Communication is a fundamental part of business, so it is no surprise that the (BLS) projects media and communication jobs will grow by 4% between 2018 and 2028. While earning a bachelor’s in communications provides valuable knowledge for entry-level jobs, earning a master’s opens up more exciting career opportunities. But you don’t need to quit your day job to advance your education—you can earn an online master’s in communications. Online students can choose a part-time or full-time schedule and graduate in as little as two years.
万宝路平台官网With this degree, graduates can earn jobs as public relations, communication, marketing, and advertising directors. Some professionals even work in journalism. Other potential industries include fashion, farming, and nonprofits. Since communications is such a broad degree, graduates can apply their studies regardless of their career.
When choosing an online master’s in strategic communications program, take your time. Being picky at the outset saves you trouble in the long run. With so many quality online programs to choose from, you can definitely find one that fits your needs and budget. Make a list of what you value in a school, including criteria like program cost, transfer policies, and school size and type, and keep these criteria in mind during your search.
- Program Cost:
- For many students, program cost is the top consideration. You can save money by attending an online school based in your home state, since many colleges offer local discounts. Some schools offer in-state tuition to all online students. However, if a school costs significantly less than others, it might be because it’s not a legitimate program, so make sure to compare tuition prices.
- Transfer Policies:
- Whether or not you have transfer credits from another institution, make sure to read your school’s transfer policies. You might decide to transfer to a different school midway through your degree, or enroll in a supplemental program elsewhere, and attending a school with regional accreditation makes transfers easier.
- School Size and Type:
- The main difference between public and private universities is cost. Public schools tend to charge less for tuition and offer more financial aid than private schools; however, private schools usually enroll fewer students, which means attendees receive more one-on-one attention from professors.
- Program Length:
- Before choosing a school, you should decide whether you want to study full time or part time. Some schools have minimum or maximum credit requirements, so you should be careful to choose a program that matches your study plans.
- On-campus Requirements:
- Even if a school advertises its communication program as online, double check its on-campus requirements. Some programs require in-person components, like supervised tests, presentations, or seminars, which can become an issue if you decide to attend an online college in a different state.
- Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements:
- Most programs have additional requirements as well as the usual classwork. These requirements might include a thesis or capstone project, a fellowship, an internship, or a work requirement. Usually learners can complete these requirements locally, but students with full-time jobs might have a difficult time balancing these additional requirements with their schedules.
Accreditation for Online Communications Master’s Degrees
万宝路平台官网For students pursuing an integrated marketing communications master’s online, accreditation should be a top consideration. If a school is accredited, it means it’s regularly evaluated by an accrediting agency. Although the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) don’t grant accreditation, they do oversee accrediting agencies. You can visit CHEA’s to verify accreditation for individual schools.
万宝路平台官网There are three types of accreditation: national, regional, and programmatic. Schools with national accreditation are usually vocational or trade schools, and the agencies that oversee them work nationally. These universities are generally considered less prestigious than regionally accredited schools, which tend to offer more traditional liberal arts curricula. Schools with regional accreditation also have more transferable credits.
万宝路平台官网Universities can also receive programmatic accreditation in communications. The American Communication Association grants accreditation to specific programs rather than a school. Watch out for online programs that don’t hold national, regional, or programmatic accreditation, as these programs lack outside oversight and likely don’t meet educational standards.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Communications Degree Program?
万宝路平台官网Both private and public universities typically require about 60 credits for a master’s degree. When researching online programs, pay attention to whether a school uses an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete work at their own pace, while synchronous formats have specific time requirements, like live discussions and lectures. Synchronous formats are ideal for students who need structure to keep them on pace.
Most universities set minimum and maximum credit standards for both part-time and full-time students, meaning those enrolled are limited in their course load options. If you want to finish in less than two years, you should look for an accelerated program, where the maximum credit load allows you to double up. If you must balance a full-time job with your studies, look for part-time options. Full-time students usually complete their degrees within two years while part-time students take 4–5 years.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Communications Program
- Advanced Public Speaking
- Regardless of your specialization is, public speaking is an important component in any communication program. Online public speaking classes often require students to record and submit speeches, sometimes given in front of an audience. Typically, the audience is just family members and friends.
- Interpersonal Communication
- Communication directors and managers must have excellent communication skills in order to manage employees. It’s also important to communicate well in one-on-one conversations with important company stakeholders. This class teaches those interpersonal communication skills, helping students improve their listening as well as their speaking.
- Organizational Communication
- Often, communication professionals must oversee organization-wide communications. In an organizational communication course, individuals learn to enhance interdepartmental and employee communication through internal newsletters and company events. For example, students learn to ensure that employees receive notifications about important company changes before presenting those changes to the general public.
- Ethics and Legal Issues in Communication
- In courses like this one, students examine case studies and learn about laws and regulations that affect communication professionals. Learners also get the chance to develop their own ethical frameworks and learn how to make educated ethical decisions on behalf of an organization.
- Communication Theory
- In this class, students examine popular communication theories and learn how to apply them in practical situations. This course typically includes a term paper that requires students to choose a theory and explain how it relates to a communications-related current event. Communication theory courses encourage students to take a stance on each theory and incorporate their favorites into their professional practices.
Communications Membership Associations
- The ACA helps members stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in communication fields. The organization provides members with a discussion board and a peer-reviewed journal, and membership is free. The ACA also grants programmatic accreditation for communication programs. Although the ACA membership is primarily American, it encourages people from all around the world to join.
- Although ICA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., it connects communication professionals across the world. ICA hosts conferences and provides its members with educational publications, including a newsletter, a scholarly journal, and annual reports. The organization maintains several divisions that focus on specific topics, like health communication and public relations.
- NCA supports communication professionals through research and education. Members benefit from exclusive journals, regional and national networking events, educational conferences, and communication research data. NCA also provides scholarships to aspiring students and advocates for public policy that supports communication professionals.
- PRSA aims to advance the public relations field and encourage ethical communication practices within the United States. Members benefit from educational webinars, email newsletters, regional and national conferences, and an exclusive job board. Regional chapters also host monthly or quarterly meetings where members can network with one another.
- AWC invites women working in any communications-related field to take advantage of its networking and educational opportunities. AWC maintains an online membership directory and offers annual awards to outstanding professionals. Members also receive discounts on partner products and services and access to an exclusive job board.