Online communications degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Communications is an interdisciplinary field that draws from sociology, psychology, and politics to examine the ways in which people communicate. The online communications degrees of the highest caliber are featured in our lists of the 2020 best online communications bachelor's and master's programs. Rankings are based on alumni salary data provided by PayScale.
Students pursuing degrees in communications should verify that their school has been regionally accredited and their specific degree program is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), which helps to ensure that it meets rigorous national standards.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Communications Degrees
This list highlights the 25 best value colleges offering online bachelor's degrees in communications. Graduates of the #1-ranked school, New England College, earn a median salary of $160,700 after earning their BA in Communication. Tuition at New England College is also very affordable at just $12,150 per year. Webster University ranks #2, with a median salary of $111,400 and an annual tuition rate of $23,200.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
Students pursuing the online Bachelor of Arts in Communications at New England College can choose to receive a broad foundation in the discipline or to focus their studies in one of three concentrations. The goal of the program is to instruct students in the most relevant fundamentals of modern communications, including written and verbal communication, negotiation, critical thinking, research, editing, and media technology. Students master these skills through coursework in writing and research, contemporary art and media, interpersonal relationships, social media, and organizational communication. In addition to these core courses, students can choose to concentrate their education in communications in a journalism, public relations and advertising, or media studies track. The fully online communications degree requires the completion of 120 credit hours, with classes offered in an accelerated seven-week format. A transcript demonstrating completion of a high school diploma or GED is the only application requirement, and students may transfer a generous number of credit hours, so long as 30 of the required credit hours are completed at New England College. Students graduate the program with theoretical and practical knowledge and skill in communications, a qualification much sought after in any industry in which effective interaction with the public is crucial.
#2 Webster University
Annual Tuition: $23,200
Median Salary: $111,400
Locations: St. Louis (MO)
The Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications at Webster University offers students a foundational education in modern media design, development, and implementation that can be used to begin or advance a career in a number of progressive industries. Students in the program learn to create, adapt, and analyze effective communication across several mediums through instruction in contemporary theories, practices, and techniques in the discipline. The core curriculum includes courses in media literacy, research and writing, digital and social media, diversity and society, and the laws and ethics governing communications. Near the completion of the online communications degree, students can choose to demonstrate their mastery of the discipline's fundamentals through an individual project or thesis or an internship in the field. Students can choose to complete the 128-credit hour fully online bachelor's degree part-time or full-time, and online classes are offered in 8-, 9-, and 16-week formats. There is no on-campus residency requirement, and online courses require no set log in times, allowing students maximum flexibility in completing assignments and readings and meeting weekly deadlines. Online students are afforded the same resources and are instructed by the same professors as their on-campus counterparts, and academic advising is available by phone, email, or webinar. Applications for both freshman and transfer students are accepted, and students are admitted on a rolling basis. Applicants are required to submit transcripts of all prior school work completed, including high school and college courses. Test scores, including ACT and SAT scores, are optional, and applicants may be asked to submit additional application materials, including an essay, resume, or letter of recommendation.
#3 Park University
Annual Tuition: $12,865
Median Salary: $107,100
Locations: Parkville (MO)
The online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication offered at Park University is designed to give students the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to become leaders in the industry. Students are instructed in leadership in modern professional environments, including corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations. Students complete a minimum of 122 credit hours of coursework that includes instruction in organizational leadership, multicultural communication, communication and leadership in groups and teams, communication laws and ethics, and theories of communication. An 18-credit hour minor in a discipline of the student’s choosing is required to graduate the program. The purpose of the minor is to complement the student’s education with studies in a field relevant to their future education or career goals. Park University offers start dates in the spring, summer, and fall. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be considered for admission and must submit a transcript for every institution they have attended. Upon completion of the online bachelor’s degree in communications, graduates are qualified and prepared to begin a career in project management, communications management, public relations strategy, or media communications.
