Many distance learning communications master's programs are geared toward working professionals with experience in the communications field, and they focus on advanced communication theories and practice. Some programs at the graduate level are designed for those seeking managerial or leadership skills relevant to the field of communications.
Communications master's degree programs are often available fully online, though some may be offered as a hybrid format. Some online programs may require in-person residencies. Most distance learning master's degree programs in this field award a Master of Arts (M.A.).
Students interested in earning a master's degree must have already earned a bachelor's degree, but it does not necessarily have to be in a communications-related field. Graduate schools offering online programs may require prospective students to submit a resume, portfolio of work or other evidence of their experience in communications.
Typically, curricula for distance learning M.A. programs in communications are identical to curricula for on-campus programs. Master's candidates might be required to complete a thesis or capstone project, in addition to taking communications classes such as the following:
- Communications theory
- Communications research
- Conflict resolution
- Media communications
- Cross-cultural communications
- Communications ethics
- Group communications
Some colleges and universities offer online master's degrees in specialized areas of communications, such as new media, or programs that focus on how communication can help a specific industry, such as health care. These programs generally include content similar to that of a basic communication master's program, but they expand on that material to fit the needs of their specialty area. Examples of specialized online master's degree programs in communications include the following:
- Health care communication
- Mass communication
- Corporate communication
- Technology communication
- New media
- Organizational communication and leadership
- Communication management
Distance learners can access course materials, lectures and assignments through their school's online classroom environment. They can also participate in discussions with classmates or instructors and contribute to group projects by using collaboration tools. While many communications programs require no on-site visits, some do contain hybrid courses -- which combine campus-based and online work -- and require campus-based immersion experiences or residencies at certain points in the program.
Completing an online master's degree in communications can open the door to various careers. Graduates can pursue work in public relations or human resources, as well as print, broadcast or new media. For those who already work in the field, earning a graduate degree in communications or a communications specialty might enhance their ability to advance in their career.
A master's degree in communications can impact your career at any stage. These online degree programs provide students the opportunity to sharpen their writing and verbal skills, which can give graduates a competitive edge in the job market.