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What is an MBA in Communications

Communications professionals are masters at delivering a company’s unique message to a specific target audience. An MBA in Communications gives you a solid foundations in business principles while specializing in public relations, marketing, advertising, and interpersonal communications.

The skills needed to navigate the complex world of communications and PR are ever-changing. With most businesses having a digital marketing strategy in place, MBA in Communications graduates will be managing inbound marketing campaigns for startups, non-profits, and Fortune 500 companies.

There is a shortage of communications courses in MBA programs. The Master of Arts in Communication/MBA dual degree program was developed to fill that need. This degree program prepared graduates for leadership positions in corporate communication departments.

MBA in Communications Vs Masters Degree in Communications

Whether you choose the MBA in Communications Management route or the more specialized M.A. in Communications, both programs will teach B-students how to manage the campaigns for public and media relations, advertising, crisis communications, organizational development and risk communications.

The need for communications professionals in pretty much every field has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. From social media marketing campaigns to running a branding campaign for a product development team, there’s ample opportunity to find a specific niche in communications management.

The key difference between an MBA in Communications Management and an M.S. in Communications is the number of graduate credits one takes in business courses versus spending the majority of the program in communications coursework. If you’re looking for a more analytical/quantitative approach to strategically managing a business, then pursuing an MBA in Communications may be the preferred route. If you see yourself managing a marketing department and want to be highly specialized in corporate communications, the M.S. in Communications may be better suited. The M.S. is more narrowly focused whereas an MBA provides its students with a more comprehensive framework on the study of business.

MBA in Communications Management

Outside of your coursework in public relations, digital marketing, interpersonal communications, and consumer branding, MBA in Communications Management students will study economics, accounting, finance, and human resources. Whether it’s managing product marketing budgets or leading a social media marketing team, you will have a better understanding of budgets, strategy, and the interdepartmental collaboration with an MBA in Communications Management. You will have a firm grasp on the macro-level business decisions being made.

An MBA in Communication Management prepares you to run a content team. In the digital marketing world, social media managers are responsible for running a team of inbound content strategists. That means coming up with a unique strategy that delivers the company’s message to a specific target audience using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. Each platform has a unique strategy on when, how, and where to post the company’s content. During your MBA in Communications program, you will not only develop the content for a digital marketing campaign, but learn how to conduct a strategic plan of attack prior to launching the campaign.

MS in Communications

From qualitative research methods, public relations principles, to understanding your target audience and best practices for social media, the M.S. in Communications has a more theoretical approach to studying communications. You will be conducting research papers and analyzing case studies. You’ll learn how to properly communicate with customers, colleagues, and business partners and integrate highly effective interpersonal skills in order to develop as a team leader throughout the program.

What Skills Do Successful Communications Managers Need

Sector Description
Interpersonal Skills As an MBA in Communications student, you’ll be developing media campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. In order to be a successful communications professional, you’ll have to dive deep into what makes the end consumer tick. You’ll have to differentiate yourself from competitors by being able to reach the target consumer on an entirely different level.
Quantitative Proficiency A great marketing, PR professional, advertising exec, etc. knows the numbers like the back of their hand. Running an effective marketing campaign versus an unsuccessful one may be the difference between a quantitative leader and a qualitative leader. In other words, greater marketers have conducted a market analysis and looked at projections. They make decisions based on the numbers and not just hunches.
Creative Communications professionals have a flair for thinking outside the box. They tap into their imaginations and turn their thoughts into reality. Whether it’s putting together an super creative blog article that goes viral or a logo that encapsulates the brand perfectly, creative skills go a long way in the communications field.
Problem Solving Skills Problem Solving Skills – and problem solving is part of the job description. Whether it’s making sure a new product launches in time for the holiday promotion or the sales department gets the latest spec sheet in time for the sales competition, your job will be to hit deadlines and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Flexibility The most effective communications managers anticipate change ahead of time. They are flexible enough to adjust to various departmental requests and know that a marketing strategy is a work in progress. Things change at a rapid pace and communications managers may need to learn a new skill, alter their traditional way of doing things, or scrap everything in order to complete a project.
Forward-thinking Marketers should be holding a crystal ball at all times. They need to be one step ahead of the competition, the customers, and industry changes. Communication professionals are always learning the latest industry trends and need to evolve with the digital world. The marketing professional who can forecast with the best of them will always be employed.
Leadership Communications Managers are more than just content creators, marketing strategists, and advertising executives. They are the spokespeople for the company, managers of departments, and disseminators of critical information. Since they interact with all company stakeholders, they need to be professional, ethical, and lead by example.

