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Online Colleges for Communications and Media

Education in the communications and media field opens up many possibilities for a long-term, successful career in any for-profit, nonprofit or governmental agency. The ability to convey an effective message through written text, images or audio has great value in the workplace, as companies and government entities vie for positive attention in a diverse media market that includes social media, traditional newspapers and broadcast and cable television. Ongoing technological developments and their integration into the communications field have created the need for ever more sophisticated professionals, and having a degree in communications and media can be an excellent foundation for doing just that.

Best Online Colleges for Communications and Media

Anyone thinking about studying communications and media in college may find it challenging to identify all of the online schools and pick out the best ones. We have eliminated some of that work for you, analyzing online communications and media schools in the U.S. on numerous metric points, including in-state tuition and graduation rates. Using these key metrics, identified using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and other sources, we put together a list of the 10 best online colleges for communications and media. The methodology used to identify our Top 10 schools is available below.

1

Oral Roberts University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$23,896
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
10
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Claiming the No. 1 spot on our list of the 10 best online colleges for communications and media is Oral Roberts University, which offers an online Bachelor of Arts degree in communications, as well as a wide selection of other online degrees. Students pursuing ORU's bachelor's degree in communications learn about argumentation, persuasion, and critical reading and writing.

ORU ranked No. 1 on our list for its top spot in the prominence metric. That means that 9 percent of degrees granted at this Christ-centered school were in the communications and media field. No other schools on this Top 10 list beat out ORU for this metric. The university also grabbed the No. 6 spot for graduation rate out of 37 schools analyzed.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

777 S. Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74171
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2

DePaul University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$35,680
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
11
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Ranking as our No. 2 school is DePaul University, which offers an online degree completion program for a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media. Students pursuing the school's degree completion option need to meet several criteria to be accepted, including:

  • Be a transfer student
  • Have a minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Be in good standing at their previous school

Students also can select classes focused on digital coursework, such as cinema, sound design and cinematography, as part of the online completion degree. DePaul University is recognizable for its No. 1 rank in the graduation rate metric, at 72.9 percent. The school's 72 percent admission rate is also commendable, giving the school a No. 9 spot out of 37 schools evaluated. Finally, a No. 8 ranking for degree prominence helped push this school into our No. 2 overall spot.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

1 E. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
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3

Full Sail University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$16,561
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
30
Accredited
School Type
4-year

This No. 3 school offers a Bachelor of Science in media communications that can be completed entirely online. The school uses a project-based curriculum that encourages growth in different aspects of media, such as audio and video digital production, marketing, story-telling and research. Among more than two dozen degrees offered online through Full Sail University, the Bachelor of Science in Media Communications can be completed in as little as 32 months.

Considering its open admission policy, it’s no surprise this school ranks highly in the admission rate metric. Additionally, more than 5 percent of all degrees granted at FSU were in communications and media, giving the school a No. 2 rating in the prominence metric. It also performed solidly on graduation rate, obtaining a No. 14 rating.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Location:

3300 University Boulevard
Winter Park, FL 32792-7429
Go to School Website 
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4

Mississippi College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$15,242
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
16
Accredited
School Type
4-year

This No. 4 ranked school offers an accelerated degree program, giving students the chance to complete an online Bachelor of Arts or online Bachelor of Science in communications in a reduced timeframe. Students can choose among five different specializations including:

  • Interpersonal & Public Communication
  • Journalism
  • Mass Media
  • Public Relations
  • Sports Media

Mississippi College, which offers its online communications classes in eight-week sessions, ranked highly for graduation rate, coming in seventh out of 37 schools evaluated, and graduating 54.1 percent of its students. Even though it does not have an open admission policy, it still was highly accessible, accepting 82.5 percent of all applicants in 2015, accounting for a No. 6 spot on this metric.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

200 S. Capitol Street
Clinton, MS 39058
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5

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,029
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
17
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Our No. 5 ranked school, which is part of the University of Texas System (UTS), makes the charts for its affordable Bachelor of Arts in Communication. This online degree can be completed in as little as 12 months, and offers courses that are delivered in eight-week sessions. Rolling admissions are part of its attraction, with six start dates available each year. Additionally, all courses at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin that are necessary to finish this communications major are offered 100 percent online.

