25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Communications 2020

The way people communicate is continually changing, and this affects the daily experiences of everyone around you. Those who study communication seek to understand why this is and how communication strategy can be implemented in a variety of ways.

For many, this means earning a degree in communications and then applying it through advertising and public relations, employment of both of which is supposed to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2018 median for both advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, and public relations and fundraising managers was over $100,000.

For students who have already earned their bachelor's degree, they can grow their skills and experience in communication while working full-time through an online master's program in communications. The subfields of communications are numerous, and so students should think about whether they wish to study communication more generally or if they wish to complete a program that already focuses on one specific area of communication.

Students should also consider which concentrations are offered and whether they can work full-time while in the program. Additionally, the time to completion varies by school, and students should find the pace that works best for them. The 25 Best Online Master's Degrees in Communications are a great place to start.

Methodology

Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the 25 Best Online Master's Degrees in Communications, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:

  • 25% Student Satisfaction
  • 30% Earning Potential
  • 15% Retention Data
  • 20% Affordability
  • 10% Acceptance Rates

For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.  

#25 MARIST COLLEGE
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY
MASTER OF ARTS IN INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION
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Score: 86.1

Marist College starts off this list with its online Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication. This program ensures that students build their skills in strategic digital marketing in addition to traditional aspects of the field. The entirely online degree is completed over ten courses or 30 credits. Students can opt to begin the degree in either the fall or spring and classes are eight weeks in length. The program can be completed in as little as three semesters or as much as three years, depending on students' abilities to take full- or part-time course schedules. Some of the classes include Global Consumer Insights, Social Media Strategies & Tactics, and Analytical Tools for Decision Making.
Net Price: $36,576

#24 UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
DENVER, CO
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
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Score: 86.2

The University of Denver offers a Master of Arts in Communication Management with a Marketing Communication concentration. The program consists of 48 credit hours divided over 12 courses. Four of which are core courses and includes a choice between finishing a Capstone Project, or a Portfolio Capstone as the culminating experience. Concentration courses include classes like Marketing Strategy and Process, Communication and Society: Theories and Applications, and Brand Management Strategies. Each class is ten weeks in length. Students typically finish the program within five years. For this program, it's important to note that students are not required to take the GRE, or the GMAT, to be admitted.
Net Price: $35,163

#23 WEBSTER UNIVERSITY
WEBSTER GROVES, MO
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
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Score: 86.2

Webster University's Master of Arts in Communication Management prepares communications professionals for advancement in their field. By adding a managerial perspective to the curriculum, students become familiar with ways that they can succeed in a higher position. The program requires 36 credit hours for completion, and courses include Media Organization and Regulations, Strategic Communications, and Media Production Management. While in the program, students work with award-winning faculty members to grow their experience. By graduation, students can work with upper management professionals, respond and integrate new technological strategies in marketing, and make creative and strategic moves in communication plans.
Net Price: $23,835

#22 QUEENS UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE
CHARLOTTE, NC
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 86.3

The Queens University of Charlotte brings together professionals from human resources, journalism, education, community affairs and development, and many other industries in its Master of Arts in Communication program. Students also have the option to complete an Integrated Digital Strategy concentration in which they grow their ability to understand and utilize new technology and media. This concentration culminates in a final project in which students put together a real-life digital intervention for the community of their choice. The degree can be completed in as little as two years and requires 36 credit hours of coursework. By doing the concentration, students take an additional course.
Net Price: $24,512

#21 LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MARYLAND
BALTIMORE, MD
MASTER OF ARTS IN EMERGING MEDIA
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Score: 86.3

Loyola University Maryland offers a Master of Arts in Emerging Media that consists of 33 credit hours, culminating in a capstone project. There are also two required weeks of residency fulfilled by one-week courses on campus in Baltimore, MD. One of these residencies focuses on content creation while the other centers on ethics in the field of emerging media. Full-time students finish the program within 12 months, while other part-time students graduate within 44 months or two years. Courses in this program include Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Issues in Emerging Media, The User Experience, and Exploring Digital Culture. Certification options are currently available.
Net Price: $36,820

