There are 20 non-profit colleges and universities in California that offer a total of 27 campus and online master’s in communication programs. Of the 27 programs, 24 are offered on campus, while three are online programs. Students in California can choose from degree concentrations such as strategic communication, communication studies, media studies, mass communication, organizational communication, health communication, political communication, and more.
All schools listed on this page are non-profit colleges and universities that are regionally accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in California
Schools throughout the state, from California State University (CSU), Chico in Northern California to San Diego State University in Southern California, offer master’s programs in communication with various specializations. This includes twelve CSU campuses: Chico, East Bay, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. While some University of California (UC) campuses offer master’s degrees in the field, such as UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, the majority only offer programs for students interested in earning a doctorate in communication, and do not have terminal master’s options.
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in the San Francisco Bay Area
Students who live in the San Francisco Bay area have several options for campus-based programs. In the city of San Francisco itself, two schools offer master’s degrees in communication. San Francisco State University has two programs to choose from: a Master of Arts in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, and a Master of Arts in Communication Studies. The University of San Francisco offers a hybrid Master of Professional Communication program that combines online and on-campus instruction, and has concentration options in Strategic Communication, Technical Communication, and Health Communication.
Outside of San Francisco, Cal State East Bay in Hayward offers a Master of Arts in Communication with optional clusters in Communication Studies, Media Studies, and Organizational and Interpersonal Communication. For students in the south bay, San Jose State University has two programs to choose from: a Master of Arts in Communication Studies and a Master’s of Science in Mass Communications. Students can also pursue a Master of Science in Science Communication through the Physical and Biological Sciences Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz, one of the two University of California schools that offers a terminal master’s in communication program.
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Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in Southern California (Greater Los Angeles Area, San Diego)
In Southern California, there are a wide range of campus-based options for students who live in or near the Greater Los Angeles and surrounding areas. To start, CSU Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge and San Bernardino all offer master’s in communication programs. Cal State Fullerton has two distinct programs: a Master of Arts in Communication Studies and a Master of Arts in Communication. The former prepares students for advanced (doctorate-level) research in communication theories and practices, while the latter focuses more on practical application of communication skills, strategies, and technologies in professional settings.
Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Northridge (CSUN), and Cal State San Bernardino all have Master of Arts in Communication Studies programs as well. While the programs at CSU Long Beach, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles are more general in nature, with a core set of courses and electives to allow students to tailor their own program, CSUN offers a number of specializations to choose from, including Rhetoric Studies; Communication Theory; and Performance, Language, and Cultural Studies. In addition, CSUN offers a Master of Arts in Mass Communication through its Department of Journalism.
In addition to the CSU campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area, Chapman University, whose campus is located in Orange, offers a Master of Science in Health and Strategic Communication through its School of Communication. The University of Southern California (USC) has three campus-based degree options, as well as an online program in the field (see section below). USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers both a Master of Science in Communication Data Science, and a Master of Communication Management with areas of focus in Marketing Communication, Media and Entertainment Management, Health and Social Change Communication, International and Intercultural Communication, and Organizational and Strategic Corporate Communication. The school also offers a Dual Master of Global Communication program, which is a joint venture with the London School of Economics and Political Science.
For students who live in San Diego, San Diego State University offers a general Master of Arts in Communication Studies program through its School of Communication. This program emphasizes communication theory and research methods and offers a wide range of electives for students interested in pursuing doctoral studies in communication or looking to advance their careers in applied communication.
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in the Central Valley
Five schools in California’s Central Valley region offer traditional campus master’s programs in communication, including three universities in the CSU system. Cal State Chico and Sacramento State both have general Master of Arts in Communication Studies programs that offer a variety of electives, allowing students to customize their course of study according to their particular interests. For example, students in Sacramento State’s program can take courses in fields such as Organizational Communication, and Media and Mass Communication. Fresno State offers a Master of Arts in Communication program which focuses on diverse areas of study such as Communication Theory, Interpersonal Communication, Research Methods, Family Communication, Health Communication, and Rhetorical Criticism.
