QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ONLINE MASTER'S PROGRAM
- Who should apply for the program?
- Is the program delivered fully online?
- Is this a part-time or full-time program?
- Can I complete this degree while working?
- How long does it take to earn the degree?
- When can I start, and what is the academic calendar like?
- How challenging is the program?
- What are the differences and similarities between the on-campus and online master’s programs?
- How much time should I expect to spend on coursework?
- Can I transfer credits or grades from other institutions into the program?
- Can I take time off from the program once I begin?
- What career services and networking opportunities are provided?
- Will my diploma or transcript specify that this is an online degree?
- How are courses taught online?
- Are there particular class times when I must be online for the courses?
- Are courses self-paced?
- Are there any specific computer programs, software or online applications I must have knowledge of to be successful as a student?
- Will I have access to UNC-Chapel Hill resources?
- Who administers the program?
- Whom do I contact if I run into problems as a student?
- How can I learn more about the program?
- What is the difference between the M.A. in Digital Communication and M.A. in Technology and Communication?
QUESTION ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
- How do I apply?
- When is the application deadline?
- How does the two-deadline admissions process work?
- How many students do you accept each year into the program?
- When will candidates be notified about their acceptance into the program?
- How are graduate test scores, grades, letters of recommendations and personal statements evaluated for the admissions process?
- What if my undergraduate degree is not in communications, journalism or a related field? Will I still be considered for admission?
- Am I required to take the GRE to apply?
- How do you calculate an applicant’s years of full-time professional communications experience?
- How do I request a GRE waiver?
- If I qualify for a GRE waiver, may I still submit GRE scores?
- What are your minimum GRE score standards?
- Where and when should I take the GRE?
- When and how do I submit my GRE scores?
- Can I take the GRE exam more than one time?
- My official GRE scores will not be available until after the application deadline. Will this affect the review of my application?
- What is the application fee, and how do I pay?
- I cannot afford the application fee. Is it possible to request a waiver?
- What are the minimum requirements for admission?
- If I am an international student, must I take the TOEFL or IELTS exam?
- How are letters of recommendation submitted?
- May I submit more than three letters?
- Is a statement of purpose required? If so, how long should it be?
- How do I go about sending in my transcripts?
QUESTIONS ABOUT FINANACES
- What is tuition for the program?
- Is financial aid available to online students?
- How do I establish residency to qualify for in-state tuition?
- Is tuition tax deductible?
- Does UNC-Chapel Hill accept military tuition assistance?
- Does the UNC-Chapel Hill offer an installment payment plan?
- Is company/employer sponsorship available?
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ONLINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM
- What are the differences in UNC Hussman’s online certificate and master’s programs?
- Can I earn both the certificate and the master’s degree?
- What is the time limit for transferring credit from courses taken in the certificate program?
- Does completion of the certificate guarantee admission to the online master’s program?
- Do most online master’s students first complete the certificate?
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ONLINE MASTER'S PROGRAM
Who should apply for the program?
Our online master’s program is intended for mid-career professionals with three or more years of experience in a communication-related field who are seeking an immersion in digital media theory and application, knowledge of changing digital media business models and training in strategic communication decision-making to achieve an organization's mission. The program equips working professionals for leadership roles with challenging courses designed for career-minded students’ busy schedules.
Is the program delivered fully online?
Although the vast majority of instruction is delivered online, students are required to come to Chapel Hill for a two-day orientation before starting the program and for a weeklong residency in the summer between the first and second years. More information on these on-campus experiences is available on our curriculum page.
Is this a part-time or full-time program?
The online master’s is a part-time program. Students take a maximum of two courses in a semester.
Can I complete this degree while working?
Yes. The program is designed for working professionals, and students often focus their class projects on real-world workplace topics and challenges.
How long does it take to earn the degree?
The program is designed to be completed in 2.5 years.
When can I start, and what is the academic calendar like?
