There are two schools in West Virginia that offer master’s degree programs in the field of communication. Students can pursue a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from Marshall University, or choose from one of five programs available at West Virginia University, including a campus-based Master of Arts in Communication Studies, an online Master of Arts in Corporate and Organizational Communication, an online Master of Science in Data Marketing Communications, and an online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications. Both schools are non-profit institutions and fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). For residents interested in pursuing a master’s in communication online, there are also out-of-state schools that accept online students from West Virginia.
Campus-Based Master’s in Communication Programs in West Virginia
Located in Huntington, Marshall University’s Department of Communication Studies offers an MA in Communication Studies designed for both students interested in becoming professionals in the field, and those who plan to further their study at the doctoral level. Under the guidance of a graduate faculty committee, students in the program develop a Plan of Study that must consist of at least 36 credit hours. All students are required to take the following two courses: Problems and Methods in Communication Research and Studies in Communication Theory. Marshall’s Department of Communication Studies offers a wide range of electives for graduate students to choose from, including Organizational Communication; Rhetorical Theory; Leadership and Group Communication; Computer-Mediated Communication; Communication Consultation Strategies; and Interpersonal Health Communication. Up to six of a student’s credit hours may be earned by writing a thesis, which must pass an oral examination. Students in the MA program are also required to take a written comprehensive exam put together by their graduate committee.
West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown has one campus-based option for students, a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis in theory and research. Offered through WVU’s Department of Communication Studies, their MA in Theory and Research (as the school refers to it) is comprised of 36 hours of coursework spanning one academic year (15 hours in the Fall semester, 15 hours in the Spring semester, and 6 hours during the Summer term). Available master’s-level courses cover a broad range of topics in the field, such as Instructional Communication, Theory and Research in Persuasion, Nonverbal Communication, Communication Problems of Children, Gender and Communication, Communication and Aging, and more. WVU students have the option of completing either a thesis or comprehensive oral exam as their graduation requirement. The school also offers a year-long assistantship to students in the MA program, which includes both a tuition waiver and monthly stipend.
Online Master’s in Communication Programs for Students in West Virginia
For West Virginia students unable to commute to Marshall or WVU for a campus-based program, there are master’s in communication programs available online. Online programs typically give students greater flexibility than campus-based study, which is ideal for those intending to maintain a full-time job or who have other significant commitments while pursuing their degree. They are also a good option for students interested in pursuing a specialization not offered by the campus programs at Marshall or WVU, like strategic communication, integrated marketing communications or technical communication, as well as those with disabilities or other restrictions that may make classroom learning difficult.
West Virginia University offers a total of four online master’s in communication programs through two separate departments. The school’s Department of Communication Studies has an online Master of Arts in Communication Studies degree path with a specialization in corporate and organizational communication. Referred to as the MA in Corporate and Organizational Communication, this program requires 36 credit hours, with most students graduating in two years. Coursework is delivered through asynchronous instruction, by the same faculty who teach in WVU’s campus-based master’s program. All students complete the same 12 courses (two three-credit courses each semester), including Communication in the Organization, Organizational Research and Evaluation, Conflict in Professional Life, Social and Digital Media Management, Leadership, and Diversity in the Workplace. In their final semester, students take a capstone course entitled Case Studies in Organizational Communication and create an original case study demonstrating their mastery of topics covered in the program.
WVU offers three additional online master’s degrees in communication through its Reed College of Media: a Master of Science in Data Marketing Communications (DMC) and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Touted as “the nation’s first master’s degree focused specifically on the impact of data in marketing communications,” the DMC program explores how data science can be used to shape, improve, and measure marketing campaigns. It is entirely online, with no on-campus requirements, and designed to be completed in as little as 16 months. Students move through the program in a cohort, taking 10 courses for a total of 30 credit hours. Core courses in the DMC specialization include Brand Data Collection and Visualization, Social Media Optimization, Audience Segmentation, Data Management Platforms, Message Customization, Campaign Planning and Programmatic Media Buying, Campaign Metrics and Assessment, and Messaging for CRM. After their core courses, students progress to their capstone course, which requires them to create and present a marketing communications campaign for an actual industry client, using the data-driven processes and methodologies they learned in their classes.
The online IMC master’s program at WVU helps prepare graduates to take a holistic approach to communication, integrating multiple disciplines (e.g., public relations, advertising, digital media, direct marketing) to create consistent messaging for a company or organization. Much like the DMC program, courses are delivered entirely online, with students taking ten courses for a total of 30 credits to receive their degree. The IMC curriculum consists of three core courses in Marketing Research and Analysis, Audience Insight, and Brand Equity Management, after which students take two Specialty Courses, choosing from classes in Creative Strategy and Execution, PR Concepts and Strategy, Emerging Media and the Market, and Direct and Digital Marketing. Students then choose three electives from over 20 available courses, including Healthcare Marketing, Global Brand Communication, Sports Marketing, Crisis Communication, Digital Storytelling, and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in IMC. The final course in WVU’s online IMC program (IMC Campaigns) requires students to complete a capstone project, where they employ everything they learned in their studies to solve an actual marketing issue for a real-world client. In addition to having the flexibility to choose electives and specialty courses according to their interests and goals, students also have the option of adding an Area of Emphasis (AOE) to their degree, in areas such as data marketing communications, creative strategy, digital and social media, healthcare communication, public relations leadership, and higher education marketing.
Finally, West Virginia University offers an online Master of Science in Digital Marketing Communications. This accelerated degree program is comprised of 10 courses that students take entirely online. These courses cover the introductory principles of digital marketing communication; the key technologies for mobile marketing, social media, and web metrics and search engine optimization; digital storytelling and digital video production; and audience research and analysis, campaign management and metrics assessment, and customer engagement. Students’ final graduation requirement is a digital marketing communication campaign for a selected client; through this capstone, students complete industry research and develop innovative solutions to real-world media and marketing challenges. In addition, students complete two Hootsuite certifications upon completion of their capstone–the Hootsuite Platform Certification and the Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification.
In addition to the online degree programs available at WVU, students in West Virginia can decide to enroll in an online master’s in communication program from an out-of-state college or university. Many schools nationwide accept online students from West Virginia, offering residents a wider range of program options and specializations to choose from. It is important to note, however, that not all schools are authorized to enroll students from every state. Furthermore, some online programs may include certain campus-based requirements, such as in-person orientations, hands-on training sessions, networking events, or other related activities. When researching online master’s in communication programs, students should check with an admission advisor to make sure they are eligible for enrollment, as well as inquire about any mandatory campus visits. In an effort to help prospective students, MastersinCommunications.com defines an online program as one that requires a maximum of two campus visits per year.
To learn more about earning a master’s degree in communication online, and see a comprehensive list of programs offered by schools in the United States, check out our Online Master’s in Communication Degree Programs page.
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West Virginia University(Morgantown)
Learn more about the online Master of Science in Data Marketing Communications program - visit marketingcommunications.wvu.edu
Interview with Chad Mezera - West Virginia University
Learn more about the online Master of Science in Digital Marketing Communications program - visit marketingcommunications.wvu.edu
Online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (with Specializations in Creative Strategy, Data Marketing Communications, Digital and Social Media, Healthcare Communication, Higher Education Marketing, Management, and Public Relations Leadership)Interview with Chad Mezera - West Virginia University
Learn more about the online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications program - visit marketingcommunications.wvu.edu