Ever dream of creating engaging media, monitoring campaigns, informing the world, and making a good paycheck? Media and communications managers make an average salary of over $125k nationwide according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with the recent growth in importance of online content in marketing and engagement efforts, there are more positions in the field than ever. While you can enter into the marketing or media department of an organization and work your way up to management, a number of specialized skills and frameworks can be hard to come by on the job, and a masters in communications degree can fast track your progress towards your goals. As with many degree types, an ever-increasing number of masters in communications degrees may now be completed online and with greater flexibility than ever before. We’ve taken a look at all online masters in communications programs available as of March 2017, and have ranked them according to the following three user-verified and trusted metrics:
Methodology Affordability (1/3):
the out-of-state tuition per credit hour for programs surveyed.
Flexibility (1/3): the number of flexibility-enhancing program components, including the number of concentrations, specializations, and emphases, accelerated course options, and lenient transfer policies.
Core Curriculum Areas (1/3): the number of core curriculum areas with coursework offered in the degree, including strategic communication, conflict management, audience research, and courses on new/online media.
1.) Missouri State University
Missouri State University is a public, state university located in Springfield, Missouri. Home to some 26,000 students, the university is the second largest in the state. The university was established in 1906 as a normal school (teacher college) and has been growing ever since. The university offers over 100 majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and is reasonably priced (even for a public, state institution) across the boards. As a whole, the university is a regionally ranked institution according to US News, and is also ranked as one of the top 20 public schools in the nation. A wide range of online offerings are also available from the university.
The fully online Master in Communications offered by Missouri State University places as the number one program in this years ranking due to high marks in flexibility-enhancing components as well as full marks in core curriculum ares covered. Accordingly, students in the program are afforded the opportunity to pursue coursework in all four of the subject matter areas surveyed in this ranking: strategic communication, conflict management, audience research, and new/online media. Furthermore, students may specialize their degrees, with eight focus areas (the second most of any program survyed). Focus areas include Conflict and mediation, Family communication, Health communication, Interpersonal communication, Organizational communication, Public relations, Rhetoric and argumentation, or Small group communication. Coursework is a mixture of theory and practice, with “book learning” balanced with opportunities for group learning, internships and practicums. While the many focus areas allow for greater flexibility as to what setting graduates may work in the future, it’s also of note that the program is great preperation for further research, phd programs, or opportunities teaching communications (with several graduated moving on to teach at top universities after finishing their communications degree at MSU).
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Top 100 university
2.) University of Florida
The University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant research university with a main campus located in Gainesville, Florida. Home to almost 50,000 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, the university is the 8th largest university by student body size in the United States. Classified as a very high research level university, Florida is a great location at which to pursue postgraduate work, and is regularly ranked as one of the top 15 public schools in the nation. The University of Florida’s name also holds clout internationally, with the University recently being assessed as the 90th best university in the world according to research grants procured and faculty output. In recent years the university has expanded dramatically expanded the number of students it can reach with its world class facilities and faculty through the unveiling of a wide range of online degrees. A wide host of online degrees are offered by UF at the graduate and undergraduate level, including a particularly impressive 9 degree specializations in Mass Communication.
The fully online Mass Communication degree offered by the University of Florida ranks highly in all three metrics surveyed for our ranking: flexibility, core curriculum areas, and price point. With 9 specialization areas available in the Mass Communication Masters, there are more ways to tailor the UF degree than any other surveyed. Specialization areas include audience anaytics, digital strategy, global strategic communications, political communications, public interest communications, public relations and communications management, social media, and web design and online communication. Many degree options also equip students with job-ready certifications in technical and widely recognized skillsets. Some icing on the cake, UF’s program comes in at the middle of the pack in terms of out-of-state tuition, making the program a great deal for one of the best in the nation.
Flexibility-Enhanding Components: Two Communications Programs
Core Curriclum Score: 4/4
3.) Ohio University
Ohio University is a public research university with a main campus located in Athens, Ohio. Home to some 26,000 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, the university has one of the 25 largest residential enrollments of colleges in the United States. Originally charted in 1787, Ohio University is also one of the oldest universities in the United States. Almost 300 total degree types are offered by the university, making it a storied, historical, and practical choice for strong students in many disciplines. In recent years the university has been noted as a prominent high-quality online degree provider as well. Over 5,000 students are currently enrolled in only online courses at the university. Accolades of the university include being a top 100 university in the United States, as well as being noted as one of the top Fulbright Scholar participants in the United States (alongside the likes of UCLA, Boston College, and Princeton University). Other awards are commonly brought home by OU graduates as well, with over 70 prominant award recipients in a number of recent years.