We enroll students once annually, to start the program in the fall semester. Semester-long courses operate on UNC-Chapel Hill’s standard academic calendar. The 15-week fall and spring semesters run from August to December and January through early May, respectively. The summer course lasts 10 weeks, from May to July.
How challenging is the program?
The online master’s program features a rigorous and unique curriculum of emerging theories and applications in digital communication. Courses are designed to provide students with concepts and skills as well as a thorough grounding in applied research and critical thinking.
What are the differences and similarities between the on-campus and online master’s programs?
Both programs feature the expert faculty and individual attention that are the hallmarks of graduate education at UNC Hussman. The on-campus, full-time M.A. in Media and Communication program is designed for students, regardless of their professional background, who want to dive deep into a specialized area of study. In contrast, the online M.A. in Digital Communication is designed specifically for working professionals with at least three years of communications experience who want to accelerate their careers while maintaining work and family responsibilities. The part-time program features a broad, prescribed curriculum See the chart below.
|M.A. in Media and Communication||M.A. in Digital Communication|
|Duration||2 years||2.5 years|
|Typical pace||4 courses per semester for 3 semesters||2 courses per semester for 4 semesters (plus 1 summer course)|
|Final semester||Thesis or thesis project||Thesis project|
|Curriculum/course schedule||Customized based on program of study and career/research interest||Prescribed—9 specific online courses taken in order|
|Typical class size||20 students or fewer||20 students or fewer|
|Admissions deadline||Dec. 14, 2021||March 8, 2022 (priority)
May 10, 2022 (final)
|Professional experience required||None||3 years in communications role(s)|
|GRE required||No||Yes (waiver available)|
|Credit transfer from Certificate in Digital Communication||Up to 2 courses (any)||Up to 2 courses (MEJO 711 and 713)|
|School/university fellowships available||Yes||No|
|Federal financial aid available
(via UNC-Chapel Hill)
How much time should I expect to spend on coursework?
Students typically spend 10 hours per week on readings, class discussions and other assignments for each class in which they are enrolled. Thus, students taking two classes online typically spend 20 hours per week on coursework.
Can I transfer credits or grades from other institutions into the program?
No. UNC Hussman does not accept credit hour transfers from other graduate programs. However, you can transfer credit for up to two courses from our online certificate program.
Can I take time off from the program once I begin?
It is expected and preferred that students will take program courses in the prescribed order. If work or family circumstances arise that would prevent a student from being able to proceed as scheduled with her/his cohort, program administrators will assess the situation and, if warranted, assist the student in developing an alternative plan.
What career services and networking opportunities are provided?
UNC Hussman has a career-services staff who are available to online master's students and a network of more than 17,000 school alumni. You will advance through the program with a cohort of working professionals from various communications fields and have opportunities to meet program alumni in person and online. Upon graduation, you’ll join a network of more than 330,000 Carolina graduates in all 50 states and 149 countries.
Will my diploma or transcript specify that this is an online degree?
No. Upon completion of the degree, you will receive a Master of Arts in Digital Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
How are courses taught online?
Courses use online lectures, other videos, narrated slides, textbooks, case studies, blogs, social media tools, links to readings and other online resources. Lively discussion boards simulate the give-and-take of the classroom. Courses are taught in an asynchronous format, meaning that students aren’t required to be online at specific times. While the program format is flexible, the degree is designed to be rigorous and challenging. Courses include strict deadlines for assignments and high standards for participation and performance.
Are there particular class times when I must be online for the courses?
Most courses are taught using a fully asynchronous model, meaning there are no scheduled times all students need to be present “in class.” A few classes use synchronous technologies, like Zoom video conferencing, to allow students the opportunity to attend a live lecture, course discussion or assignment critique. These sessions are set in advance, giving students time to adjust their schedules. The sessions are recorded for viewing later by students who are unable to attend. There is no requirement for you to be online at a specific time, but we have heard from students that they enjoy these sessions and the connection they afford with faculty members and fellow students.
Are courses self-paced?
