Washington state is home to four universities that offer master’s degrees in communication: Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, University of Washington, and Washington State University. All together, these schools have seven degree programs to choose from, including four campus-based options, two online programs, and one that is primarily online with the option to attend a limit number of in-person sessions (classified as an online/hybrid program on this site). They also give students the opportunity to specialize in a number of different areas, such as organizational communication, strategic communication, digital media, global leadership, media and health promotion, or science and environmental communication. The four schools listed above are all non-profit institutions accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in Washington
Eastern Washington University (EWU), based in Cheney, offers a Master of Science in Communications (MSC) with several potential program tracks. Students can focus their studies in Organizational Communications, Technological Communication, Instructional Communication, or Cultural Communication, as well as decide whether to complete a thesis, research project, or comprehensive exam as their graduation requirement. Each pathway entails a minimum of 63 credits, including 31 required core credits, 26 to 27 credits in one’s focus area, and two to six credits related to the capstone component. The core curriculum features courses in Advanced Communication Theory, Contemporary Trends in Communication Studies, Communication Inquiry, Research Design and Analysis, and Communication Technologies or Systems. The majority of classes for the MSC program take place in the evening and on weekends at EWU’s Riverpoint Campus, which is located in downtown Spokane’s University District.
Also in Spokane, Gonzaga University has a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies program available through its School of Leadership Studies. A total of 30 course credits are required to complete the degree, which can be earned in one of five optional concentrations: Global Leadership, Digital Media Strategies, College Teaching, Servant Leadership, or Strategic and Organizational Communication. Core courses in Gonzaga’s MA program include Communication and Leadership Ethics, International and Intercultural Communication, Content Creation and Strategy, Theorizing Communication, and a Master’s-Level Writing lab. While the program is offered primarily online (with one required campus visit), students can choose to attend more than one on-campus immersion session if they wish. Therefore, MastersinCommunications.com classifies this track as an online/hybrid program, as students may participate in up to five immersions per year. These optional sessions last three to five days each, and mainly take place on the Gonzaga campus; however, there is one held at Mount Adams, and another in Valyermo, California. Several electives in the program also include the opportunity to study abroad in places such as Italy, Belgium, Colombia, or the Czech Republic.
At the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, the Department of Communication offers a 45-credit Communication Leadership program in which students can pursue a Master of Communication degree in either Digital Media or Communities and Networks. The Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) focuses on digital content creation and analytics, with courses such as Multimedia Storytelling; Advanced User Research and UX Strategies; Analytics and Insights for Brands; Advanced Content Strategy; and Law of Digital Media, Interactive Media, and Content. The Master of Communication in Communities and Networks (MCCN), on the other hand, emphasizes community outreach, interpersonal engagement, and organizational communication. Electives in this track include Leadership and Teams; Storytelling and Audience Engagement; Mastering the Art and Science of Professional Communication; Building Successful Online Communities; and The Law and Ethics of Community Building in Private, Public, and Nonprofit Entities.
The UW Department of Communication also offers an MA/PhD program in communication; however, it is explicitly designed for students who intend to earn their Ph.D. and is not a standalone master’s in communication program. Students in this track earn their master’s directly before starting the Ph.D. portion of the curriculum.
Finally, there is a Master of Arts in Communication program available at Washington State University (WSU), which is located in Pullman. Offered through the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, WSU’s program has three specialization areas to choose from: Media and Health Promotion; Media, Society, and Politics; or Science and Environmental Communication. Students can pursue their degree through a 27-credit thesis option or 33-credit non-thesis option, which requires a comprehensive final exam. Each pathway entails nine credits of core courses in Communication Theory, Quantitative Research, and Methods. The remaining curriculum is comprised of electives in one’s area of concentration, as well as credits associated with their capstone requirement and several colloquia. In most cases, it takes students two academic years of full-time study to complete the program and earn their degree.
Online Master’s in Communication Programs for Residents in Washington
Along with the campus-based programs described above, there are also online master’s in communication programs available to students in Washington. These may be particularly beneficial for residents who are not within commuting distance of a campus offering graduate study in the field, or those otherwise unable to travel for class on a regular basis. The increased flexibility of online learning can also be a good fit for students who intend to maintain a full-time job or have other significant responsibilities to attend to while pursuing their degree. Additionally, students with disabilities or other restrictions may find online coursework preferable to in-person instruction. Online programs can even give Washington residents more options to choose from when it comes to finding a degree specialization that aligns with their academic and professional goals (for example, political communication or technical communication)
Currently, there are two schools in Washington that offer online master’s in communication programs. As explained earlier, the Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies program at Gonzaga University is delivered almost entirely online. Students are only required to visit campus once over the course of their studies, for a 3-day, in-person immersion. There is the option to attend more than one on-campus session, each associated with a different elective in the program; however, students are not required to do so, and can complete the majority of their degree online if they wish. Whether they pursue their studies online or as a hybrid of immersions and online coursework, students enroll in the same 30-credit program, with the same specialization options, curriculum, and study abroad opportunities.
In addition to their campus-based MA in Communication, Washington State University has an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program. The program is 100% online with no on-campus requirements, and courses are asynchronous, meaning students do not need to log in at specific times to view lectures or participate in classroom discussions. However, there are weekly deadlines for class assignments and other activities that students must meet. A total of 30 credit hours are required to earn the degree, along with a final examination and capstone portfolio that students put together online. The curriculum includes a four-course Professional Core consisting of the following courses: Professional Multimedia Content Creation, Crisis Communication in Global Contexts, Ethics for Professionals, and Research Methods for Professionals. Students also take five Strategic Communication Core courses, in topics such as Persuasion for Professional Communicators, Creative Media Strategies and Techniques, Professional Digital Content Promotion, and Consumer Behavior and Brand Development.
Another option for Washington residents interested in pursuing a master’s degree in communication online is to enroll in a program offered by an out-of-state school. Many colleges and universities across the country have online programs in the field that accept students who live in Washington. However, not all programs are authorized to enroll students from every state. Prospective students should be sure to check if they are eligible for admission before applying to any online program. Additionally, some online master’s in communication programs include on-campus requirements, such as orientations, lectures, hands-on trainings, or other events that students must travel to attend. These immersions can vary in length, from a weekend to an entire week, and students are typically responsible for covering any travel or lodging costs. As such, it is important to fully understand any on-campus requirements prior to enrolling in an online program of study. MastersinCommunications.com defines programs as online only if they require two or fewer campus visits per year.
For more information about earning a master’s in communication online, as well as a comprehensive list of available programs, check out our Online Master’s in Communication Degree Programs page.
Master’s in Communication Programs in Washington
Eastern Washington University(Cheney)
Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies (with Optional Concentrations in Strategic & Organizational Communication, College Teaching of Communication, Global Leadership, Digital Media Strategies, and Servant Leadership)
Online Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies (with Optional Concentrations in Strategic & Organizational Communication, College Teaching of Communication, Global Leadership, Digital Media Strategies, and Servant Leadership)
Interview with Michael Hazel, Ph.D. - Gonzaga University
University of Washington(Seattle)
Washington State University(Pullman)