The fully online Masters in organizational communication offered by Ohio University places highly in our ranking due to its very affordable price point, as well as one of the few programs surveyed that offer all core curriculum areas we looked for in our ranking. The degree is also flexible, as it was built from the ground up specifically to serve those already working in some communications field and looking to advance their career with a degree while working. Don’t let the additional flexibility lead you to think the program is lacking in support or academic rigor, however. Courses are designed with plenty of room for interaction with fellow students and instructors through video conferencing, and the degree may be completed in as few as 15 months. A capstone experience affords students a culminative experience with the choice of a comprehensive exam, an applied project, or a master’s thesis. An additional selling point of the program is the price point, coming in at the more affordable of all programs surveyed!
Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $243
Flexibility-Enhanding Components: N/A
Core Curriclum Score: 4/4
4.) Concordia University – Saint Paul
Concordia University in Saint Paul is a private university member of the Concordia University System, a ten-member group of universities affiliated with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Home to some 4,000 students, the university is known for liberal arts programming, and has been around since 1893. The University is classified as a regionally ranked university by organizations such as US News. Located in the Twin Cities — a thriving and multifaceted market — students enjoy connections to many opportunities within the region, for research projects, internships, and service learning opportunities. In other news, the University was recently known for considerable tuition cuts for their students and potential students during and in the aftermath of the great recession.
The fully online Master of Arts in Strategic Communications Management offered by Concordia University of Saint Paul ranks highly in all three metrics surveyed for this ranking: affordability, flexibility, and subject matter areas covered by the program. The program is the 5th most affordable of those surveyed for our ranking, with a tuition rate of $575 per credit hour. As a private university offering the full complement of support services this makes the program quite a steal. On the flexibility front, the degree is presented for working adults, and offers accelerated 7 week classes to help students structure course work around their busy home or work lives. Three of four surveyed core subject matter areas were covered in the program, including strategic communications, crisis management, and new media/online communications.
Northeastern University is a private research university with a main campus located in Boston, Massachusetts. Home to some 25,000 students, the university is regularly ranked as one of the top 50 schools in the nation and is designated a very high research level institution. With a number of top programs particularly in practical disciplines, the university has expanded to offer graduate programming at a number of satellite campuses located in hubs of business and innovation: Silicon Valley, Seattle, Charlotte, and Toronto. Many courses of study at the university are known as being interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial, with undergraduate level “co-ops” in which students work in real world settings expected. In line with this type of hands-on problem solving education, recent years have seen substantial growth in the university’s student-led Venture Accelerateor, a startup incubator.
The fully online Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program offered by Northeastern University scores highly in two metrics surveyed by our rankings: flexibility and core subject areas covered. The flexibility score for the program is bolstered by a wide range of career-centered concentrations including Social Media, Public Relations, Human Resource Management, Project Management, or Leadership. Professors in the program further augment the practical focus of the program, bringing real world experience to students as practicioners in the field themself. All core subject matter areas surveyed in our ranking were offered in courses within the program, including crisis management, new media communications, strategic communications, and audience research. While the program is on the pricier end of programs surveyed, it’s also a world class education from one of the top ranked schools in the nation. The program also offers a unique benefit to current PR professionals holding an accreditation in public relations, offering a 20% tuition discount and accelerated time until degree.
Bellevue University is a private not-for-profit university with a main campus located in Bellevue, Nebraska. The university is home to some 10,000+ students, and from its outset has been known as a provider of educational outreach, adult education, and career-centered academic offerings. In line with the Universities focus on practical and adult education, a great deal of the university programming is offered with the choice of taking classes online or in-person, in a cohort-based model or in an accelerated model. In short, the university seeks to provide flexible programming often crucial for adult learners across the range of its academic offerings. BU is a regionally classified school according to US News, and is regionally accredited (the highest form of accreditation) by the Higher Learning Commission.
The fully online Master of Arts in Business and Professional Communication degree offered by Bellevue University ranks highly in all three metrics surveyed: affordability, flexibility, and number of curriculum areas covered. Particularly for a private university, tuition is affordable, and comes in as the 10th most affordable of programs surveyed at $545 per credit hour. Programming for the degree is flexible as well, offering a wide range of practical concentrations including Business, Computer Information Systems, Executive Coaching, Human Resource Management, Project Management, Transnational and Cross-cultural Communication, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Almost 2000 students and formar students have ranked the program 4/5 stars on the program homepage. It’s also noteworthy that the course of study covers all major curriculum areas surveyed: conflict management, strategic communications, new media communications, and audience research methods.