Courses are not self-paced. While flexibility is a benefit of online learning, flexibility does not equal loose and unstructured. Our courses have a syllabus and schedule of assignments with strict deadlines and high standards for participation and performance. Students must log into online courses regularly to meet expectations.
Are there any specific computer programs, software or online applications I must have knowledge of to be successful as a student?
Courses are designed to be accessible to people with a wide range of experience using computers. Students must be comfortable and responsive in their use of email. They have free access to Adobe Creative Cloud products and will become familiar with posting messages to a discussion forum in Sakai. They will use a blog, social media tools and other online applications for assignments. Hussman and university support is available for using new technologies and overcoming technical hurdles. High-speed internet access is required, as is consistent access to a computer with an up-to-date Mac or PC operating system and that meets the system requirements for Adobe Illustrator.
Will I have access to UNC-Chapel Hill resources?
Online master's students have full access to UNC Hussman and UNC-CH library resources online and on campus. The school houses the Park Library, an in-unit library with a full-time library director. The UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries provide a central site to support online students. Students receive training on using library resources during the on-campus orientation.
Who administers the program?
The program is administered by the UNC Hussman's Office of Graduate Studies. The program director is Associate Professor Andy Bechtel, and Senior Associate Dean Heidi Hennink-Kaminski oversees all of the school's graduate programs.
Whom do I contact if I run into problems as a student?
Program administrators and faculty are aware of challenges facing working professionals pursuing graduate studies on a part-time basis. The program director is available for advising and support with academic issues. Faculty are available for specific course-related questions. Technical support is available from UNC Hussman Graduate Studies staff and through help.unc.edu.
How can I learn more about the program?
Online info sessions for prospective students are available throughout the year and are listed on the calendar section of the program home page. Our graduate program staff and program director are available to answer your questions and connect you with more resources. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 843-9471 to be added to our program email list or ask a question.
What is the difference between the M.A. in Digital Communication and M.A. in Technology and Communication?
The two names refer to the same program. The degree name was changed to "Master of Arts in Digital Communication" in spring 2018 to better reflect the curriculum.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
How do I apply?
You apply through the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School's online application.
When is the application deadline?
Our priority application deadline is the second Tuesday in March (March 8, 2022 for fall 2022 admission). There is a final application deadline of May 10 for prospective students who are unable to complete their applications by the priority deadline. For both deadlines, application materials and fees are due at 11:59 p.m. The system does not accept late applications.
How does the two-deadline admissions process work?
UNC Hussman faculty members will make priority admissions decisions in April. Once the May deadline passes, they will consider addtional applications received for any remaining slots. Applying by the priority deadline gives you the best chance at admission.
More information on the application timeline is available on our admissions page.
How many students do you accept each year into the program?
We accept up to 20 working professionals from across communications fields.
When will candidates be notified about their acceptance into the program?
Applicants being considered for priority admission will be interviewed via video conferencing in late March or early April. Admission decisions are made mid-April. Interviews and admissions decisions for applicants being considered for admission after the final deadline will happen in mid-May.
How are graduate test scores, grades, letters of recommendations and personal statements evaluated for the admissions process?
The admissions committee considers each person’s entire application package when making admissions decisions. If one part of your application isn’t strong, be sure to explain why in your written statement. Address how the other parts of your application provide evidence of your ability to succeed in a rigorous graduate program as well as how the degree will benefit you. Proactively answer any questions that the committee is likely to have about your previous work experience, academic performance or GRE scores. Your entire application package should best represent your academic and professional abilities.
The professional-experience requirement of three years cannot be mitigated by any other factors and stands as a non-negotiable requirement.
What if my undergraduate degree is not in communications, journalism or a related field? Will I still be considered for admission?
Yes. We do not require a bachelor’s degree in a particular field.
Am I required to take the GRE to apply?
Valid GRE scores are required for applicants who do not meet the qualifications for a GRE waiver.
