Master's degree programs in speech communication integrate advanced studies in interpersonal and intercultural communication issues, organizational management, journalism, and business practices, such as negotiation. Students can expect to study how people communicate, the methods they use, and how it affects interaction. Prior to graduation, students must submit a written thesis or research paper and present an oral defense of their work to an advisory committee. Most programs take two years to complete.
In addition to a bachelor's degree, applicants should have 15-18 credit hours in undergraduate communications courses in areas such as public speaking, oral communication and performance studies. Students must also receive a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) before they can enter the program.
Speech Communication Master's Degree
Students in these programs must take 30 to 40 credit hours of coursework, and they usually work closely with a faculty adviser to choose courses that fulfill graduation requirements and support their thesis work. Common courses include:
- Group communication
- Interpersonal communication
- Rhetoric theory
- Persuasion principles
- Intercultural conflict
- Communication theory
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of these programs are prepared for a wide variety of jobs, including teaching and public relations careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for public relations specialists is expected to increase 6% from 2014-2024, which is as fast as average when compared to other professions. As of May 2015, the median per-hour rate for public relations specialists was $27.29, which translates to $56,770 annually.
Graduates may also choose to teach high school courses in communications, including journalism and radio broadcasting. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for postsecondary communications teachers was $63,410 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education and Professional Certification
For students wishing to continue their education, certain colleges and universities offer a Ph.D. in speech communication. This 3- to 4-year program is research-based and typically culminates in a dissertation.
Many occupations in this field currently do not require certification. However, if students want to become public high school teachers, they must earn a teaching license before they can start.
By earning a master's degree in speech communication, students build high-level communication skills that can benefit them in a wide variety of careers.