Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Arts in Communication through its Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Advanced Academic Programs. The degree can be completed entirely online and there is no residency requirement for students who choose to take all of their classes via online learning. The program uses Blackboard, an online learning management system, which allows students to access all of their classes, course schedules, instructional materials, and syllabi on the web at any time. Students also use the learning platform to submit assignments, as well as communicate with their peers and instructors.
The online Master of Arts in Communication degree requires students to complete at least ten courses. On average, students can expect to finish the program in around two years. However, individuals who take a full load of three to four courses per semester can fulfill the degree requirements in 12 to 16 months. Students have up to five years to complete the program, if necessary.
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There are two academic tracks available: Strategic Planning and Research. The Strategic Planning track does not require a thesis, while the research track does. In the Strategic Planning track, students complete a Research and Writing Methods course, a selection of three core courses from a category titled Informing Practice through Research, and six electives. Students in this track also have the option of completing a practicum course during their final semester. This class gives students the opportunity to integrate what they have learned throughout the program and apply it to a real-world experience. Students develop an evidence-based project that is related to their professional interests, defining a proposal, timelines, and methods for completion.
The Research track requires students to complete a Research and Writing Methods course, at least two core courses from the Informing Practice through Research group, one core course from an Applied Research for Communication Professionals group, five electives, and a thesis. Students in the Research track must complete all core courses before they can start working on their thesis. The thesis typically takes two semesters to complete, and must be completed and approved in the last semester of study in order to graduate.
Program curriculum is divided between required core courses and electives, which students may complete in an optional academic concentration. Coursework blends study of digital technology and strategic communication, introducing students to broad concepts in communication theory while helping them develop applied skills in areas ranging from health communication to public relations. Depending on their career interests, students may align their courses with one (or two) of six optional degree concentrations: public and media relations; applied research in communication; digital communication; health communication; political communication; and corporate/non-profit communication.
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The required Research and Writing methods course introduces students to the central principles of conducting research, including using library resources, case studies, and surveys. Students can expect to study the latest research from across communication disciplines, and develop skills in interpreting and leveraging both qualitative and quantitative research data and methods. The program’s core curriculum teaches students about the fundamentals of conducting research in the field of communication, and how to craft effective messages in a variety of communication campaigns. Coursework covers subjects such as mass communication theory, changing behavior through communication, communication in the digital age, and more.
Below is a brief description of six optional degree concentrations available to students:
Applied Research in Communication: In this four-class concentration, students study design theory-based research approaches in communication, and learn how to analyze and use data to enhance their messaging. Coursework covers subjects such as applied qualitative and quantitative research methods and communication evaluation.
Public and Media Relations: This concentration provides students with a broad study of the field of public and media relations, exposing them to related areas such as crisis communication, social and digital media, executing comprehensive communication campaigns, speech writing, and more. Students must complete at least three courses from a list of electives that include Branding and Advertising, Media Relations, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Crisis Communication.
Political Communication: This concentration familiarizes students with the core communication concepts and strategies used in politics, such as running a press office, writing speeches, and developing legislative policy. Students must complete at least three electives from a set of courses that includes Political Communication Campaigns, Grassroots Communication, Digital Political Strategy, Polling for Strategic Communication, and more.
Health Communication: In this concentration, students examine the fundamentals of communication in modern health settings and how to relay information about health issues, learning how to conduct effective public information campaigns and how to incorporate targeted, behavior-change communications across multiple media channels. Students select at least three electives from a set of courses that include Emergency and Risk Communication, Health Literacy, Language and Culture, Communicating for Social Change, and Health Psychology and Behavior Change.
Digital Communication: This three-course concentration asks students to consider emerging and digital technologies and their impact on the communication industry. Students gain familiarity with the latest digital media tools and how to develop digital communications strategies. Available electives include Multimedia Authoring, Effective Web Design Strategy, Web Writing and Content Strategy, Interactive Marketing/Advertising, and more.
Corporate and Non-Profit Communication: In this concentration, students study internal and external communication processes in organizational settings, exploring areas such as branding, integrated marketing communication strategies, and managerial communication. Students must choose at least three electives from a set that includes classes in organizational communication, intercultural communication, crisis communication, corporate social responsibility campaigns, and more.
Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Department: Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Advanced Academic Programs
Specializations/Concentrations: Optional Concentrations in Applied Research in Communication; Public and Media Relations; Political Communication; Health Communication; Digital Communication; Corporate and Non-Profit Communication
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses the Blackboard learning management systems and students can access their course materials 24-7
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Full-time: 3-4 courses per semester = 12 to 16 months; Part-time: 1-2 courses per semester = 2-3 years; Students have up to 5 years to complete the program
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Research Track: thesis; Strategic Planning Track: practicum or additional elective
Credits Required: 10 courses
Example Courses: Research and Writing Methods; Introduction to the Digital Age; Persuasion; Applied Quantitative Research; Applied Qualitative Research
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Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE not required if GPA greater than 3.0 or if applicant has 5+ years of post-baccalaureate work experience
Work Experience: History of relevant work experience or coursework required
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission
State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states