Master’s in Communication programs train their students to have a versatile skills set that is applicable to a wide variety of industries and work settings. Graduates of these programs can work in such fields as journalism, politics and political advocacy, corporate communications and public relations, marketing, research, health and medicine, technology, and education, just to name a few. Many master’s in communication programs have specialization options that allow students to focus on the field of communication that most interests them, and is most relevant to their desired career post-graduation.

MastersinCommunications.com classifies master’s in communication programs into categories based on their curricular content and the specified focus of the program. These specializations include:

  • Strategic Communication
  • Communication Studies/Interpersonal Communication (Communication Theory)
  • Political Communication
  • Health Communication
  • Organizational and Corporate Communication
  • Global and International Communication
  • Media, Mass Communication and Journalism (Digital Communication, Social Media)
  • Public Relations and Marketing Communication
  • Informatics and Information Science
  • Technical Communication

Schools may offer programs that have predefined specializations, like Health Communication or Political Communication, or they may offer a broad Master’s in Communication program with a curriculum that emphasizes specific types of communication, such as organizational and mass communication, without a defined specialization. Due to these differences, it is possible for a program to be categorized under more than one specialty. Conversely, since categorization is a manual process, we cannot guarantee every program has been classified into every applicable category. Therefore, we recommend students research multiple specialization options and review specific curricula (including core, specialization and elective courses) for the programs that interest them before applying.

Master’s in communication programs are typically structured such that students progress through a core set of courses before moving on to their specialization coursework. For more information about core courses see below; otherwise, please scroll to the bottom of the page for more information about specific master’s in communication specializations.

Curriculum Details and Core Courses for Master’s in Communication Programs

While every program varies in the specific titles and content of the classes that comprise their core curriculum, core classes typically cover concepts such as human psychology and behavior, communication for social change, leadership through effective communication, new media technologies and their impact on the field, and communication research. Examples of core courses may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Leadership in Communication: The role of effective communication in leadership across different types of environments and situations, from navigating the dynamics of a small group to leading a company or a community in implementing organizational or large-scale changes.
  • Principles of Strategic Communication: The fundamentals of strategic communication and effective rhetoric, including assessing public opinion, identifying target audiences, developing effective messaging for these audiences, and assessing the outcome of different types of strategic communication, from public relations and marketing tactics to informational campaigns. The role of communication in different fields, including corporate environments, politics, public education, and popular culture, and how to navigate the ethics of persuasive communication in the public and private sectors.
  • Digital Media and Technology in Communication: The latest developments in communication technology, including the transition of news outlets online, the advent of smaller independent news websites, social media, video and podcasts as disseminators of information and ideas, and the concept of “viral” content. How information technology impacts how news media, marketing, and other types of content are received and interpreted by the general population. How communication professionals can leverage technology to effectively convey their ideas to their target audiences.
  • Ethics in Communication: The ethics of communication in all its forms, across numerous social, political, educational, and corporate contexts. Students explore issues such as confidentiality, freedom of speech, copyright and trademarks, and transparency and objectivity in news and marketing media. Students also explore case studies of scenarios that involve communication-related dilemmas, and discuss how to determine ethical plans of action to address these dilemmas.
  • Essential Theories of Communication: The fundamental theories of persuasive rhetoric and effective communication across different interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational contexts. How to become a competent consumer of different types of media, and how to combine research and communication theory to develop strategic communication plans.
  • Research in Communication: How to design quantitative and qualitative research studies that evaluate the communication needs of different organizations or communities. Designing research-informed communication initiatives, and assessing the effectiveness of these programs.
  • Communication for Social Change: Social, political, and economic issues facing different populations, and how initiatives such as public education programming, advocacy and political campaigns, consumer marketing, and social media campaigns can impact these issues. Human psychology and behavior at the individual, group, and community levels, and how professionals in communication can leverage these concepts when developing plans to reach and educate their target audiences.

