What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Communications?

What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Communications?

Communications is the study of how human beings exchange information, as well as the study of the media that make this exchange possible. Earning a master’s degree in communication will enhance your eligibility for a wide range of professional opportunities in public relations, journalism, mass media, and more. A master’s degree in communication is an excellent way to improve your opportunities for career advancement and high earning potential in an array of highly competitive fields.

Key Takeaways

  • A master’s degree in communication studies can help graduates become interpreters and translators, librarians and media collection specialists, public relations specialists, reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts, technical writers, and writers and authors.
  • A master’s degree in communication offers several specializations that students can choose based on their future professional goals, including health communication, mass communication and media studies, digital communication and media/multimedia, and many more.
  • Those who want to change occupations can obtain a master’s degree with a communication focus that fits their unique employment objectives. Graduates with a master’s in communication may also be prepared for doctoral work and a career in higher education, where they would spend their time teaching and conducting research.

Earning an advanced communication degree can also differentiate you from your colleagues by pairing your communication skills with training in management and organizational leadership. These skills could qualify you for leadership roles in a variety of organizational settings from public relations firms and publishing houses to public health campaigns and news outlets. The master’s in communication is also an important credential if you plan to channel your communications studies into a career as a librarian, post-secondary educator, or the editor in chief for a noteworthy news agency. Students interested in becoming authors, editors, broadcasters, journalists, producers and more should be aware that opportunities in these fields are highly sought after.

Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the communications major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in communications.

If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Communications.

Or read on to find out what you can expect as a communications master.

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Lucrative Opportunities Await Master’s in Communications Graduates

“What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Communications?” is a question many bachelor’s degree graduates ask. Students should realize that a master’s degree in communication opens doors to several professional careers. Masters of communication graduates frequently discover that they can seek new job routes and prospects that bachelor graduates without such a versatile degree cannot break into.

Although it’s common to hear about “born leaders,” anyone can acquire the ability to lead a team successfully. You may lay the groundwork for success in your career by investing in your education. One example of this is aiming for a position in the executive suite or another role requiring strong communication skills.

Skills Obtained from a Master’s Degree in Communications Degree

Master’s degree holders often find that they’ve gained various in-demand skills that can help them advance in their careers. Examples include entrepreneurial, public speaking, and marketing skills gained from coursework emphasizing strategic communications programs.

Entrepreneurial Skills: Strong communication abilities are necessary for successful business owners, and a master’s degree is a good educational place to start for prospective entrepreneurs. Professionals who are good communicators are better able to inspire, lead, and educate their teams. Students will also learn how to advance corporate communications skills.

Public Speaking Skills: You’ll probably encounter a situation where public speaking is necessary. It has often been said that everyone needs to be able to speak in front of an audience, but few can actually do that successfully. The cornerstone of a master’s degree in communication entails studying excellent written and oral communication.

Marketing Skills: In addition to effective public speaking abilities, having an effective marketing strategy is beneficial in any job path you may choose after earning your master’s degree. You can use these abilities to improve your communication even if you don’t hold a job in the marketing field. A master’s degree in communication can help you become a marketing manager.

Writing Skills: Effective communication has always depended on writing abilities. But because of social media channels and other mass communication methods, writing today has undergone a significant evolution. A master’s degree might be useful for seasoned communication professionals. Most social media managers obtain a degree in communication on top of their social media degrees.

How long does a master’s in communications degree typically take?

It typically takes two years to earn a master’s in communications when you attend classes full-time. However, there are other options to explore.

Part-time degrees: Part-time students take fewer than nine credits (or around three classes) each semester. This learning format takes longer but is best for working students.

Online degrees: The freedom that comes with an online degree is appreciated by many students. Most online options are accelerated, allowing you to graduate in 12 months. Two of the best schools offering an online master’s in communications are Southern New Hampshire University and Purdue University.

Dual degree programs: Some colleges combine the bachelor’s and master’s degrees into a five-year communication program, cutting your education by roughly one whole year.

Theoretical vs. Applied Master’s in Communication Degrees

Programs for theoretical master’s degrees in communication strongly emphasize social science theory and research. Theoretical studies are more beneficial to students who want to pursue a PhD after graduation than those who want to work in business.

On the other hand, an applied master’s in communication degree emphasizes the abilities students need to succeed outside the classroom. Students who are certain they intend to work in the private sector rather than in academics are usually better suited for an applied curriculum. If you want to become an internal communications manager, choose this type of study.