#4 University of Missouri
Annual Tuition: $11,622
Median Salary: $104,600
Locations: Columbia (MO)
The online Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Missouri prepares students for a range of professions in the field through a broad curriculum in the discipline. Students are instructed in coursework relevant to the modern industry, focusing on skills in project management, budgeting, teamwork, collaboration, and customer service. Coursework includes instruction in public speaking, political communication, crisis communication, and theory and research in persuasion. The online communications degree program curriculum also requires an internship in a business environment that provides students practical experience and hands-on, real-world education in the field. Upon completion of the 120-credit hour online bachelor’s degree in communications, graduates are prepared to pursue a career in public relations, marketing, advertising, social media, and corporate communications. Applicants are eligible for admission through the university’s established minimum ACT or SAT score, or through the completion of at least 24 credit hours of applicable college coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Students may enroll in one of three distance learning formats, including self-paced courses that can be started at any time and completed in as little as six weeks or as many as six months, self-paced 8- or 16-week courses, or 8- or 16-week semester-based courses. Coursework in all formats is offered asynchronously, meaning students are not required to log in at any specific time. While assignments, readings, and discussions are facilitated entirely online, some courses may require in-person, proctored exams.
#5 Lynn University
Annual Tuition: $9,000
Median Salary: $102,100
Locations: Boca Raton (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The online Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media offered at Lynn University aims to prepare students for a career in the field by providing a wide range of internship opportunities at relevant media organizations. Lynn University seeks to provide students with the theory and practical application of communication through a curriculum that includes coursework in media literacy, television production, photojournalism, persuasion and propaganda, and advertising design and production. The online communications degree also prepares students for a career in the media industry through internship opportunities with companies that include MTV, WPTV Channel 5, Boca Magazine, the Palm Beach Post, and Telemundo. After the 120-credit hour program is completed, graduates should have the education and real-world experience needed to pursue a career as a journalist, speechwriter, marketing specialist, social media specialist, or communication consultant. Admission to the program requires a high school diploma, a GED, or 12-college credit hours, in addition to a personal statement. Students are not required to submit test scores, and work experience can be applied toward the required credit hours. The online bachelor's degree in communications is designed to be completed through the university's iPad-powered learning platform, with all coursework facilitated through the Apple device.
#6 Maryville University
Annual Tuition: $16,000
Median Salary: $103,500
Locations: St. Louis (MO)
There are various opportunities to study communications in a flexible online learning environment at Maryville University. The Bachelor of Arts in Communication is offered in a general degree program, as well as in two concentrations, Strategic Communication and Emerging Media Strategy and Social Media. The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with a focus in Communication offers a broad curriculum for those who have other academic interests in addition to communications. Students in these online communications degree programs have the opportunity to complete internships, research experiences, and portfolios as a culminating experience in their studies and as an introduction to the working world. Applicants may apply for fall, spring, or summer semesters. Prospective students must submit an online application with a high school transcript (or college transcript for transfer students) to start the admissions process with the support of an online enrollment coordinator. Maryville students have access to other campus resources, including academic advising and career development.
#7 Saint Xavier University
Annual Tuition: $33,300
Median Salary: $109,600
Locations: Chicago (IL)
The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communication program at Saint Xavier University is a degree completion program designed for working adults looking to return to school. This 30-credit program can be completed in five terms or 18 months. Courses include social media, mass communication, public relations, persuasion, organizational communication, and leadership. Graduates of the program go on to explore career opportunities in advertising, corporation relations, event planning, health communication, human resources, journalism, media, public relations, organizational communication, and more. To gain real-world experience, students are encouraged to apply for internship opportunities as well as create portfolios that can be used during the job search. Students have access to the Center for Success, writing center, counseling, instructional tech support, and other campus services. To apply to this online communications degree program at Saint Xavier, students must create an online applicant account through which they can submit their transcripts and other required documents. Prospective students can apply online, and an admissions representative will connect with the individual to complete the application.
#8 California State University-Bakersfield
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Median Salary: $100,100
Locations: Bakersfield (CA)
The Bachelor of Arts in Communications at California State University-Bakersfield is a two-year, 50-60 credit degree completion program. The program’s curriculum equips students with written and verbal communication skills as well as principles of ethical messaging and mass media that can be applied to journalism, public relations, media, and a host of other communications-driven fields. This program has an emphasis in Public Relations; students also have the opportunity to minor in Sociology to further enhance their study of Communication and Society. Students can apply to start the program in fall, spring, or summer. Enrolled students have access to campus services, including academic advising, library resources, career development, and disability services. To be considered for this online communications degree program, prospective students must have already completed 60 credits eligible for transfer and have earned a 2.0 GPA or higher. To apply online, students must complete a form (fee applies) and submit transcripts from all colleges previously attended.
