Answer: Yes, there are currently 10 online master’s in interpersonal and communication studies programs. This compares to 153 campus-based programs offered by schools throughout the United States.

Online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs prepare students to examine and analyze how communication in all its forms originates from and is a key influencer of human culture and cognition. These programs explore concepts such as how people communicate in small group settings, the relationship between human thought and self-expression in the digital age, social media’s impact on individuals and institutions, the interactions between the press and the public, political communication and its impact on legislation, marketing’s impact on consumer psychology, and issues of race, gender, and diversity in all forms of communication.

In addition to studying advanced theories of communication, students learn how to apply these theories and the principles of effective communication to real-world scenarios. Online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs prepare students for further academic study at the doctoral level, and for roles that require a strong understanding of how people communicate individually, in groups, within organizations, and as part of larger communities at the local, state, national, and global levels.

Examples of Online Master’s in Interpersonal Communication and Communication Studies Programs

Currently, there are 10 online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs available in the United States. To give prospective students an idea of these programs and the topics they cover, below are descriptions of four of these programs:

  • Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Communication Studies Department has an Online Master of Science in Communication Studies with a specialization in Culture and Relationships that includes courses in communication theory, research methods, relational communication, rhetoric and culture, gender and communication, and advanced interpersonal and intercultural communication.
  • Stevenson University Online offers an Online Master of Science in Communication Studies that features courses in communication theory and its applications, interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication, organizational communication, and crisis and conflict management.
  • Duquesne University’s Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication with emphasis areas in Communication Studies and the Rhetoric and Philosophy of Technology. This program features courses in organizational communication, communication research, ethics in communication, persuasive rhetoric, the philosophy of communication, rhetorical theory, and digital rhetoric.
  • Sam Houston State University’s Department of Communication Studies offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies with areas of study in Gendered Communication and Interpersonal and Family Communication, featuring courses in communication studies methods and research, advanced interpersonal and family communication, statistical methods, gender in communication, health communication, and persuasion and social influence.

As the program descriptions above illustrate, online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs focus on communication theory and research, communication ethics, rhetorical theory and criticism, and communication dynamics in different contexts, from individual and group communication to corporate or mass media communication. Most online master’s in communication studies programs also require students to complete a master’s thesis or an applied project that illustrates students’ ability to analyze and add new insight to an issue in communication.

Example Curriculum and Courses in Online Master’s in Communication Studies Programs

Below is a sample curriculum for an online master’s in communication studies program. Please note that course content and sequencing vary across programs, and that the curriculum provided below should only serve as an example.

Curriculum ComponentCourse Titles and Graduation Requirement Descriptions
Core Courses
  • Communication Theory
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Relational and Interpersonal Communication
  • Organizational Communication
  • Media Ethics and Law
  • Conflict Management
Elective Courses
  • Advanced Rhetorical Criticism
  • Gender, Diversity, and Communication
  • Communication Technology and Innovation
  • Family Communication
  • Crisis and Risk Communication
  • Multicultural/Intercultural Communication
Graduation Requirements
(Potential Capstone Options)
Potential Capstone Options:
  • Master’s Thesis or Applied Research Project
  • Comprehensive Examination classifies online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs as programs that have a clear specialization in communication studies, communication theory, interpersonal communication, intercultural and multicultural communication, rhetorical criticism or theory, and/or a related field. These programs must include courses in areas such as communication theory and research, interpersonal communication, rhetorical criticism, family communication, cultural issues in communication, and/or non-verbal communication, and have a distinct focus in analyzing the interactions between communication, culture, and society. Within this definition are programs that have a more theoretical focus, and which are geared towards students who wish to pursue a PhD in Communication Studies or a related field, as well as programs that prepare students for careers in industry that require them to apply communication theories to practical projects.

In addition, in order for a program to be classified as online, it must require two or fewer visits to campus per year. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are classified as hybrid or campus-based programs. For a comprehensive list of both campus-based and online master’s in communication studies and interpersonal communication programs, as well as detailed descriptions of typical courses in these programs, please refer to our Master’s in Communication Studies and Interpersonal Communication Programs specialization page.

Note: Some programs offer a concentration or specialization in intercultural communication. Master’s in intercultural communication programs that focus on issues pertaining to diversity and racial inequality, and the impact of culture on communication and vice versa are categorized under communication studies, while those that focus on communication in global and international settings are classified under master’s in global and international communication programs.

Online Master's in Communication Studies Degree Programs

College of Charleston

(South Carolina)

Eastern Illinois University

Department of Communication Studies

Idaho State University

Department of Communication, Media, & Persuasion

Johns Hopkins University

(District of Columbia)
Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Advanced Academic Programs

Northern Arizona University


Stevenson University