There are currently six schools in Tennessee that offer master’s in communication programs. Of these schools, four offer campus-based programs, two offers an online program, and one offers what classifies as an online-hybrid program. Students interested in completing a master’s in communication program from a school in Tennessee can choose among specializations such as corporate communication, media management, public relations, journalism, health communication, and rhetoric and media studies. All of the schools listed on this page are non-profit institutions of higher education that have been regionally accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in Tennessee

In Johnson City, East Tennessee State University’s Department of Communication and Performance offers a Master’s in Communication & Storytelling Studies. Students in this program take core courses in communication theory and qualitative research methods, as well as classes in the foundations of storytelling performance, the history of performance traditions, and advanced solo performance. Students can then choose electives from two curricular “blocks”: Discourse and Meaning, and Professional Applications. Classes in the Discourse and Meaning block cover topics in communication ethics, popular communication, gender and communication, communication and culture, and rhetoric and public address. Courses in the Professional Applications block include classes in organizational communication, story performance, applied storytelling, and health communication. All students must take at least one course from each block, but after fulfilling this requirement they are free to select nine credit hours’ worth of courses in either block. Students are also allowed to take classes from outside of the Department of Communication and Performance, with their advisor’s approval. For their final graduation requirement, students can choose between a master’s thesis, a storytelling practicum and capstone project, or a comprehensive exam along with two additional directed electives.

Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment in Murfreesboro offers a Master of Science in Media and Communication with specializations in Media Management, Public Relations, and Traditional/New Media. All students must complete required courses in the science of communication, cultural studies in communication, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and media law and ethics. Students then take electives according to their specialization in areas such as media management, media organizations, health care communication, mass media and public opinion, news and culture in democracy, communication in technology, and media in the marketplace. Students can elect to either complete a master’s thesis or a professional project that focuses on an area of interest within their field of study. All students are also required to pass a written comprehensive examination.

The University of Memphis’ Department of Communication offers a Master of Arts in Communication with concentrations in Communication Studies (with additional specialty areas in Rhetoric & Media Studies and Health & Relational Communication), and Film & Video Production. Students of the Communication Studies concentration can study with faculty specializing in Rhetoric & Media Studies, whose specific areas of research include digital media and technology, political communication, critical/cultural studies, and rhetorical criticism. Students can also elect to work with faculty who specialize in Health & Relational Communication and focus on instructional communication, family communication, palliative care, patient-provider interactions, and end-of-life communication. Individuals who choose this concentration can elect to complete a master’s thesis and oral examination, a written and oral comprehensive examination, or a culminating project for their final graduation requirement.

Students of the University of Memphis’ program who choose the Film & Video Production concentration can take classes in narrative and documentary film-making, film history and criticism, screenwriting and documentary writing, videography, dialogue, and cultural voices in rhetoric. They must complete a culminating project and oral examination for their final graduation requirement.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Communication & Information offers a Master of Science in Communication and Information with concentrations in Advertising, Communication Studies, Journalism and Electronic Media, and Public Relations. Regardless of their concentration, students must take two communication and information courses that cover the theory and principles of communication, followed by a research course that is specific to their concentration. Students’ choices for electives vary depending on their specialization. For example, students specializing in advertising will take courses in creative strategy, media planning, campaign development, client relations, and social media, while individuals in the Journalism and Electronic Media concentration will take courses covering media leadership and management, digital journalism, sports journalism, science writing, and multimedia production. Students must either complete a master’s thesis investigating an inquiry in their field of communication, or create a project that seeks to solve an organizational or industry communication issue.

Online Master’s in Communication Programs in Tennessee

Austin Peay State University’s (APSU) Department of Communication in Clarksville offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication Arts with concentrations in Marketing Communication and Media Management. Students of the Marketing concentration take core classes in communication research methods, applied communication theory, communication law, communication and leadership, organizational communication, and marketing communication strategies, as well as a professional seminar in communication processes. Students of the Media Management concentration take core classes in communication theory and research, media management, communication law, and the economics of mass media, as well as a professional seminar in communication. After their core classes, students of either concentration can choose electives in areas such as politics and mass media, ethics in a changing communication environment, advertising and media strategies, and special topics in graduate communication. Students of both concentrations are required to complete a research paper as their final graduation requirement.