Lasell College is a private, non-religious college with a main campus located in Newton, Massachusetts. Enrollment at the college is small, with just under 2,000 students. A wide range of offerings are available, however, including undergraduate and graduate offerings in the liberal arts and professional preperation fields. Though small, the college has been recognized as one of the 10 fastest growing in the country, and is well positioned for future growth with a prime location 10 miles from Boston and close to quality public transportation. The school is known for service learning, with over 85% of students participating in some form of service learning. Classes are small, with almost 70% of classes having less than 20 students. The most popular majors include Sport and Fitness Administration/Management, and Fashion Merchandising and Business Administration and Management. Lasell College is regionally accredited, and classified as a regionally ranked university.
The fully online Master in Science in Communication Degree places highly in our ranking due to its high marks in flexibility and core curriculum areas covered. Flexibility-enhancing components include three concentrations including health communications, integrated marketing communications, and public relations. The program is also flexible through the amount of time students may complete it in, ranging from 12-24 months depending on a students availability. Instructional quality is upheld in the program through capping courses at 23 students, to allow one-on-one attention in-person and through online delivery. Of core curriculum surveyed, the program offered courses in 3/4 areas: crisis management, new/online media communications, and strategic communications. The program is the 15th most affordable of programs surveyed, coming in at $600 per credit hour.
National University is a private, non-profit university with a main campus located in San Diego, California. Home to some 29,000 students, the university also have campuses through California, one in Nevada, and a large online presence. NU is particularly noted for its focus on vocational skills, as well as on adult students. This adult student focus is particularly evident through their online offerings, in which students can choose from a whopping 1,500 online courses. Degrees are available at the associates through masters levels, as well as teaching certifications. The university has a noted military presence, which comprises 9% of one of the largest student bodies of the United States. Other accolades include being one of the largest producers of teachers in the state of California, one of the largest graduaters of minority students in the United States, and being named one of the best universities to work for by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The fully online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication offered by National University places highly in our ranking due to its affordable price point and coverage of major curriculum areas. Currently priced at $416 per credit hour, National University is the third most affordable program of those surveyed. The program covers three of the four major major curriculum areas, including strategic communication, crisis management, and research of audience. Additional flexibility may be gained in the program through electing to choose any graduate level course with the program (per approval of major faculty members). Additional support services include the third largest digital library in the United States, and an accelerated course format. Servicemembers recieve additional support as well as a tuition break.
Quincy University is a private Catholic, liberal arts university located in Quincy, Illinois. 1,100 students call QU home. Built in the Franciscan tradition, the school has been a practicioner of service learning since it’s inception in 1860. Academic offerings are primarily available at the undergraduate level with several exceptions including a Masters in Theology program, a Masters in Business Administration program, and a Master of Science in Education program. The University is known for its focus on education, instead of research, with an average class size of 15 students and a student/faculty ratio of 14 to 1. 70% of faculty at QU hold terminal degrees in their fields. QU is regionall accredited, as well as classified as a regionally ranked university by US News.
The fully online Master of Arts in Communication degree offered by Quincy University recieved top marks in our ranking due to its affordable price point and coverage of key curriculum areas. At $460 per credit hour, the university’s program is the fourth most affordable of those surveyed. Three of four core curriculum areas surveyed are covered in the degree plan, including Strategic Communication, New/Online Media, and Crisis Management. The overall focus of the program is to advance proficiency in writing as applied across media platforms, “leading to fluency in verbal, visual, and digital storytelling.” The degree offers courses in traditional 16-week increments, and may be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis.
Washington State University is a public research and land-grant University with a main campus located in Pullman, Washington. The University is the second largest in the state with almost 30,000 students systemwide. Over 200 fields of study are available at the bachelors through doctoral levels, including all major fields typically represented at large research institutions. Ranked as one of the 70 best public universities in the nation, WSU undergraduate business, international business, undergraduate engineering, and vetirenary programs are particularly well ranked. With $100’s of millions of dollars in research funding annually, the unviersity is annually in the 50 most research intensive universities in the United States. This amounts to many opportunities for students (even at the undergraduate level) to become involved with professor research.
