Political Communication is the study of how people communicate within the context of politics. It provides an understanding and grasp the function and relevance of media, journalism, and information in forming public opinion and disseminating information. The primary aim of political communication is often to inform audiences about issues in the public sphere and to influence their opinions so that they may inform the public and encourage civic participation. Communication that is clear and persuasive is critical in all aspects of government operations, policy formulation, political lobbying, and social change initiatives. Political communication, which includes everything from political campaigning to policy development and educating the public about public affairs, is one of the foundations of our society and the numerous ways by which many of its essential systems, such as justice, education, and health care systems, operate and function.
An online master’s in political communication degree program is a graduate-level study of understanding how communication affects people’s behavior on a local, national, and global scale, effectiveness of political campaigns, the impact of social media on voting patterns, and advocacy for environmental and public health issues.
University of Florida (UF) is a public, accredited university based out of Gainesville, Florida, and is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the country. UF has a 2,000-acre campus with more than 900 buildings and currently serves more than 50,000 students. UF has robust online learning programs that are flexible, taught by top industry faculty, and provide unparalleled networking and personal growth opportunities. UF graduates are proud members of the Gator Nation of more than 450,000 living alumni who reside in every state and in more than 150 countries.
UF’s College of Journalism and Communications offers an Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Political Communication that transforms students to become digital political professionals using cutting-edge digital advertising, engagement, and analysis techniques. This unique program prepares students to navigate politics and communication using digital tools in modern political campaigning environments to increase political engagement and drive change.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.
SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.
It is a daunting task to look for the perfect college. There are so many factors to consider against a ranking, such as the infrastructure of the college, quality and experience of teaching staff, research facilities, availability of student support services and career guidance, accreditation, affordability, and more. Based on these and a host of other critical factors, here is a list of the best master’s in political communication programs online, drawn up by OMC teams:
What to expect from the Online Master’s Degree in Political Communication?
A master’s in political communication falls under the larger umbrella of communication studies in almost all cases. Political communication is usually one of the specialization areas or concentrations of a master’s in communication degree. Therefore, much of the coursework is common to that program, with specific courses related to political communication added in.
An online master’s degree in political communication investigates the continuously evolving relationship between the media, politics, and the general public, as well as how these overlapping relationships influence democracy and power distribution in contemporary society. Aspects of contemporary political communication addressed by the program include the function of spin, public relations, political reporting in the media, agenda-setting, the use of digital media, and political advertising. The impact of various political communication tactics on the political process, government policymaking, and the non-governmental sector are examined in the various courses of this program.
A typical online master’s degree in political communication consists of core courses, elective courses, and one or two capstone projects. Some programs may include a thesis or a brief internship. Here is a list of some of the courses students can expect in the curriculum of a political communication masters:
Social Theories of Power, Culture and Communications
Global Media, International Governance and Transnational Communication
Political Parties, Party Ideologies, and Party-Member Dynamics
Citizenship and Public Engagement
Emerging Communication Technology
Fundamentals of Political Engagement
Research Methods & Practice in Communication
Introduction to Digital Political Campaigning
Government Communication Systems and Media Management
Economic, Financial and Industrial Policy
The Policy Process and Government Decision-Making
Public Relations, Political Marketing and Spin
Politics and Culture
Social Media Metrics
Media Sociology and News Production
Comparative Media Systems
Public Opinion and Public Sphere Debates
Mass Communication Research Methods
Applications of Political Communications
Interest Groups, Social Movements, and Alternative Media
Media Audiences, Effects, and Agenda-Setting
New Technologies and The Information Society
Digital Media and Online Politics
Advocacy, Civil Society and Public Affairs
Speech Writing, Persuasion, & Propaganda
Theories Of Communication and Democratization
Some of the electives typically found in an online masters in political communication include but are not limited to:
Content Development & Strategy
Strategic Planning and the Managerial Process
Internship in Public Relations
Entrepreneurship and Creative Problem Solving
Sports as Soft Power
Sports, Culture and Society
Negotiation and Group Process
Project Management and Communication
Seminar in Public Relations
Types of Master’s Degree in Political Communication
There are predominantly two types of political communication degrees – the Master of Arts in Political Communication, or MA Political Communication, and the Master of Science in Political Communication, or MS Political Communication.
Master of Arts in Political Communication The Master of Arts or MA in political communication is an interdisciplinary degree that includes liberal arts and humanities studies. This type of degree typically includes basic courses that focus on political communication theory and methodologies, as well as a modern language. The online MA in political communication degree is designed for people who want to continue their education with a Ph.D. degree in political communication and/or pursue a career in academia.