#9 West Virginia University
Annual Tuition: $10,380
Median Salary: $98,300
Locations: Morgantown (WV)
The region's Bachelor of Arts degree at West Virginia State University is created for adult learners. Applicants must be four years out of high school to apply to this program. Students earn credits through the completion of asynchronous online classes, as well as work experience or training credentials. This 120-credit program has a course distribution in communications, humanities, science, social sciences, math, and computer science. Students have the opportunity to choose a concentration in many areas, including Marketing. This online communications degree program is well-suited for business-minded students who wish to pursue careers in advertising, sales, promotion, and marketing both in a traditional and digital setting. Transfer students can complete it in as few as two years up to 72 transfer credits are accepted. Online students at West Virginia State University have access to student services like academic inquiry advising as well as military and veteran services. To apply, students must submit an online application with a high school transcript and ACT or SAT scores if the GPA is below 3.0.
#10 University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Annual Tuition: $8,400
Median Salary: $96,300
Locations: Little Rock (AR)
Individuals who wish to major in Communications have two options at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock: the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communication and the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies - Speech Communication. Both are online communications degree programs suited for a working adult’s schedule. Graduates of the BA in Applied Communication use their skills to explore career paths in nonprofits, business organizations, health care, education, and government. Students learn to analyze and develop messages, to push past communication barriers to accomplish messaging goals, and to engage diverse audiences. Students are encouraged to double major or minor to complete the 120-credit requirement for graduation. A capstone course and portfolio are required. For the BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, students can focus in Speech Communication while also exploring a wide range of academic interests. Enrolled students have access to student services such as library resources, military and veteran support, IT service, academic tutoring, and disability services. To apply, students must submit their application online along with their transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. An online program coordinator will advise on what other documents are needed to complete the application process.
#11 Stevenson University
Annual Tuition: $13,500
Median Salary: $98,000
Locations: Stevenson (MD)
Stevenson University offers a number of online communication programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Business Communication. Students who graduate from this online marketing degree program can pursue fields like public relations, marketing management, media sales, and event planning. They may instead choose the Bachelor’s to Master’s option, with Master of Science programs in Business and Technology Management, Communication Studies, Community-Based Education and Leadership, and Health Care Management. These master’s programs are also offered fully online in eight-week class sessions to offer flexibility and study even at the advanced level. These online programs are suited for working adults as they are offered in a flexible asynchronous format. Although students are not on campus, they have access to supportive services like career advising, academic advising and support, accessibility services, and library resources. To apply, students must fill out an online application with their high school or college transcripts (if they are transferring).
#12 SUNY Empire State College
Annual Tuition: $10,943
Median Salary: $95,400
Locations: Saratoga Springs (NY)
There are a number of online communications degree options for adult learners to pursue at SUNY Empire State College: the Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies with a Communication concentration and the Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs with a concentration in Public Communications. Students gain skills in writing, research, and critical thinking to be able to pursue roles in media, education, nonprofits, and more. Students who opt for the Public Communications concentration can pursue careers in public administration, public policy, political science, criminal justice, homeland security, public communication, healthcare, and emergency management. The BA Cultural Studies covers ethics, gender, class, and race. Students can pursue concentrations that include Communications, Philosophy, Writing, Literature, Women's Studies, or a mix to provide a personalized approach to study. These programs offer flexible starts with fall, spring, and summer terms. Enrolled students have access to academic advising, career development, tutoring, and library resources. Prospective students must submit an application form, along with their transcripts.
#13 SUNY College at Oswego
Annual Tuition: $8,480
Median Salary: $93,500
Locations: Oswego (NY)
The Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Mass Communication at SUNY Oswego is a completely online communications degree program suited for students who already have previously earned an associate degree or the equivalent of two years of college credit. This is a completion degree program that is offered in an asynchronous format. In this program, students will learn various aspects of audio and video production, journalism for broadcast, copywriting, and media management, including digital media and social media. Online students at SUNY Oswego have access to student services such as academic and career advising and online library resources. Each student has a coordinator to help plan out each semester’s schedule so that students can complete the degree in a timeline that’s efficient and flexible. The same faculty that teach in-person classes also create and teach curriculum for the online program. SUNY Oswego offers rolling admission, and students may begin in the fall, spring, or summer sessions. Students can complete the program in two years at the full-time enrollment level. To apply, students must complete an online application and submit their college transcripts.
