Business Communication Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in a business communications degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and PhD degree and potential careers.
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Study Business Communication: Degrees at a Glance

Students in a business communication graduate degree program receive training in the theoretical and practical aspects of corporate communications. Although a bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level positions in public relations and similar fields, master's degrees and several years of relevant work experience have become important qualities to employers, particularly for management positions.

Nearly every industry hires communications graduates for administrative, communication, consulting and management positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of public relations managers and specialists is expected to grow 21% from 2010 to 2020. Despite a rosy employment outlook, the job search for business communications positions can be competitive.

Master'sPhD
Who is this degree for? - People who want careers or are interested in a doctoral degree in communications - Individuals interested in faculty positions in academia, as well as government, research or policy careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Communications manager ($89,000 - may vary with experience)*
- Public relations specialist ($60,000)**
- Public relations and fundraising manager ($106,000- may vary with experience)**
- Postsecondary communications teacher ($68,000 - may vary with experience)**
Time to Completion Typically 1-2 years, full-time Typically five years, full-time (some schools offer accelerated programs)
Common Graduation Requirements - Complete coursework
- Maintain GPA standards
- Complete internship
- Complete practicum
- Satisfy course requirements
- Complete capstone and/or internship requirement, if applicable
- Maintain GPA standards
- Research, write and defend a dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree official transcript
- Meet GPA standards
- Interview
- Writing assessment
- Professional resume
- Transcripts from a master's degree program (some schools may accept bachelor's transcripts)
Online Availability Yes No, but related programs are available

Sources: *Salary.com (October 2012 median figures); **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures)

Business Communication Master's Degrees

Master's candidates in these programs can develop the communication skills required to succeed in business. Degree programs, such as the Master of Arts in Business Communication, typically focus on core developmental coursework, electives and a capstone requirement. As a student in a master's degree program, you will likely develop competency in problem solving, group work, business ethics and relevant technology. Students should be advised that admission into a master's degree program could be quite competitive.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Employers typically seek applicants with master's degrees for management positions
  • Communications skills are needed in nearly every organization and industry, so there are many possibilities for employment
  • Lower-level management positions may require just a few years of work experience, so there is potential to rise quickly

Cons

  • You may need several years of professional experience to obtain a management position
  • Careers in this field can be competitive
  • If you have less than several years of work experience, you may be over-educated for entry-level work

Common Courses and Requirements

In a business communications master's degree program, you will spend approximately two years completing academic coursework and studying independently. Depending on the school, you may need to apply your academic knowledge into a real-world case study or internship. Master's candidates can expect coursework in the following topics:

  • Applied communication theory
  • Communication ethics
  • Strategies for professional writing
  • Applied communication research methods
  • Strategic communication consulting

Online Degree Options

Online business communication courses are available at the master's-level. If you find an online business communication master's degree program, you may consider whether or not the curriculum includes an internship component. If your program does not include an internship, it can be beneficial to obtain professional experience on your own while in school. Online programs at this level typically cover related lecture topics.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Consider joining on-campus organizations that highlight your communications skills. For example, if you enjoy writing, join your school's newspaper. Extracurricular activities can allow you to brush up on your skills, network in your field and develop a portfolio of work that exemplifies your ability to effectively communicate a particular message.

Also consider obtaining an additional certificate in a marketable topic, such as social media, that can boost your credentials. Certificate programs can help you develop new skills or further explore topics in which you already have basic knowledge. Certificate programs may be offered in online.

Business Communication PhD Degrees

As a student in a typical doctoral program related to business communication, like the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Rhetoric and Professional Communication, you can learn how to harness communications theories and apply them to real-world settings. Though the curriculum for a PhD program can vary depending on the school and individual student, you will likely learn a wide array of professional communications competencies. Depending on the nature of your program, you may have the opportunity to conduct independent research, teach courses, publish papers and present at or attend conferences.

You can also find PhD programs in general communication. Due to the nature of PhD programs, students are generally able create an individual path of study, which can focus on business communications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • In a PhD program, students have the opportunity to work alongside faculty members who are experienced in business communication
  • Many PhD programs provide full or partial financial support for enrolled students
  • The PhD is widely recognized as the best degree for teaching at colleges or universities

Cons

  • Admission to PhD programs can be highly selective and competitive
  • State budgets fund many secondary education programs, which may impact your employment prospects in academia
  • If you choose to pursue an academic career path, you may face uncertain job security unless you have a tenured position, which are very competitive

Common Courses and Requirements

PhD programs related to business communication typically require students to satisfy approximately 60-70 academic credit hours and complete supervised teaching and/or research experiences. Additionally, you will need to pass comprehensive examinations and research, write and defend an original dissertation project.

As a PhD candidate, you can expect to explore topics similar to the following:

  • Crisis communication
  • Research methods in rhetoric and professional communication
  • Organization and administration of writing programs
  • Statistical methods in communication research
  • Colloquium in communication

Online Degree Options

Currently, online PhD degrees in business communication are not widely available. Individual courses and graduate certificate programs in similar topics are more common. If you find an online business communications PhD program, consider whether it includes campus-based components, such as required time in a research lab.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you plan to work in academia, you can begin to pursue teaching opportunities while you are enrolled in your PhD program. Schools typically offer teaching opportunities, though they may be limited and competitive. Published research will set you apart from other candidates in your field. If you are on a research track, take advantage of your school's literary journals to publish some of your independent work.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Marketing
      • Master : Business Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Marketing
      • MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - General Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Innovation Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters in Business Administration - Communication Management
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Marketing
      • Masters in Business Administration - Marketing
      • Masters in Business Administration - Cybersecurity Management
      • Masters in Business Administration - General
      • Masters in Business Administration - Strategic Thinking and Innovation
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • MS - Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Business Administration, MBA
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Advanced Accounting
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Health Care Administration
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Leadership
      • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Project Management

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MBA: Marketing
  • Master : Business Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • MBA: Marketing
  • MBA

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Herzing University

  • MBA
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
  • Master of Business Administration - Marketing

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Brenau University

  • Masters in Business Administration - Communication Management
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Marketing
  • Masters in Business Administration - Marketing

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • MS - Management

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