Answer: Yes – there are many online master’s in communication programs that can help individuals advance their careers in corporate and business communication. Master’s in organizational communication, communication management, strategic communication, integrated marketing communications (IMC), and public relations and marketing communication programs are all strong options for students who are interested in advancing their careers in business communications, whether they would like to grow in their current career path or pivot their career trajectory into the business communication field.
Master’s in corporate and business communication programs, which may also be referred to as professional communication programs, are defined as programs that prepare students to understand, develop, and improve communication systems within businesses and corporations (i.e., organizational communication), and/or external-facing communications that promote a business or corporation’s relationship with the outside world (i.e., marketing or public relations). Within these definitions are many different types of master’s in communication programs, ranging from strategic communication programs to integrated marketing communication programs.
Students interested in pursuing a master’s in business communication should research the different specializations described below to determine which programs align with their personal and professional goals.
Online Master’s in Business Communication Specializations
Online Master’s in Organizational Communication Programs prepare students to understand, investigate, and optimize communication dynamics within different organizations, ranging from government agencies to corporations, medical centers, and community service organizations. These programs often include courses such as organizational leadership, interpersonal and group communication, negotiation and conflict management, communication campaigns, and strategic communication. Some master’s in organizational communication programs also allow students to specialize in corporate communication, non-profit or advocacy communication, or human resource management, among other related areas. Currently, there are 39 online master’s in organizational communication programs listed on the site.
Online Master’s in Strategic Communication Programs focus on the essential theories, principles, and strategies for developing effective communication strategies to further the goals of an organization, such as a corporation, a small business, or a non-profit. Courses in these programs focus on campaign development, communication program assessment and improvement, strategic marketing and public relations, digital media strategy and analytics, and advocacy communication. Some of these programs allow students to specialize further in political advocacy, communication for social change, marketing management, and/or global communication. Currently, there are 38 online master’s in strategic communication programs.
Online Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communication(s) (IMC) Programs prepare students to develop, manage, and optimize marketing and outreach for businesses and other organizations using a combination of strategic marketing campaigns, digital communication, creative messaging, and effective branding and public relations principles. Students in these programs can often focus on one or more aspects of IMC, such as media planning and strategy, broadcast management, advertising, social media management, and public relations management.
MastersinCommunications.com currently categorizes the majority of IMC programs under marketing communication and public relations; however, some IMC programs are also categorized under strategic communication depending on their curricula. Find all online master’s in IMC programs on our online Master’s in PR and Marketing Communication programs and online Master’s in Strategic Communication programs pages.
Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs allow students to specialize in managing the external-facing communications for an organization, from white papers and other educational content about a company’s mission, to crisis communications and reputation management. These programs feature classes in campaign design and implementation, developing media relationships, communication ethics, leadership communication, brand development, new media and how it can be used for public relations, and media and society. Find online programs on our online Master’s in Marketing Communication and Public Relations programs page?
Online Master’s in Communication Management Programs are similar to programs in organizational communication, in that they focus on theories, principles, and strategies for optimizing an organization’s internal and external-facing communications. These programs tend to feature classes in organizational development, corporate social responsibility, media strategy, crisis communication, and content strategy. Master’s in communication management programs may have emphasis options in areas such as marketing management, corporate communication leadership, branding and corporate identity, and other sub-fields.
MastersinCommunications.com categorizes these programs under organizational communication and/or strategic communication depending on their curricula. Find online master’s in communication management programs on the online Master’s in Organizational Communication programs and online Master’s in Strategic Communication programs pages.
How to Research Online Master’s in Professional Communication Programs
While the categories outlined above are useful in determining the types of programs to research, prospective students should keep in mind that, as these programs are all within the same general field of corporate or business communication, many of them have overlapping coursework or course concepts. For example, many master’s in strategic communication programs include classes on public relations, marketing communication, and organizational leadership. (Check out our FAQ on master’s in strategic communication versus master’s in public relations programs for more information.)
Furthermore, the curricula for master’s in communication management programs may be very similar to those of master’s in organizational communication programs, due to the fact that both concern designing and optimizing communication dynamics within and between organizations. And master’s in strategic communication programs can be very similar to master’s in IMC programs depending on required and elective coursework. (For more information, check out our master’s in strategic communication versus master’s in IMC programs page.) There are also programs that do not align with more traditional program names. For example, there are masters in strategic marketing communications, masters in strategic brand communication, and master’s in integrated communication programs.
Finally, there are also online master’s in mass communication, online master’s in health communication, and master’s in global communication programs that may prepare students to work in business and corporate settings. For example, many online master’s in mass communication programs including coursework in media management, cross-platform storytelling, and emerging media (including digital media and social media). And online master’s in health communication programs often include classes in public relations, marketing, and campaign management.
Therefore, when researching online programs, students should always look at core/required and elective courses to ensure that prospective programs offer the training and education needed to achieve their professional goals. In addition, students should connect with professors and staff from different professional communication programs to learn more about the department, program curricula, online instruction methods, opportunities for faculty mentorship, career services, and more to determine if the program matches their professional background and career goals.