Since the dawn of academic pursuits, communications has been an imperative area of study. First called rhetoric, today the field still draws from some of the ancient curricula in order to help students learn how to effectively communicate with different populations and groups through myriad mediums. Whether offering a persuasive speech or crafting a meaningful digital post, communications draws students who are interested in the use of words, tone, influence, and persuasiveness to convey messages to audiences.
Unsurprisingly, the main skills gained by completing an online master’s in communications revolve around how to use words effectively. But unlike an English degree, communications programs focus more on theories, concepts, style, and case studies to help students learn about previously effective communication methods and how to know which style to employ to different listeners and/or readers. While a bachelor’s degree prepares graduates for entry-level roles, an online master’s communications degree primes graduates for leadership roles garnering senior-level salaries.
Because every individual and company is always looking for ways to communicate more effectively, you’ll have plenty of career paths to choose from upon completing an online master’s in communications. You may find yourself as a speechwriter, public relations director, consultant, or spokesperson, or any other number of roles. Nearly 15,000 communications jobs are projected to be added to the American economy in the coming years, which is on pace with the national average for job growth. Those bringing home the median salary can expect to make approximately $56,770 annually.
Finding effective ways to communicate will never go out of style; in fact, the industry is growing as companies and organizations look for engaging ways to leverage digital media in their communications strategy. Although those in the top percentiles of employment can expect to bring home six figure salaries, that doesn’t mean they want to pay that much for a degree. The ranking herein was designed to provide three crucial components that prospective students are often seeking: affordability, accreditation, and flexibility. All of the following programs are well-respected within the field and are committed to providing cheap courses that still propel graduates toward their goals.
20 Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Communications
East Carolina University
|Value Score 9.01|| |
ECU is an affordable university located in Greenville, North Carolina that instills the core values of scholarship, leadership, service, and discovery in their students. ECU offers its students 88 bachelor’s degrees and 72 master’s degrees to choose from, including the flexibility of distance education programs. East Carolina University’s master’s in communication online allows students unable to attend classes on campus the chance at the same rigorous program from anywhere with an internet connection. The master’s in communication program specializes in health communication, one of the fastest growing areas in the health discipline. The goal of health communication is to make public health information easily accessible to the general public, thereby increasing health literacy and leading to a healthier community. ECU knows that distance learning can be challenging, and has devoted an entire office to aid online students. This office provides services such as career help and organizes the Distance Education Student Organization, which allows online students to connect with their peers.
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Southern Utah University
|Value Score 7.86|| |
The online master’s in communication program at Southern Utah University is designed to focus on advanced applied research skills that can be deployed in nearly any industry. The program’s core curriculum includes two required courses on qualitative applications for communication research. While the master’s in communication online is an applied and professional program, SUU also assumes that some students will also go on to pursue a PhD. Therefore, the program is friendly to both professionals in an industry and aspiring PhD candidates.
Canvas serves as an all-purpose portal where students can access all course materials, submit assignments, receive feedback, and communicate with their professors and classmates. Southern Utah employs various staff members to ensure the online experience is smooth, including an online director, an interactive video classroom specialist, and an online support and Canvas service desk. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree to be considered.
South Dakota State University
|Value Score 7.60|| |
South Dakota State University offers a variety of programs through its affordable online schooling system including an online master’s in communication degree. More than 50% of the courses in SDSU’s master’s of mass communication are skills-based, which equips students with the new media savvy necessary to communicate effectively in our media-saturated society. This emphasis on skills-based education makes graduates more attractive candidates once they hit the job market.
The curriculum gives students the flexibility to also take elective courses ranging from women in media to health journalism. SDSU is committed to improving its continuing and distance education programs. The school endeavors to constantly innovate and explore different delivery methods and student support models for its distance students. South Dakota State encourages students to take advantage of their academic advising program to find the course schedule that best fits their needs. SDSU distance education students are as comfortable as possible with the online schooling process.
