The state of Virginia is home to nine schools that have master’s in communication programs. Combined, these institutions offer a total of 13 master’s degrees in the field, including 10 campus-based programs and three online options, with a wide range of available concentrations, such as strategic communication, public relations, health communication, mass communication, political communication, and more. All nine of the schools are non-profit institutions accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in Virginia
Located in Fairfax, George Mason University offers a Master of Arts in Communication through its Department of Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The program entails a total of 33 credits, and can be pursued in one of four specialization areas: Strategic Communication/Public Relations, Health Communication, Science Communication, or Individualized Communication Studies, in which students design their own course of study based on a particular interest in the field. Students are required to complete two core courses, two methods courses, two theory courses, a practicum course, two courses in their area of focus, and two electives. As a graduation requirement, there is an option of either a master’s thesis or non-thesis project (those who opt for the thesis only need to take one elective instead of two).
James Madison University in Harrisonburg has two master’s degree programs in the field, each offered by a separate school within the university. First, there is a Master of Arts in Communication and Advocacy available through the School of Communication Studies. The program consists of 36 credit hours and features both foundational coursework in communication studies, as well as the option to specialize in either Environmental, Health, or Strategic Communication. MA students have the choice of three exit options: a thesis, internship, or comprehensive exam.
The second communication master’s program available at James Madison is offered by their School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication (WRTC). The WRTC graduate program requires a total of 33 credits, and can be pursued as either a Master of Arts or Master of Science. While both degree paths help students build effective communication and research skills, the MS is specifically tailored for those interested in focusing their studies on emerging educational technology in the field. Students in the WRTC graduate program can complete either a research-based thesis or 300-hour internship as their capstone requirement.
There are two masters-level communication programs available at Liberty University in Lynchburg: a Master of Arts in Communication and a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication. Both are offered through the school’s Department of Strategic and Personal Communication, and require the completion of 36 credit hours. The MA in Communication program focuses primarily on interpersonal and leadership communication skills, as well as the theories and research behind them. Those in the MA in Strategic Communication program study how effective communication and digital marketing can be used to help grow an organization or achieve other business goals. Both degree programs give students the option of completing either a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam.
The Department of Mass Communications and Journalism at Norfolk State University offers a Master of Arts in Media and Communications that has several potential specialization options. Students can choose from a Mass Communications concentration with two possible degree tracks (Media Management or Media Production) or a Journalism concentration with two tracks (News Editorial and Management or Public Relations). Each pathway requires a total of 30 credit hours, including core courses in Communication Theory, Communication Research Methods, and Law, Ethics and Responsibility (Public Policy) in Communication. Along with core, specialization, and elective courses, students in the MA program must complete either a master’s thesis or capstone project in order to graduate. There is also the option of taking an internship for course credit, but it must be approved by the Master of Arts in Media and Communications Graduate Internship Committee and consist of at least 180 hours.
Also in Norfolk, Old Dominion University has a unique master’s degree program available through its Department of Communication and Theatre Arts. Their Master of Arts in Lifespan and Digital Communication focuses specifically on how communication develops as humans age, blending study of both relational communication and digital media. The degree requires 36 credit hours, including five core courses: Lifespan Communication Research and Theory, Digital Communication Theory and Research, Social Change and Communication Systems, Lifespan Communication Research Methods, and Critical Methods and Digital Communication. The Department of Communication and Theatre Arts offers a wide range of interesting electives, such as Television and Politics, Religious Communication, Social Change and Communication Systems, Construction of the Gendered Body, and Mediated Human Communication in the Digital Age. Students can pursue the program on either a full- or part-time basis, and have the choice between completing a thesis or non-thesis project for their capstone requirement.
Radford University’s School of Communication offers a Master of Science in Strategic Communication that consists of 36 credit hours. Coursework in the program covers topics such as public relations, communication theory, political communication, pedagogy and instruction, communication and leadership, electronic media, persuasion strategies, and more. Students can also receive training in areas like video production or social media and analytics, gaining hands-on experience in Radford’s state-of-the-art College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) building, which features a broadcasting studio, social media watch center, and emergency operations center. There is both a thesis and non-thesis option available for the program. Those who pursue the non-thesis pathway must successfully pass a written examination to qualify for graduation.