The GRE requirement can be waived for applicants demonstrating ANY of the following:
- Successful completion of another master’s program or terminal graduate degree program
- 6+ years of full-time professional communications experience AND a 3.0 undergraduate grade-point average
- 3-5 years of full-time professional communications experience AND a 3.3 undergraduate grade-point average
- Grades of H or P in two courses in our Certificate in Digital Communication program prior to applying for the master’s program
How do you calculate an applicant’s years of full-time professional communications experience?
We define full-time professional communications experience as time spent in a full-time job in which communications duties make up the vast majority of the applicant’s work. This could be a job in a communications industry (e.g., journalism, public relations, marketing, design) or a communications-focused role in another industry. Internships completed after completion of a bachelor’s degree count as professional experience; undergraduate internships and participation in student media organizations do not count.
Representatives of our program assess an applicant’s total time in such roles, giving partial credit for jobs in which communications accounted for a smaller portion of the applicant’s work responsibilities and for part-time professional (non-internship) roles.
How do I request a GRE waiver?
If you qualify for a waiver you must request one for the requirement to be waived; the waiver is not automatic. At least 10 business days before the application deadline, complete the waiver request form and upload the required academic transcripts and updated resume. The request form provides the opportunity to describe your communications duties in each job that you submit to be considered as full-time professional communications experience. We will let you know within 10 business days of submission whether your request has been approved. We recommend submitting your waiver request as early as possible.
If I qualify for a GRE waiver, may I still submit GRE scores?
If you wish to submit GRE scores to enhance your application, you may do so even if you qualify for a waiver. If you wish to have your GRE scores considered, do not complete the waiver request form.
What are your minimum GRE score standards?
We are seeking applicants with GRE scores in the 55th percentile or higher on the verbal portion and 50th percentile or higher on the quantitative portion.
Where and when should I take the GRE?
GRE scores are good for five years. Applicants may take the GRE at any local testing center. The ETS website provides information on test dates, locations and seat availability. You must take the GRE before our application deadline, and we recommend that you take it earlier, in case you want to take the test a second time. Testing sessions fill up quickly, so it is important to reserve your test date early.
When and how do I submit my GRE scores?
Applicants must take the GRE before the application deadline and self-report their scores in their applications. You must also send official scores to UNC-Chapel Hill's Graduate School (code #5816) to be matched in the application system.
Can I take the GRE exam more than one time?
Yes. We will accept your new scores if you take the exam before the application deadline and will consider your highest score on each section of the test.
My official GRE scores will not be available until after the application deadline. Will this affect the review of my application?
Applicants should take the GRE exam no later than the application deadline and self-report their test scores in their applications. The admissions committee will review applications without official scores as long as the rest of the materials have been submitted by the deadline. Self-reported test scores will be replaced by the official scores once they are received by The Graduate School.
What is the application fee, and how do I pay?
The $95 application fee can be paid online through the online application system via credit/debit card (Visa/Mastercard/Discover). You may also send a check drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars or an international money order. Credit card payments are due by the application deadlines, and checks must be postmarked by the deadline. If choosing to pay by check or money order, you will receive an email with further payment instructions, including the payment mailing address.
I cannot afford the application fee. Is it possible to request a waiver?
Please visit The Graduate School's website to determine whether you are eligible for an application fee waiver and for instructions on how to request an application fee waiver.
What are the minimum requirements for admission?
- Three years of professional communications experience
- A recognized undergraduate degree
- An undergraduate grade-point average of “B” or better (3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale)
- For international applicants, a minimum score of 105 on the internet-based TOEFL exam or 7.5 on the IELTS exam
- GRE scores in the 55th percentile or better on the verbal portion and 50th percentile or better on the quantitative portion
If I am an international student, must I take the TOEFL or IELTS exam?
International students who have not graduated from a degree program in which English is the sole language of instruction must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam and achieve the following scores:
- Internet TOEFL exam: 105 or higher
- Computer TOEFL exam: 260 or higher
- Paper-based TOEFL exam: 620 or higher
- IELTS exam: 7.5 or higher
The Graduate School's application instructions outline the specific conditions under which this requirement is waived.
