Hussman School earns No. 1 national rank for M.A. in Digital Communication program

In December 2018, Online Masters named the School of Media and Journalism's M.A. in Digital Communication the top online master's degree program in communication in the nation. 

After analyzing every online master's program in communication in the United States — researching for more than 86 hours and consulting 34 industry experts and hiring managers as well as gathering insight from students and alumni — Online Masters narrowed the list down to 40 and placed UNC-Chapel Hill in the top spot. 

Online Masters is an independent, patron-funded source of academic research and ranking.

Communication and collaboration

Now, more than ever, working professionals look to online programs to continue their education and gain a leg up in their respective industries. While many online programs offer flexibility, low cost and fast results, the Hussman School also ensures that its online program's integrity and effectiveness are not lost.

“Our online master’s program was launched in Fall 2011 with the goal of providing a rigorous graduate program that matched the quality of our residential programs while also catering to working professionals looking for a career leap,” said Susan King, dean of the Hussman School. “It’s gratifying to see the program recognized for its excellence, and it is a tribute to the quality of our faculty and students who make the program stand out among its peers and competitors.”

The M.A. in Digital Communication also earned recognition as the best collaborative program for students, who work one-on-one with faculty members throughout their last semester to complete a capstone project relating to their desired field.

"Our designation as the No. 1 program nationwide and best collaborative program stems from our faculty’s commitment to working closely with students on projects that address real-world professional needs," said Director of M.A. in Digital Communication Rhonda Gibson.

With one-on-one mentoring comes motivation and a support system tailored specifically to the student and their field-specific work. The program's faculty don't let remote access hinder the lessons they teach, and alumni of the program endorse the resulting benefits. 

"As a 2015 graduate of the program, I’ve seen my career advance rapidly ... from personal experience, I can attest that the distinction is merited," said William Ammerman, EVP of digital media for Engaged Media. "UNC’s program gave me both the courage and discipline to achieve my dreams, and I am thankful for the collaborative support I received from the school’s talented faculty."

Since the program's start, the Hussman School has had dozens of students complete the degree — all from the comfort of their own home or study spot of choice. And now, for the first time ever, the program is accepting a GRE waiver for applicants who meet criteria for professional experience and academic performance.

About the GRE waiver

Applying to the program is now more accommodating for those with work experience who have been out of the education system for a longer period of time. While reporting GRE scores is still required for admission to the master's program, the Hussman School now offers an online waiver to substitute experience for standardized testing.

"The new GRE waiver provides flexibility for busy, experienced media and communication professionals while simultaneously evaluating their readiness to successfully complete the program through a rigorous, holistic application review process," said Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Heidi Hennink-Kaminski. "Adopting the GRE waiver also aligns our application requirements with many of our peers' online master’s programs."

Applicants can fill out the GRE waiver request form if they meet any of the following four criteria:

  • 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 GPA
  • 3-5 years of full-time professional communications experience AND a 3.3 undergraduate GPA
  • Grades of P (pass) or H (high pass) in two courses in the Certificate in Digital Communication program prior to applying to the master’s program


Applicants will receive a decision about their waiver eligibility within 10 business days of submitting this form. Applicants must complete the form and upload transcripts and a resumé at least 10 days before the application closes. Deadlines are as follows:

  • Priority deadline: Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • Final deadline: Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Completing this form does not guarantee the GRE waiver will be granted. The Hussman School encourages potential applicants to submit a waiver request at the earliest possible date to maximize time to schedule and take the exam if a waiver is not granted. The granting of a GRE waiver does not guarantee program admission.

Visit the M.A. in Digital Communication admissions page for more information about beginning the process.

Online info sessions with the program director will be offered Wednesday, Feb. 20, from noon to 1 p.m. and Wednesday, April 24, from noon to 1 p.m.