The fully online Masters in Strategic Communication offered by Washington State University ranks highly among surveyed schools due to its affordable price point as well as its coverage of key curriculum areas. At $509 per credit hour, the university is the 9th most affordable of programs surveyed for out-of-state tuition. If you’re lucky enough to live in state, this price drops even more, making the program a steal from a top research university. Core curriculum areas covered by the degree include three of four surveyed: crisis management, new/online media communications, and strategic communication. A further selling point is the how up-to-date the degree is, teaching a host of modern platforms, softwares, and multimedia tools. By the end of the program, students have created a host of professional grade and peer-reviewed multimedia deliverables that may be stored online in a portfolio. Accolades of the program include being named one of the 25 best communications programs in the nation by the National Research Council.
American University is a private research university located in Washington, D.C. Home to some 13,000 students, the University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, though courses are secular. The University is known for a particularly politically active student body, as well as top notch academics and research. In line with its location and the political nature of the student body, the school has the largest school of international service in the nation. Other top ranked programs include the school of communication, international relations, and public affairs. In line with the many top ranked programs that may prepare students for non-profit or civil service work, the University has been noted as one of the ten top producers of future foreign policy workers in the United States. Another notable aspect of the University is it’s commitment to sustainability. Many LEED certified buildings, sustianable energy, and lack of waste led the university to be ranked #2 on the Sierra Club’s “Greenest Colleges in the US” in 2014.
The fully online Master of Arts in Strategic Commuication from American University is highly ranked due to its extremely flexible nature as well as its coverage of all core curriculum areas surveyed. The flexible nature of the degree may be seen from the range of specializations offered by this top ranked communications department. Concentrations may be used by students to tailor their degree to their unique interests and goals. For the strategic Communications degree, concentrations are available in advocacy and social impact, digital strategies and analytics, corporate communication and reputation management, and public diplomacy and global affairs. A second communications degree offers some online courses, and is centered around political communications. Even for online students, the number of D.C. connections the program may confer is a great boon for a budding communications professional. That coupled with a top department serving up classes in all of the core curriculum areas we surveyed makes for a great opportunity for ambitious communications professionals.
Regent University is a private Christian research university with a main campus located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Home to some 8,000 students in-person and via distance learning, the university offers degrees at the associates through doctoral level. Originally founded as the Christian Broadcasting Network University, the school has historically been known as “the Harvard of the Christian Right.” Accordingly, recent surveys have ranked the school as having the 10th best faculty of schools in the nation, and as having the 2nd most conservative students in the nation. Among online providers, Regent shows out even more, ranked as the 11th best undergraduate online provider in the nation by US News, and with the best online MBA faculty in the nation. The univerity is also known as a particularly military friendly school, as well as having a quality financial aid system.
The M.A. in Strategic Communication offered fully online by Regent University places highly in our rankings due to solid rankings in all three categories, and particularly for coverage of all core curriculum areas surveyed. While the degree is open to those of all backgrounds and faiths, it’s particularly noted for its focus on providing Christian leaders with an enhanced ability to share their message and effectively impact attitudes and beliefs. The approved degree plan requires 33 credit hours for completion, including courses in crisis management, new/online media, strategic communication, and audience research. A capstone project is required, and students may choose between a thesis option and a directed project. While tuition is slightly pricier than some schools in our ranking, for one of the better private schools surveyed, still worth the plunge. Tuition per credit hour is currently set at $685 per credit hour.
Purdue University is a public land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant, research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The West Lafayette campus is the flagship campus of the Purdue University system and is home to some 40,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Over 270 programs of study are available on campus, on what is the largest student body campus in Indiana as well as the largest international student body in the United States. Purdue is known for both undergraduate teaching as well as graduate-level research. Routinely ranked among the best schools in the nation for undergraduate teaching, the University prides itself on fostering individual achievement. To this point, an amazing 23 graduates have become astronauts, multiple Nobel Prize-winning graduates in physics and chemistry, three recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and many notable alumni in business and government. The university is also noted for its commitment to high quality affordable education, and has held its tuition flat instead of increasing it for the last few calendar years.
The fully online online Master of Science in Communication offered by Purdue University ranks highly due to good rankings across the board, and particularly among core curriculum areas covered. Core curriculum areas covered in the degree include crisis management, new/online media, strategic communications, and audience research. As with many universities with strong and accomplished alumni networks, Purdue’s communications program prides itself on connections students may make with organizations such as UNICEF, United Way, NCAA, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Time Warner Cable News, and John Deere among others. While slightly pricier than other options in our ranking, tuition per credit hour is reasonable at Purdue, one of the highest quality schools in our ranking. Tuition per credit hour is currently set at $731.