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond has a Master’s of Science in Mass Communication program with available concentrations in Multimedia Journalism or Strategic Public Relations. Offered through the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, the MS program features small cohort sizes (15 students or less) and a combination of campus-based and online coursework. The Multimedia Journalism degree track requires a total of 36 credit hours, including courses in Online Journalism, Multiplatform Storytelling, Computer-Assisted Reporting, Convergence Law and Ethics, The Business of Media, and International Journalism. Students also have the opportunity to focus their studies on a particular “beat” area, such as health or the environment, through graduate electives and project work.
VCU’s Strategic Public Relations pathway is billed as a fast-track, one-year master’s program, consisting of 30 credit hours. The core curriculum includes courses in Organizational Communication, Strategic PR in a Digital Environment, Public Relations Ethics and Law, Strategic Media Relations, Strategic PR Management, and more. There is also a two-week study abroad experience led by program faculty that takes place in China.
Finally, students can pursue a Master of Arts in Communication at Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg. Their program requires the completion of 33 credit hours, and offers two focus areas to choose from: Strategic Communication or Media, Technology, and Society. After completing core courses in Communication Theory, Communication Research Methods, and Rhetorical Theory/Criticism, students move onto graduate-level specialization coursework and electives. The Department of Communication at Virginia Tech, a part of their College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, offers a variety of courses for students to include in their plan of study, such as Mass Media Theory, New Communication Technology, Media Literacy, International Communication, Public Relations Theory and Practice, Health Communications Campaigns, and more. Students have the option to write a thesis or complete a non-thesis project and final examination.
Online Master’s in Communication Programs for Students in Virginia
Another option for Virginia residents interested in pursuing a master’s degree in communication is to enroll in an online program. These can be particularly helpful for students who do not live in close proximity to the campus locations listed above and do not want to relocate for their graduate studies, as well as those otherwise unable to commute to class on a regular basis. Additionally, the increased flexibility of online learning may be a better fit for working professionals, busy parents, or students with other significant commitments in their schedule. Online master’s in communication programs also provide Virginia students with more enrollment and specialization options when it comes to pursuing their degree
There are two schools in Virginia that offer master’s degree programs in communication online. At Liberty University, both their Master of Arts in Communication and Master of Arts in Strategic Communication are available for 100% online study. The programs (detailed in the section above) each consist of 36 credit hours, and there are eight different start dates throughout the year. Instruction is asynchronous, meaning students are free to access lectures and other course materials at their convenience, with no set login times. For their capstone requirement, students in either program can choose to complete a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam.
Regent University, located in Virginia Beach, has an online Master of Arts in Communication program with four specialization tracks to choose from. Students can decide to focus their studies in Media and Arts Management and Promotion, Political Communication, Strategic Communication, or Technical Communication. Offered by Regent’s School of Communication and The Arts, their MA in Communication program is entirely online, however students have the option of completing certain courses on campus if they choose. This hybrid learning style may be a good alternative for those who live in the area and think they might benefit from a combination of in-person instruction and online coursework. Each degree track requires the completion of 33 credit hours, which consist of core, elective, and capstone courses. Students in the Political Communication pathway, for example, take foundational courses in American Politics, Media Research and Analysis, Media and Social Influence, Christian Foundations of Government, and Story, Popular Culture and Worldview, as well as complete five electives and either a thesis, directed project, or internship for their capstone requirement.
In addition to Liberty University and Regent University, there are several out-of-state schools that offer online master’s in communication programs which accept students from Virginia. These give residents access to even more options when it comes to pursuing their degree. However, it is important to note that, due to state specific authorizations, not all schools and programs can enroll students from every state. Some online master’s programs also require students to visit campus at certain points throughout their studies for orientations, lectures, hands-on training, networking events, or other in-person activities. As such, prospective online students should speak with an admission advisor about any state restrictions and potential travel requirements before applying. MastersinCommunications.com only classifies programs as online if they require two or fewer campus visits per year.
To learn more about pursuing a master’s degree in communication online, and see a comprehensive list of programs offered by schools in the US, visit out Online Master’s in Communication Degree Programs page.
Master’s in Communication Programs in Virginia
George Mason University(Fairfax)
James Madison University(Harrisonburg)
Norfolk State University(Norfolk)
Old Dominion University(Norfolk)
Regent University(Virginia Beach)
Virginia Commonwealth University(Richmond)