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Why get a master’s degree in communications?

The answer to this question may depend on your intended career path. For instance, many universites house library studies within their schools of communication. In order to become a librarian, you must earn a master’s degree. Therefore, many aspiring librarians will earn a master’s degree in communications with a concentration in library studies.

In other cases, the most compelling reason to earn a master’s degree in communications is because it can improve your ability to compete in a highly competitive job market. The master’s degree in communications can significantly improve your appeal to prospective employers. This is important as you compete from within a pool of other talented journalists, on-air reporters, radio producers, book editors, public relations agents, and more. These are areas in which many worthy candidates will vie for a limited number of desirable jobs. A master’s degree can help you stand out from the crowd.

Today, top influencers in communication are working on research in areas such as the political economy of communication, community media ecologies and impacts on civic and public life, citizen journalism, and much more.

Learn more about these and other top influencers in the communications field today!

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How can I qualify to get a master’s degree in communications?

There is no specific entrance exam for gaining admission into a communications master’s program, though some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of communications. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one communications master’s program to the next.

If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into a communications master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.

Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!

For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.

If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the communications major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in communications.

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What kinds of advanced communications degrees are there?

Communications degrees are offered at every level of education. An advanced degree may not be required but can dramatically raise your employment and earning prospects.

  • Master of Communication: Because many industries are accessible with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in communication is reserved for those who wish to delve into a particular sub-discipline with greater depth, or to gain essential organizational leadership skills. It can also help to improve your qualifications for highly competitive fields like editing, publishing, or on-air reporting.
  • PhD in Communication: A doctoral degree will qualify you to teach as a professor or work as a researcher for a university, think tank, or government agency.
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What are some popular communications specializations?

Your specialization will depend largely on your intended career path. Most schools of communication offer specific learning tracks for a variety of media formats, as well as specialized instruction around communication in specific industries such as healthcare or marketing. The following are among the most popular communications specializations:

  • Mass Communication and Media Studies
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Radio and Televisions
  • Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia
  • Organizational Communication
  • Health Communication
  • International and Intercultural Communication
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What courses will I take as a communications master?

Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a communications master. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as communication theory and communication research methodologies.

Common communications courses include:

  • Media and Culture
  • Communication and Cognitive Processes
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare Communication
  • Technology and Communication
  • Technical Writing
  • Psychology of Public Relations
  • News, Journalism and Social Media
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Is a master’s degree in communications worth it?

If you plan to become a librarian, a master’s degree in communications with a concentration in library studies is both required and worth it. Library professionals with a master’s degree enjoy a wage premium of about 30% greater than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.

Other occupations enjoy similarly robust wage premiums after earning a master’s degree including public relations specialists and editors, the latter of whom earn an annual median of $50,000 with a bachelor’s degree versus $63,000 with a master’s degree. This underscores the value of the communications master’s degree, which improves your chances of scaling to leadership roles and other well-paying opportunities in the field.

Career Outlook for Students with Communications Degree

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Degree Level: Master's

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Cost of Degree*: $10,307
  • Avg. Expenses*: $16,362
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $45,934
  • Avg. Salary after 4 Years*: $57,594
  • Avg. Cost Recoup Time**: 6 years
  • Job Growth: 2.98%
  • Number of Jobs: 920,200
  • * denotes ‘annually’
  • ** denotes ‘at 15% of annual salary’

Career Salaries

CareerJob GrowthAvg. Salary
Public Relations Managers5.97%$119,176
Fundraising Managers5.04%$103,968
Communications Teachers, Postsecondary3.57%$72,568
Writers and Authors3.70%$65,547

Average Career Salaries

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%

Promising Job Markets

StateCost of LivingAvg. Salary
#2 New York5% higher than average$98,027
#3 Virginia5% higher than average$85,544
#4 California26% higher than average$108,436
#5 Georgia13% higher than average$69,820
#6 New Jersey13% higher than average$90,417

Top Industries

IndustryAvg. Salary
Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds$177,400
Funds, Trusts, and Other Financial Vehicles$177,400
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing$173,164
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What are the top jobs with a master’s in communications degree?

Mastering in communications can provide inroads to a wide range of careers in mass media, journalism, writing, public relations, publishing, and much more. Your communication skills and personal interests could take you down a wide range of professional paths, including these top jobs:

Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in communications? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!


Now that you know how to earn a masters in communications, check out:

Check out the full list here and get started on your path to an advanced communications degree.

And if you’re still shopping for the right college, be sure to bookmark our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!

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