Master of Science in Political Communication The Master of Science or MS in political communication is a scientific and technical-oriented degree that includes mathematics and science subjects. Core classes in political communication theory and research, as well as math, science, statistics, and calculus, make up this degree type. The online MS in political communication degree is designed for students who want to pursue a doctoral degree in political communication and/or enter take-up jobs in the field right after graduation.
Areas of Specializations for Online Masters in Political Communication
An unconfirmed report cites that only 16 universities offer a master’s in political communication degree program, independent from a master’s in communication (general). Most programs available in this space are masters in communication with a major or concentration in political communication. Therefore, there are no specialization areas within political communication, although some colleges will require students to choose over 3 concentration courses to complete the program. Examples of such concentration courses include:
Public Affairs Communication
Utilizing Images: Media Literacy in Practice
Using Social and Digital Media
Digital Political Strategy
Communication Ethics in Action
Risk and Crisis Communication
International Public Relations and Public Diplomacy
Becoming a Press Officer
Public Relations Writing
Understanding Markets and Audiences
Public Policy Management & Advocacy
Communication in Practice
Spokesperson Development & Training
Health Literacy, Language and Culture
Many colleges offer other branches in communication that relate to political communication. While these are not specializations, they can make compelling alternatives. Some examples are:
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
Public Interest Communication
Why should I do a Master’s Degree in Political Communication?
A master’s in political communication degree program will examine how interactions between (non-)governmental officials, politicians, journalists, and citizens take shape, as well as the characteristics and impacts that these interactions have. Students will discover how social media promotes political engagement and how citizens’ use of media impacts political processes and outcomes, through study and research. They will learn who tries to sway the news, how strong the media actually is, and how this varies by country.
Usually, the political communication master’s program covers a wide range of topics, always considering current events and trends, and from an open, international, and comparative perspective. The advent of weblogs and citizen journalism, rising globalization, agenda-setting, and the framing of socially relevant issues by the media, politicians, spin doctors, and other stakeholders are examples of topics covered in this program.
Individuals who want to learn how conventional and social media influence political engagement and who have an interest in the interplay between the public, the media, and politics are best suited to take up a political communication master’s degree program. Among the skills, graduates of the program will acquire include the ability to:
construct well-thought-out arguments, synthesize pertinent data, and exercise critical judgment;
demonstrate extensive knowledge of the various types of communications and the context-dependent nature of strategic communication choices for political and social issues;
write political speeches based on multiple factors and contexts;
apply policy-relevant concepts, theories, and approaches to current challenges and situations;
gain knowledge and understanding of the most important legal, economic, and political communication and advocacy aspects in the United States and worldwide politics;
able to recognize, explore, analyze, formulate, and advocate for problem-solving solutions;
use broad theoretical and conceptual frameworks to analyze specific concerns and problems in domestic, regional, and international contexts; and
assess the interrelationships between the literature and methodology of public policy, politics, and international relations, as well as allied disciplines including law, political theory, economics, history, and sociology, as they pertain to political communication and lobbying.
How to get Online Masters in Political Communication?
The great majority of master’s in political communication online degree programs offered in the United States will have similar entry criteria. Students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than communications may be required to take preparatory courses in mathematics, statistics, and languages in addition to the more standard prerequisites. Some of the most important masters in political communication requirements are:
Application for Admission
Official Academic Transcripts
Undergraduate Degree (preferably in communications or a related discipline)
Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.8 on a scale of 4.0 (varies by school)
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Scores (required by some schools)
Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
Graduate Resume (that includes professional and educational history)
At least 2 Letters of Recommendation
Proof of English Proficiency (if the native tongue is or education was not in English)
Note: The requirements and prerequisites for admission differ by college and program. To learn more about the specific requirements, students should go through the college prospectus, contact the admissions office, or consult with the communications department at the school of their choice.
How long does it take to complete an Online Master’s Degree in Political Communication?
The length of a master’s degree in political communications varies based on the curriculum, program, and school chosen. Most online master’s in communication programs can be finished in less than two years as a general rule. Students with a solid background in languages and social sciences may be able to complete the degree more quickly. Some schools allow students to work part-time while earning their political communications master’s degree. This option may be ideal for working people, but it may take longer to complete the program. Aside from the program delivery mode, the selected courses and coursework load have a considerable impact on how long it takes to earn a master’s degree in political communications. Other factors to consider are whether asynchronous learning is available, which could lead to early graduation, or whether cohort learning is applied, in which students progress through their curriculum at the same time as their classmates and thus accumulate academic credits more slowly than asynchronous learning.