University of Central Missouri
|Value Score 7.59|| |
Unlike other online programs, the University of Central Missouri’s online courses are taught by the same professors teaching on-campus courses. This serves the school’s goal of providing the same caliber of education to online students as they would to their on-campus peers. The university provides its students with an academic advisor, a technology support center, access to the online library, as well as many other resources to make the online learning experience as practical as possible. Students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees through UCM’s online program, including an MA in communication. Throughout this affordable online communications master’s degree students will refine their presentation and research skills, writing, management styles, and relationship-building. These core concepts expand students’ professional opportunities and prepare them to assume a more significant leadership role within their field. The program requires students to take core courses, though it also offers students several elective courses that can personalize their experience. Electives include topics such as social influence, organizational communication, and international communication with an emphasis in global marketing.
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|Value Score 7.11|| |
Earning an MA in communication from Liberty University’s affordable online program teaches students to critically analyze data and apply theory through a Christian worldview. The online master’s in communication program is directed towards aspiring teachers and doctoral candidates. That said, the program’s emphasis on communication strategies and intercultural communication can be widely applied to many career paths. The program’s focus on teaching students best practices makes them marketable to employers and doctoral programs alike.
Liberty University was one of the first universities to embrace online learning, and it has now grown into the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online university, accommodating 95,000 students around the world. The sheer number of students participating in Liberty University’s online program attests to the accessibility and ease of learning online. Liberty also offers many resources to its distance education students such as an online library, online writing center, and online academic success center.
Spring Arbor University
|Value Score 7.06|| |
The online experience at Spring Arbor University focuses on broadening students’ professional networks, enriching students’ faith, and molding students into ethical leaders. Spring Arbor University’s MA in strategic communication and leadership prepares students to become proficient in clear, effective, and gracious communication while building a digital portfolio. While earning a cheap online master’s in communication from Spring Arbor, students will be paired with influencers in the communication field. These influencers are tasked with sharing valuable insights and personalized support with their students. This influencer-student system further separates Spring Arbor’s program from others in the U.S.
While the program broadly emphasizes communication in general, the curriculum fixates specifically on leadership and allows students to develop effective communication techniques through a leadership lens. The university encourages students to take advantage of the support offered by the assigned Student Success Coaches, who help students maintain a healthy work-life balance, aid in personal and professional development, and set career goals.
|Value Score 6.85|| |
Earning an affordable MS in strategic communication online from Troy University sets students up for a variety of career opportunities across many industries. Troy University designed the courses of this 30-credit-hour online master’s in communication program to teach students emerging communication technologies, crisis communication management, and the powers of social media. Troy University uses the Blackboard learning management system, making it simple for all levels of technical experience to learn online. The university provides a virtual student union called Trojan Café to everyone at Troy. Students, faculty, and staff from around the world can connect to Trojan Café to access resources like career services information and student forums. The student forums are a popular place for online students to connect with one another to share advice, study, or borrow class notes. Accessibility, flexibility, and affordability are what make Troy’s online programs extremely attractive for those seeking to further their education.
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|Value Score 6.31|| |
Purdue University realizes that in today’s technology-driven world, communicators must understand both quantitative and qualitative communication methods to keep up with our rapidly changing digital landscape. With this in mind, Purdue has focused its online MS in communication program on a commitment to promoting open communication and public affairs. This openness has resulted in a diverse curriculum with courses ranging from survey design to strategic communication and social media. This master’s in communication online produces students who can look beyond textbook definitions and are able to communicate effectively across any medium. The program is designed to provide graduates with the ability and know-how to advance their career to the next level.
Purdue prides itself on the success it has found in helping online and on-campus students find careers post graduation through its extensive alumni network. The university also boasts a highly regarded suite of career services.
University of Florida
|Value Score 6.04|| |
The University of Florida understands that not all students can study on campus. To help students become influential leaders, UF created many affordable bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that are offered fully online. The university’s online communications master’s degree offers six different specializations: audience analytics, global strategic communication, public interest communication, public relations and communication management, social media, and web design and online communication.
