Minnesota State University, Mankato offers a Master of Science in Communication Studies through its Communication Studies Department. The program is offered entirely online, allowing students to complete degree requirements without visiting campus. The university uses Brightspace, an online learning management system from Desire2Learn (D2L). Through Brightspace, students can access their course content and materials, participate in online discussions, read class announcements, submit assignments, communicate with instructors, and more. The majority of online instruction in the program is asynchronous, which means students are not required to be online at specific times for lectures and discussions. However, the quantitative and qualitative research methods courses are conducted through synchronous instruction. Online students join on-campus classes using web conferencing software that allows them to listen to and participate in lectures.
The Master of Science in Communication Studies requires 36 credits and can be completed in approximately two years by taking 9 credits per semester. The curriculum is career-focused, emphasizing practical skill development in professional and organizational communication across diverse contexts. Coursework is designed to explore the connection between practical application and theory in a range of subject areas, such as conflict management, public speaking and intercultural communication. The curriculum is divided between one core class (3 credits), one research methods course (3), organization and conflict courses (6 credits), culture and relationships courses (6 credits), communication connections classes (9 credits), companion connections courses (6 credits), and a final capstone course (3 credits).
The core class that students take is the Seminar in Communication Theory, after which they can select either Qualitative Research Methods or Quantitative Research Methods to fulfill their research methods requirement. From there, students choose two of the four following courses in organization and conflict management: Organizational Communication, Conflict Management, Communication Training and Development, and Communication for Professionals. For their culture and relationships courses, students choose two courses from a menu of classes that include Topics in Relational Communication, Topics in Rhetoric and Culture, Gender and Communication, Communication Pedagogy, Advanced Intercultural Communication, and Advanced Interpersonal Communication. Once they have fulfilled these course requirements, students take nine more graduate-level credits from the Department of Communication Studies (which they select in accordance with their advisor’s approval), and six course credits from outside of the Department.
The final requirement for the MS in Communication Studies is the completion of a Capstone, which can take the form of an internship or alternate plan paper. Regardless of which option they choose, students work with a faculty committee to define their capstone experience and final deliverables. Students who choose the alternate plan paper option must write a research paper that reviews and interprets a body of research on a communication-related topic. This paper is an opportunity for students to apply the research skills they have learned over the course of their tenure in the program to an investigation of a question that is of personal or professional significance to them. Students selecting the internship must complete an internship that is in a setting that is relevant to their course of study as well as their professional goals. Students completing an internship must have at least 18 graduate credits prior to the internship. Under the supervision of an on-site supervisor, students receive hands-on learning experience using communication studies concepts and theories in a professional workplace.
The Department of Communication Studies also offers a Master of Science in Communication and Composition in conjunction with the English Department. For more information, visit the English Department page.
Note: For individuals who are interested in pursuing a more academia-oriented course of study (for example, students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. after earning their master’s degree in communication studies), Minnesota State University, Mankato also offers an on-campus Master of Arts in Communication Studies, which features courses in culture and communication, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, rhetorical criticism, and communication pedagogy.
Minnesota State University, Mankato is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Science in Communication Studies
Department: Communication Studies Department
Specializations/Concentrations: Emphasis Areas in Organization and Conflict; Culture and Relationships
Websites: Department and Program
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses both synchronous and asynchronous instruction depending on the course and instructor
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in 2 years (4 semesters) when enrolled full-time - students enrolled part-time take longer depending on how many credits they take per term
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone options: internship or alternate plan paper
Credits Required: 36 credits (~12 courses)
Example Courses: Qualitative Research Methods; Quantitative Research Methods; Organizational Communication; Communication for Professionals; Conflict Management; Gender and Communication; Advanced Intercultural Communication
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission
Estimated Tuition*: ~$14,810.40 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: $411.40 per credit hour
State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states