#20 EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
GREENVILLE, NC
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 87.0

East Carolina University allows students to complete a Master of Arts in Community. This degree is designed to help students to either progress in their careers both academically and professionally. Students are required to complete 30 semester hours of coursework to complete the program, beginning with both the Communication Theory and the Research Methods courses. This program places a heavy emphasis on health communication. Additionally, students can choose between a thesis and a comprehensive examination option. Other courses included in this program include Family Communication and Health, Communication Approaches to Health Advocacy, and Media and Health Communication.
Net Price: $13,327

#19 TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
FORT WORTH, TX
MASTER OF ARTS IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION AND INNOVATION
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Score: 87.0

Texas Tech University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Innovation. This program requires 30 credit hours of coursework and works to help students advance into senior leadership in their profession. As an online program, it gives flexibility to students who are working full-time. They can typically begin classes in the fall, spring, or summer. Additionally, some of the courses required for the program include Media Management, Entrepreneurship, and Consulting, Strategic Communication in a Global Environment, and Production of Digital Media Content. At the end of the program, students also complete a research project that brings together theory and the students' interests.
Net Price: $15,820

#18 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
MIAMI, FL
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN GLOBAL STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
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Score: 87.2

Florida International University brings together communication management and digital communication through its Master of Science in Global Strategic Communications. Students in this program can also work on a certificate in Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building. Additionally, this program ensures all of its graduates can handle all aspects of a high-level career in the communications field by preparing them to deal with crises, apply professional ethics, and keep up to date with social media and branding trends. There are 30 credits required for graduation, and students can start in either fall or spring. The degree can be finished in 12 months.
Net Price: $12,219

#17 MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
EAST LANSING, MI
MASTER OF ARTS IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
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Score: 87.3

Balancing the flexibility of an online program with the rigor needed for students to excel, Michigan State University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. This program helps students learn to create and implement a digital marketing strategy, make decisions based on data, and be well-versed in all aspects of marketing and sales as they relate to communication. The degree requires 30 credits of coursework. Provided courses include Branding and Image Communication, Catalytic Thinking in the C-Suite, Audience Analytics, and Social Media Storytelling. Students can complete the program in one to three years.
Net Price: $16,684

#16 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
LYNCHBURG, VA

MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 87.7

Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Communication. This program requires 33 credit hours of coursework, and it typically takes one and a half years for students to complete. The courses are 100% online and are eight weeks in length. For students who may have already finished some graduate coursework, up to 50% of the degree can be transferred into Liberty. This program combines leadership, management, and communication to prepare students to work in a variety of industries, including in businesses, non-profits, and public service roles. Students also have the option to do a thesis or a comprehensive assessment as part of the program.
Net Price: $25,954

#15 DREXEL UNIVERSITY
PHILADELPHIA, PA
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 87.8

Drexel University provides a 45-credit Master of Science in Communication with concentrations such as Technical Communication, Science and Health Communication, and Public Communication. Each concentration integrates an ethics component in addition to classes for that specialty. Some of those courses include Technical Documentation and Software, Medical Journalism, and Grant Writing. Additionally, this program is divided into four quarters per year. Each is ten weeks in length. Students can also transfer in up to fifteen credits into this program. Ultimately, students finish the degree with a portfolio of work, specialized knowledge in an area of communications that interests them, and professional experience.
Net Price: $40,977

#14 UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
COLUMBIA, MO
MASTER OF ARTS IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
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Score: 88.1

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication at the University of Missouri brings together theory and research to prepare themselves to create strategic plans, utilize technology, build relationships, and apply their skills in a global context. To graduate, students must earn 37 credits. At the core of the program are the Mass Media Seminar, the Media Ethics, the Quantitative or Qualitative Research Methods course, and the Professional Seminar courses. At the end of the program, students then choose between a project or a thesis as the culmination of their graduate work. Other courses in the program include Digital Strategy, Changing Media Business Models, and Communication in Media Organizations.
Net Price: $17,762

