Communication Graduate Degree Programs
At the graduate level, a communications degree is available at the Certificate, Master's and Doctoral levels. As a broad field, communication studies graduate programs examine five key top aspects of how people communicate. These are written, oral, interpersonal and group, social media and digital technology. Given the wide variety of majors and areas of study, students often customize their degree in communications to best apply their know how to a specific area. Corporate communications, health services, public relations, strategic communications, marketing and advertising are just a few examples. As a result, graduates of Communications Graduate Programs may be prepared to initiate or advance a professional career in a wide range of industries.
What is Communication Studies?
Communication studies degrees tend to provide a cross-section of courses that mix theory and application. One of the goals is to provide students with the ability to function in roles where they make decisions at the managerial level. Also, to help them develop integrated marketing capabilities (public relations, advertising, marketing). On top of that, students might learn how to navigate computer technology to construct images and texts for public communication. Moreover, they might enhance their skills in persuasion, conflict management, mediation and resolution.
FACT: When surveyed, 24% of Marketing managers reported they had a Masters degree, 11% a professional degree.ii
Graduate Programs for Communications Majors
Applicants to most communications studies degree programs need to have earned a Bachelors degree from an accredited institution and may be required to furnish MAT or GRE scores, letters of reference, and a personal essay. Full time students might be able to complete a Masters in Communication within one year in some schools, two to three years in others.Most full-time PhD students who enter with a masters degree might complete their degree in about four years while candidates who enter with a bachelors degree might need about 7 years to complete their program. Keep in mind that program lengths vary by university.
Graduate Certificate in Communications Studies
Students who want to learn about new media and technology without the length and commitment of a full degree might work towards a graduate certificate in communications studies. Often, coursework targets a specific area in about 18 credits. Students who want to continue to fulfill the requisites of a full Masters degree later are often able to transfer their credits. Meanwhile they may have developed a specific skill set in topics such as fundraising, strategic digital communication or mass media.
Masters in Communications Studies Programs
Masters in Communications degrees take the study of how people synthesize information to a new level. Students typically focus on strategic ways to relay messages. Some programs may entail the completion of about 36 credits, a capstone internship, research project, thesis, or comprehensive examination. Most often, a course of study includes a few elements. Core courses, research, and electives. While each school has unique course names, topics may draw from the sample below.
- Strategy and leadership
- Ethics and social influences
- Human conflict and language
- Media Relations
- Persuasion and Public Opinion
PhD in Communications Studies Programs
The highest degree in the field is a PhD in Communications Studies. Commonly, the PhD is a research-focused program that may draw from both the humanities and social sciences. Usually, designed for those who want to pursue a faculty or research career in higher education, students commonly select an area to focus their own independent research.i In addition, they may take upper level courses in rhetoric and public culture to help them develop new strategies or viewpoints.
Possible Concentrations for Communications Studies Majors
Students who pursue a graduate degree in communications studies may develop the skills to create, transmit and interpret messages through the lens of their area of emphasis. Some of these broad categories are listed below.
Journalism and Media
A journalism and media major might help students develop journalism ethics and copywriting skills. Some programs may offer coursework in feature writing, news reporting, photojournalism, and digital media
The Health Communication major may help students grasp specific marketing theories and practices that can be applied to health products, services and campaigns. Students may also learn how to design (brand) and deliver media support services for health media productions.
Integrated Marketing Communications
An Integrated Marketing Communications major may help students develop the skills to craft strategy and communicate it strategically to the public. Students might also expand their grasp of public relations, promotions, and interpersonal communications. Often, all these areas are needed to help companies build and maintain their brand or reputation.
A public Relations major might help students develop relationship building skills across media platforms, government and target markets. Students might explore topics such as media relations, persuasion and crisis communications as well as enhance their written skills.
Digital Multimedia Production
The digital multimedia production major may help students turn their creativity into real-world projects. Students may develop a broad skill set. Photography, Videography, TV Production, Studio Management, Multimedia Production, Post-Production Video and Editing are a few possibilities.
A major in speech communication may help students expand their skills in research and rhetoric. Programs of this nature often take a theoretical point of view to the study of communication from social scientific and humanistic traditions.
Students who pursue a major in strategic communications may examine the different elements of public communication strategies. Programs of this nature typically explore a wide range of topics. For instance, they might cover communication campaigns, public opinion, the media, and the role of research. In addition, they might help students identify and audience, develop a message and deliver it across to various publics.