The University of Alabama is a public, sea-grant, space-grant research university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The University was one of the first established on the –then– western frontier of the United States, and has had a large cultural influence on the region since its inception in 1820. Home to almost 40,000 students, the university is routinelly ranked as one of the 50 best public universities in the Nation, with particularly noted schools in law, business, nursing, and engineering. Also noteworthy is the University’s football team, one of the winningest in the history of college football, including recent national championships in 2015, 2012, 2011, and 2009. Bama by Distance, Alabama’s online offering branch provides a wide range of online offerings at the bachelors through doctoral levels with 47 fully online degrees at the present.
The fully online Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a concentration in leadership studies offered by University of Alabama ranks highly due to solid ranks in all three categories, and particularly affordability. Currently costing $367 per credit hour, this communications degree from a top school is definitely a steal. The program of study consists of 30 hours of study total, which may be completed in under two years by taking two courses at once. A capstone project is required and centers around the submission of a portfolio of communications work developed in conjunction with courses or an internship/work experience. Requirements for admission include a GRE or MAT score less than five years old and above 300 or 50th percentile, respectively. Also, an undergraduate GPA above 3.0 is required for admittance.
Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $367
Flexibility-Enhanding Components: N/A
Core Curriclum Score: 2/4
15.) University of Nebraska
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln is a public, flagship, land-grant, and research university located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Home to some 25,000 students, the university is the oldest and largest in the University of Nebraska system. Over 150 courses of study are available at the university. The university has also long supported distane learning — particularly to support the education of those in rural areas through the mid and mountain west regions. Today online courses may be taken through this preeminent state university in a wide range of fields from the bachelors through doctoral levels. The largest share of online degrees, 46 in total, are available at the masters and doctoral levels. UNL’s online education programs are particularly highly regarded.
The fully online Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication degree offered by the University of Nebraska ranks highly due to its flexibility and coverage of key curriculum areas. A number of specializations add to the degrees flexibility, including integrated media studies, media studies, and professional journalism. The three specializations focus on rapidly adapting media types for advertising and PR, the study of media in a scholarly context, and journalism, respectively. A thesis and non-thesis option are available, though may be dictated by what specialization students pursue. In additional to the regional accreditation of the larger university, the degree is also accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism & Mass Communications, the highest subject-specific form of accreditation for Communications degrees.
Liberty University is a private, Christian, nonprofit, research University with a main campus located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, the University is the second great choice for students wanting to study in a Christian atmosphere in our list. LU is home to some 15,000+ students on campus, but combined with online learning is regularly hailed as the “largest Christian university in the world.” Over 100,000 students study online at Liberty University, which is particularly noted for programming for adult learners and servicemember support services. Accolades of the university include being a regionally ranked university, a top university for military servicemembers, one of the most conservative universities in America, and having ranked programs in business, criminal justice, and nursing.
The fully online Master of Arts in Communications offered by Liberty University ranks highly due to flexibility and affordability. With the cost per credit hour set at $565, the program is the 16th most affordable surveyed. As a private university, however, this is quite a good rate, and one that lowers even further for servicemembers and their family. Flexibility-granting components of the program include a generous transfer policy (up to 1/4th of the degree may be transferred in) as well as the ability to accelerate time until degree through intensives and life experience credits. This is a great way for those with experience in a given field to work their way through masters programming quickly. The program is both geared towards those seeking to pursue professional communications roles or head into research in the field.
Flexibility-Enhanding Components: Can Accelerate Degree
Core Curriclum Score: 1/4
17.) South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University is a public land-grant, sun-grant, space-grant research university with a main campus located in Brookings, South Dakota. The university is the state’s largest, with 12,000 students. Focus areas for the university include agriculture, engineering, nursing, and pharmacy, as well as the liberal arts. The university is classified as a very high research level university, particularly in math and applied sciences. 21 degree programs are available fully online, ranging from an associates degree to a large number of specialized masters programs. While tuition is generally affordable — even for out-of-state students — students from other great plains states can save even more at this well established research university. The student-faculty ratio at the university is low for a large university at 17:1, with over 30% of courses — particularly at the graduate level — consisting of less than 20 students.
