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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Business Communications

business degree

Explore a Master's Degree in Business Communications

Professional communicators work in a constantly evolving industry. Often, an undergraduate education isn't enough to keep up with the changing media landscape, technologies, and communication strategies necessary to do an effective job. That's where a master's degree in business communications comes into play. Those looking to advance their skills or seek promotions may turn to graduate study to develop their leadership and management skills in a business environment.

The exact focus and department will vary by school – in one, it may be a master's in managerial communication with a concentration in business; in another, it may be a master of communication management. Students may also come from a variety of backgrounds, such as marketing or public relations. Regardless, these programs are designed to provide students with a financial, legal, and ethical understanding of communication, contemporary communication management research, and its day-to-day implementation so that they can fulfill organizational goals, solve complex business problems and workplace conflicts, and become effective communicators.

Master's degrees in business communications generally range from one to two years. The exact length of a program will depend on how many credits are required to graduate, whether it's full- or part-time, and the student's prior education and experience.

Class Curriculum

A master's degree in business communications will feature a blend of business and communication classes. The exact classes you take will vary by the school and program focus, but students can expect to gain a foundation in business areas like financial accounting, economic analysis, and data analysis for decision making, and communications research, ethics, and law. Additionally, students may also have public relations and marketing classes to choose from, such as advertising planning, direct marketing, consumer behavior, and brand management. More general skills-based classes may cover conflict and negotiation, business writing, and writing and presenting with authority and purpose. Here are three examples of common business communications courses:

  • Management of Organizational Behavior. This course provides an understanding of the different theoretical and conceptual views of analyzing and controlling behavior in organizations. Students may practice diagnosing and resolving behavioral and organizational problems related to management functions, individual differences, group conflict, and work/life interface.
  • Communication Technology. Students in this course investigate 21st century developments in communication technologies as they relate to electronic collaboration, social networking, idea sharing, and knowledge building. Students may experiment with new communication tools and analyze studies pertaining to the impact of rapidly changing methods of communication on organizational cultures.
  • Marketing Strategy. This course covers the key concepts and issues in developing and choosing a marketing strategy. This includes such topics as market planning; segmentation and target marketing; channels of distribution; consumer behavior; competitive analysis; pricing, demand analysis, and forecasting; promotion; sales management; and product decisions.

Master's degree programs in business communications tend to be a mix of lectures and classroom discussions. In an online environment, these discussions often take place in online message boards. Often instructors will provide students with case studies and ask them to apply the theories and concepts they've learned in class to form strategic plans that address the situation in the case study. Students can expect both research-based and practice-based assignments. Before the end of the program, students often have to complete a capstone course where they work on a project that demonstrates their understanding and skills by identifying, analyzing, and proposing solutions to a managerial communication problem in the workplace and present it.

Building a Career

Graduates of business communications programs have developed their analytical, critical-thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, negotiation, and, of course, communication skills. They also leave with a foundation in financial, accounting, and marketing practices. Armed with this training, they should be prepared to pursue management-level careers. Depending on the student's previous education and work experience, they may advance to managerial positions in the areas of marketing, advertising, public relations, corporate reputation management, and internal communications – pretty much any field that relies on both effective communication and business acumen.

Job availability and salary will vary slightly based on what field graduates pursue, in addition to their own experience, location, and the state of the economy. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of public relations managers is expected to grow by 16% from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations, and the median annual wage for the profession was $91,810. Employment of marketing managers is expected to grow around the same pace – by 14% – according to the BLS, while the median annual wage for the profession was slightly higher at $112,800.