#14 University of Idaho
Annual Tuition: $8,304
Median Salary: $93,200
Locations: Moscow (ID)
Students seeking an education in the field of communications have several online options at the University of Idaho: the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Communication and the Bachelor of Organizational Sciences, in which students can opt for either the Organizational Communication or Organizations and Communities concentrations. The BA/BS in Communication program is interdisciplinary in nature, teaching students the skills that can apply to public relations, sales, media, and other areas. The BA has an Arts and Humanities core while the BS has more of a Science concentration. The BA/BS in Organizational Sciences presents communication through a variety of lenses, including business, psychology, communication, and sociology. The Organizational Communication concentration offers a variety of perspectives, including organizational and intercultural leadership persuasion. Enrolled students have access to the Vandal Success Center for academic and career support. Prospective students must submit an application and a fee plus their SAT or ACT scores along with their transcripts. GED and homeschool students must also submit a written statement and letters of recommendation to be considered by the admissions committee. Scholarships are available.
#15 Florida Southern College
Annual Tuition: $10,106
Median Salary: $92,400
Locations: Lakeland (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Science in Communication program at Florida Southern College is an option for students seeking careers in creating messages for diverse groups of people. This online Communications Degree program presents a strong core curriculum in the research, theories, and practice of communication with a concentration in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. This program is preparation for graduates not only to pursue careers in a variety of industries but also to pursue an MBA or an MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. The BS in Communication is a 48-credit program with 12 seven-week classes that begin six times a year for a flexible approach to study. Florida Southern College keeps classes small for individualized attention and to encourage student engagement. Enrolled students are paired with an academic advisor who helps them create a success plan for graduation. Online students have the same access to resources as do on-campus students, such as scholarships, career development, tech support, tutoring, and library resources. Prospective students apply online (there is no fee) and submit transcripts. Test scores are required unless students have 25 or more credits to transfer into the program.
#16 University of Kansas
Annual Tuition: $11,916
Median Salary: $91,000
Locations: Lawrence (KS)
Studies in Communication at the University of Kansas offers the same academic coursework found on campus but instead is offered through an asynchronous online format (Blackboard platform) with eight-week classes for flexible study. The program is suited for students who want both a concentrated study and a liberal arts education. Students will take classes in rhetoric, interpersonal communication, persuasion, behavioral research, organizational communication, and argumentation, among others. A capstone class is required for graduation. Students must also choose a second area of study in anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, history of art, or women's studies. To graduate, students must complete a three-credit career course in technical writing or career management. Alternatively, they can choose to complete an internship. Students have access to academic and career advising as part of their program support period. To apply to this program, students must submit an online application and their transcripts.
#17 Ohio University-Main Campus
Annual Tuition: $7,290
Median Salary: $89,000
Locations: Athens (OH)
The degree completion program for a Bachelor of Science in Applied Communications from Ohio University’s main campus is designed for students who already have an associate degree and want to continue their education online. Students use the asynchronous Blackboard platform to understand written, oral, and visual communications to help them progress in the career of their choice. A total of 120 credits is achieved through transferred credits and a combination of foundational knowledge, practical skills, strategy, and a capstone in applied communication, journalism ethics, or communication data collection. Students enrolled through the University’s Scripps College of Communication can expect to study a variety of subjects, including public speaking, web design, internet privacy, and audience research. Many communications students use internships to apply their skills while gaining knowledge and building their resumes. Prospective students with an associate degree and a GPA of 2.5 overall can apply through the Common Application or via the school’s website. A fee and documentation are required.
#18 Washington State University
Annual Tuition: $11,550
Median Salary: $90,043
Locations: Pullman (WA)
Washington State University offers several online communication degree programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and the Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, both with a Communication concentration. These offer education in communication with a liberal arts education. For students who wish a greater focus on communication, the Bachelor of Arts and Integrated Strategic Communication could be a good option. This program focuses on communication as it is used in advertising, public relations, promotion, and marketing; it is offered through the prestigious Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. Students must complete an internship in order to graduate. Online students have access to various support services, including academic and career advising, academic support, and disability services. To apply to any of these online communication degree programs at Washington State University, students must submit an online application with their high school transcripts or college transcripts if they are transferring credit into the program.