The fully online Master of Mass Communication offered by South Dakota State University ranks highly due to the program’s affordability and flexibility. At $565 per credit hour, the program is the 12th most affordable of those surveyed. Course work for the degree is practical and skill based, with plenty of one-on-one attention from professors due to an average class size of only 15 students. Eight-week sessions allow students to pursue courses in shorter bursts if needed to balance work, school, and life responsibilities. By taking two courses at a time and one during each summer, student may graduate in two years time. New media and related tools are central to the program’s focus, making the program a great place for those potentially already in the field who would like to make sure their skills are up to date.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, non-profit and non-sectarian university with a main campus located between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. Home to close to 3,000 students on campus, the university is largely known for its innovative online delivery, where over 60,000 students attend. As one would assume due to the size of the student body, a wide range of program types may be taken online, from the associates through doctoral levels. Innovative undergraduate offerings include accelerated 3-years honors degrees in business, criminal justice, and writing. Through the College Unbound program, students may obtain credit through apprenticeships, project learning, and group exercises, and accelerate their degree by spending some time online and some time in-person. The university is regularly regaled as potentially the most innovative university in America by the likes of Fast Company and US News. In line with SNHU’s dedication to doing things their own way, they have been carbon neutral since 2007 (the earliest university in their state to become so), and are regularly listed as one of the best universities to work for in America.
The fully online Master of Arts in Communication offered by Southern New Hampshire University ranks highly due to its flexibility and affordability. Flexibility-enhancing components of the program include the ability for students to pursue three concentrations: health communication, new media & marketing, and public relations. Furthermore, time until degree may be accelerated for students who push through multiple 10-week classes at once. This enables students to graduate in as few as 15 months. A further flexibility-enhancing program element is the ability to apply without taking the GRE or GMAT. As the 18th most affordable program of those surveyed, Southern New Hampshire University ranks well in affordability for a private university.
Stevenson University is a private coeducational university located in the Greenspring Area of Baltimore County, Maryland. Historically a two-year college, Stevenson University expanded in 2007 to attain the university status, opening up new colleges of business and leadership, and design. A new school of education is also slated to open in the coming years. The university operates according to a unique career-centered angle called “career architecture.” Career architecture involves a liberal arts core curriculum paired with a career emphasis. Throughout their schooling, students develop practical skills, resumes, get hands-on practice, and have a number of opportunities for interviews, internships, or apprenticeships. The university is currently home to over 4,000 students, including several hundred non-traditional adult learners.
The fully online Masters in Communication Studies is offered through Stevenson University’s graduate and professional studies school. The program places in our ranking due to strong showings in the core curriculum covered and affordable price point. Currently three of four core curriculum areas surveyed are available through the Stevenson University program, including crisis management, Strategic Communications, and audience research. Students may select between a capstone project and a thesis. The following aspects of communication are taught and may be integrated into the culiminating project or thesis: Interpersonal, Intercultural, Organizational, Nonverbal, Conflict Resolution, Small Group, Rhetorical and Speech. All department faculty members have terminal degrees in their field. The current tuition per credit hour for the program is $670, quite affordable for a graduate level program at a private university.
Park University is a private university with a flagship campus located in Parkville, Missouri. The university, founded in 1875, has around 1,600 students who attend the main campus, however there are satallite campuses and online programming options which swell the student body to 23,000 students. PU has been noted as one of the most affordable private schools in the nation. The university has also recieved extensive recognition for its ability to support and cater to the needs of both adult non-traditional students and servicemember students. To this aim, many of the satalitte campuses of PU are located near military bases throughout the nation. A military degree completion program was initially established as far back as 1972, and grew when the university was an early adopter of online education in 1996. Park University is regionally accredited — the highest form of accreditation — across all 40 of its campuses as well as online.
The fully online Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership offered by Park University places in our ranking due to its strong scores in affordability and core curriculum areas covered. As previously mentioned, Park U as a whole is known for being one of the most affordable private schools in the nation. In our ranking, the school rates as the 9th most affordable program of those surveyed, both public and private. Flexibility-enhancing components of the program include the ability to take courses as needed in-person and online, as well as a variety of term lengths even for the same course. While attending in-person is often much more of a stretch for universities with one or fewer locations, Park University is located across the nation, making it easier to become a hybrid student if needed. Other noteworthy components of the program include the strong international student base, as well as small classes that aid in the providing of one-on-one attention.
West Virginia University, founded in 1867, has a total enrollment of 28,500 and is ranked among the best public schools in the country. US News highlights WVU’s online programs on at least six rankings, and Washington Monthly and Forbes have recognized West Virginia, as well. With a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the university fosters a vibrant educational community, combining the resources of Carnegie Foundation-recognized research institution with the intimacy of a liberal arts school. Nearly forty percent of classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 18 percent have 50.
