Master’s in Communication Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Communication Program?

An online master’s degree in communications can open doors to
exciting careers with international media outlets, multinational
corporations, retail brands, nonprofits or government agencies. This
unique discipline draws upon a diverse set of skills ranging from
marketing and public relations to video production and psychology.
Thanks to 21st century technology, you can earn an advanced degree
without leaving your home. Online courses give you the freedom to enroll
full-time or part-time and to learn at your own pace. They provide the
same quality curriculum taught at leading communications schools, but in
most cases, they’re substantially more affordable. If you’re interested
in earning your master’s degree online, here are a few things to
consider.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Communication

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Mass Media and Journalism Students learn the many skills needed to prepare, present and disseminate information through mass media outlets. Courses emphasize research techniques, media ethics, writing skills and communications strategies. Reporter, journalist, columnist, technical writer, TV/radio announcer, news analyst
Digital Media/Technology Focuses on technical aspects of working in the media with an emphasis on electronic technologies. In addition to covering research and reporting techniques, students learn technical skills, such as video editing and audio production. Production assistant, broadcast technician, producer, director, editor
Public Relations A communications degree with a concentration in public relations is a good fit for students who are interested in business. This curriculum focuses on strategic communications and marketing techniques that apply to print and digital channels. PR specialist, marketing manager, advertising manager, press secretary, director of investor relations
Leadership/Organizational Communication Leadership specializations delve further into the world of business communications. Students learn strategies for planning and managing internal and external communications and for directing activities that affect how organizations interact with and are perceived by the public. Director of marketing and communications, chief information officer, chief communications officer
Health Communications Explores methods for distributing information to health care providers, administrators and the public. It also involves psychological strategies for educating, influencing and convincing audiences. Public health educator, communications director, director of health informatics

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Communication

There are significant differences in course requirements depending on
whether you select a general mass media degree or a niche
specialization. Although courses vary between schools, you’ll likely
encounter the following subjects in your studies.

  • Core Courses: A significant portion of your coursework
    (approximately 40 percent) will focus on essential communications
    skills, including strategy, theory, research, writing and fact checking.
    You may also be required to complete a capstone project or assemble a
    digital portfolio.
  • Electives: Differences in specializations are most evident in the
    electives. For example, you may choose courses related to
    organizational development, politics, international relations,
    grassroots advocacy, media law or video production.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Communication?

In most cases, it takes two years to earn an online master of
communication degree. This schedule requires students to enroll in two
or three courses per term. Most students can manage this schedule while
working full-time. If that creates too much pressure or if you want to
take the summers off, you can earn your degree in three years by
enrolling part-time. However, this may affect your eligibility for some
scholarships. The duration also depends on whether the program requires a
fellowship, internship or thesis. Most programs require a minimum of 30
credit hours.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Communication Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Global Communication Certification Council This international certification is designed for communications professionals who work in the private sector. Applicants must meet education, experience and training requirements and pass a three-hour multiple-question exam to become a Communication Management Professional or Strategic Communication Management Professional.
Accreditation in Public Relations The Universal Accreditation Board certifies recent graduates, experienced PR professionals and military communications experts. Graduate students may apply for a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations to kick-start their careers.
Interactive Advertising Bureau This certification system was created especially for digital communications professionals. The organization offers four specialized certifications for professionals who develop and manage digital marketing and advertising campaigns. Professionals must have at least one year of experience and pass a two-hour, 100-question exam.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Communication Degrees

While you should always select a regionally accredited college or
university to ensure your credits transfer, you should also consider
programs that have been certified by the Accrediting Council on
Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. This optional
accreditation shows that the curriculum and faculty meet exacting
quality standards established by the industry. Graduating from an
ACEJMC-accredited program may set you apart from other candidates during
your job search. Nationally, more than 100 communications departments
have been accredited through this organization.Employment Outlook for Master’s in Communication GraduatesJob Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
demand for media and communications professionals is projected to
increase by 6 percent between 2016 and 2026, with the industry adding
some 43,000 new jobs. Compared to average earnings for all occupations,
professionals in this industry earn $18,650 more per year. Additionally,
master of communication graduates have the freedom to work in a variety
of industries depending on their skills and interests.Expected Salary

While many careers in communications require only a bachelor’s
degree, you have the potential to earn substantially more as a master of
communication. According to the Social Security Administration, men
with graduate degrees earn $600,000 more over the course of their
careers compared to those with bachelor’s degrees, and women with
equivalent credentials earn $470,000 more. As a master of mass
communications, you can expect your salary to fall in the upper end of
the pay scale for most positions.