The vast diversity within these specializations allows students flexibility when personalizing the program to match their career and learning goals. Students who choose to specialize in global strategic communication are able to earn a joint MA in mass communication and MBA by taking an additional eight classes through UF’s partnership with Stetson University. All students, regardless of their specialization, are encouraged to make full use of the resources that UF provides, including transition advising, the UF Library for Distance Learning Students, and the UF Teaching Center Study Skills Videos.
|Value Score 5.66|| |
The affordable online communications master’s degree offered at Lasell College allows students to pick a specialization from three options: health communication, integrated marketing communication, and public relations. This program not only equips students with the necessary knowledge to succeed in communications, but it also focuses on strengthening their networks through contact with faculty and classmates. The capstone internship or research project is an opportunity that helps students gain hands-on experience while completing their master’s of science in communication.
Lasell aims to create an environment in which all of its online students are comfortable. To satisfy this goal, the school offers resources like assistance services catered to a student’s learning style, a technology help desk open 24/7, and an Academic Achievement center. The college also requires all practitioner faculty to complete a seven-week certification program that trains them in the best and latest online teaching techniques, helping to ensure online students they are receiving the most up to date and professional online offerings.
|Value Score 5.21|| |
Marist College’s online master’s in communication is offered fully online and gives students the option of completing the program on either a full-time or part-time basis. This affordable master’s of communication online opens the door to several opportunities for students.
What sets Marist’s communication program apart is the strength of having a highly diverse student body. Marist’s focus on diversity results in rich discussions about how differences in organizational structure and culture have an impact on discourse. Marist utilizes iLearn to create a collaborative online learning environment that provides tools to facilitate interactions with project materials, instructors, and peers. The college provides an online orientation to make sure all distance learning students are familiar with the iLearn system before classes commence. Other resources for online students include academic advising, career services, and access to the library.
Northeastern University Global Network
|Value Score 5.20|| |
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a renowned institution focused on its tradition of experiential learning. In accordance with this tradition, Northeastern created its online program for distance learners to access the education and resources Northeastern provides from anywhere in the world. Northeastern’s online program not only makes their classes accessible to distance learners, but it also provides an affordable way to earn a degree. In fact, students enrolled in the online program can benefit from the same financial assistance as on-campus students. Their cheap online master’s in communication program incorporates case method, the latest communication trends research, and experiential learning opportunities providing their students with an advantage in the marketplace. Students are able to concentrate their studies into one of these fields: social media, public relations, human resource management, project management, or leadership. Once students complete their core requirements, they will leave Northeastern with the knowledge necessary to succeed in any communication-focused role.
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Washington State University
|Value Score 4.89|| |
Washington State University designed an affordable master’s in communication online program for those looking to excel in advertising, public relations, corporate communication, and communication management. The program emphasizes a hands-on approach and has students work closely with industry professionals and faculty to create portfolio-quality items that are tailored to each student’s individual career. Whether or not you have previous strategic communication experience, you’ll be able to jump into the master’s in strategic communication program and hit the ground running. The curriculum for the master’s in strategic communication includes 12 credits of professional core courses, 15 credits of strategic communication core courses, and a three-credit capstone course that entails a capstone project and presentation. This degree offers hands-on training with advanced multimedia platforms, tools, and techniques, which prepares students to be competitive in the modern job market. WSU has created student services and technical support staff dedicated solely to assisting students in the WSU Global Campus.
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|Value Score 4.78|| |
The number one priority of Webster University’s online program is the distance learner. On-campus faculty actively customize each course in WorldClassRoom to tweak their coursework and make it friendly for online students. Online students have full access to the Webster University IT Service Desk as well as the Online Student Services Team if a problem arises. Through WorldClassRoom, Webster offers four options of cheap online communications master’s degrees including: MA in advertising and marketing communications, MA in communications management, MA in media communications, or MA in public relations. All four of these master’s programs are part of the School of Communications and offer similar core classes. The communication master’s programs provide theory and practice in media courses along with personalized mentorship and professional development opportunities that prepare students to succeed in global communication fields upon graduation.
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Arizona State University
|Value Score 4.13|| |
Arizona State University offers 100+ degree programs with six start dates per year. ASU’s affordable tuition ensures their online university is as accessible to as many people as possible. ASU strives to support their online students through a personalized student support system consisting of enrollment counselors, academic advisors, and success coaches. These student support professionals are tasked with helping students at every stage of their journey from admission to graduation.
