Best Online Master’s in Media Communication Programs

We've evaluated and ranked the best online master's in media communication programs today. Read on to learn more about admissions requirements, coursework, and career opportunities for graduates of these programs.

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by Doug Wintemute

Updated August 24, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Master's in media communication students learn to effectively communicate and tell stories across platforms. At the graduate level, students create and edit content for various media types. Learners also explore how to apply communications skills in business and nonprofit settings.

When deciding on graduate school, prospective students can consider the communication field's strong job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14% growth for media and communication occupations between 2020 and 2030, higher than the average 8% for all occupations. The median annual wage for these professionals was $62,340 in May 2021.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of graduate tuition and fees in 2019-20 was $19,792 per year. Explore what to expect in this graduate program and potential careers after graduation. We also showcase the best online master's in media communication programs from the top online schools.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Media Communication Program?

Online master's in media communication feature 30-45 credits and between 1-2 years of study. Students engage with various communication modes and media formats, including print, audio, digital, and social media. In addition to the coursework, learners may complete project-based assignments, capstones, and internships.

These programs explore how various media types influence communication approaches, storytelling methods, and audience reception. Degree-seekers develop broad and advanced skills in professional writing, storytelling, management and collaboration, public relations, and business applications.

Part of the preparation for graduate school involves choosing the degree type, including an MA, MS, or master of professional studies (MPS). MPS programs tend to be more practical and skills-based. MA and MS programs may differ slightly. For example, an MA program may require a foreign language component.

Another major decision for students is choosing a concentration. The options vary but may include integrated marketing, public relations, journalism, and visual communication. Specializations can affect a student's study course and career focus, particularly when paired with an internship in the field.

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Popular Online Master's in Media Communication Programs

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

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Media Communication Program?

Media and Culture

In this course, students learn how culture and life have been framed by the media throughout history. They also learn how the media impacts people's perception of truth and events.

Media Writing

This course teaches students how to approach writing for different media formats. Learners study the various writing functions and how the audience changes for each media type.

Media Regulations

Students in this course learn about the regulatory environment within the media. Course material typically covers ethical standards, privacy laws, libel, and copyright and intellectual property.

Mass Communications

This course explores the evolution of mass media industries. Students look at the difference between these industries, including their influence and how they change with new technologies.

Media Production Management

Students examine the roles and responsibilities of overseeing media productions and campaigns. They learn how to research, plan, and execute designs and storyboards, plus monitor the rollout and reception.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Media Communication Program?

Graduate admissions typically require a bachelor's degree at a minimum. Competitive schools may also require applicants to have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Online students need to also meet certain technical requirements.

Application

While undergraduate applicants may access college application systems, which can streamline the submission of multiple applications, graduate-level applicants usually need to submit individual applications to each program. Most schools have an online portal to help prospective students through the application process.

Test Scores

Depending on the school and program, prospective graduate students may have the option to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Competitive master's in media communication programs may require GRE scores. By completing GRE prep training before testing, candidates can dramatically improve their scores and admission chances.

Letters of Recommendation

Graduate schools often request up to three letters of recommendation. These letters may come from relevant professional sources, such as a teacher, employer, or school counselor. References should address the applicant's unique qualifications and why the student will be successful in the graduate program.

Resume and Work Experience

While not always mandatory, college application resumes highlighting relevant work experience can positively impact admission decisions. Some programs even require a minimum amount of relevant experience from candidates. In cases when experience is not required, resumes can highlight an applicant's professional skills.

Essays

The grad school application essay can vary between schools and go under different names, including a letter of intent, a personal statement, and a statement of purpose. These usually cover applicants' study interests, personal histories, and reasons for applying to the program.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts play a large role in the graduate admission process. They outline the applicant's previous training, showing their classes and grades. For transfer students, official transcripts help schools award transfer credits.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Media Communication Degree?

Career Outlook

The ever-evolving communication mediums and audiences keep media communication specialists in demand. Graduates with a master's in media communication have the skills and expertise to reach various audiences on multiple platforms in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

The BLS projects more than 150,000 new media and communication jobs between 2020 and 2030. Master's graduates can qualify for positions in this field, including management-level careers for those with relevant experience. Many media and communication jobs pay more than $60,000 in median annual salary.

With specializations available in television, radio, print, or digital media, graduates can pursue a variety of positions.

Career Paths

Editors

Editors read and revise content for mistakes, formatting errors, and readability. They help writers map out their ideas and provide style suggestions. Editors can specialize in certain topics or mediums, manage the hiring process and contracts, and decide when stories get published.

Median Annual Salary: $63,350

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists help create and maintain public images for people and organizations. They create media releases, manage social media accounts, and write speeches to ensure messaging is consistent and on brand. They often collaborate with marketing professionals and media outlets to strategize how communications come out.

Median Annual Salary: $62,800

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors create content in all media types, including books, movies, and advertisements. They research to gather information, collaborate with editors for feedback and advice, and create material that caters to specific audiences. Writers usually specialize in a medium or topic.

Median Annual Salary: $69,510

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

These professionals create and oversee advertisements and marketing campaigns for organizations. They conduct market research, plan approaches for various media platforms, and develop promotions that attract customers. They may also handle the staffing for the department, manage the budgets and finances, and collaborate with sales and production teams.

Median Annual Salary: $133,380

Technical Writers

Technical writers create content that simplifies complex information, such as how-to guides and technical manuals. They may need to perform extensive research, create content for different mediums, or edit materials. Technical writers often collaborate with industry professionals to gain insight into various topics.