This UTS school ranked highly due to its No. 4 spot in the low in-state tuition metric. No other school on this top 10 list beat out this school on the cost point. Students also may be interested in its admissions rate; although the University of Texas of the Permian Basin does not have an open admissions policy, it still ranked No. 4 on admission rate, accepting 84.5 percent of applicants into its programs in communication in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

4901 E. University
Odessa, TX 79762-0001
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6

Pace University-New York

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$39,728
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
36
Accredited
School Type
4-year

This private university, founded in 1906, offers an accelerated online Bachelor of Science in Professional Communication Studies and ranked No. 6 overall in our analysis of best online colleges for communications and media. Just one of the many accelerated iPace B.S. degree programs available at Pace University-New York, the school's bachelor’s degree program in this field is available 100 percent online.

Pace University's Dyson College of Arts & Sciences earned a ranking on our list based on its No. 8 graduation rating of 52.9 percent in 2015. It also scored a No. 5 spot for its admission rate, granting admissions to 83.8 percent of applicants. The school's bachelor's program helps prepare graduates to seek work in a variety of fields, such as marketing, mass media, public opinion research and public relations, which could reflect its No. 3 spot on the prominence rating — nearly 5 percent of all degrees granted at Pace University-New York in 2015 were in communications and media.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

1 Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038-1598
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7

University of Minnesota-Crookston

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$10,180
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Students interested in a Bachelor of Science in Communication may want to consider the online program offered at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, which ranked No. 7 overall on our list. Three areas of emphasis are available in this degree program: communication studies, organizational communication/public relations and writing. An online communications minor can also be pursued, providing students another venue for developing communication and media skills. Our No. 7 ranked school scored a No. 11 spot for low in-state tuition and it also had a fairly solid graduation rate. With a 76.8 percent admissions rate, it reached No. 8 on the admission rate metric, making it one of the more accessible schools offering online communications and media degrees.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

2900 University Avenue
Crookston, MN 56716-5001
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8

Arkansas State University-Main Campus

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,000
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
27
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Founded in 1906 as an agriculture school, Arkansas State University has considerably broadened its focus: the school claimed our No. 8 spot for best online colleges in communications and media with their online Bachelor of Arts in communication studies program. That B.A. degree can also be paired with another online bachelor degree — like criminology, political science or sociology — for completion of a dual degree. Coursework in the online bachelor's communication studies program focuses both on theory and experiential learning, creating opportunities for students to gain skills and knowledge to be competitive in the field.

Arkansas State University, also known as A-State, was not a stand-out in any one ranking metric area, but received respectable marks all around. Although the school does not have an open admission policy, 70.2 percent of students were still admitted to its programs in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

2015 E. Aggie Road
Jonesboro, AK 72401
Go to School Website 
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9

Academy of Art University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$20,040
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
67
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Our No. 9 ranked school is unique for offering both an online Bachelor of Arts in communications and media technologies and an online Master of Arts in communications and media technologies. Students in these programs are likely to participate in activities that build their knowledge of media technologies, such as writing and creating broadcast productions for YouTube and video sites.

Founded in San Francisco in 1929, the Academy of Art University ranked in our Top 10 list due to an admissions rate of 100 percent, a reflection of its open admission policy. More than 3 percent of degrees granted at the school in 2015 were in the communications and media field, resulting in a No. 7 spot in the prominence metric.

Accreditation:

  • WASC Senior College and University Commission

Location:

72 New Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94105
Go to School Website 
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10

Georgia Military College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,400
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
21
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Taking our No. 10 spot among the best online colleges for communications and media is Georgia Military College, with a history that dates back to 1879. It now has an online community of more than 1,000 students. The school offers both an online Associate of Arts and an online Associate of Science in mass communication. For students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, GMC’s associate degrees may be accepted by some schools toward completion of a four-year degree. Although GMC is No. 10 on our list, it still garnered a No. 6 spot on the low in-state tuition metric, beating out all other schools on this Top Ten list except for one.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

201 E. Greene Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061
Go to School Website 
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Degree Overview : Communications & Media

The media landscape is constantly changing, and keeping up to date on these innovations is important in order to accurately broadcast messages to the world. The education offered by a communications & media degree program provides a valuable insight into these changes; to learn more about the courses that may be taught in these programs, and the skills they can help students develop, continue reading this section.

