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Advance With A Master’s Degree In Communication

Earn your master’s degree in Communications entirely online at Northern Arizona University and gain the skills and credentials to advance or change your career. Advance your skills in creating dynamic presentations, writing extensive reports and leading teams to effectively increase productivity. You can customize this online master’s degree program to fit your professional goals and apply your thesis project toward your current profession.

Pursue Your Communications Degree Entirely Online

Through NAU’s well-respected Communications online master’s degree program, you’ll develop a range of public speaking, writing, multimedia and interpersonal skills you can immediately apply to your work and career. Graduates from this program often obtain leadership roles in human resources, business management, public policy and administration, public relations or marketing.

Leadership roles in communications-related fields are expected to see exponential job growth through 2020. Potential careers include:

  • Communications Director
  • Director of Fundraising and Public Relations
  • Director of Strategic PlanningMarketing
  • Publicist

Catalog Information

Learn more about the program options by viewing the catalog information below. Catalog information is displayed for the 2017-2018 academic year.


Campus Locations

globe This program is available Online
Degree Information
36 units
Maximum Transfer Units
Additional Admission Requirements - Additional Application

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Additional Admission Requirements Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The MA in Communication provides students with advanced skills in communication analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, research, theoretical application, argumentation, and written communication.  Students choose from either the MA in Communication (with no emphasis) or the MA in Communication with an emphaiss in Documentary Studies.
The MA in Communication provides a foundation of the basic research methods, theories, and standards of argument in the academic study of communication.  Students explore theories and research in a variety of communicative contexts with an emphasis on the application of concepts, theories, and research to real-world issues.  Students will be able to access, understand, evaluate, and apply research, concepts, and theories.  Students will engage in original research and/or the application of existing research, concepts, and theories to specific situations for the purpose of problem-solving and/or evaluation, including effective message design.  Students will learn the expectations of academic argument in communication as well as how to effectively communicate their findings to diverse audiences.  The MA in Communication (with no emphasis) will be of relevance to working professionals in a variety of fields, educators, activists, and those preparing to pursue a PhD in Communication, Communication Studies, Rhetoric, or related disciplines.
The Documentary Studies emphasis provides a solid grounding in the theoretical, critical, and practical traditions that inform documentary work.  Students engage in intensive research and fieldwork, professional production skills in storytelling, and learn to critically analyze media in terms of both content and craft.   Particular attention is given to the role of documentary as social critique and bringing untold, under-reported, and under-represented issues and peoples into the public eye.  The program is ideally suited to prepare students for today's world of cutting-edge multimedia journalism, documentary work, as well as preparation for PhD programs in cinema and media studies.

Student Learning Outcomes
 Core Student Learning Outcomes

  • Learn and apply basic research methods in Communication scholarship.
  • Demonstrate ability to plan, conduct, and disseminate a research project in human communication.
  • Understand, synthesize, and explain the historical development of Communication as an academic field of inquiry.
  • Integrate and apply knowledge of communication theories to multiple contexts of human communication.
  • Utilize communication constructs, theories and concepts to define, evaluate, and manage real-world problems, conflicts, and events.
  • Develop skills in constructing and presenting messages to diverse audiences.
    Communication Studies Emphasis Learning Outcomes
  • Demonstrate ability to plan, conduct, and disseminate a research project in human communication.
  • Understand, synthesize, and explain major research methods in Communication Studies.
  • Integrate and apply knowledge of communication theories to multiple contexts of human communication.
  • Develop skills in constructing and presenting messages to diverse audiences.
Documentary Studies Emphasis Learning Outcomes
  • Engage a theoretical and historical understanding of documentary as rooted in the traditions of creative storytelling and social critique.
  • Apply heightened skills of observation, critical thinking, and creativity to the stories of untold, under-reported, and under-represented issues and peoples; bring these stories to the public eye.
  • Create and distribute a variety of documentary projects in different forms at an advanced level to diverse populations.
  • Realize that production tools and techniques are a means to author a unique point of view shaped by the documentarian's philosophical sensibilities and ways of seeing the world.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Writing sample
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
Master's Requirements

  • Select one of the following:
    Communication Elective Coursework: (18-21 units) 
    • Elective Coursework is chosen in consultation with your advisor
      • Courses may include, with advisor approval, up to 9 units of coursework outside of Communication and Communication Studies.
      • No more than 6 units of individualized studies as independent studies, directed readings, and research are allowed in the student’s coursework.
  • OR

    Documentary Studies Emphasis (21 units)

    • COM 535 (3 units)
    • COM 550 (3 units)
    • COM 605 (3 units)
    • Additional coursework chosen in consultation with a graduate faculty advisor. Select elective courses from any graduate program at NAU that will help provide you the research tools, specialization, knowledge, and intercultural understanding for documentary work. Such disciplines could include, but are not limited to: anthropology, communication, environmental science, ethnic studies, women’s and gender studies, sociology, among others. (9-12 units)
    All students will select either the Thesis or Project Option (3-6 units)

    Thesis Option
    • COM 699 (6 units). Be aware that students may end up taking more than the 6 units that count toward the degree, as enrollment in COM 699 is required each fall and spring semester once a student begins the thesis until the student graduates. Additionally, students must enroll for at least 1 unit of COM 699 the semester in which they plan to defend and graduate, including summer, regardless of the number of units already taken. (6 units)
    Project Option
    • COM 690 (3 units).  Be aware that students may end up taking more than the 3 units that count toward the degree, as enrollment for at least one credit of COM 690 may be required each semester in which a student works on a project.  Students in the Documentary Studies Emphasis may also be required to take 3 additional units of COM 690, which will count toward their elective requirements.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
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Department Information
Learn more about this program and the School of Communication.