Median Annual Salary: $78,060

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Continuing Education

After completing a master's in media communication, graduates can advance their education further with a doctoral degree. Some options include a doctorate in marketing, communication, or advertising.

Doctoral graduates can pursue postsecondary teaching positions and careers in research and development. Other continuing education options include postgraduate certificates in journalism, marketing, or public relations.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Media Communication Program?

Cost

Finding the most suitable grad program usually involves cost comparisons. Prospective students might compare online and on-campus costs, in-state and out-of-state tuition, and private and public school costs. Finding the true program cost involves factoring in how the studies affect income.

Program Format

Program formats determine coursework delivery and lecture schedule. Schools offer many formats, such as synchronous and asynchronous learning or hybrid programs. Learners can also choose between full-time and part-time studies depending on their scheduling needs.

Location

School location matters regardless of whether learners choose online or on-campus programs. Online programs may have residency requirements that learners need to complete no matter where they live. Online students may want to attend campus for certain events.

Accreditation

Online college accreditation ensures that the school meets educational standards and determines the funding a school gets from the federal government. It also ensures other schools and employers will recognize the degree.

While programmatic accreditation is not always mandatory, it can be helpful for employment purposes and quality assurances. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications awards programmatic accreditation for media communication programs.

Student Support

Student services support learners as they progress through their program. For distance learners, online student services can make a difference in helping degree-seekers feel connected to their school, peers, and overall educational experience. Some services and programs to look for include tutoring, career services, college mentorships, and support for internship programs.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Media Communication Programs

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Best Online Master's in Media Communications Programs

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    Students pursuing the University of Florida's master of mass communication select from several specializations at this top-ranked public university. Options include audience analytics, digital strategy, global strategic communication, political communication, public interest communication, public relations, social media, and web design.

    Each specialization provides flexible online learning designed for full-time working professionals. Graduates from this program report earning an average of $18,000 more after graduating than they did previously. The program also maintains a 97% career placement rate.

    After graduating, alumni can continue to observe classes, allowing them to stay current on new approaches and technologies in the discipline for years to come. New students can choose from three start dates per year.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $15539

    Based in Athens, the University of Georgia offers an online master's in journalism and mass communication with an emphasis in emerging media.

    No matter where they live, online students pay $629 per credit for the program's 33 required credits (as of August 2021). Covered topics in the program's digital-forward curriculum include new media production and design, digital media design and aesthetics, and project management and innovation.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit three recommendation letters and a statement of purpose and goals.

    UGA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. UGA's journalism and communications school is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

  3. Webster University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Located just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Webster University offers a 100% online master's in media communications that students can customize. Whether a learner wants to pursue a concentration in public relations, scriptwriting, or digital media studies, they can create a specialization that works for them.

    This degree consists of 36 credits divided into 21 core credits and 15 elective credits. Covered topics include media organizations and regulations, media and culture, media production management, and international communications. Webster also offers a dual degree option, in which students can earn a master's in media communication and an MBA.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but it does not need to be in a related subject. Prospective students must also provide a resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

    Webster is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Stephen F Austin State University
    Location

    Nacogdoches, TX

    Tuition

    $11759

    Based in Nacogdoches, Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University provides a flexible online master's in mass communication program. Students can choose from specializations in advertising and public relations, broadcasting, and journalism. Each option meets the needs of working students and offers opportunities for internships and graduate assistantships.

    Degree-seekers can choose from thesis, non-thesis, and media project options as their culminating experience. The latter two options include 36 credits in coursework, while the thesis route consists of 30 credits of classes plus six credits devoted to research and writing.

    Regardless of the culminating experience a student chooses, the curriculum's core topics cover management problems in media, media and society, media law and ethics, and media research methods. Students can also pursue independent study. The program does not include any on-campus requirements.

    SFA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Media Communication Programs

Is a master's in media communication worth it?

A master's in media communication helps graduates pursue many professions in writing, marketing, and public relations. Advanced training in this field can lead to more desirable and competitive careers, including senior-level and management positions. These factors make a master's in media communication worth it for many professionals.

In an online master's in media communications, students also benefit from the value of an online degree. Online programs allow professionals to continue working while earning an advanced degree.

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

With a master's in media communication, graduates can pursue careers as writers, marketing managers, and social media specialists. They learn how to manage campaigns and communications for different mediums and industries.

Graduates can continue their education by earning doctorate degrees in communication and marketing. These credentials can open the door for college and university teaching jobs, among other opportunities.

Are media communication graduates in demand?

Media communication graduates are in demand as media platforms and audiences continue to grow and evolve. These professionals specialize in crafting targeted messages for various mediums. The BLS projects 14% growth in this field between 2020 and 2030, which is 6% higher than the projected rate for all occupations.

Graduates can pursue several fast-growing professions in media and communications. For example, the BLS projects faster-than-average growth rates for writers and authors at 9%, public relations specialists at 11%, and technical writers at 12%. The BLS also projects 10% growth for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers between 2020 and 2030.

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

Earning potential for graduates with a master's in media communication depends on their location, employer, and field of choice. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for media and communication occupations was $62,340, more than $15,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

With a master's degree in the field, graduates can qualify for many of the higher-paying positions available. Technical writers, for example, made median annual salaries of $78,060, but the top 10% of earners made more than $125,010.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in media communication?

The highest-paying job for professionals with a master's in media communication is in advertising, promotions, and marketing management. These professionals earned median annual wages of $133,380 in May 2021, reports the BLS.

The top 10% of earners in this field made more than $208,000. Marketing manager salaries also varied by industry, with technical services paying the highest median annual salary of $155,470. Enterprise management paid $155,030, finance and insurance paid $151,870, and manufacturing paid $136,150.

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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