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

About this article
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.
View available schools

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. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Marketing
      • Master : Business Admin
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Marketing
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - Strategic Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Winthrop University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Organizational Communication
      • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Kindom Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. 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
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Business Administration (MBA)
      • Business Administration (with Concentrations) (MBA)
      • Management (MS)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Claremont Graduate University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Marketing Analytics

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MBA: Marketing
  • Master : Business Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • MBA - Marketing
  • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

What is your highest level of education?

Winthrop University

  • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
  • Master of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Organizational Communication
  • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Christian University

  • Business Administration, MBA
  • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Advanced Accounting
  • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Argosy University

  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Business Administration (with Concentrations) (MBA)
  • Management (MS)

What is your highest level of education completed?