The online master’s in communication program at Arizona State combines theory and practice throughout the curriculum to help students develop analytical and technological expertise, as well as the necessary hands-on skills required to be successful in the field. The university provides students with the knowledge of design, production, and management of print and digital texts, thus preparing graduates to thrive in writing, editing, and research careers.
University of Denver
|Value Score 3.46|| |
The University of Denver’s MA in communication management online program offers six different concentrations, including: alternative dispute resolution, learning and development, marketing communication, organizational communication, organizational development, and public relations. The master’s of communication online program requires all students to take the same 20-credit hours of core courses. Students also have requirements that are derived from their specialization. The university provides each student with an academic advisor who helps select elective courses that will best fit their career and academic goals and who aids in designing a schedule that is tailored for each student’s needs. Not only is the master’s in communication management cheap, but it is also an asynchronous program that provides students the flexibility to work through their coursework as their schedule permits. Students also have 24/7 access to technical assistance, so that they can study night or day.
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
|Value Score 3.03|| |
Innovative distance and online education has been a priority of the University of Illinois ever since they created an off-site library and information science doctoral program in 1948. The university still strives to reach students all over the world through their cheap online programs including the online master’s in communication program. This online MS in health communication recognizes that communication can have a significant impact in the healthcare field. Students choose to specialize in interpersonal, family, organizational, socially mediated, or cultural communication. The capstone project is an opportunity for students to demonstrate the knowledge they acquired throughout the program by choosing to either conduct an extensive literature review of a specific topic area, create a webinar series, design an organizational intervention in a healthcare setting, design a media campaign, or implement another project of the student and instructor’s choosing, furthering the chance of future employment opportunities and career advancement.
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University of Southern California
|Value Score 2.95|| |
Since 1972, the University of Southern California has always found a way to connect distance learners to the different programs and curriculums offered by the university. Their online education program helps keep this tradition alive, offering 88 different programs to over 7,300 students worldwide.
USC prepares professionals to improve their global communication skills through their online master’s in communication. In this program, students will explore the psychological and societal impacts of marketing messages, as well as hone their abilities to evaluate theory and parse data. The curriculum includes nine courses ranging from managing communication to audience analysis, and teaches students firsthand how to relate strategy to real-world situations and how to apply theory into practice through a capstone project. Upon graduating with a master’s of communication management from USC, students will be equipped with the knowledge to expertly gather, interpret, analyze, and translate information in order to pursue a communications career in any global business climate.
Johns Hopkins University
|Value Score 2.79|| |
The online MA in communication at Johns Hopkins University provides students around the world the chance to learn from social scientists in a program that integrates digital technology with strategic communication and strong writing skills. The curriculum requires at least 10 courses and gives students the opportunity to choose a concentration, including digital communication or applied research in communication.
Students pursuing the online communications master’s degree can also earn an MBA through Johns Hopkins’ dual MA in communication and MBA degree. This option prepares students to become leaders in business by becoming experts in both communication and management. The university offers various resources to its online students, including an online orientation course. This online orientation course teaches students about how to use all tools the course management system offers and also reinforces the study habits that make an online student successful.
Columbia University in the City of New York
|Value Score 2.63|| |
The executive MS in strategic communication program offered by Columbia University combines online learning and on-campus instruction designed and delivered on a hybrid schedule, requiring a significant time commitment on top of on-campus classroom hours. Students are required to attend several on-site weekend classes and two 4-day residencies, as well as utilizing the online learning platform throughout the program. The master’s in communication online faculty is not only made up of expert teachers, but these teachers are also practicing professionals and leaders in their particular areas of communication. Students will learn effective communication strategies and develop thinking habits that will help them strategically provide counsel to any organization. Additionally, students will participate in a group strategy capstone project where they will demonstrate the knowledge learned throughout the program. Columbia’s online education program has three dedicated centers including The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning, Columbia University Information Technology, and Language Resource Center.
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