Listed below is a rough idea of how long an online master’s in political communication program might take:
Typical Length of a Full-Time Political Communication Master’s
1 to 2 years
Typical Length of a Part-Time Political Communication Master’s
2 Years or more
Number of Required Credits
30 to 40 (approximate)
Accreditation for Online Master’s Degree in Political Communication
Accreditation is a process that evaluates colleges and programs to ensure that they meet certain standards of quality. It is a way to ensure that students are getting the best education possible. Students who attend an accredited school or program can be sure that the institution has been thoroughly evaluated and meets certain standards of quality. Accreditation can make it easier to transfer credits between schools. It can also help students qualify for financial aid and scholarships and is usually required for some types of professional certification.
Regional accrediting bodies can accredit colleges, as long as they are approved by either or both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Here is a list of the six authorized regional accrediting bodies in the U.S.:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
The accreditation status of a school or program can be checked online on the official U.S Department of Education website or using a credible source like the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Apart from regional accreditation, political communication programs may also be programmatically accredited. A political communication degree that is accredited demonstrates that the institution has satisfied the precise standards for certification in political communications. An example of specialized accreditation is the Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), which accredits professional journalism and mass communications programs. Although it is preferable to have a specialist-accredited master’s degree, a degree from a regionally recognized college will also work just as well.
Online Masters in Political Communication no GRE/GMAT Programs
While many colleges have made Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores a criterion for admission to master’s degree programs, most colleges offering online master’s in political communications programs have relaxed or eliminated this requirement as a condition for enrollment. Here are a few examples of online master’s in political communication programs that do not require the GRE or the GMAT:
The American University The American University (AU) offers a Master of Arts in political communication that does not require the GRE for application to the program.
Emerson College Emerson College offers a Master of Arts in political communication and other communication degrees for which the GRE is not an admission requirement.
The George Washington University The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs offers a Political Communication major that does not require the GRE for enrollment. However, if an applicant feels that submitting scores for the GRE will strengthen their application, they are welcome to submit them.
Accelerated Online Master’s Degree in Political Communication
Some students like to complete their master’s degree in political communication as quickly as possible – faster than the usual 1 or 2 years it takes to graduate from the program. While some online master’s in political communication programs can be completed within one year, others take 15 to 18 months, which is shorter than the standard 24-month master’s degree. Another option available at some universities is a 4+1 program, which allows students to finish both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 5 years rather than the traditional 6 years. Here is an example of an online accelerated master’s degree in political communication:
Emerson College offers a combined Bachelor and Master of Arts in political communication that can be completed in a total of 5 years, instead of the standard 6 years. Additionally, this accelerated program does not require GRE scores for admission.
How to Pay for Online Masters in Political Communication Programs?
The greatest advantage of online education is that students can work while completing their degrees, which lowers certain educational costs. Although online students do not have to pay for transportation, books, or childcare while classes are in session, they are still required to pay tuition, which can be tens of thousands of dollars. However, online programs often have an advantage in that they give a uniform cost for all states in the country, while most colleges charge additional fees for students from out of state for traditional programs. Despite this, an online master’s degree in political communication may be out of reach for some students, with a typical program costing well over $18,000. Fortunately, the cost of a master’s degree in political communication can be paid for or greatly reduced by a variety of financial aid sources, including grants and scholarships. Examples of funding sources include:
In most cases, scholarships are stipends granted to deserving students in recognition of their academic achievement. There are several types of scholarships, but most are based on academic achievements and unique talents or skills, such as music, art, or sport. Most scholarship administrators employ several criteria to decide the size of the scholarship and the recipient. Students’ grades and test scores, as well as extracurricular and leadership activities, might be used to determine how much a student receives in scholarship amounts. (Read aboutScholarship Scams to avoid being scammed online.)
Grants are usually awarded based on a student’s financial background and need rather than merit or academic achievements. A wide variety of grants are offered, each with a specific purpose. For example, non-profits, foundations, and the federal government have traditionally offered grants to people with disabilities, members of certain communities, economically weak students, etc. Student housing, transportation, books, library fees, and research materials can all be paid for using grants.
Federally financed work-study programs provide students with part-time jobs, allowing them to earn money while enrolled in school. Using this service, students can save money while pursuing their higher education. Many schools and universities offer work-study positions, which students can apply for through their FAFSA.
As a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), students are often expected to assist in the classroom while receiving financial aid. To be a teaching assistant, one must put in the required number of hours each week and receive a monthly stipend or an hourly rate. Graduate teaching assistantships are often full-time work during the academic quarters, trimesters, or semesters of an academic program.