#19 Valdosta State University
Annual Tuition: $6,060
Median Salary: $87,100
Locations: Valdosta (GA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Valdosta State University has an online Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Major in Emergent Media and Communication for students who want to learn the skills to create and understand a wide variety of media tools and methods of communication in all its emerging forms. To enter this high-tech program, prospective first-year students must meet a minimum Freshman Index (calculated using testing and grade point averages). Those looking to transfer must submit official college transcripts and at least 30 transferable credits. Accepted students can expect foundation courses that cover material like digital research, emerging communication, and an introduction to mass media; upper-level classes, major requirements, and guided electives teach students a variety of digital media, research, and communication skills. As a capstone course, students showcase a final portfolio that is evaluated by peers and faculty. The entire program is delivered asynchronously online through BlazeView (Brightspace). Students must earn 120 credits to graduate with an online communications degree from Valdosta State University.
#20 Florida International University
Annual Tuition: $10,376
Median Salary: $88,500
Locations: Miami (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida International University offers two online programs for aspiring communications professionals: the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a concentration in Organizational Communication Studies and the Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. Both of these programs are well-suited for students who wish to pursue careers as communication professionals in a variety of fields, including marketing, advertising, education, business, government, and nonprofit organizations. In addition to these professional paths, students may also pursue graduate study in a variety of fields, including business administration, law, public administration, human resource management, hospitality management, and more. These online programs are offered in an asynchronous format so students can combine learning with other personal and professional responsibilities. Students are connected with a success coach for support throughout the program, as well as other services and resources like career advising and library databases. To apply, students must submit an online application with their transcripts from high school or college if they are transferring.
#21 University of Arkansas
Annual Tuition: $7,568
Median Salary: $87,200
Locations: Fayetteville (AR)
The nationally recognized University of Arkansas Department of Communications has a fully digital option for students interested in a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Students accepted into the 120 credit hour program use Blackboard to virtually attend classes (asynchronous schedule) and complete assignments. Major courses in this online communications degree program cover topics such as the influence of social movements, how media technology impacts daily life, and communication strategies using various mediums. The University of Arkansas has a Career Development Center to provide students with career counseling, job searches, resume writing, and interview skills. Students can also use Handshake, a job board for students and recent graduates to help them find employment or internships. Those interested in applying to the program must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and a minimum composite ACT score of 20; transfer students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
#22 Mercer University
Annual Tuition: $14,250
Median Salary: $88,300
Locations: Macon (GA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
At Mercer University, the Bachelor of Arts in Communication is offered in two concentrations: Organizational Communication and Public Relations. This online communications degree program is offered through the College of Professional Advancement. The program is created for working adult learners with classes that can be completed fully online in an asynchronous format; courses are eight weeks long. Students who wish to explore career paths in content creation, corporate communications, marketing, project management, public relations, social media, and more will benefit from this program. In addition to an academic curriculum in communications and the liberal arts, students have access to support services at Mercer University, including academic advising, career development, library research databases, and more. These programs are even more flexible due to five start terms in January, March, May, August, and October. To apply to these online communications degree program at Mercer, students must submit an online application with their transcript.
#23 University of Missouri at Saint Louis
Annual Tuition: $31,164
Median Salary: $95,000
Locations: St. Louis (MO)
The Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Missouri at Saint Louis presents students with the opportunity to earn both a liberal arts degree as well as a focused skillset in communication. Students can select communication as the general major, but they may also take an emphasis on applied visual communication, interpersonal communication, mass communication, or strategic communication. Core requirements include mass communication, organizational communication, and intercultural communication. Students are required to complete a three-credit practicum or internship to graduate. For students with academic interests besides communications, they may benefit from the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in communication. Online students at the University of Missouri at Saint Louis have access to a variety of supportive student services that include academic and career advising, library databases, accessibility services, tech support, and more. To apply to either of these online communications degree programs, students should submit their application online along with their transcripts from high school or college, if they will be transferring.