Job Title Salary Range
Health Informatics Specialist $41,000-$92,000
Marketing Manager $44,000-$90,000
Digital Marketing Manager $44,000-$93,000
Marketing Communications Manager $48,000-$108,000
Communications Manager $49,000-$107,000
Director of Communications $51,000-$123,000
Marketing Director $52,000-$137,000
Investor Relations Manager $53,000-$133,000
Vice President of Marketing $96,000-$213,000

Professionals who have earned master’s degrees typically earn more because they advance to managerial and executive-level positions. Average earnings vary depending on your specialization and geographic location as well as your experience. The size of the company also affects average earnings according to data from 900 MMC graduates.

Career Opportunities

Master of communication graduates are employed in a diverse array of
industries. You might work for a major TV network, a Fortune 500 company
or a humanitarian aid group. Take a look at some of these popular
communications careers to see which options appeal to you.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Public Relations Specialist Also called communications specialists or media specialists, these professionals prepare press releases, speeches and public opinion polls. They develop strategies for assessing and improving their organization’s public image. PR specialists also function as press secretaries within government agencies. $59,300 per year 28%
Social Service or Community Service Manager Large nonprofits and small community-based organizations employ community service managers who are responsible for overseeing programs, developing operating strategies and raising awareness. Communications graduates who have strong analytic and marketing skills can excel in this rewarding career. $64,100 per year 18%
Technical Writer or Communicator Technical communicators work in publishing as well as the IT and engineering industries, where they serve as a link between product designers and end users. These professionals select appropriate communications channels, prepare technical documentation and standardize content across platforms. $70,930 per year 11%
Public Relations Manager/Fundraising Manager As the manager of a PR team, communications professionals coordinate content development strategies to protect or enhance the reputation of their employer or their employer’s clients. In nonprofits, communications professionals may direct fundraising activities and develop strategies for reaching donors and mobilizing supporters. $111,280 per year 10%
Advertising or Marketing Manager Communications graduates work in major advertising firms and in-house departments. They coordinate all aspects of the marketing process, such as identifying target audiences, completing research and developing effective ad campaigns. They serve as a link between the organization’s creative and financial departments. $129,380 per year 10%

Professional Organizations

Professional membership associations can be your ally before and
after graduation. These groups provide resources for earning
certifications, advancing your credentials and networking with peers.
Because communications graduates work in many fields, they frequently
join niche groups for professionals in business administration,
marketing, public relations, journalism and mass media. If you haven’t
selected a specialization or if you’re interested in general resources,
these industry associations can help.

National Communication Association:
This membership group provides academic and practical resources for
teachers, scholars and professionals who work in all areas of the media
and communication industries. The NCA manages a career center, publishes
academic journals, funds research and supports free speech advocacy.

International Association of Business Communicators:
The IABC offers a wealth of resources to global professionals who
specialize in PR, marketing, investor relations, social responsibility
and related disciplines. Its resources help communications experts
advance their careers, network with peers, develop new skills and solve
day-to-day business challenges.

Public Relations Society of America:
This 30,000-strong organization ensures that communications
professionals are smarter, more efficient and better connected through
all stages of their careers. The association establishes best practices,
offers professional development resources and promotes innovation
across the industry. It also operates the Public Relations Student
Society of America.

Social Media Association:
Created for members of the digital media community, this industry group
provides career assistance, job postings and educational resources. It
also organizes industry summits and in-person events led by
inspirational speakers and thought leaders.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Communication

As a current or prospective student, the cost of a college education
is probably one of your top concerns. Generally, online master’s degrees
are significantly more affordable than on-campus classes. Plus, they
give you the freedom to enter the workforce faster or to study part-time
while you work. You may also qualify for scholarships and federal
grants that can further reduce the cost of tuition, textbooks and
related expenses. To see which resources are available, start by
completing your online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Individual colleges and regional nonprofits also offer financial
assistance. Review the resources below to find other programs that can
make an advanced degree more affordable.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Scholarships

Award: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Eligibility: Scholarships are available through more than one dozen regional chapters of the NATAS. Typical awards range from $500 to $5,000. Students are selected based on their academic achievements, creative potential and financial need.

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) Graduate Fellowship

Award: Up to $5,000

Deadline: February 15

Eligibility: Graduate fellowships are available to students who are pursuing advanced degrees related to publishing, print technology or graphic communications.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation: Advancement of Women in Sports & Entertainment Scholarship

Award: $1,000

Deadline: November 17/June 14

Eligibility: This semiannual scholarship is available to female first-year graduate students who are enrolled full-time in a communications, mass media, PR, marketing or journalism degree. Applicants must express a desire to work in the sports or entertainment industry.