Another option for students to pay for their education is through student loans. Loans are provided by federal and private agencies, banks, and trusts. Unlike scholarships or grants considered ‘free money’ that does not need to be paid back, loans must be repaid, along with interest. The benefits of student loans may outweigh the drawbacks, but they might take years to pay off. Defaulting on repayments can lead to a huge debt burden.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a standardized form that applicants can fill in and submit to assess whether or not they are eligible for financial aid. More FAFSA-related information is available here.
Scholarships for Online Master’s in Political Communications
Each year, individuals, community and ethnic groups, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, universities, and government agencies award scholarships to qualified and deserving students who have demonstrated academic excellence. Scholarships are the first choice of financial aid students consider when applying for a master’s program. Here are a few that may suit online master’s in political communication students:
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) scholarships are granted to graduate students enrolled in 6 units or more at two- or four-year colleges or universities for the coming Fall or Spring school year. Students should intend to pursue a career in television and related fields and meet other criteria for eligibility.
Amount/Award: $500 to $5,000
Deadline: Closed for 2021 | TBA for 2022
Hans “Tom” Tuch PDC FellowshipThe Public Diplomacy Council (PDC) offers the Hans “Tom” Tuch PDC Fellowship annually to an outstanding graduate student at the American University (AU) in Washington, DC, in either the School of Communication or the School of International Service. The fellowship provides recipients with direct experience in public diplomacy while working closely with accomplished members of the PDC.
Amount/Award : Varies
Deadline : TBA
JCFS ScholarshipJCFS Chicago administers educational scholarship funds from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Scholarships are available to Jewish students who must demonstrate financial need and career promise in communications.
Amount/Award : Up to $4,000
Deadline : Closed for 2021 | TBA for 2022
Free Courses for Online Masters in Political Communication
Free courses available online are one of the best ways to increase knowledge on political communication, help when studying for an exam, or provide information for a capstone project. Although free courses do not lead to a master’s degree, they can help students enhance their communication abilities, develop interpersonal skills, gain confidence, and bring value to their efforts. Here are some free resources for students pursuing an online master’s degree in political communication:
Udemy offers some 130+ free courses across beginner, intermediate, and expert levels in various areas of general and political communication. Topics include How to Facilitate Effective Communication and Engagement, Communication Styles for Stronger Social Skills, Communication Styles for Stronger Social Skills, etc.
Coursera has several courses that are directly and indirectly related to political communication. Topics include Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling, Global Diplomacy: the United Nations in the World, Introduction to Contemporary Geopolitics, Digitalization in International Relations, and more.
Alison is home to several free courses related to political communication. Topics include Communication Skills for Foreign Audiences, Supervision – Effective Communication Skills, The Science of Language and Communication, Communication Skills – Perception and Non-verbal Communication, Early Political Philosophies and Ideologies, etc.
FAQs about Online Masters in Political Communication Programs
Q: How to get a master’s in political communication online?
A: Potential candidates who wish to pursue a master’s degree in political communication must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject of study. In addition, depending on the school, the applicant may be required to have some professional experience in the field of communication before being considered for admission. Students are awarded a master’s degree if they have completed all the required coursework and the capstone project.
Q: What are the best universities providing masters in political communication?
A: For masters in political communication, accredited universities are the best places to study. They provide high-quality and flexible programs, as well as a faculty that is both experienced and well qualified. A good example is the University of Florida which offers a 36-credit, 100% online degree program. On this page, you will find a list of the best universities where you could earn an online master’s degree in political communication.
Q: What can I do with a master’s in political communication?
A: Graduates with a master’s in political communication can work in various communication settings, including digital agencies with political clients, Government offices, political agencies, political campaign organizers, public advocacy, lobbying organizations, etc.
Q: How can I fund my master’s in political communication?
A: The cost of a master’s in political communication varies by school and program. Although the cost of online programs is usually less than traditional on-campus ones, in that they do not come with additional expenses such as meals, residence, travel, etc., the overall cost can be steep. Fortunately, students can look at financial aid through scholarships, grants, student loans, and more. Additional details are listed on this page.
Q: Should I get a masters in political communication?
A: Those who are inclined towards and interested in politics and passionate about working in the communication field would do well to consider an online master in political communication. With this degree, prospective students will gain the essential tools and skills required to succeed in the political arena and also acquire an understanding of working in various disciplines in communication such as public relations, international relations, digital media, and social interaction, among others.
Q: Can I get my masters in political communication degree online?
A: Yes. Several colleges across the country offer entirely online masters in political communication degrees. Some of the best ones are listed on this page.
