Communications Degrees: MBAs, Masters & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a Master of Arts or Master of Business Administration (MBA) communications degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an MBA and a master's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Communications: Degrees at a Glance

Master's degree-level communication studies involve learning how to analyze the art of communication in all its forms and its possible applications. In these programs, you learn about the various communications technologies and how to apply communication theories and strategies in the workplace. Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Art degree programs in communications address the application of communication methods and theories to different sectors of the economy. In addition to having divergent focuses, these programs prepare graduates for very different careers. Graduates of MBA programs could work such as a marketing and advertising manager, management consultant or public relations specialist. Master of Arts in Communications program graduates may be eligible for leadership roles in human resources, or could work as journalists or educators.

MBA Master's
Who is this degree for? - Individuals interested in business careers that require developed communication skills - Those interested in non-business communication careers, such as journalist
- Individuals interested in teaching at the postsecondary level
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Public relations specialist ($60,000)*
- Advertising manager ($103,000)*
- Journalist ($44,000)*
- Editor ($61,000)*
Time to Completion Approximately 2 years, full-time Approximately 2 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements About 24 credit hours of study in a core curriculum
About 12-15 hours of cousework in a concentration
About 33-39 credit hours of coursework
Graduate thesis or comprehensive exams
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Standardized graduate test scores
- Bachelor's degree
- Standardized graduate test scores
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

MBA in Communications

Degree candidates enrolled in an MBA degree program in communications study traditional business topics, such as leadership styles, finance, organizational techniques, business ethics, problem solving and strategic decision making. However, coursework also covers communication topics such as communications in a corporate dynamic, successful presentation styles and utilization of social media in a commercial environment.

The exact nature of your MBA in communications degree program depends on the academic focus of the program. Different programs emphasize different styles and types of business communication; some programs are designed to stress corporate communications, while other programs are designed for those interested in media management.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree prepare you for a broad range of career paths, such as business, communications or social media
  • Program focus permits you to concentrate your communication studies in the sector you intend to work in after graduation
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for certain relevant careers (such as public relations manager) should increase at a faster-than-average rate between now and 2020

Cons

  • Business aspect of program requires studying business topics more than communications-related topics
  • Online programs are rare
  • Graduate school is often expensive and non-loan funding may be difficult to secure
  • Relatively few MBA programs specialize in communications, possibly making admission to these programs competitive

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum of these programs generally include a core set of business courses and classes in a concentration. Business-related coursework often includes math classes in statistics or mathematical business methods. Classes you might take include:

  • Business law
  • Theories of marketing
  • History of communication industries
  • Corporate finance
  • Communication and new media

Online Degree Options

MBA programs with a concentration in communications are available, but are rare. Usually, online programs include the same curriculum and lead to the same vocational outcomes as a traditional campus-based programs.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To separate yourself from your fellow job applicants, consider joining a professional organization such as the Association for Business Communication (ABC), Association of Professional Communication Consultants (APCC) and American Communications Association (ACA). Membership in any of these organizations offers networking opportunities, access to job postings and even the possibility of participating in mentoring programs.

Master's in Communication

Master of Arts in Communication program students study the latest in digital communication technology while mastering the subtle art of verbal and written communication. These students learn how to mount a successful communications campaign and convey a message to the widest audience possible. Many of these programs focus on the role of communications as it is utilized in the various forms of media. Other programs take a broader approach, analyzing communications in a wider range of dynamics, including the corporate and non-profit spheres.

Pros and Cons

  • Short completion time; you can be finished with your graduate program in two years of full-time study
  • Degree may lead to increased marketability
  • This type of degree program can serve as the educational pathway to careers in media, corporate communications or education

Cons

  • This program may prepare you for certain vocations (such as journalist) that are predicted to experience a decrease in jobs between 2010 and 2020*
  • Obtaining the degree involve submitting a graduate thesis or passing comprehensive exams, which can be stressful and time-consuming
  • Not all jobs in communications require a master's degree, resulting in you possibly competing against bachelor's degree holders for positions

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Many Master of Arts in Communications programs require writing a thesis. In these programs, you work closely with a thesis adviser to choose a topic and a research approach for writing and defending your paper. Non-thesis programs typically require passing a comprehensive exam prior to graduation. Classes you may take in either a thesis or non-thesis master's degree program include:

  • Conflict and negotiation
  • Forms of communication in mass media
  • Digital media concepts
  • Cultural literacy

Online Degree Options

Master's degree programs in communications are available either entirely online or in hybrid format. Deciding which type of program is right for you may depend on the focus of your communications degree. For instance, if you are studying new media, you may find it advantageous to attend a hybrid program so that you can gain exposure to relevant cutting-edge technology used in the field.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

An internship can help you stand out against your competition. In an internship, you take what you've learned in a classroom and put it into practice in the workplace. If you are thinking of a career in print, radio, TV or online journalism, completing an internship in the industry in which you intend to work can help you establish contacts and create a portfolio of work to show potential employers after graduation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Science Writing
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA in Communication
      • MA in Communication: New Media & Marketing
      • MA in English
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
  • Gainesville, FL

    University of Florida

  • Athens, GA

    University of Georgia

  • Syracuse, NY

    Syracuse University

Featured Schools

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

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Grand Canyon University

  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • MA in Communication
  • MA in Communication: New Media & Marketing
  • MA in English

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Full Sail University

  • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing

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