#24 University of Arizona
Annual Tuition: $15,000
Median Salary: $88,400
Locations: Tucson (AZ)
The Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Arizona is for students who wish to pursue career paths in a variety of fields, including the arts, media, journalism, public relations, psychology, and social sciences. The program is a general communication program with no concentration requirements, giving students the opportunity to study a range of topics in communication. As part of the general education coursework, students at the University of Arizona must complete four semesters of a foreign language (or the equivalent in proven proficiency). Study abroad and internship opportunities are available to provide a real-world perspective to the program. Students from Arizona community colleges can transfer credit easily to this online Communications Degree program, provided they meet admission eligibility requirements. Accepted students who enroll will have access to advising and other student support. To apply in the fall, spring, or summer sessions, prospective students must open an online account to submit their application (fee applies) and transcripts for admissions consideration.
#25 University of Denver
Annual Tuition: $30,060
Median Salary: $94,200
Locations: Denver (CO)
The Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of Denver is an online bachelor’s degree communications completion program. It is designed for students interested in building relationships with diverse audiences in a variety of fields, including communications, media, and any other industry where strong writing and analytical thinking are valued by employers. This program is offered as 100% asynchronous online or in a hybrid format depending on the student’s preference. The virtual classroom (provided through Canvas) offers the same course content as the online program, providing access to both professors and peers. The online communications degree program has 10-week classes divided into core classes majors, and electives (number of electives will depend on the amount of credit transferred in). Enrolled students have access to campus resources, including academic advising, research opportunities, writing assistance and tutoring, IT support, library resources, disability services, and veteran and military support. A career services center offers one-on-one professional coaching and networking opportunities. Students apply online and submit their application form, fee, and transcripts for consideration by the admissions committee.
Online Communications Degree Overview & Career Information
An associate degree in communications is typically the minimum education requirement for this field. Getting a communications associate degree online helps students develop techniques that are essential to their prospective careers, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. Students may take courses in introduction to mass communications, English composition, media writing, and digital media editing.
Many associate degree holders continue their education by obtaining a bachelor's degree in communications. This program focuses on teaching students how to interpret different kinds of human dialogue. Students also learn how to improve their speech to effectively persuade audiences. Core classes include topics such as behavioral science; debate and argumentation; theories of communications; and voice, dictation, and articulation.
Master's degrees further examine the ways that people synthesize information and the techniques that can be used to successfully persuade audiences. Students focus on analyzing a variety of issues and finding original ways to relay messages. They may take courses with topics in strategy, leadership, ethics, business, marketing, global connection, speech writing, intercultural communications, social influence, rhetoric, human conflict, and citizenship.
The highest form of education for this field is a doctorate in communications. Students normally select an area of concentration and conduct a considerable amount of independent research before completing an original dissertation to present to an advisory board at the culmination of the program.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Communications
The writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills of an online communications bachelor's degree prepare students for a variety of roles. Graduates can become news reporters, staff or freelance journalists, editors, technical writers, or public relations and marketing specialists. Others can work in advertising or human resources. Students are advised to gain practical experience in communications while in school; for example, work on a school newspaper or blog is often valued by employers who want employees with demonstrated experience. Graduates with professional experience in a different work area such as healthcare, finance, or engineering can also apply this work to a communications career. For example, clinical healthcare professionals with a communications degree could pen sales or marketing copy for a medical device company.
A bachelor's degree in communications teaches students rhetorical strategies for a variety of mediums of communication. This four-year program requires about 120 credit hours or four years of full-time study. Qualified applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the program, communications students may choose to focus in a particular communications area. Examples of possible specializations include conflict mediation and negotiation, public relations, or journalism.
A communications major includes coursework in both spoken and written communication. Core classes commonly include journalism, mass media, intercultural communication, organizational behavior and group communication, and digital communication. Students study the art of argumentation and persuasive speech in different mediums, such as marketing campaigns, press releases, or scientific articles.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Communications Degree
Accreditation is a process by which schools and academic programs volunteer to be evaluated by outside agencies to ensure that they meet established standards. The evaluation procedure involves a careful review of each school or program's curricula, facilities, student resources, and faculty. Legitimate institutional or programmatic accrediting agencies should be recognized by either the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
When students choose a program or institution that is accredited, they can feel confident that they are receiving a high-quality education. Attending an accredited program also helps students meet the eligibility requirements to apply for federal financial aid, and it enables them to transfer their earned credits to other accredited institutions.