Typical Responsibilities for Communications Managers

The typical responsibilities for a communications manager include: developing a strategic branding campaign for the product/services the company offers, collaborating with the marketing team to develop a content strategy for all social media accounts, managing the public relations of the company’s most pertinent information, and finally, designing a corporate communications strategy that aligns the company’s mission statement with their ideal target audience. This is no easy job description and usually involves the collaborative efforts of the following departments: marketing, advertising, sales, customer service, public relation, supplier operations, logistics and others.

How Much Do Communications Mangers with an MBA Earn

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the upper 10% of marketing managers earned more than $187,199. This is the same for managers in both advertising and promotions. Market research analysts in the top 10% earned more than $116,740. The mean salary for marketing manager is $140,660.

The median annual salary for popular careers in marketing include:

Sector Avg. Salary
Advertising Manager $123,450
Public Relations Manager $101,510
Marketing Manager $123,450

 

According to PayScale.com, the majority of marketing communication directors earned a salary between $40,928 and $132,708 with the highest salaries going to those with branding and management experience. This may be a case for pursuing an MBA in Communications over the M.S. in Communications. Management experience has a direct impact on your salary potential.

Career Outlook for MBA Communications Managers

Job Outlook Comparison Through 2024

Sector Avg. Salary
Sales Management 5% (slower than average)
Public Relations Management 7% (as fast as average)
Advertising Management 9% (a little faster than average)
Market Research Analyst 19% (much faster than average)
Marketing Management 9% (a little faster than average)

 

The future is bright for those who want to enter the marketing field. According to the BLS, jobs for marketing managers is expected to grow by 9% through the year 2024. Those with strong experience in marketing research and managerial experience will see the greatest opportunities.

What Can I Do with an MBA in Communications

Whether it’s public and media relations, advertising, crisis communication, organizational development, or risk communication, there are plenty of pathways for aspiring communication managers. Social Media/Digital Marketing has opened the doorway to many new career paths including Social Media Manager, Content Strategist, Copywriter, Digital Marketing Manager, and Creative Director roles. Here is a snapshot of the industry paths one can take in marketing:

  • Public and Media Relations
  • Advertising
  • Crisis Communication
  • Organizational Development
  • Risk Communication

With an MBA in Communications, graduates are not pigeon-holed to one career path in marketing, advertising, and PR. They have the background to manage most departments within an organization. The business foundation provides a solid overview of how a business functions. This is invaluable for graduates seeking positions in management.

Requirements for Entering into an MBA in Communications Program

Even though most MBA programs recommend a few years of professional work experience prior to gaining acceptance into B-school, that is not always the case. Applicant’s will need to have their bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college and scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Most AACSB-accredited B-schools require completions of certain prerequisites prior to gaining admission into MBA programs. That may include coursework in statistics, finance, and/or economics.

Typical Curriculum for an MBA in Communications Program

Like most MBA programs, there required courses. They may include data analysis, financial accounting, interpersonal communications, business law & ethics, and organizational behavior. Courses specific to business communications can cover these topics:

  • Managerial communications: Focuses on building lasting relationships with clients, colleagues, and business partners.
  • Business writing: Focuses on how to effective communicate via the written word. This could encompass inter-office communications, copywriting, press releases, direct marketing materials, etc.
  • Persuasion: The ability to strategically communicate the features and benefits of a product and/or service to a third party for the sake of engagement.
  • Communications law: Defines the legal aspects of working in the marketing field, from intellectual property law to full disclosure agreements.
  • Interpersonal communications and interviewing: This focuses on the proper methods of interacting with others. Whether it’s negotiation, mediation, or persuasion, a course in interpersonal communication teaches students how to communicate effectively.

Elective Courses for an MBA in Communications

This is where the MBA in Communications gets fun. You’ll have the option of selecting a speciality in public relations, corporate communications, digital media, crisis communications, advertising, or executive branding. This is where you’ll hone in your skills as a marketing professional and pinpoint the career path you’d like to follow prior to graduation.

