Earning a Master's in Communications Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Communications Online?

Some people are natural born communicators; however, even the best public speakers and writers can benefit from earning an online master's in communication. If putting your thoughts into words has always come easily and you want to advance your education, consider pursuing a master's degree in communication online. Professionals with a master's in communication work in varied fields, including education, fashion, and journalism, where they can become professors, communication directors, or even consultants.

Earning an online master's in communication is also convenient. You can complete coursework from your home on your own time, without needing to attend campus. If you're self-motivated and love to tell stories, an online communications master's degree could be right for you.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Communications Graduates

Master's in Communications Salary

Where you live and how much experience you have play a big role in your salary potential. For example, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, in New York and the District of Columbia the average mean wage for a public relations or fundraising manager is more than $164,000, while the national annual mean wage is only $111,280. In the charts below, you'll find more detailed information about communications degree salaries.

Top Paying States for Public Relations or Fundraising Managers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 4,460 $170,750
New York 6,100 $164,740
New Jersey 1,830 $161,860
Rhode Island 320 $158,730
Virginia 1,310 $150,150
United States 67,300 $127,690

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Public Relations Managers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $53,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $68,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $76,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $76,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Communications Careers

Communication career options are broad because every industry needs talented communication managers. If you have a passion for endorsing products, you could work as a public relations manager for a lifestyle blog. If you enjoy working with food and talking to farmers, you could work on the communication team for an agriculture company. Below, you'll find a list of some common jobs you can pursue with an online master's degree in communication.

Public Relations or Fundraising Manager

Annual Median Salary: $111,280

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Public relations and fundraising managers work for businesses and nonprofits to manage the company's public image and raise funding throughs donations or investments. While you can become a public relations or fundraising coordinator with a bachelor's in communication, most employers require a master's for upper management positions.

Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Manager

Annual Median Salary: $129,380

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

These professionals perform many of the same tasks that public relations managers do; however, they tend to focus on generating revenue through paid advertisements. Advertising managers often work directly with art directors, sale agents, and finance managers to achieve a company's marketing goals.

Corporate Communications Director

Annual Median Salary: $118,148

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Communications directors oversee a communication team and manage a company's official press releases, emails, and media inquiries. Some corporate communications directors focus on internal communication among employees, while others focus on external communication with the public. Depending on the size of the company, some directors manage both.

Social and Community Services Manager

Annual Median Salary: $64,100

Projected Growth Rate: 18%

These managers work in nonprofits and government agencies where they advocate for minority groups, individuals in poverty, and other social causes. Social and community service managers use communication to spark political change by lobbying, writing newsletters, and leveraging social media to spread awareness.

Vice President of Communications

Annual Median Salary: $137,566

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

A corporate communications director can work in any industry. This professional works closely with the CEO and shares important information with target audiences. A vice president of communications typically speaks on behalf of an organization, especially to the media, or they train the CEO on how to effectively speak to the public.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Communications Program?

While earning an MA in communications online, you learn about making strategic plans, setting communication goals, and communicating with diverse audiences. Most online communication master's programs teach students to use different communication channels, like social media, to effectively reach target audiences. Curriculum requirements vary by school, but below are five common courses that most accredited communications programs offer.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Communications

Technical Writing

In this class, students learn how to write technical documents like manuals or contracts. Weak grammar and confusing sentences reflect poorly on businesses and nonprofit, so it's important to know how to write correctly and concisely.

Persuasion

Convincing individuals to take action is an art. In a persuasion course, students learn how to inspire people to behave in a certain way. Public relations and fundraising managers use persuasion to motivate the public to donate money or purchase products.

Public Speaking

Communication professionals must excel at public speaking. Whether public speaking comes easily to you or you need extra practice, a public speaking course can improve your skills. Public speaking courses prepare students for press conferences, media interviews, and speeches.

Organizational Communication

Organizational communication professionals teach students to effectively communicate within an organization. Large corporations often employ internal communication directors to keep their employees updated on company changes and maintain the company's image.

Social Media

As people spend more time on social media, many online schools are adding social media courses to their required course lists. In this class, students learn how to use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to inform and motivate audiences and track social trends.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Communications Prepares For

  • Accreditation in Public Relations: The Public Relations Society of America offers accreditation in public relations. Earning an APR shows employers and colleagues that you have mastered strategic communications and that you are committed to lifelong learning. To obtain an APR, you must take an exam and agree to a code of ethics.
  • Communication Management Professional Certification: The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) also offers certifications for communication professionals. To earn the CMP certification, you must have eight years of experience and 40 hours of training or six years of experience, two years of education, and 40 hours of training. The GCCC also offer a Strategic Communication Management Professional certificate, which is aimed at senior business communicators.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Successful communications professionals remain lifelong learners. If you want to keep up with everything from social media changes to relevant case studies, join a professional organization and take advantage of its resources. This helps you stay competitive in your field and network with other professionals. Many organizations also offer resource libraries and exclusive job boards. Below, you'll find a list of communications organizations and resources.

  • Association for Women in Communications: AWC helps members connect with other communications professionals. Most states have regional chapters, and you can attend the national conference. This organization is exclusively for women and provides members with free online publications and awards.

  • International Association of Business Communicators: To succeed, communications professionals must be able to connect with all types of people across diverse backgrounds. IABC facilitates conversations between communications professionals from various countries and also offers certifications and educational webinars.

  • International Communication Association: Communicating across different cultures can be a challenge, but ICA can help. By joining ICA, you gain access to a network of communicators all across the world. This organization also hosts conferences and provides members with educational publications.

  • National Communication Association: NCA hosts national conferences and provides members with educational resources. This organization also advocates for public policy that supports its members' professional efforts.

  • Public Relations Society of America: PRSA is a network of communications professionals dedicated to advancing the public relations field. This organization has regional chapters all across America that meet regularly to discuss the latest communication trends. PRSA offers members discounted conference tickets, free webinars and newsletters, and access to an exclusive job board.

  • Associated Press Stylebook: In order to stay consistent, it's important to adhere to a certain writing style. Most communications professionals choose AP style. The AP stylebook ensures a uniform style. Example rules include writing out numbers under 10 and omitting the Oxford Comma.

  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary: In addition to AP style, most American publications use Merriam-Webster as their official dictionary for written communications. Its website features definitions and also offers word-related games and articles.

  • PR Daily: This blog publishes helpful articles about the latest happenings in the PR world and advice for PR professionals. Headlines include, "Four punctuation marks that are tired of being misused" and "How Instagram offers unique marketing opportunities."

  • The Public Library Association's PR Resources: PLA offers a variety of resources for PR professionals that teach about social media, writing press releases, and connecting with media outlets to get media coverage for events.