Students of health communication study how health-related information is produced and disseminated in order to educate individuals, community groups, institutions, and public policy. For instance, a graduate of a health communications program might be hired to design a health communications strategy for a vulnerable population, create a guide pamphlet on medications for patients, communicate hospital news and field questions for the media, or prepare health policy briefs for legislators. Students who wish to enter this industry often begin by completing a bachelor’s degree program in public relations, communications, public health, or advertising. The health communication specialization is then pursued as either a master of science or as a concentration through a public health degree. Coursework in this focus area typically includes health communication technology, biostatistics, professional health writing, and public healthcare policies.
Journalism & Media
Journalists produce media content to inform the public about current news and events happening on a local, national, or global scale. Journalists may work for newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, television, radio, or social media. They work as reporters, correspondents, broadcast news analysts, television and radio announcers, editors, photographers, and more. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in journalism or communications is generally preferred by employers, and on-the-ground internship or work experience with a media outlet makes for a more competitive candidate. Typical journalism coursework includes journalism ethics, feature writing, copywriting, news reporting, photojournalism, video journalism, business journalism, digital media, and beat journalism.
Public relations (PR) specialists produce media releases to build and sustain a desired public image for the organization or entity they represent. Their clients vary widely and may include large corporations, politician, nonprofits, artists, and more. Public relations responsibilities often include acting as company spokesperson before the media, preparing clients for press conferences and interviews, writing speeches, and managing social media. PR specialists generally hold a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, marketing, or business. Master’s degrees in public relations are also available for professionals who wish to continue their education or further specialize within a field. Important coursework for potential PR specialists includes advertising, speech writing, political campaign strategy, image management, public relations writing, marketing and promotion, and other writing-focused courses.
Speech & Rhetorical Studies
Speech and rhetorical studies programs are available online at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels and train students to employ persuasive strategies towards advocacy, law, social justice, and political professions. Bachelor’s degree students often choose to minor in rhetorical studies or to pursue this specialty as a dual major alongside a related topic such as political science or pre-law. Anyone interested in studying a combination of rhetoric and political science should consider Regent University Online's bachelor's and master's level online degrees specializing in political communication. Typical coursework for speech and rhetoric programs includes public advocacy, writing seminars, theories of rhetoric, language and meaning, rhetoric and social change, speechwriting, and body language. Graduates can go on to become teachers, administrators, corporate educators, lawyers, advertisers, political campaigners, social advocates, consultants, media promoters, and grant-writers.
Strategic & Organizational Communications
Degrees in strategic and organizational communications train students to develop and implement communications strategies that promote an organization’s goals, identity, and mission. Some schools offer the specialization in online format at the bachelor’s degree level, while graduate programs are available online at the master’s level. Specialized coursework typically involves organizational strategy and leadership, strategic storytelling, setting strategic direction, small group communication methods, gender roles in communication, and other courses specific to organization type. Graduates may pursue one of a variety of career paths, including managing corporate inter-departmental communications, devising ways of disseminating information to the public, or volunteering for non-profit organizations. Some representative job titles for graduates of strategic and organizational communications degrees are Community Involvement Director, Corporate Mediator, and Special Events Director. You'll find a wide range of online degree specializations in this area, particularly at Montana State University-Billings and Liberty University.
Technical communicators, or technical writers, design communications materials about technical information or products. For example, technical communicators might create instruction manuals, how-to guidebooks, or journal articles, to be used in a range of fields including software development, manufacturing, government, and biomedical technology. Work in this field generally requires a bachelor’s degree, preferably in communications or a technology-related area, and technical experience in computer design, web design, digital media, or engineering can be beneficial. Some schools, such as Southern New Hampshire University Online, offer an online bachelor of science or bachelor of arts in professional writing or technical writing and communication. Coursework for these degree programs typically includes standard communications curriculum as well as a shared set of pre-requisites in math, statistics, and computer programming. Some programs give students the chance to work on real projects for actual clients to keep up with the rapid developments in software and technology.
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