#13 WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
MORGANTOWN, WV
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
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Score: 88.5

In Morgantown, WV, students can finish their Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications. The program typically takes two years to complete, and eleven courses, which together total 33 credit hours, are required. The curriculum uses a "learn-it-today, use-it-tomorrow" strategy that emphasizes that students should bring what they're learning into future workplaces. Courses include Creative Strategy and Execution, Direct Marketing, and PR Concepts and Strategy. Finally, the degree culminates in a capstone project in which students put together a marketing campaign for a real client. This offers them the ability to gain direct experience in integrated marketing before graduating.
Net Price: $11,486

#12 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY
BROOKINGS SD
MASTER OF MASS COMMUNICATION
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Score: 88.5

An ideal degree for mid-level professionals looking to increase their education and experience is the Master of Mass Communication at South Dakota State University. Most of the courses have a skills-based focus to help students develop their abilities in communication. Additionally, each class is eight weeks in length. At SDSU, students also have the option to opt for either a coursework only path that requires 36 credits or a research/design paper that is 32 credits. Some of the credits come from classes like Cross-Platform Storytelling, Media Law Case Studies, and Social Marketing for Health and Behavioral Change.
Net Price: $18,20

#11 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY
SPOKANE, WA
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION AND LEADERSHIP
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Score: 89.5

A Catholic, Jesuit university, Gonzaga University offers a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership that is 30 credits in length. It typically takes students two years to complete. While in the program, students can choose from concentrations like Change Leadership, College Teaching, Digital Media Strategies, Global Leadership, Servant Leadership, and Strategic & Organizational Communication. They can also take part in study abroad programs in Belgium, Colombia, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Additionally, one 3-day immersion through the Communication Practicum. Finally, Gonzaga alumni have gone on to work at companies that include, but are not limited to, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Starbucks, United Airlines, Ben and Jerry's, and NBC Universal.
Net Price: $34,085

#10. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
NEW YORK, NY
EXECUTIVE MASTER OF SCIENCE IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
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Score: 91.1

Columbia University has a 36-point Executive Master of Science in Strategic Communication. This program takes a ‘scholar-practitioner' approach in which students draw their knowledge from research and then can apply it through a variety of simulations during the program. The program typically takes 16 months in length with a combination of online courses and periodic weekend on-campus sessions. The program culminates in a capstone project in which students work with a real communication issue, having to draw from research to come up with a solution. Other courses include Industry Insider, The Strategic Storyteller, The Power of Opinion, and Communication and Global Brands.
Net Price: 22,824

#9 AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
WASHINGTON, D.C.
MASTER OF ARTS IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
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Score: 91.1

American University offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. Students can start classes in August, January, or May, typically finishing in about 20 months. For students, they take one course every eight weeks. These courses are completed asynchronously, meaning that students can do the coursework based on their schedule. They can also choose to complete an Advocacy & Social Impact concentration. Ninety-six percent of graduates from this program are working in the field or graduate school within six months. Alumni have gone on to work at companies like NPR, Fox News, Microsoft, Reuters, and the United States State Department. Additionally, students are eligible for specific online merit scholarships.
Net Price: $32,732

#8 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
CHICAGO, IL
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 91.6

Northwestern University brings innovation to the field of communications through its Master of Science in Communication program. This degree is offered in a hybrid format, in which students take courses online, but they must also complete four in-residence seminars. These seminars are designed to build a community between students, many of whom can draw from professional management experience. Students also work with a career course to advance in their professional lives as well. The program typically takes one year to complete, and students take 11 classes, each of which is five weeks in length. Students also complete a capstone project.
Net Price: $26,099

#7 ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
TEMPE, AZ
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 92.4