Cost of Tuition for MBA Programs in Communications

With only three on-campus MBA in Communications programs and two online programs, there’s a limited tuition range available to prospective students. The average on-campus tuition is $77,296.33 and the average online tuition is $77,296.33. According to Payscale, the average Marketing Manager salary is $62,650 per year. With most Marketing Director positions averaging six figures or more, there’s certainly an argument for pursuing the MBA in Communications degree. Two years of full-time study may yield an ROI on your investment if you consider your lifetime earnings and the salaries of executive level marketing professionals.

Campus Tuition

Online Tuition

GMAT Scores for MBA Programs in Communications

The average GMAT Score for all MBA in Communications programs is 525.00. This, by most standards, is an achievable score with a solid study plan for the GMAT. Even though most AACSB-accredited programs require a GMAT score as part of the admissions process, that is not the case for all B-Schools. In lieu of a solid GMAT score, an MBA admissions committee may consider a strong undergraduate performance and a solid professional portfolio as an indication for success as an MBA student.

Campus GMAT Scores

Online GMAT Scores

Student / Faculty Ratio for MBA Programs in Communications

The average MBA Student/Faculty Ratio for on-campus/traditional MBA programs is 3.10. That is 3.10 students for every professor for on-campus MBA in Communications programs. The number gets even better for the Online MBA program at1.96 students per professor. If you do decide to pursue the MBA in Communication, you are guaranteed a friendly student/faculty ratio which lends itself to great networking opportunities and a more collaborative environment with industry professionals. If you enjoy smaller classrooms and undivided attention from faculty members, this is a great program choice.

Campus Student/Faculty Ratio

Online Student/Faculty Ratio

Enrollment for MBA Programs in Communications

The benefits of a large student population is plenty of networking opportunities and collaboration with like-minded students. The downside is that there is a much more competitive environment and the possibility of getting lost in the shuffle versus being one of a few select majors. The average full time enrollment for on-campus MBA in Communications programs is 556 compared to average full time online enrollment of 134. Since marketing involves a lot of collaborative projects, it really depends on your learning style. Large enrollment classes can be a good thing if you prefer interacting with different students. Smaller enrollment classes can be beneficial if you want close ties to the same students throughout the program.

Campus Enrollment

Online Enrollment

Global Enrollment for MBA Programs in Communications

The marketing industry is thriving mostly due to the online presence of some of the top global companies. The best part about the digital marketing industry: there are no boundaries and you can reach customers in China with a well-targeted advertising campaign or surfers in California. If you want an MBA program that represents the world, you may want a program with a small percentage of students from the U.S. Just like most Fortune 500 companies, they like to hire employees from all over the world – mostly because this represents their customer-base. The same for an MBA program. Some of the best AACSB-accredited programs recruit from all over the world and yield some of the brightest business minds the world has to offer.

Campus Global Enrollment

Online Global Enrollment

Faculty Information for MBA Programs in Communications

Faculty, for most B-students, is the first exposure to their chosen field. Marketing professors are usually industry professionals with great networking opportunities. They are on the cutting edge of the latest technologies in the marketing industry and can share real-world experiences with their students. Full-time on-campus MBA in Communications program average 91 faculty members compared to 146 faculty members for on-campus part-time programs. The faculty for on-campus full-time MBA programs in Communications averages 87 doctorates. Simply put, if you choose to pursue an MBA in Communications, you will most likely be taught by a marketing academic armed with a terminal degree. In most cases, that usually comes with extensive professional experience.

Campus Faculty Numbers

Online Faculty Numbers

List of Campus and Online MBA Programs in Communications

  • The number of on-campus MBA Communications programs offered: 3
  • The number of online MBA Communications programs offered: 2

With only three on-campus MBA programs in Communications and just two online programs, prospective B-students have limited options. With that being said, if you attend an AACSB-accredited MBA in Communications program, you will be on the cutting-edge of the latest technologies the marketing industry has to offer. You will also have the advantage of a world-class business education not offered in a traditional M.S. in Communications program. This leaves your career path wide open to all industries and not limited to advertising, marketing, or public relations. You will have the strategic management skills to effectively lead most teams within an organization.

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About Keri Baker

Keri Baker is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based freelance copywriter and MBA-graduate who loves writing about productivity. When she’s not listening to productivity podcasts or researching Apple products, you can find her chasing her pups around or volunteering at the local homeless mission. Feel free to find Keri on Twitter or Instagram @techgirlpgh.