Q: Is an online masters in political communication worth it?
A: Considering the various job opportunities versus the relatively lower educational costs, yes, a master’s in political communication is worth doing. This degree can lead to rich and rewarding careers, financially and in other ways.
Career Opportunities and Salaries after Online Masters in Political Communication
Upon graduating with a master’s in political communication online, individuals will be ready to take on a variety of roles in a wide range of settings, such as in government officers, digital agencies, firms with political clients, lobbying and public advocacy organizations etc. Another option for graduates is to work as communication consultants for numerous organizations ranging from local municipalities to the federal government and non-governmental organizations to ministries.
From a long list of career paths that graduates of a master’s in political communication can choose from, some options include:
Chiefs of Staff
Policy Analysts and Researchers
Interactive Media Developer
Public Affairs Managers
Communications Directors for Political Campaigns
Digital Media Analyst
Public Relations Strategists
Digital Strategy Managers
Media Consultants for National Grassroots Organizations
Certifications and Licensing for Online Masters in Political Communication
Professional certification, which can be obtained concurrently with or after completing an online master’s degree in communication, allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and competence while also showcasing their unique features and abilities. Individuals are interested and engaged in a lifelong learning process through certifications, which increases their professional development while also providing a foundation for keeping their skills current and relevant. Certifications combined with a master’s degree in political communication can lead to specific professions and enhanced employability, as well as promotions, advancements, and higher income. Although there are no specific certifications for political communication, students pursuing a master’s degree in political communication online can earn other communication-related certifications to prepare for specialized employment and advancement in their careers. Some of them include:
Communication Management Professional (CMP) The Communication Management Professional (CMP) certification was created by the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), a group of communication professionals convened by the international executive board of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). This certification is for communication professionals who are in the generalist or specialized stage of their careers. Those with 6 to 8 years of experience in the communications area are eligible to apply.
Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) Also created by the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), a group of communication professionals convened by the international executive board of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) credential is for communication professionals who are at the senior level in their careers. Those with 8 to 11 years of experience in the communications area are eligible for the certification.
Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) Credential The Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) designation is offered by the Career Directors International (CDI) Certified Industry Resume Specialist in 20 areas of competence that are arguably the most sought after in the resume industry. Certifications include Public Relations and Marketing Communications – (CRS+PR), Sales and Business Development – (CRS+BD), Administration and Clerical – (CRS+AC), and more.
Additional Resources for Online Masters in Political Communication
To be effective in the world of political communication, individuals must stay abreast with current affairs, political strategies, people’s sentiments, and more. Learning from past events and political moves also helps broaden one’s vision and drive the ability to plan well and wisely. Therefore, students and graduates of online masters in political communication must network with others in the field, dig into archives, stay up-to-date with the latest news, and tap into various other resources that may help them advance their careers. Here are a few resources as examples:
Europe Media Monitor (EMM) The Europe Media Monitor (EMM) is a fully automatic system funded by the European Union (EU) that collects approximately 300,000 news articles per day in up to 70 languages from countries all over the world, groups them into related categories, categorizes them into thousands of categories, extracts information, produces statistics and timelines, detects breaking news, and notifies users.
The American Presidency ProjectThe American Presidency Project is a fantastic site with a wealth of presidential material, including a completely searchable database of the Presidents’ Papers back to Washington, the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, and the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (2009-current). Party platforms dating back to 1840, convention speeches, candidate remarks, election debates dating back to 1960, executive orders and proclamations, presidential approvals dating back to 1941, vetoes, state of the union addresses, press briefings, and more are all available on this site.
EBSCO – Communication Source EBSCO provides libraries, healthcare and medical institutions, corporations, and government agencies with access to content and resources to meet their users’ and organizations’ information and workflow needs, from research to acquisition management to subscription services and discovery to clinical decision support and patient care to learning and research and development.
Political TV Ad Archive The Political TV Ad Archive is a project by the Internet Archive in conjunction with their TV News Archive. The archive comprises collected political TV ads in key markets during the 2016 election cycle, an impressive list of all ads collected with details of the airings, and detailed information of advertisements including the candidate, sponsor and type, number of airings, station, location, program type, negativity, etc.
National Communication Association (NCA) The National Communication Association (NCA) promotes and encourages communication as a field that explores all modes, forms, media, and ramifications of communication through social scientific, humanistic, and creative study. Those who belong to the NCA can pursue their professional interests in teaching, learning, and research with the help of the NCA. There are 11 academic publications, a career center, teaching and learning tools, and a campaign for public policy that the association publishes.
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