U.S. News and World Report ranked Arizona State University as No. 1 on its Most Innovative Schools list, and the university continues its tradition of innovation through its Master of Arts in Communication program. Ideal for professionals who want to learn more about leadership, strategic planning, and communication, this degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework. This is completed through 10 classes, each of is seven and a half weeks in length. Students can also complement their degree with a certificate in Conflict Management, or Civil Dialogue. Many of the faculty have won awards, and students can benefit from ASU's Center for Strategic Communication.
Net Price: $12,947

#6 UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
CHAPEL HILL, NC
MASTER OF ARTS IN DIGITAL COMMUNICATION
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Score: 92.7

The University of North Carolina seeks to educate its students on the ever-changing digital world through its Master of Arts in Digital Communication. This 30-credit program teaches students how to apply research in their careers. Because students usually finish two courses per semester, it takes two years to finish, including one summer, to complete, and the degree culminates in a thesis project. UNC also requires that students complete two on-campus residency experiences, one of which is an orientation at the start of the program and the other a residency the next May. Courses in this program include New Media and Society, Usability and Multimedia Design, and Leadership in Digital Media Economics.
Net Price: $11,100

#5 NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
BOSTON, MA
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN CORPORATE AND ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION
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Score: 92.8

The Master of Science in Corporate and Organization Communication at Northeastern University provides an exciting degree with concentrations such as Public Relations, Human Resource Management, Project Management, Leadership, Cross-Cultural Communication, or Leading Communication Strategy and Development. The coursework is completed through 15 courses. However, Northeastern offers unique opportunities for those with an Accreditation in Public Relations, reducing the number of courses needed to 12. Additionally, students who have earned certifications from the Society of Human Resource Management can also reduce the number of classes needed, depending on the credential earned.
Net Price: $30,784

#4 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
ANNENBERG, CA
MASTER OF COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
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Score: 95.0

The University of Southern California teaches students about both communications and the psychology behind it through its Master of Communication Management. In this program, students complete 32 credit hours of coursework, divided into eight classes. Examples of these classes include Communication in Work Settings, Uses of Communication Research, and Audience Analysis. This program approaches communication from an upper-level perspective, as students learn how to create and utilize a corporate communication plan. Graduates go on to work at companies such as State Farm, Kaiser Permanente, the City of Las Vegas, or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Net Price: $32,892

#3 JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
WASHINGTON, D.C.
MASTER OF ARTS IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 95.0

Johns Hopkins University awards a Master of Arts in Communication where students gain experience with real communication issues, grow as professionals, and develop an outstanding professional portfolio. Students of JHU can study within concentrations such as Public and Media Relations, Political Communication, Health Communication, Digital Communication, Corporate/Non-Profit Communication, and Applied Research in Communication. They must also choose from, either, a Strategic Planning or a Research track. Students can begin the program at any time, but they must complete ten courses to graduate. The program is flexible, so if students want to complete semesters on-campus and others online, they can.
Net Price: $29,066

#2 PURDUE UNIVERSITY
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN COMMUNICATION
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Score: 96.8

Purdue University brings together communication professionals who wish to build their experience in its Master of Science in Communication program. This degree requires 30 credit hours to complete, and it typically takes students 20 months to finish. There is no residency required, nor is a GRE needed for admission.
Additionally, students can choose a concentration within Strategic Communication/Public Relations or Integrated Communication and Advertising concentration. The majority of students work full-time while finishing their degree Purdue, although MSC students can also study abroad during the program. Finally, many graduates have been employed by companies like Boeing, Coca-Cola, UNICEF, and the NCAA.
Net Price: $12,117

#1 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA – CHAMPAIGN
CHAMPAIGN, IL
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN STRATEGIC BRAND COMMUNICATION
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Score: 100.0

At the top of this list is the Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This program draws from both the university's business and its advertising departments to form the 32 credit degree. It is geared toward working professionals, and it can be completed in 15 months. The university also hosts optional weekly live sessions that allow students to connect with faculty members. Additionally, courses include Consumer Insights, Promotional Strategy, and the Essentials of Business Management. The degree culminates with a professional capstone project, where students can apply what they've learned from their classes through a strategic plan before operationalizing and evaluating it.
Net Price: $16,638