: practices, principles, and contexts. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, three recommendation letters, and a goals statement.

View School Profile

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter

In State | $6,019

Out of State | $10,510

Credits to Graduate

45

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Washington's master of arts in communication emphasizes six areas: cultural communication, social interaction, communication technology, political communication, rhetoric, and international communication. The program also features three tracks that include communities and networks, digital media, and Native voices.

The first two tracks feature research methods and law and ethics requirements, while the Native voices track features a documentary research and final project requirement. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

View School Profile

University of Miami

School Information
Location Coral Gables, Florida
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $20,790

Out of State | $20,790

Credits to Graduate

30-36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Miami's master of arts in communication studies program features four concentration options: communication studies, intercultural studies, health studies, and organizational communication. Learners can take a thesis or a non-thesis track with each of these concentrations.

Each track covers core studies in research methods, communication theory, and qualitative research methodologies. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a goals statement, and GRE scores. To qualify for the thesis track, students need to secure a project supervisor.

View School Profile

University of Wisconsin-Madison

School Information
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Year

In State | $12,176

Out of State | $25,504

Credits to Graduate

30-41

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Wisconsin Madison's master of arts in communication arts features four tracks: communication science; film; media and cultural studies; and rhetoric, politics, and culture. Depending on their specialization, students may have a comprehensive exam or thesis requirement. 

The university provides professional development opportunities via teaching assignments, department colloquia, and the school's media center. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The communication department prefers a minimum 3.25 GPA in relevant courses.

View School Profile

Popular Online Media Studies Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Master's in Mass Communication and Media Studies ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 366 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mass Communication and Media Studies Programs

Is a master's in mass communication and media studies worth it?

Yes. A master's in mass communication and media studies program can provide plenty of value to those seeking positions in media and communication organizations. In fact, the applicable skills and knowledge acquired in these programs can be useful for many organizations in many industries.

While graduate studies can be expensive, students can reduce their costs with scholarships and financial aid.

Much of an online degree's value comes from its scheduling flexibility, which can allow learners to work while they study.

What can I do with a master's in mass communication and media studies?

After completing a master's in mass communication and media studies program, graduates can continue their training with a Ph.D. or professional doctoral program or enter the workforce. Continuing education options might include doctorates in communication, media, marketing, or public relations.

For those entering the workforce, the career options may be even more diverse. Graduates can pursue careers in journalism, public relations, marketing, or general business. Not only are entry-level and mid-level positions an option, but master's graduates also may be able to pursue leadership and management roles.

Are mass communication and media studies graduates in demand?

Yes. As mass communication and media technologies and strategies become more complex, the field will require more highly trained and specialized professionals.

The BLS projects the addition of more than 150,000 new media and communication occupations between 2020 and 2030. The 14% projected job growth in the field over that time nearly doubles the projected growth rate for all occupations.

The BLS also projects 9% growth in management occupations between 2020 and 2030, a sector with several applicable careers. That projected growth may lead to more than 900,000 new management jobs over the decade, the BLS says.

How much money can I make with a master's in mass communication and media studies?

The median annual salary for media and communications occupations is $62,340 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. However, several factors influence salaries, including an individual's experience, employer, and industry.

For example, public relations specialists earn a median annual salary of $62,800 as of May 2021, but the top 10% in this field made more than $124,620. Public relations and fundraising managers make a median annual salary of $119,860 as of May 2021, while the top 10% made more than $208,000.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in mass communication and media studies?

Management occupations provide some of the highest-paying opportunities for graduates with a master's in mass communication and media studies. According to the BLS, employees in management occupations earned a median annual salary of $102,450, as of May 2021. This is about $55,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

More specifically, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned a median annual salary of $133,380, as of May 2021. Of these professionals, marketing managers made the highest median annual wage at $135,030. Some of the highest wages by industry in this sector were in information, wholesale trade, and company and enterprise management.

Feature Image: TommL / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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