Master’s in communication programs are typically comprised of 30-45 course credits spread over 10 to 15 courses. Many master’s in communication programs allow students a degree of flexibility in how many classes they can take per term. In general, students can complete their program in 12-24 months of full-time study or 24-36 months of part-time study; however, some programs allow students as many as five to seven years to complete their program. Some programs also allow students to complete their concentration classes in any order they see fit, once they have completed their core courses. Programs that require students to complete a practicum course culminating in a portfolio of written work, however, may require students to take this class during the later terms of their program, after they have taken most or all of their core classes and the majority of their concentration courses.

As master’s in communication programs do vary in their course sequencing, students should contact the programs that interest them for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Below are examples of full-time and part-time curriculum plans for a master’s in communication program with a concentration in Health Communication.

Sample Full-Time 24 month Curriculum Plan

 
Fall Term
Spring Term
Summer Term
Year 1
Core Courses:
  • Leadership in Communication
  • Essential Theories of Communication

Core Courses:
  • Principles of Strategic Communication
  • Communication Research
Core Course:
  • Communication for Social Change
Concentration Course:
  • eHealth and Technology
Year 2
Concentration Courses:
  • Human Behavior and Psychology
  • Health Communication and Social Advocacy
Concentration Course:
  • Ethics in Healthcare and Healthcare Communication
Concentration Course:
  • Capstone Thesis or Applied Project in Health Communication

Sample Part-Time 36 month Curriculum Plan

 
Fall Term
Spring Term
Summer Term
Year 1
Core Course:
  • Leadership in Communication

Core Course:
  • Essential Theories of Communication
Core Course:
  • Principles of Strategic Communication
Year 2
Core Course:
  • Communication Research
Core Course:
  • Communication for Social Change
Concentration Course:
  • Human Behavior and Psychology
Concentration Course:
  • eHealth and Technology
Year 3
Concentration Course:
  • Health Communication and Social Advocacy
Concentration Course:
  • Ethics in Healthcare and Healthcare Communication
Concentration Course:
  • Capstone Thesis or Applied Project in Health Communication

Common Specializations for Master’s in Communication Programs

To help students learn more about the different master’s in communication specializations that are available to them, and how each can prepare them for advanced careers in communication and related fields, MastersinCommunications.com has created detailed articles on nine common specializations:

  • Communication Studies/Interpersonal Communication
  • Strategic Communication/Communication Management
  • Organizational and Corporate Communication
  • Political Communication
  • Health Communication
  • Global and International Communication
  • Media Communication and Mass Communications
  • Public Relations and Marketing Communication
  • Technical Communication

The articles below provide detailed descriptions of typical courses that these concentrations entail, and also outline careers that graduates of these programs may seek post-graduation.


Master’s in Communication Concentration Options

Master’s in Communication Studies and Interpersonal Communication

Students of master’s programs in communication studies and interpersonal communication take classes in the fundamental theories of interpersonal communication, persuasive rhetoric, and the intersection of communication and social issues such as gender equality.

Master’s in Global Communication and International Communication

Master’s programs in global, international, and intercultural communication train students in areas of globalization in communication, media and marketing for global audiences, international politics, and global and intercultural communication and activism.

Master’s in Health Communication

Students of master’s in health communication programs take classes on the American healthcare system, behavior change through communication, health campaigns, and communication in medical settings.

Master’s in Media and Mass Communication

Master’s in communication programs that specialize in media communication and mass communication teach students the principles of media management, the history and theory of mass communication, and digital storytelling and content strategies.

Master’s in Organizational Communication

Master’s programs in corporate and organizational communication teach students about organizational communication and management, principles of employee communication, corporate crisis management, and public relations.

Master’s in Political Communication

Master’s in political communication programs typically include courses in the theories and methods of campaign management, crisis management and communication, and the law and ethics for political communication.

Master’s in Public Relations and Marketing Communication

Students in master’s in public relations and marketing communication programs take courses in integrated marketing practices and principles, the theory and practice of public relations, and designing media and marketing campaigns.

Master’s in Strategic Communication

Master’s in strategic communication and communication management programs teach students about organizational management, strategic storytelling and media studies, public relations and marketing, and interpersonal communication.

Master’s in Technical Communication

Master’s in technical communication teach students to engage with a wide variety of technical communications, from science and medical writing to technical instructions for different types of technologies.