classifies programs into two categories: campus and online. For a program to be classified as an online program, it must require two or fewer on-campus sessions per year. Programs that require more than two visits, whether they are traditional campus-based programs or combine campus and online instruction (i.e. hybrid programs), are classified as campus programs. Therefore, it is possible that a program listed as a campus program could still have a majority of its instruction online. Programs are categorized using this criteria so that students know the on-campus requirements for online programs on the site.

While some online programs may require limited campus visits, many do not. In addition, there are several types of campus/hybrid programs. A traditional campus program would have all of its instruction on-campus. Hybrid or blended programs may follow several formats including, but not limited to:

  • Campus instruction supplemented with online course materials and discussions
  • Distinct campus courses and online courses
  • Online courses with limited campus sessions or intensives
  • Combination of online and on-campus instruction (e.g. students meet on campus once a month with the rest of instruction taking place online)

The program directories on this site allow students to search for campus, hybrid, and online programs in their state, as well as for out-of-state online programs that accept students from their region. To help students identify the different types of programs offered by each school in our comprehensive database of master’s in communication programs, icons are used to designate which schools offer campus and online programs. There is also an icon for schools that offer a hybrid program or a hybrid option for their students. Finally, for schools that offer both a campus and an online program, the two types of programs are categorized as distinct programs even if a school offers the same program with an on-campus and online option. This is done so that students can separately search for campus or online programs (or both).

Campus vs Online vs Hybrid Master’s in Communication Programs

Traditional campus-based programs have the benefit of giving students structure as well as in-person interactions with faculty and peers, which can enhance their learning experience and give them more opportunities to have impromptu discussions about course concepts. They also provide students with the opportunity to get instant answers to questions about course materials presented in lectures, which may not be possible for all types of online instruction. Students of campus programs may also benefit from on-campus resources, such as career centers, libraries, and in-person office hours.

Despite their benefits, campus programs also have disadvantages compared to online programs. These include requiring students to commit to a stricter schedule to account for travel time to and from classes, and the requirement to choose a program based on proximity or be forced to relocate for graduate school. This is especially important for students who do not live near a university or college that offers a master’s in communication program, for students who cannot travel to campus for personal or professional reasons, or for students who wish to specialize in a field of communication that is not offered by a local program.

To accommodate working professionals wishing to advance their careers, many campus-based master’s in communication programs offer their students the option of pursuing their degree part-time, so that they can continue to work full-time during their enrollment. Furthermore, many on-campus programs have night and weekend courses to give their students more flexibility in terms of scheduling and fitting their graduate education around their personal and professional obligations.

Online programs seek to resolve the time and geographical restraints that on-campus programs can impose on students by delivering the majority of their coursework online, and facilitating faculty-student and peer-to-peer interactions through innovative learning technologies. Instead of having to travel to a physical campus, students take all of their classes online, either through pre-recorded lectures and materials they can access at any time (known as asynchronous instruction), live video lectures and seminar discussions (known as synchronous instruction), or a combination of both course delivery methods.

The main advantage of online programs is increased flexibility, as students do not need to travel to campus for lectures. This means they can study anywhere they have access to an Internet connection. In addition, for programs with asynchronous instruction, students can study at any time 24-7. Other advantages include access to graduate programs otherwise unavailable to them (for students who do not live near a campus and cannot relocate), greater access to different specialization options, and the ability to review recorded lectures as many times as needed. Typically, even online programs that utilize synchronous instruction record lectures for viewing at later times as well.

As with campus programs, online programs have both advantages and disadvantages. Online programs, especially online graduate programs, require even more self-discipline and organization to keep up with lectures and assignments. Without set lectures like campus programs, students can fall behind if they do not create a set schedule and dedicate time to their studies. Students should note that while online programs with asynchronous instruction do not have set times for lectures, the programs are self-paced. Students are still required to submit assignments, take exams, and participate in online discussion forums based on set due dates. In addition, for students who prefer to interact with classmates and instructors in person, online programs may not be a good fit for their learning style.

Students who want the added flexibility of an online program while still having the opportunity to interact with classmates and instructors in person may want to consider a hybrid program or an online program that requires limited campus visits per year. As noted above, there are several types of hybrid programs with some formats being more flexible than others, and for students who do not live near a campus, a hybrid program may still not be an option.