Answer: There are numerous master’s degree programs in communication and public relations that have 100% online instruction. Communication and public relations master’s degree programs can be segmented in three types: campus-based programs that offer all or most of their required coursework in a traditional classroom format; hybrid programs that provide a mix of online and on-campus instruction; and online programs that offer all or most of their coursework using distance learning technologies. Of the programs that are offered online, most are 100% online and do not require students to attend on-campus orientations, classes, residencies, or workshops. Indeed, only a limited number of communication and public relations master’s programs that are offered online require campus visits, and most master’s programs in communication and public relations do not include in-person internships or practicums as part of their curriculum.
Earning a master’s degree in communication or public relations is something that students can do in a traditional manner by enrolling in a program that requires attending regularly scheduled classed on a college or university campus when school is in session. However, there are also many options for earning a master’s in communication or public relations online through programs that utilize learning management systems (LMSs) to deliver all or most of coursework required for the degree. An LMS is a digital platform that delivers lectures and other course materials to students online through a secure Internet connection. Some online programs utilize synchronous instruction, which means that online classes are streamed live at regularly scheduled times, and other programs utilize asynchronous instruction, which does not have a real-time component and allows students to view lectures and access course materials 24-7. Most online programs utilize an LMS that supports online discussion forums and facilitates interactions between students and with instructors. Using these learning systems and instructional methods, schools are able to provide master’s level training and instruction in communication and/or public relations without requiring on-campus sessions.
While some online master’s programs incorporate a limited number of on-campus sessions – usually one or two per year – as part of their curricular requirements, campus visits are typically not required by communication and public relations master’s programs. Programs that require attendance at more than two campus sessions per academic year are generally classified as hybrid programs by OnlineEducation.com. A hybrid master’s in communication or public relations program is a program that provides students with a mix of online coursework and campus-based instruction. The ratio of online to on-campus learning in a hybrid master’s program varies by program.
For example, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University offers an online Master of Science in Communication with a Public Relations specialization that can be completed in roughly 15 months of full-time enrollment through mostly online coursework. However, the Syracuse program includes two in-person immersion sessions that students are required to attend, one at the university’s campus in Syracuse, NY, and a second at an off-campus location.
Northwestern University offers a hybrid Master of Science in Communication Leadership program that can be completed in one calendar year through a combination of online coursework and campus-based instruction. The Northwestern program features eight online courses plus a capstone project, and it requires students to attend four in-person residency seminars at the school’s campus in Evanston, IL. In contrast, the hybrid Master of Communication and Media Management program offered by Colorado State University (CSU) requires the completion of six core courses that meet once a week at the school’s Denver campus, plus an additional four elective courses that are taught online. Students in the CSU program can complete their degree in two years by taking one on-campus course and one online course per semester including summer sessions.
For students who would prefer the flexibility and convenience afforded by master’s in communication or public relations programs that are 100% online, there are many options. Indeed, the online programs detailed below represent only a sampling of master’s in communication and public relations that have 100% online instruction.
Purdue University Online offers a Master of Science in Communication program that is 100% online and that does not require campus visits. The program has designated concentrations in Strategic Communication/Public Relations and Integrated Communication and Advertising. Students also have the option of designing their own concentration through elective coursework. Students can complete the Purdue University Online program in as few as 20 months without having to attend on-campus sessions.
American University offers an online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication that has a general track and an optional concentration in Advocacy and Social Impact. The program can be completed in 20 months entirely through online coursework without required attendance at any on-campus sessions.
Johns Hopkins University offers an online Master of Arts in Communication that gives students the option of attending on-campus classes but that does not require campus visits. Students can choose to complete the program 100% online. The program has a flexible format that allows students to take up to five years to complete the graduation requirements, although most students complete the program in two years.
Queens University of Charlotte offers a Master of Arts in Communication program that has 100% online instruction. Students in the program have the option of enrolling in an Integrated Digital Strategy concentration or completing a general communication curriculum. The program can be completed in 24 months and does not require students to attend campus-based sessions.
The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management offers an online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations degree program that does not require students to attend on-campus sessions. The program has a flexible format that requires students to complete seven core courses and three electives. Students in the program have the option of participating in the school’s Global Residencies Program, which consists of a short-term study abroad course that includes one month of online coursework and a weeklong trip to study strategic public relations and political communication in a foreign country.
For more information about online master’s in communication and public relations program formats, including instructional methods, admissions policies, and coursework, refer to our Online Communication Degree Programs page.