We asked Marketing Manager, Beth Ann McCoy about how earning a graduate degree in communication studiescan kick start your career:
"I would advise anyone with an interest in a communications career to strongly consider a graduate program in communications, particularly in today's ever-changing high-tech environment."
~ Beth Ann McCoy, Marketing Manager, Noelker and Hull Associates Click to Tweet
What Might I Do With a Communications Degree?
A communications degree may prepare students to pursue a wide range of career paths. Per the BLS, Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers can navigate the digital world have the best prospects.ii The median annual wage for Marketing Managers was $131,180 in May 2016 and employment growth is forecasted to increase 9 percent to 2024.i Other possible careers may include some of the avenues below.iii
- Brand Manager
- Market Development Executive
- Business Development Manager
- Public Relations Manageriv
- Correspondent, Journalistv
Find Accredited Communications Graduate Programs
Prospective communications degree grad students might choose a program or institution that is accredited. Many universities that offer communications degree programs are regionally accredited which means they meet established standards. Also, some communications graduate programs may be professionally accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The ACEJMC is the agency responsible for the evaluation of professional journalism and mass communications programs in colleges and universities.vii
Take the Next Step
To find a communications degree that mirrors your interests, refine your search by degree level first. Then think about whether you want to find a grad school in a specific city, state or abroad. Or, whether you prefer to earn your degree online. From there, scroll through paid programs to compare and learn. Then, easily take that next step. Just fill out an on-page form to get started!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-2021.00 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm | [v] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/reporters-correspondents-and-broadcast-news-analysts.htm| | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/editors.htm | [vii] acejmc.org
Purdue University’s online MS in Communication degree and Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management, housed within the Brain Lamb School of Communication, teach the strategies behind effective communication across any medium.&a...
California Baptist University
The online Master of Arts in Communication degree program (MAC) equips students with critical thinking and professional practice skills including social media strategies while challenging them to integrate biblical thought with contemporary communica...
Johns Hopkins University
The Master of Arts in Communication offers practical and applied knowledge, taught by the social scientists who study effective communication and the practitioners who use it.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University’s Master of Arts in Communication with an Emphasis in Education degree program provides students who have a passion for communications with the opportunity to pursue a career in teaching.
- Madison, NJMadison, NJ
Fairleigh Dickinson University
The MA in Communication is offered by the Department of Communication Studies in the Becton College of Arts and Sciences on the Florham Campus.
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
MA in Communication at Duquesne integrates theory and practice. Choose from four emphasis areas to focus your studies: Integrated Marketing Communication, Corporate Communication, Rhetoric & Philosophy of Technology, and Communication Studies...
Earn your online master’s in communications and become a leader in the communication and media field.
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
The Master's program in Communication is a professional degree program designed to relate theory and practice...
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Prepares students for work in fields such as; human resources, public relations, marketing, and education...
West Virginia University
In the WVU DMC program communications professionals learn how to integrate data and quantitative processes into their organizations to support key decision-making about communications initiatives...
- Newton, MANewton, MA
The Master of Science in Communication with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communication covers public relations, promotions, and interpersonal communications into a coordinated program of total communications.
- Newton, MA
Sam Houston State University
This online program blends advanced topics in the field of communication studies.
- Denver, CODenver, CO
University of Denver
At the Univ. of Denver, our Master of Arts and doctoral students in Communication Studies design their own research, collaborate closely with our faculty of teacher-scholars, and contribute to an engaged and inclusive community.
- Singapore, SingaporeSingapore, Singapore
Nanyang Technological University
The Master of Science (Communication Software and Networks) programme equips graduates with leading-edge knowledge in Networking and Software Engineer...
- Singapore, Singapore
- Hamden, CTHamden, CT
The Quinnipiac University School of Communications Master of Science in Interactive Communications is based on the study of interactivity and the prac...
- Chapel Hill, NCChapel Hill, NC
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Aberdeen, United KingdomAberdeen, United Kingdom
Robert Gordon University, The
The developments in multimedia, optical and personal communications are having a profound influence on all aspects of business and personal life in su...
- Aberdeen, United Kingdom
- Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
- Milwaukee, WIMilwaukee, WI
The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication graduate program prepares students for intellectual, artistic, professional and ethical leadership in a complex technological and multicultural world.
- Milwaukee, WI
- Dekalb, ILDekalb, IL
Northern Illinois University
- Long Beach, CALong Beach, CA
California State University, Long Beach
We offer two MA programs, one is a general MA all areas of communication research, the other is in communication and human information systems.
- Miami, FLMiami, FL
The Frank J.
- Pilani, IndiaPilani, India
Birla Institute of Technology and Science