Top 30 Cheap Online Master’s In Communications Degree Programs

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Online Master’s In Communications

By BVS Staff
July 2020

There are plenty of reasons someone might return to school to earn an accredited master’s degree in communications online. Maybe you consider it a stepping stone toward earning a Ph.D., or perhaps you’re looking to improve your skills (and expand your job prospects) in a specific area of communication, such as journalism or public relations (PR). Or perhaps you work in a different field – such as business – and you want to learn about organizational or strategic communication as a way to strengthen your job performance.

Whatever your reason, going to school online provides a convenient way for you to earn your degree without quitting your day job. That way, you can continue to gain on-the-job experience at your current place of employment while simultaneously preparing for the next phase of your career.

Note: This article contains sponsored links. These are designed to help you connect with programs easily.

The 30 Best Online Communications Master’s Degrees Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer master’s degrees in communications online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online master’s in communication degree programs and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: Out of all master’s degree students, how many enroll in a communications-related program (such as journalism, PR, or general comm)? That is, how successful are the communications departments at attracting students to their programs over other options available at the school? To find out, we considered both the number of students who earned their master’s degree in communications (or a related subject) in the 2015-16 school year as well as what percentage those students comprised of the entire graduating class.
  • Concentrations: What sort of academic variety and customization opportunities does each provide? This is an especially important consideration for communications professionals because the industry spans so many different subdisciplines (public relations, marketing, strategic comm, etc.). To test this metric, we looked at how many total concentrations each school’s program(s) offer if any.
  • Online Accessibility: How many online communications master’s degree programs does each school offer? Having multiple online programs grants students the flexibility to tailor their education to their interests and provides greater choice in online communications-related electives.
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap master’s degrees in communications online below!

Cheap Online Master’s in Communications Degree Programs Ranked

Rank School Location
1 Ball State University Muncie, IN
2 Lasell College Newton, MA
3 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
4 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO
5 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
6 Montana State University-Billings Billings, MT
7 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, PA
8 Drury University Springfield, MO
9 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
10 Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte, NC
Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    Given that it runs a well-established school of journalism, it's no surprise that Ball State University earns a spot on this online master's in strategic communications ranking. With three M.A. options - Journalism, Public Relations, and Emerging Media Design and Development - just about any communications-oriented student should be able to find a degree that meets their interests. While the first two programs are relatively common, the latter track offers an innovative alternative for professionals who want to explore cutting-edge industry trends. The curriculum addresses the "two-way storytelling" inherent in social media while teaching you how to engage audiences through compelling stories. Note, however, that it uses a hybrid format, with on-campus workshops once per semester (both other programs are fully online).

  2. Lasell College
    Location

    Newton, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    Designed for working adults with busy schedules, Lasell College's M.S. in Communications is both flexible and customizable. Have time to spare? Opt for a 12-month program. Too many obligations? Go for the 24-month option instead. Plus, you can choose one of three highly focused concentrations as you earn this top online communications master's degree: Public Relations, Integrated Marketing Communication, or Health Communication. The latter is a rather rare find on this list. Students in this track learn how to effectively communicate important ideas related to health policy and public health.

  3. Webster University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    With four accredited online master's in communication degree programs, Webster University has a pathway to match nearly any career goal. At this St. Louis school, you can earn a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications, Communications Management, Media Communications, or Public Relations. Communications Management stands out as one of the more unique options. This high-level program helps you become an efficient project manager and strategic thinker. But no matter which option you choose, you'll appreciate the school's broad range of elective courses, which can help bring additional areas of focus to your work.

  4. Missouri State University-Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    If cost is a crucial factor as you decide where to earn an accredited Master of Arts in Communication online, you'll want to consider Missouri State University-Springfield. Not only is this M.A. competitively priced, with tuition averaging just under $7,900, but the school also offers scholarships that can further offset your bottom line. While some scholarships require applicants to meet very specific criteria - involvement in applied research, for example - others simply ask you to demonstrate financial need and maintain a specified GPA. Even if cost isn't a major concern, you'll want to give the school a look for the opportunity to specialize in some hard-to-find areas, such as conflict communication.

  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    With its eight yearly start dates, fully asynchronous coursework, and multiple capstone options, Liberty University offers the chance to earn an eminently flexible, top master's degree in communications online. No matter your goals - whether it's to prepare for doctoral study or simply enhance your skills - you can tailor this program to help you achieve them. Not only does the curriculum incorporate ample electives, but it also gives you a choice between three capstone experiences (a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam). The Virginia school will also appeal to students of faith, thanks to its Christian affiliation and courses that integrate biblical teachings into the subject matter ("Communication in Nonprofit and Christian Ministry," for example).

  6. Montana State University-Billings
    Location

    Billings, MT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    Aspiring public relations professionals in the Big Sky state would do well to consider Montana State University-Billings. Not only can you earn the school's accredited master's degree in communications online, but you can also incorporate evening classes to create a personalized hybrid program. This flexibility also extends to the curriculum as a whole; here, you'll have your pick of four emphases: Public Relations Theory and Practice, Health Communication, Political and Public Communication, and Media and Society. These targeted options incorporate plenty of industry-specific courses, ensuring you'll leave with the training you need to stand out in your field.

  7. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Edinboro, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    At the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, you have plenty of ways to customize your degree. First, you'll choose one of four concentrations: Integrated Marketing Communication, Intercultural and International Communication, Managerial and Leadership Communication, or Public Communication. Next, you'll decide whether you want to pursue an internship as you earn this top online communications master's degree. Finally, you'll select a capstone option. You can write a thesis paper, take a comprehensive exam, or participate in a practicum at a communications firm (such as your current place of employment). No matter your path, you'll appreciate the broad curriculum, which incorporates ample coursework in theory, research, and communications ethics.

  8. Drury University
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    Test-averse students, take note: You don't need to complete the GRE to apply for Drury University's cheap Master of Arts in Communication online program. That's not the only benefit of this Massachusetts-based school, however. There's also the price: Tuition averages just over $8,500, and locals can apply for graduate assistantships to further reduce their costs. On the academic front, Drury boasts two narrowly defined emphases: Integrated Marketing Communications and Organizational Leadership and Change. Both consist of 24 credit hours in core coursework plus another six in electives. And while Drury doesn't require an internship for either option, you can pursue one for course credit (with faculty approval, of course).

  9. University of Memphis
    Location

    Memphis, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    The University of Memphis has earned accolades for its online programs from a multitude of education-oriented websites, so it's no surprise that the school also appears on our online master's in strategic communications ranking. Designed for working professionals, UM's communications program offers a fully online curriculum in four emphases: Integrated Strategic Media, News and Storytelling, Research, and Visual Media. It also gives you the option to complete a practicum, a professional project, or a thesis as your capstone. Another perk? You can complete a Prior Learning Assessment to earn credits for previous professional and other life experiences.

  10. Queens University of Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Website
    Queens University of Charlotte offers a broadly applicable and affordable online master's in communication degree program that puts a strong emphasis on developing a brand identity. Among other topics, you'll learn how to harness emerging media, hone your leadership skills, and develop comprehensive communications plans for an organization. If you want to further refine the degree, you can add the optional concentration in Integrated Digital Strategy. Comprised of four classes, the concentration explores digital communications technology and culminates in a "digital intervention," which you'll design for a real-world organization of your choice.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 top cheap online communications master’s degree programs!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator

See also:

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