South Dakota State University offers an online Master of Mass Communication through its School of Communication & Journalism in conjunction with the Office of Continuing & Distance Education. The degree can be completed entirely online without any required student visits to campus. South Dakota State University uses the Desire to Learn (D2L) learning management system for its online degree and certificate programs. Students can access their course materials and complete required assignments in a virtual classroom, including participating in online discussion forums and communicating with peers and instructors.

The Master of Mass Communication requires between 32 and 36 credit hours of study and can be completed in two years if students take classes back-to-back each semester, along with a course each summer. The degree is designed for mid-career professionals in mass communication occupations or in the journalism industry. Whether in print, public relations, broadcast or marketing, students can sharpen their skills in new media principles and practices to advance their careers.

The program offers two academic tracks: a 32-credit option with a research/design paper or a 36-credit option that includes additional coursework and a professional portfolio. The curriculum is divided between core classes (15 credits) and electives (15 – 21 credits). Core classes include Introduction to Master of Mass Communication, Media Law Cast Studies, Cross-Platform Storytelling, Cross-Platform Campaigns, and Conducting Professional Research. These courses introduce students to the core principles of mass communication and contemporary practices in media writing, as well as how cross-platform media technologies can be applied to different contexts such as public relations, social media, marketing, journalism, and other sectors. Students also examine and discuss media law and ethics issues that help them better understand today’s media landscape and its broader social, ethical, and legal implications.

Beyond core classwork, requirements vary based on the student’s track (research/design paper or coursework only). For the research/design paper option, students complete five classes of electives (15 credits) before enrolling in Master’s Research Problems/Projects (2 credits), a course during which they conduct research and write a professionally oriented research paper. Students consult with a faculty advisor to determine a topic of scholarly and professional significance for the student to investigate.

In the coursework-only option, students complete seven classes of electives (21 credits) along with a culminating professional portfolio. Elective course subjects vary, but allow students to craft a program of study that meets their professional development needs. Sample classes include Women in Media, Health Journalism, Opinion Writing, Media Administration and Management, International Media, Mass Communications Teaching, and Social Marketing for Health and Behavioral Change. Students can also elect to pursue an Independent Study or Internship for credit, as long as they receive approval from their faculty advisor.

The Master of Mass Communication is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. South Dakota State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Online Master of Mass Communication

Department: School of Communication & Journalism
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses the Desire2Learn learning management system with asynchronous instruction - students are able to interact with professors through real-time video conferences
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in 2 years

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Professional project or additional coursework with professional portfolio
Credits Required: 32-36 credits (10-12 courses)
Example Courses: Introduction to Master of Mass Communication; Cross-Platform Storytelling; Media Law; Research Methods in Communication; Opinion Writing

Application Requirements
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Start Dates: Fall and Spring admission

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$14,428.80 to ~$16,232.40 + fees (32 vs 36 credits)
Cost per Credit Hour: $450.90 per credit hour

State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states

*Estimated tuition is calculated by multiplying the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required to graduate. It does not include fees or other expenses.