California Online Communications Studies Graduate Programs
At the graduate level, Communications Studies Online Programs are available as certificates, masters, and doctoral degrees. Students who pursue an online communications degree might develop their ability to communicate effectively and professionally while they maintain a busy lifestyle. In today’s digital, social, and mobile world, a communications graduate degree may provide graduates with an edge in fields such as public relations, advertising, new media, and corporate communications.i
What Is a Major in Communications Studies Online?
Students in communications online programs may explore multiple theories and practices due to the interdisciplinary quality of their major. Some programs focus on rhetoric, crisis management, and persuasion. Others may draw elements from leadership and organizational communication to address corporate decisions that involve strategy and management. There are also programs that focus on the study of family systems and healthcare or explore interactive media, brand messages, and other dynamics.
When surveyed, 21% of Communications Specialists reported they had earned a masters degree.ii
Why Consider Online Communications Programs?
While students in traditional programs attend class on site, students who pursue their graduate degree in communications studies online often benefit from a self-paced, completely virtual classroom. While course names vary, some of the core topics might draw from this generalized sample.
- Introduction to the digital age
- How to change behavior through communication
- Theory of mass communication
- Analytics and research methods
Convenient Access to Communications Courses
Students who pursue their communications degree online may not be required to log on at set times. In fact, they might log on multiple times a week at their convenience. When students do log on, they might watch, read, or listen to a lecture. And, they could engage in discussions with classmates and the instructor through email, chat, or video conferences. Students usually submit papers, assignments, projects, presentations, and exams through the course management system as well.
Apply What You Learn
Online communications students might take the knowledge they gain in the classroom and immediately apply it to the challenges faced in their professional careers. For instance, to align a marketing strategy to reflect current best practices to reach key audiences. Or, solve problems and conflicts with new found capability based on research and tested theory.
Multiple Start Dates
Some universities with online communications programs might offer rolling acceptance. Also, they might have short sessions (e.g. 8 weeks) with multiple start dates. So this means that students can start when they want and finish when they can. Plus, they may build a professional portfolio along the way.
Prepare for a Variety of Possible Career Paths
Whether you hope to climb the corporate ladder, switch careers, or cultivate your expertise, a communications studies online program may prepare you to pursue various opportunities. These might range from market research, public relations, and brand management, to business development, among others.ii
Pursue a Concentration in Communications Studies
Some online communications studies graduate programs provide a way for students to tailor their degree to an interest through an area of emphasis.
- Public Relations: Courses in a public relations concentration might address theory as well as legal and ethical issues. Students may develop techniques that help them to lead and build relationships across agencies. Also, their coursework might cover concepts such as target audiences, client needs, and how to craft effective written and visual messages.
- Integrated Marketing Communications: Integrated marketing communications (IMC) courses may develop students’ cross-functional skills and know-how. For instance, they might learn how to navigate public relations, promotions, and interpersonal communications. All these things might help a company build and maintain their brand, communicate their product, or maintain their reputation.
- Health Communication: Courses in a Health Communication graduate program might help students acquire the experience to design and deliver media support services for health campaigns and promotions. Also, they might take courses that address concepts such as how to brand health products and services.
- Speech Communication: Speech communication courses address the study of how and why people communicate. It includes both spoken language and nonverbal messages. Some students might pursue this area of emphasis as an independent profession. It is also an important part of many other professions. For example, good communication skills are essential in law, business, advertising, public relations, journalism, and sales.
- Strategic Communication: As the name suggests, Strategic Communication examines all aspects of public communication strategies. Courses may highlight campaigns, public opinion, the media, the role of research, target audiences, message creation, and ways to address specific groups. Also, from a theoretical point of view, courses in politics, culture, business might help analyze the role of persuasion.
We asked Maleeka T. Hollaway about how earning an Online Master's in Communication Studies degree helps you:
"My advice to anyone studying in a Communications field is to know how you want to use your degree and be open to the endless possibilities your degree can bring you."
~ Maleeka Hollaway, Communications Professional Click to Tweet
Online Masters in Communication Studies
To apply into an Online Masters in Communications program, students are usually required to have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited school. They may also have to show strong written skills, a minimum GPA, and a history of relevant experience or coursework. While course content varies, most programs attempt to fulfill several goals, which might draw from the ones below.
- Provide theory about the social science of communication which students can take with them into their work
- Implement plans of action to further an organizational goal
- Develop real-world skills such as how to deliver effective messages
- Enhance student’s ability to think critically, solve problems and write well
- Help students to synthesize research to further their own professional goals
- Understand media and information technology
- Learn to communicate professionally through oral and written modes
Online Graduate Certificate in Communications Studies
Students who want to potentially boost a current career, but who do not want the commitment of a full degree might do so with a certificate. An online graduate certificate in communication studies might explore one topic in around 15 credits (a variable). For example, an online certificate in IMC might expand on brand equity, market research, audience insight, emerging media, and strategy. Then, later, the credits earned might be transferable to the school’s masters degree in the same field. Meanwhile, with minimal disruption to a busy work life, new credentials can be added to a current resume.
Online Doctorate in Communications Studies
Online PhD in Communication programs offer the highest degree in the field and are research-focused. Applicants generally need either an accredited bachelors or masters degree. Most programs may accept applicants from a variety of backgrounds, from humanities to the natural sciences, however this depends on each school. Usually, multi-faceted programs, students often take advanced level courses that are tailored to their thematic area of emphasis. Also, they are likely to develop their ability to write and research. These skills are used in the dissertation which is an example of their original thought. Students may work closely with a faculty mentor through video conference.
Find Accredited Online Communications Schools
Most universities with communications studies online programs are regionally accredited. Also, some individual programs may be approved by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).
Take the Next Step
Easily compare online communications degrees. Choose your degree level – Masters, Certificate, or PhD, then scroll through programs. From there, use the on-page form to contact the online communications schools on your list. The next start date might be just around the corner, so don’t delay!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/13-1161.00
California Baptist University
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