Communication degree programs are widely available online at the master's degree level. These programs provide students with the leadership skills to present information, manage organizational discussions and perform research. Rarely, doctoral degree programs in general and technical communication can also be completed through distance learning. Some graduate certificate programs in communication also exist online, although only master's degree programs are covered below.
Master's degree programs in communication may offer specialization options in health communication, political communication, organizational communication and media communication. Such programs can typically be completed fully online. Students may have the opportunity to complete a communication co-op or internship. Important prerequisites for this program can include a portfolio.
Master of Arts in Communication
Entrance into an online Master of Arts in Communication program requires that students hold a bachelor's degree with an acceptable grade point average. These programs are available to both full-time students as well as professionals who wish to take classes while working.
In a Master of Arts in Communication program, students develop the skills to identify and meet the communication needs of organizations. Upon completion of the program, students are familiar with communication research, leadership styles, conflict resolution, understanding multiple perspectives and writing for varying audiences.
Program Information and Requirements
There are many universities that offer a master's degree program in communication fully online. To complete these programs, students must have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.
Most programs require between 32-36 credit hours, which can be completed through an intensive one-year curriculum or a part-time two-year curriculum. Students log in to a course management system to access class lectures and assignments on their own schedule.
Master of Arts in Communication Courses
A student enrolled in an online master's degree program in communication selects elective courses to add to their required curriculum of core classes. In addition, many curricula conclude with a graduate thesis or portfolio that must be approved by an academic advisor in order for the student to graduate.
Students in an online course in persuasion study the fundamentals of transferring of ideas from one person to another. Emphasis is placed on the characteristics of persuasive media as well as the ideal psychological parameters for both the communicator and the target audience. In addition, students explore the role of ethics in the use of persuasive communication.
Leadership in Communication
An online course in communication leadership focuses on the qualities that an effective communicator must possess when in a position of authority. Students study the role of communication from a leadership perspective within business and community models. Conflict resolution strategies are also taught in this course.
An online research course emphasizes the importance of locating and filtering relevant information for both communicators and audiences. Both qualitative and quantitative research and analysis methods are explored, including the study of focus groups, statistics, interviewing, ethnography and behavioral science. Students then learn to integrate the research data into various communication outlets.
Students in an online course in intercultural communication study the different parameters that shape global communication. This course explores the range of possible cross-cultural communication exchanges, including those on the personal, business and political levels. Students learn the importance of understanding cross-cultural communication, so that effective communication techniques can be used between international parties.
Graduates from a Master of Arts in Communication degree program often find employment in the field of public relations at the managerial level, though careers in marketing, promoting and advertising are also common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites that public relations specialists earned a median wage of $56,770 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). In addition, the BLS reports that employment opportunities for public relations specialists were expected to grow at a rate of 6% between 2014 and 2024.
Students pursuing an online graduate degree in communication can do so completely online. Different topics covered in these programs include leadership in communication and intercultural communication.