West Virginia offers an online MA in Corporate and Organizational Communication that consists of 36 credits. Courses include Communication in the Organization, Theory in Professional Life, Organizational Research & Evaluation, Social Media Management, Leadership, and Case Studies in Organizational Communication, among others. All coursework is built to accommodate a variety of learners, and most students complete the degree in two years. No previous academic credits in communications are required for admission, and the program doesn’t require GRE or GMAT scores.
Founded in 1887, Gonzaga University is a private Catholic institution with a total enrollment of about 7,600. US News ranks Gonzaga in the top 4 in three regional rankings, and it appears on at least two best-of rankings for online degrees. In addition to rigorous academics, Gonzaga emphasizes a variety of religious and liberal-arts inspired values, including character development, social justice, and global engagement. The 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures a tight-knit learning community, and over 40% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Gonzaga offers an online Master’s in Communication & Leadership that requires 30 credits and can be completed in two years. Core requirements include Theorizing Communication, Communication & Leadership Ethics, Content Creation and Strategy, and International and Intercultural Communication, among others. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree to areas of professional through concentrations in College Teaching, Digital Media Strategies, Global Leadership, Servant Leadership, and Strategic and Organizational Communication. Up to a fifth of credits can be transferred into the program, and student support services include IT assistance, career development, and more. Graduates have gone on to careers in Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Nike, and NBC Universal.
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is a private institution with a total enrollment of 24,000, the majority of whom are graduate students. As a founding member of the AAU, Hopkins is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, including by publications such as Princeton Review, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Forbes, and US News, which also ranks it in the top 20 for value. The 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio is exceptional for a university of size, providing individualized instruction and a tight-knit educational community. Over 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Johns Hopkins offers an online MA in Communication that consists of 10 courses and features two tracks in either Strategic Planning or Research. Core coursework covers areas like Introduction to the Digital Age, Changing Behavior through Communication, Theory of Mass Communication Practices, and Persuasion. From there, students have the ability to customize the degree in several ways: dozens of electives are available, or students may choose to concentrate in Applied Research in Communication, Public and Media Relations, Political Communication, Health Communication, Digital Communication, or Corporate and Non-Profit Communication. Flexibility is a point of emphasis, and three entry-dates are available throughout the year. For those interested, Hopkins also offers a Dual MA in Communication/MBA and an MA in Communication/Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
Founded in 1919, Western New England University is a private university in Springfield, Massachusetts, with a total enrollment of about 3,800, including students from 37 states and 25 foreign countries. The 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio creates a dynamic and collaborative learning environment, and expert instructors offer tailored lesson plans to fit individual students’ needs. In addition to accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, WNEU is a member of the Association of American Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts.
Western New England offers a 30-credit online MA in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, designed for working working professionals in PR, media, and business. Core requirements include Writing for Communication Professionals, Communication Research Methods, Ethics in Public Communication, Manufacturing and Managing Public Opinion, and Crisis Management and Public Relations. From there, students focus on Strategic Approaches to Public Relations, Strategies for Social and Digital Media, Public Relations for NonProfits, and complete an independent study and master’s thesis. All courses are built for maximum flexibility, and the program is meant to be taken on a part-time basis. Admissions are rolling.
Founded in 1855 as the country’s first land-grant institution, Michigan State University has a total enrollment of approximately 50,500, making it the eighth-largest in the United States. Bloomberg Businessweek, Washington Monthly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and QS World University Rankings all rank MSU among the best schools in the country. US News highlights the university’s veteran support services and overall value. For a school of its size, the 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio keeps class sizes manageable — nearly 30% have fewer than 20 students — and helps to maintain a vibrant educational setting.
Michigan State offers a 30-credit online Master’s in Strategic Communication designed for working professionals in the field. Courses include Digital Media Strategies, Persuasion Techniques for Working Professionals, Strategic Message Development, Crisis Communication, Catalyst Thinking in the C-Suite, and Social Media Storytelling, among others. A capstone is required to provide practical experience and service-learning in strategic communication planning and management. A cohort model promotes collaborative learning, and the program is built for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ schedules. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to: develop a digital marketing strategy; integrate marketing, advertising, sales and logistics across multiple channels; and interpret digital marketing data to inform decision-making.
Walden University, founded in 1970, has a total enrollment of over 47,000, including students from all 50 states and over 150 countries worldwide. Walden is also a global leader in online education, offering 140 degree programs and over 300 specializations and concentrations. The university’s 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports personalized instruction, and an emphasis is placed on skill-building and career development. For adult learners and working professionals, Walden has a number of affiliations with school districts, healthcare centers, corporations, and nonprofits, helping to reduce tuition costs and emphasize career-oriented curricula.