Online Communications & Media Courses

Students earning online communications and media degrees can take a number of classes that address specific types of media, as well as message construction. Below are some examples of possible course offerings, some more general to cover any possible communications career, others focused on more specific specializations.

  • Persuasion: No matter what kind of media students are interested in, a class in persuasion can help them learn how to get their messages across in an effective way. Specific topics may include establishing speaker credibility, assessing and meeting the needs of an audience, the difference between persuasion in written and spoken communication, and strategies for crafting a creative campaign.
  • Media law and ethics: It is important for any media student to understand the legal and ethical standards that media professionals are expected to adhere to before they begin disseminating their media to the public. The curriculum of these classes may address privacy, libel, slander, the First Amendment, pornography and the FCC.
  • Documentary production: Aspiring documentarians who want to become the next Ken Burns or Michael Moore will want to take documentary production courses to harness the skills needed to work in this medium. Students may learn about how documentary proposals are created, different techniques for storytelling and what takes place during the preproduction, production, and post-production stages of documentary filmmaking.
  • Photojournalism: Shutterbugs interested in this topic should pursue photojournalism courses. Common topics include how to take and prepare images used for media stories, the journalistic ethics associated with photography and the strategies for telling a story through pictures.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Online programs for communications and media can provide students with more than just information; the coursework can also prove useful for developing important career-relevant skills. Below are examples of some of these possible skills.

  • Public speaking: Professionals who present information to an audience often have the goal of convincing that audience of a certain position or raising awareness about an issue. As a prominent aspect of many communications and media careers, teaching students how to understand an audience and speak to them in an engaging way is a primary concern of many communications programs.
  • Interpersonal: People in the media often work in teams. Professionals need strong interpersonal skills to get along with their colleagues and effectively collaborate on projects.
  • Research: From writing a news story to crafting a marketing campaign to creating a presentation for colleagues, strong research skills are needed for a variety of tasks in this field. The ability to gather relevant information, determine its credibility and make decisions about what it means is easy to practice while completing the assignments of most communications programs.
  • Organizational: The media business is fast paced, so professionals must be able to meet short deadlines and juggle multiple projects at once. The organizational skills students learn as they manage assignments in multiple classes will help them throughout their careers.

Communications and Media Career Outlook

While more traditional forms of media and reporting such as radio and newspapers are admittedly in decline, there are certainly still jobs available in these fields, and much like the perseverance of the paperback despite the rise of the ebook, there will continue to be jobs available in these fields as long as there is a market for them. Furthermore, with the demand for internet information increasing by the day, many of these careers may be available in slightly different forms working for websites and social media.

Public Relations Specialists
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$66,540
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
43,600
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Knowing how to act fast and push a press release out to media outlets or spread a new idea on social media is the sign of a public relations specialist in the making. Some events and trends burn brightly but briefly, while others smolder for years before erupting onto the scene; a public relations specialist uses both to their advantage, riding the wave of the passing fad and looking ahead to predict the next game-changer.

Public relations specialists are pros at communication; they build contacts among all types of media outlets, networking with as many people and experts as they can. A day in the life of a public relations specialist can involve tasks such as phone calls, team planning, speech writing, fielding media questions, evaluating advertising and researching their client's competition.

Media and Communication Workers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$63,130
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
198,200
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.7
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
N/A

The world is wide open for those interested in media and communication workers careers. The field comprises jobs for announcers, editors, photographers, reporters, technical writers and more. An eye for detail and a love of the written word -- or of images -- are musts.

Conveying ideas is just one important responsibility of those in the media and communication field. Workers need to stay up-to-date on issues, and must know how to use the latest software and communications application in an ever-changing digital world. Flexibility and adaptability are also important in this job.

Journalists
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$49,770
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
15,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-8.5
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Whether they're holding interviews to compose a new article or working undercover to uncover the truth in unexpected places, the work of a journalist is diverse and historically influential. One day they might write about a dog who helps his owner run a convenience store; the next they might interview a famous heiress in her glittering penthouse; the next they might uncover the dark secrets of a crooked corporation, directly forcing it to change its ways or close for good. Their work may appear in newspapers, news stations, magazines, cable channels and even radio programs, influencing thousands of people and even the course of history as we know it.