The two other schools in the Central Valley with campus-based master’s in communication programs are the University of the Pacific in Stockton and UC Davis. At the University of the Pacific, students can pursue a Master of Arts in Communication in one of four concentrations: Communication Studies, Communication Education, Political Communication, or Media and Public Relations. UC Davis offers a research-based Master of Arts in Communication program designed for students who plan to pursue doctoral studies in the field. Areas of study in the program include Cognition, Emotion, and Communication; Computational Communication Research; Health Communication; Information and Communication Technologies; Interpersonal Communication; Media Uses, Processes, and Effects; and Political Communication.
Note: UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Communication offers an M.A./Ph.D. program in Communication that awards an M.A. as part of the program. However, the program does not offer a terminal master’s and does not accept applicants who do not plan on pursuing their doctorate in communication.
Online Master’s in Communication Programs in California
For students who do not live in close proximity to one of the 18 colleges and universities that offer campus-based or hybrid master’s in communication programs in California, or those who cannot commute to campus for personal or professional reasons, an online program may be ideal. There are three schools in California that offer online master’s in communication: California Baptist University, National University, and USC.
California Baptist University in Riverside has an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program that prepares students to work in a variety of settings, including marketing, public relations, scientific writing, and strategic and organizational communication through courses in digital communication, media effects, and communication management. Additionally, National University, whose head office is in La Jolla, offers an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communications that prepares students to develop effective communication campaigns and programs across a variety of contexts, including marketing, interactive media, crisis management, and global communication.
The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers an online version of their Master of Communication Management program with areas of focus in Marketing Communication, Strategic and Organizational Communication, and Market Research and Analytics, as well as a Communication Management Generalist focus. The flexible curriculum for this program includes courses in research methods, core concepts in communication strategy and leadership, and integrating research into communication practice. Students work with an advisor to determine which electives to take to tailor their course of study to their goals, and are even allowed to take electives outside of the Communication Management program.
Directory of Master’s in Communication Programs in California
|Online Master's in Communication Programs that Accept Students from California|
|Johns Hopkins University||Online Master of Arts in Communication with Concentrations in Public and Media Relations, Political Communication, Health Communication, Digital Communication, and Corporate and Non-Profit Communication||Program Website|
|Syracuse University||Online Master of Science in Communications with Specializations in Strategic Communications, Journalism Innovation, and Media Management||Program Website|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Online Master of Arts in Communication with Optional Concentrations in New Media & Marketing, and Public Relations||Program Website|
|Arizona State University||Online Master of Arts in Communication (Organizational/Workplace Communication)||Program Website|
|Georgetown University||Online Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications||Program Website|
All Master’s in Communication Programs in California
California Baptist University(Riverside)
California State University - Chico(Chico)
California State University - East Bay(Hayward)
California State University - Fresno(Fresno)
California State University - Fullerton(Fullerton)
California State University - Long Beach(Long Beach)
California State University - Los Angeles(Los Angeles)
California State University - Northridge(Northridge)
California State University - Sacramento(Sacramento)
California State University - San Bernardino(San Bernardino)
National University(La Jolla)
San Diego State University(San Diego)
San Francisco State University(San Francisco)
San Jose State University(San Jose)
University of California, Davis(Davis)
University of California, Santa Cruz(Santa Cruz)
University of San Francisco(San Francisco)
University of Southern California(Los Angeles)
Master of Communication Management (with Areas of Focus in Marketing Communication, Media & Entertainment Management, Health & Social Change Communication, International & Intercultural Communication, and Organizational & Strategic Corporate Communication)
Online Master of Communication Management (with Areas of Focus in Marketing Communication, Strategic and Organizational Communication, Market Research and Analytics, and Communication Management Generalist)Interview with Rebecca Weintraub, Ph.D. - University of Southern California