Best Online Master’s in Media Communication Programs of 2021

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By Michelle R. Kelley

Edited by Rebecca Long

Published on September 3, 2021

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Media communication is an interdisciplinary field that combines communication studies, media studies, and media production. Some media communication courses focus on the analysis and interpretation of media. Other courses teach students how to use media strategically in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. Some programs also include courses on content creation, web design, and digital filmmaking.

If you have a way with words, a knack for visual storytelling, and a passion for thinking critically about media and popular culture, a master's in media communication may be right for you. If you want to earn your degree online, read on to discover the best online master's in media communication programs.

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

Students choose to study media communication for different reasons. Future marketers may enroll in a master's in media communication program to learn how to use media to promote products and services. Aspiring filmmakers may study media communication to gain production experience while also learning how to analyze films and TV shows.

Online master's in media communication programs typically require 30 or more credits of coursework and take about two years to complete. Depending on the program, degree-seekers may take courses like content creation and audio and video design, copywriting for digital messaging, and theorizing digital media.

As a master's student in media communication, your program may require you to write a thesis or complete a capstone project. Some schools also offer online students internship opportunities or the chance to conduct fieldwork.

Most online master's in media communication programs award students a master of arts (MA) degree. However, some schools offer a master of science (MS) degree in media communication. For students who want to focus more on media production, master of fine arts (MFA) programs in media communication are also available.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Media Communication Programs

Graduate admission requirements for online master's in media communication programs vary by school. These programs require applicants to submit undergraduate transcripts. Programs may also ask you to submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and professional references.

You don't need to major in media communication in college to study this topic in graduate school. However, if you lack professional or academic experience in the field, some programs may require you to complete additional prerequisite coursework.

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

Social Media: Content, Communication, Culture
Today, almost anybody with an internet connection can produce original content for online platforms like Facebook and YouTube. In this course, students reflect on how social media transforms media consumers into media producers. Participants also consider social media's impact on citizen journalism, media activism, and the media industry as a whole.
Theorizing Digital Media
This course focuses on the study of digital media within the context of postmodernism, providing a theoretical framework for understanding contemporary society and culture. It explores how technological developments have led to the rise of new narrative forms that didn't exist in the same way in earlier eras.
Principles of User Experience Design
In this course, students learn how to create user-friendly designs and interfaces. Through readings on human-centered design and design thinking, learners study user psychology and the challenges users face. This course teaches students how to empathize with users and discover new ways to solve their problems.
Visual Storytelling
In this course, learners study the theory and practice of telling stories visually using digital technology. They learn about visual storytelling's history and how practitioners across disciplines approach visual storytelling today. Students then apply what they learn by creating their own visual narratives.
Strategic Communication
This course addresses a manager's role in coordinating all aspects of company communication. Students learn how to manage communication with various company stakeholders, including shareholders, distributors, and employees. Students also learn how to communicate with individuals outside the company, like customers, journalists, lobbyists, and politicians.

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

Because media communication is a broad field, graduates of master's programs in the discipline can pursue many different careers. Graduates often find jobs in public relations, corporate communication, marketing, and advertising. Others become web developers, filmmakers, and digital media producers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for public relations and fundraising managers will grow 9% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than average. Career prospects for film and video editors and camera operators are projected to be even stronger; the BLS projects more than 12,000 new jobs will be added in this area between 2019 and 2029, which would represent 18% growth.

Discover what you can do with a master's in media communication degree. Learn more about communications careers.

Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

Film and video editors and camera operators create moving image media for film, television, and the internet. Camera operators select and operate equipment, shoot footage, and carry out directors' instructions. Film and video editors manipulate and assemble raw footage, usually using editing software.

Public Relations or Fundraising Manager

Public relations and fundraising managers may use media to enhance public images and raise funds for organizations and individuals. Public relations managers oversee the writing of press releases. They also participate in interviews with the press and sometimes manage in-house publications, such as company newsletters. Fundraising managers coordinate public relations campaigns to raise money for organizations or causes. Both of these professions can benefit from a deep understanding of media communication.

Public Relations Specialist

Like public relations managers, public relations specialists help shape public images for individuals and organizations. They write press releases, respond to media requests, and evaluate promotional and fundraising campaigns. Some public relations specialists work under the direct supervision of public relations managers.

Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Manager

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers use advertisements, purchasing incentives, and market research to promote products and services and project consumer demand. They often work in advertising agencies, media firms, and corporate or regional offices.

Web Developer or Digital Designer

Web developers and digital designers create websites and mobile applications. Web developers ensure websites and apps are aesthetically appealing, easy to navigate, and fully functional. When designing a website or app, digital designers are responsible for the layout, interactive features, typography, and graphic elements.

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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Media Communication Programs

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University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL

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.

University of Georgia View School Profile Athens, GA

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.

Webster University View School Profile 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.

Stephen F Austin State University View School Profile Nacogdoches, TX

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?

Many jobs in media and communication do not require a master's degree. However, earning your master's degree may help you secure a higher salary and take on more responsibilities. According to PayScale, as of August 2021, individuals with a bachelor of arts in media communication earned an average salary of about $54,000 per year. In contrast, professionals with a master of arts in media communication earned about $60,000 annually.

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

Media communication is a broad field, and master's degree-holders in the discipline can choose from many different career paths. Popular media communication professions include public relations manager, marketing manager, and film and video editor.

Are media communication majors in demand?

The BLS projects that employment in media and communication will grow 4% between 2019 and 2029, which is on par with the average projected growth rate across industries. However, some subfields within media and communication may grow faster than average. For example, the BLS projects that jobs for film and video editors and camera operators will increase by 18% between 2019 and 2029.

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

According to the BLS, media and communication workers earned a median annual income of $61,310, as of May 2020. However, salaries in the field vary widely. For example, photographers are among the lowest-paid media industry professionals, earning a median salary of $41,280 in 2020. Media industry professionals in managerial positions, such as marketing managers, earn considerably more.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in media communication?

Public relations and fundraising managers are among the highest-paid workers in media and communication. In 2020, they earned a median wage of $118,430 a year. Marketing managers earned even more — the median annual salary for marketing managers was $142,170 as of May 2020.

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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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