Walden offer an online MS in Communication that features 30 credits, aimed at both working professionals and students interested pursuing a career in the field. Core requirements include Communication Theory in Practice, Mass Media in Modern Society, Creative Strategy and Execution, Public Relations Concepts and Strategy, Crisis Communication, and Marketing Communications, Storytelling, and Persuasion, among others. Elective options help customize the degree, and a capstone provides a real-world component and allows students to gain hands-on experience. (All students also earn a Graduate Certificate in Communication, embedded into the curriculum.) Walden’s generous transfer policy up to 15 credits, and student support includes a wide variety of resources: academic advising, career services, tech assistance, online library access, and more.
Founded in 1857, Queens University of Charlotte is a private institution in with a total enrollment of about 2,300. US News ranks QUC 20th among region schools, 30th for value, 13th for veterans, and on at least 3 best-of lists for online programs. In particular, the university emphasizes student-centered instruction and hands-on collaborative learning to develop skills for the 21st century. With a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, all classes are intimate: over 70% have fewer than 20 students.
Queens University offers an online MA in Communication that consists of 36-39 hours. Core requirements include Communication Fluency, Constructing Messages and Audiences, Communication and Culture in a Networked Society, Strategic Communication for Global Audiences, Organizational Identity and Brand, and Expanding Communication Boundaries, among others. From there, students have the opportunity to complete an optional concentration in Integrated Digital Strategy for an additional 3 credits. All students complete a capstone requirement that incorporate a hands-on component and gives students valuable practical experience in communication strategies and practices. The degree takes as little as two years. No GRE or GMAT scores are required for admission for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better.
Founded in 1873, Spring Arbor University is a private Christian institution and pioneer in online education with a total enrollment of about 3,400. In addition to a high regional ranking, Spring Arbor is a top-40 school for overall value and veteran support according to US News. The 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a highly dynamic environment that combines individualized instruction and collaborative learning. Over 60% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Spring Arbor’s online MA in Strategic Communication and Leadership is the only degree of its kind in the country that pairs students with mentors who are communication influencers. Example courses include Communication as Vocation and Calling, Communication Theory and Worldview, and Digital Media Strategies. All students graduate with an ePortfolio to help boost professional resumes, and the program develops a range of practical communications skills. With accelerated delivery, students can complete the degree in as little 18 months, and all courses are designed for maximum flexibility. Additional benefits include customization options, adult learning expertise, career services, and a personal success coach.
Tuition Per Credit: $655
29) University of Iowa
Founded in 1874, University of Iowa has a total enrollment of 32,000, including about 8,000 graduate students. In addition to ranking as one of the best schools in the region, Iowa is recognized on lists for best value, veteran support, and online programs, according to US News. The 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio is excellent for a school of its size, and ensures personalized instruction and a dynamic learning experience. Over half of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Iowa offers an online Master’s in Strategic Communication that consists of 30 credits. Core courses are Foundations of Strategic Communication, Strategic Communication Writing, Digital Strategic Communication, Strategic Communications Research, and a capstone that emphasizes real-world scenarios. From there, students can tailor the degree to areas of professional interest through a dozen available electives: from Financial and Budget Fundamentals for Communicators to Strategic Political Communication, Media Management for Strategic Communication, and Risk Communication. Three entry dates throughout the year allow student maximum schedule flexibility, and students are able to complete the degree in as little as 2 years (though 3- and 4-year study plans are available as well). For those interested, a hybrid delivery option is also offered.
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College is a private Christian liberal with a total enrollment just over 5,000, including 2,000 graduate students. US News ranks it among the top 30 colleges in the South, and in the top 20 for overall value and veteran services. With a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Mississippi combines tailored instruction with opportunities for collaborative and experiential learning. Half of classes have less than 20 students and just 3% have 50. As a Christian institution, all programs integrate religious values into the curriculum, and the school places an emphasis on the synthesis of faith, lifelong learning, and service.
Mississippi College’s online MS in Communication combines rigorous academic coursework, including the theory and history of media and communications, alongside hands-on skill development and practical application. In addition to core requirements, two concentration tracks are available — Applied Communication and Professional Communication in Health Services — which gives the degree a customization element. All coursework is designed or maximum flexibility to accommodate working professionals, adult learners, and non-traditional students, and the college offers multiple student support services, from career services to a student success office, writing center, tutoring, and counseling.