APSU also offers a Master of Arts in Communication Arts program with specialization options in Corporate Communication and General Communication. The Corporate Communication specialization prepares students for careers ranging from marketing and advertising to public relations, web design, and journalism. Classes in the program cover communication research methods, applied communication theory, and integrated corporate communication, as well as a professional seminar in communication. Students then take electives in areas such as organizational communication, communication and public opinion, advertising and media strategies, and social media strategies, and complete a research paper as their final graduation requirement. The General Communication Specialization features core classes in communication research and theory, communication law, and professional practices in communication. Students can then choose electives such as web content management, international communication, race and gender in mass media, and leadership in communication. Individuals who choose this concentration have a choice between a master’s thesis and a research paper for their final graduation requirement.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers an online Master’s in Strategic and Digital Communication. This program prepares students for advanced roles in areas such as brand management, digital and multimedia marketing, public relations, organizational change and leadership, creative services leadership, and marketing communications management. The curriculum for this program is comprised of ten courses for a total of 30 credits, and it is flexible in order to encourage students to take the classes that best suit their professional interests and goals. Examples of courses that students can take in this program include Strategic Communication Tactics; Social Informatics; Information Architecture; Organizational Communication, Strategic Leadership, and Culture; Social Influence, Persuasion, and Compliance-Gaining; Interpersonal Conflict; Audience Analytics, Global Communications, Web Design; and Social Media Strategy and Tactics.

The University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) offers an online-hybrid Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (MASC) program through its Department of Communications, which combines online coursework with several on-campus sessions (six weekends in total). Students can choose from four different areas of emphasis: Public Relations and Marketing Communication; Mass Communication, Media Management, and Media Production; Technical Communication; or Issues and Topics in Strategic Communication. The campus-based portion consists of three Professional Seminar courses, each requiring students to visit campus on two separate weekends. The first seminar takes place during the first semester and provides an orientation to the program. Students take the second seminar, which focuses on development of their capstone project, at the midpoint of their program. In the final seminar, taken during the last semester, students complete their capstone project and sit for a comprehensive written exam. Along with these seminars, students in the MASC program complete core courses in Applied Research Methods, Media and Communication Theory, and either Organizational Communication or Leadership Theory and Practice, depending on their particular interests.

In addition to the online master’s in communication programs offered through APSU and UTM, numerous out-of-state programs also accept online students from Tennessee. Online master’s in communication programs can be good options for students who do not live close to a campus-based program, such as residents of Nashville (Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt do not offer graduate programs in communication), Chattanooga, or Franklin. Prospective students of out-of-state online master’s in communication programs should note that, due to state authorizations, not all online programs are allowed to enroll students from all 50 states. Students interested in an out-of-state online program should confirm with an admissions advisor that their program of interest accepts students from Tennessee.

Furthermore, some online programs have mandatory campus intensives that students must attend one or more times during their enrollment. Campus intensives are events that are held on-campus (or at satellite locations in some cases), and which typically include in-person lectures and discussions, career development workshops, oral examinations, and other activities aimed at increasing students’ engagement with course content. Students are generally responsible for the travel costs associated with attending these events, and therefore applicants should research their programs of interest thoroughly to determine and budget for any travel requirements these programs may have. While there are 100% online master’s in communication programs for students who cannot attend on-campus sessions due to personal or work obligations, in-person sessions can be a valuable addition to an online program especially for students who want to meet classmates and professors face-to-face.

To help students interested in online master’s in communication programs research the programs that best meet their needs, created an Online Masters in Communication Programs resource page featuring a comprehensive directory of all accredited online master’s in communication programs available in the United States. This page also includes useful information about online programs, including additional details about campus intensives and geographical restrictions.

Directory of Master’s in Communication Programs in Tennessee

All Master’s in Communication Programs in Tennessee

Campus programs, Campus/Hybrid programs, Online programs (fully online to 2 campus visits per year), Hybrid-Online programs (3 to ~5 campus visits per year)

East Tennessee State University

(Johnson City)
Department: Department of Communication and Performance

Middle Tennessee State University