Many professionals may wonder why an online Master's in Media Communications would be a good choice for them if they are already working professionals. It's also a great choice for journalists who wish to branch out into other types of media work, such as public relations or politics. Traditional programs are still available, but the online format bodes well for professionals.
Online programs in media communication are a great choice for professionals because it gives them the flexibility to go back to school while also maintaining their career. Most courses in these programs are delivered asynchronously, meaning that students can take their education everywhere they go. Online programs are also more affordable which is the main reason why most professionals choose these highly-rated programs over their traditional counterparts.
The research for this ranking was conducted to ensure that the best schools were considered for this ranking. The National Center for Education Statistics and its College Navigator database were the primary sources. From an initial pool of 30 schools offering online degrees, 10 were ultimately chosen for this ranking, which you can find below.
Ranking Low-cost Online Media Communications Master's
10. Mississippi College
Online Master of Science in Applied Communication – Generalist Degree
Mississippi College confers an online Master's in Media Communications that focuses on the applications of theories and concepts. Students will find a 100 percent online program that consists of asynchronous and synchronous courses that are delivered in an eight-week term format. The degree offers a curriculum that is highly customizable, with more than half of the curriculum open for electives. This means that students can choose from a variety of courses that will help them specialize in one of type of media communication. A convocation paper, based on the student's curriculum and field of interest, is required and is the final major project of the degree. Students can also expect to complete 31 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Public Relations Writing, Process and Effects of Communication, and Seminar in Journalism Ethics.
9. University of Florida
Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication
Students at the University of Florida will be conferred the Master's in Media Communications online degree, which is highly customizable and offers both concentrations and programs. The school's concentrations include, among others, Global Strategic Communication, Political Communication, and Social Media; certificates include Media Sales, Web Design, and Global Strategic Media. All courses are delivered 100 percent through asynchronous courses on a 12-week term schedule; there are three start dates every year. Students can complete this degree in less than two years. Each concentration and certificate creates a different type of curriculum for students, ensuring they are given as much foundational education in that particular field as possible. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours and a capstone project. Sample courses include Lead Generation and Marketing, Public Affairs Communication, and Branding Using Social Media.
8. Liberty University
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Liberty University confers a 100 percent online Master's in Media Communication for students interested in learning from a renown faculty and concentration electives that prepare them for advanced roles within the field. This degree is conferred entirely online through asynchronous courses; each term is eight weeks long and students can complete all the requirements for this degree within two years. The curriculum is divided into three components, including Core, Communication Strategies, and Communication Contextual curriculums. Each phase provides students with an understanding of the media communications field, moving them through the concepts and theories that make up the field and applying skills to that knowledge. Students will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a thesis, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, Communication in Nonprofit and Christian Ministry, and Professional Communication and Nonprofit Development.
7. Tiffin University
Online Master of Humanities in Communication
The media communications master's online degree at Tiffin University is ideal for in-service or pre-service professionals who are interested in developing their communications skill as part of a broader liberal arts degree. This degree was created to ensure that all students participate in a comprehensive curriculum that is taught by current and former professionals in media; the same faculty that teaches these courses on campus also teach the course online. This is a 100 percent online degree that offers asynchronous and synchronous courses in 15-week terms; there are also three start dates for students, enabling them to begin their education when they are ready. Students will be expected to complete 30 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive written exam or capstone project. Sample courses include Philosophers and Philosophies of the Axial Age, Transmedia Storytelling, and Politics and the News.
6. Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
Online Master of Science in Communication
Purdue University offers students an online Master's in Media Communications program that was designed for in-service professionals who are interested in enhancing their critical thinking and communication skills. This is a 100 percent online degree that can be completed in just 20 months with part-time study, something that is perfect for professionals who are earning their graduate degree while working full-time. The curriculum focuses on the various aspects of communication, including how communication works within research constraints and through social media. Students will also be able to fashion a concentration out of the electives that are required for the degree, ensuring that they have a field of expertise once they graduate. This degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Strategic Communication and Social Media, Focus Groups and Interviewing for Strategic Communication, and Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication.
5. South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
Online Master of Mass Communication
Students at South Dakota State University will earn an online media communications master's degree that focuses just much on skills as it does concepts and theory. The program is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. This is a 100 percent online cohort program that sees students work through the program of study together. Courses are delivered asynchronously and in an eight-week format. Online class sizes rarely go over 15 students and professors, many of whom have previously worked in communications, hold office hours and live group discussions for students. There is also a choice for the final project; students can choose to either to partake in a professional project or a portfolio. They will also be required to complete 32 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Social Marketing for Health and Behavioral Change, Mass Communications Teaching Methods, and Media Administration and Management.
4. Austin Peay State University
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Austin Peay State University offers an online Master's in Media Communications that provides students with both professional and accelerated degree options. It is a degree plan that is offered wholly online and is completed by taking asynchronous courses in the eight-week term format. Students are treated to a degree that has more than half of its curriculum available for tailoring a specific specialization based on their needs and career goals. This program features everything from studies on video games to discussion of mass media and its impact on American society. Along with an exceptional curriculum, students will find a renown faculty known for work as professionals in the communications field. This degree requires 34 credit hours of coursework, a final project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Conflict Resolution and Negotiation, Cultural Context in Communication, and Event Planning and Risk Management.
3. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication
The online Master's in Media Communications at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was created for working professionals who are interested in advancing their understanding of the field. Students can choose between the Media Research Option and the Professional Mass Media Option prior to beginning their degree plan, ensuring that they choose a specialization that works for their career goals. This degree is conferred entirely online and is delivered through asynchronous and synchronous courses on a 16-week term schedule. Students can complete all the requirements within two years with full-time study; working professionals may choose to study part-time and can complete the degree in 36 months. Regardless of option, students will complete 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a thesis or project. Sample courses include Mass Communication Processes and Effects, Public Relations for 21st Century Non-Profit Organizations, and Ethnic and Alternative Media in America.
2. University of Alabama
Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies, specialization in Organizational Leadership
The University of Alabama offers an online Master's in Communication Studies that provides an additional specialization in Organizational Leadership that is only available online. Students are provided with a curriculum shaped around how organizational leadership and communication work together in the field. The program, which is offered entirely online, consists of live and on-demand courses that are taught by the same faculty that teaches the courses online. This plan of study requires a capstone portfolio which is developed around an individual's interests and can be composed of publishable work, a marketing program, or a research project. This degree consists of 30 credit hours of coursework, the portfolio, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Gender and Political Communication, Human Communication Theory, and Technology, Culture and Human Communication.
1. Stephen F. Austin State University
Master of Arts in Mass Communication
Stephen F. Austin State University offers ambitious students a cheap media communications master's degree, one that offers students options in terms of their plan of study as well as their final project. It is a comprehensive degree that is found entirely online; courses are live and on-demand, enabling students to choose their own study schedule. This degree was designed to be completed in less than two years with part-time study; students who take two courses every 16-week term and during three courses during the summer will finish in 18 months. Students will also be able to choose between a comprehensive exam, a thesis, or a media project for their final contribution to their plan of study. This degree consists of 36 credit hours of coursework and a final project. Sample courses include Media Law and Ethics, Management Problems in Media, and Media and Politics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Media Communications Degree?
An individual that earns an online Master's in Media Communications has so many options that it can be mind-numbing to think about. That's because this degree opens the professional up to nearly every single career option available in the industry.
For example, a professional can choose to go into public relations or marketing. This means they may work as specialists, consultants, managers, strategists, and more. They may also work for private clients or as part of a production firm who handles that client's entire campaign and branding initiative.
Another example is that of a content copywriter. Professionals who choose to become content writers may find themselves at the helm of a company's mission statement, working as a social media writer or manager, writing press releases, and generally taking care of any content writing that a client might need.
But these are just some of the jobs available to media communications professionals. Other options include:
- Communications Director
- Campaign Consultant
- Nonprofit Marketing Director
- Brand Content Strategist
- Media Relations Consultant
- News Anchor
- Private Secretary
- Media Planner
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The average salary range for this field is $40,000 to over $250,000. This is a large range and includes different career titles, work experience, advanced certification and credentials, professional associations, industries, and more. It also showcases the widest salary range possible for this field.
The lowest paid positions in the field are entry-level and can range from $40,000 to just over $50,000. This salary fluctuates depending on if a professional is working for themselves, a small company, or a large corporation. Smaller operations yield lower salaries but can be more creatively rewarding.
The highest paid positions are senior-level management positions; these can include artistic directors, producers, creative directors, and more. Depending on their reputation and portfolio, it is possible for these professionals to make in excess of $250,000. This salary, however, often takes years of hard work and dedication to obtain.
What are the Various Disciplines of Media Communications?
Media communications encompasses the disciplines of communication, media, filmmaking, journalism, reporting, storytelling, and more. It is a field that is concerned with reporting the news and also crafting narratives to keep certain audiences engaged in the story.
Media communications is also a large field, meaning that everything from public relations to media management to marketing is housed within the industry. Media communications can also be found in every sector of the country, from healthcare to banks to the film industry, meaning that depending on what industry a professional choose to work in, they will always find a place in that industry's communications field.
Why are Internships Strongly Encouraged in Media Communications Graduate Programs?
Internships, which are also known as practicums or field experiences, are nearly always encouraged by graduate programs in this field. This is because these work experiences, which take place in real-world settings, allow students to understand what their own career may look like after graduating from the program. They tend to last for one or two terms and often pair students with large and well-known corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organizations.
These experiences are strongly encouraged by rarely required. This is because graduate schools know that most of their students are already working professionals and do not need more work experience; they are already contributing to the industry. Requiring a work experience would be redundant for in-service professionals.
Internships are most likely to be useful for pre-service professionals, or professionals who have no experience in the field. These students would benefit from having a work experience that is supervised by a preceptor and the department, which can give feedback on a student's performance and act as a sounding board for any concerns that a student may have. That's why many schools make the internship available for these students.
Why is the Online Master's in Media Communications a Good Choice for Media Professionals?
Media professionals who are already working in the field may question if earning a degree in this particular field is a good choice for them. After all, what can a graduate degree in their field really teach them that they don't already know?
An online master's degree is still a great choice, whether a professional is in service or will be after graduation. This is because although the field of media communications is simply the art of communicating an idea from one entity to another, the way in which communication happens now is quite different from how it was done even 10 years ago.
Graduate degrees in media communications provide pre-service professionals with something quite valuable: access to networking events. Even though these degrees are online, the school often provides information on networking events all over the country, making it easier than ever for students to connect with like-minded professionals.
However, if a professional has years of experience in the business, a graduate degree in media communications may not be for them. It is most useful if professionals wish to move into new media or another aspect of the field in which they have little experience in during the course of their career.
The media continues to play a large role in how Americans interact with the news, brands, and even the government, on a daily basis. It is a field that professionals must continually educate themselves in, whether through graduate programs or online courses. An online Master's in Media Communications, however, is still the best way forward for a professional, especially for those who have a specific area they wish to specialize in order to advance their career.