How are letters of recommendation submitted?
All application materials, including letters of recommendation, are submitted electronically through The Graduate School’s online application system. Applicants will be prompted to provide the names and contact information for a minimum of three persons who will write letters of recommendation. Each recommender will receive an email with instructions on how to upload the letter of recommendation directly into the online application system or how to mail a sealed, printed copy of the recommendation directly to The Graduate School.
May I submit more than three letters?
Yes, you may have more than three letters.
Is a statement of purpose required? If so, how long should it be?
A statement of purpose is required for each application. A typical statement is 2-3 pages, double-spaced, in length. The statement should clearly specify how the graduate degree will contribute to your career goals (professional and/or academic).
How do I go about sending in my transcripts?
One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded into the application by the application deadline. We only accept unofficial transcripts for application evaluation. Please do not mail transcripts. If you are offered admission, we will request that you obtain one official transcript for each university attended and give you instructions on how to submit those official transcripts.
QUESTIONS ABOUT FINANACES
What is tuition for the program?
Tuition, fees and other program costs are detailed on our cost page.
Is financial aid available to online students?
Federal financial aid is available for degree-seeking students who are enrolled a minimum of 4.5 hours per semester and who show financial need. The aid is typically limited to federal loans. No scholarships, grants, assistantships or fellowships are currently available through the Hussman School. For more information, contact the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.
How do I establish residency to qualify for in-state tuition?
If you indicate in your online application that you claim North Carolina residency for tuition purposes, you will be prompted to complete a residency determination form online. Guidelines for residency consideration are available from the North Carolina Residency Determination Service.
Is tuition tax deductible?
In many cases, students can claim a tax credit or deduction for some or all of their higher education expenses. Consult a tax adviser or preparer for more details.
Does UNC-Chapel Hill accept military tuition assistance?
Does the UNC-Chapel Hill offer an installment payment plan?
Yes. Details are available on the University Cashier website.
Is company/employer sponsorship available?
Yes. Many of our students find financial aid through company/employer scholarships and education programs. Consult your employer's human resources office. Our program accepts tuition waivers from eligible employees of UNC System institutions.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ONLINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM
What are the differences in UNC Hussman’s online certificate and master’s programs?
Both programs are delivered online and designed for working professionals, and their curricula share two courses. The master's program requires students to complete more courses and a final thesis project. It has only one start date per year and requires the GRE for admission. This chart compares and contrasts the programs in more detail:
|M.A. in Digital Communication||Certificate in Digital Communication|
|Duration||2.5 years||1 year|
|Courses||9 + final thesis project||3|
|Courses per term||2||1|
|On-campus sessions in Chapel Hill||2-day orientation
5-day summer residency
|Class size||Up to 20||Up to 20|
|Application deadlines||March 8 (priority)
May 10 (final)
|Professional experience required||3 years in communications role(s)||3 years in communications role(s)|
|GRE required||Yes (waiver available)||No|
Can I earn both the certificate and the master’s degree?
Yes, you can, but only if the certificate is completed first. Course credit from the certificate program will transfer credit into the M.A. program.
What is the time limit for transferring credit from courses taken in the certificate program?
If admitted to the master’s program, certificate students may transfer credit for courses that are also part of the master's curriculum. The credit must have been earned within five years of master’s enrollment. For example, students beginning the master's program in the 2022-23 academic year could transfer certificate course credit if they took the course(s) in 2017-18 or later.
Does completion of the certificate guarantee admission to the online master’s program?
No. Certificate students and graduates go through the same admissions process as other master’s applicants. They are, however, encouraged to highlight their success in graduate-level coursework and provide letters of recommendation from certificate instructors to enhance their master’s applications.
Do most online master’s students first complete the certificate?
No. Completing both programs is a popular option but not the most common path. About one-quarter of our online master’s students first take certificate courses.