Interviewing people and researching stories is an inherent part of any reporting job. Journalists also need to develop relationships and build up their list of go-to reliable sources.

Radio and Television Announcers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$48,170
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
12,200
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-14.3
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Sometimes it's as much about the voice and personality as the content. Radio and television announcers relay information, news and other content to listeners and fans. They might relay their personal opinions alongside their reports, or encourage discussion as they take calls from listeners, or stay carefully apolitical to give listeners a quiet space away from politics. It's common for people to choose which radio or television stations they consume purely out of loyalty to one particular announcer; these professionals can certainly make quite a difference in the world in this manner.

Radio and television announcers may provide commentary on specific events -- like football or baseball games -- read prepared scripts or make station announcements. Major news stations or satellite radio are potential employers, as are niche channels such as horror movie or classic TV stations. The digital age has even brought about new online applications for these skills, with accessible new professions such as the podcaster or the internet reviewer.

Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

  1. About A-State Online, Arkansas State University, Accessed March 2017, http://degree.astate.edu/about.aspx
  2. About Full Sail's Accreditation, Full Sail University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.fullsailblog.com/about-full-sails-accreditation
  3. About Pace University, Pace University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.pace.edu/about-us/all-about-pace
  4. At a Glance, Georgia Military College, Accessed March 2017, https://www.gmc.edu/about-gmc/at-a-glance-overview.cms
  5. Bachelor of Arts in Communication Online, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Accessed March 2017, http://degree.utpb.edu/programs/online-degree-bachelor-arts-communication.aspx
  6. Communication and Media Online Degree Completion Program, DePaul University, Accessed March 2017, https://communication.depaul.edu/academics/undergraduate-majors/communication-and-media/Pages/online.aspx
  7. Communication Bachelor of Science (BS), University of Minnesota Crookston, Accessed March 2017, https://www.crk.umn.edu/academics/liberal-arts-and-education-department/communication/online
  8. Earn Your Communication Degree, Online Degree Programs, Mississippi College, Accessed March 2017, http://www.mc.edu/online/degree-programs/accelerated/communication/
  9. Mass Communication, Georgia Military College, Accessed March 2017, https://www.gmc.edu/about-gmc/at-a-glance-overview.cms
  10. Media Communications, Full Sail University, Accessed March 2017, https://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/media-communications-bachelor
  11. Online Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Arkansas State University, Accessed March 2017, http://degree.astate.edu/programs/bachelor-of-arts-in-communication-studies.aspx
  12. Online Communications & Media Technologies Degree Program, Academy of Art University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.academyart.edu/academics/communications-media-technologies/online
  13. Online Degree Programs, Undergraduate Degrees, Oral Roberts University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.oru.edu/academics/online-campus/accred-bachelor-deg/
  14. Professional Communication Studies, BS, Pace University-New York, Accessed March 2017, http://www.pace.edu/admissions-aid/ipace-and-continuing-education/ipace-online-degree-completion-program/professional-communication-studies-bs
  15. Regional Accreditation, Mississippi College, Accessed March 2017, http://www.mc.edu/academics/accreditation
  16. Communication and Media, DePaul University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.depaul.edu/academics/undergraduate/majors/Pages/comm-media.aspx
  17. Communication and Media Studies Curriculum, Barry University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.barry.edu/department-of-communication/undergraduate/communication-and-media-studies/curriculum.html
  18. Online Bachelor's Degree in Communication, Southern New Hampshire University, Accessed June 2017, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/ba-in-communication/new-media
  19. CMJ Degree Programs, University of North Georgia, Accessed June 2017, https://ung.edu/communication-media-journalism/
  20. What can I do with a media studies degree?, Prospects.ac.uk, Accessed June 2017, https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/media-studies
  21. What Can I Do With a Major in Communication, St. Norbert College, Accessed June 2017, https://www.snc.edu/careers/students/programs/communication.html
  22. 3 Skills All Communications Majors Must Have, The Princeton Review, Accessed June 2017, https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/communications-majors-career-skills
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Sources and Methodologies