We’ve done the research and created comprehensive guides to online schools for communications & media. Continue below and dive into the details on communications & media degree programs, tuition and fees, related career outlooks, employable skills and much more.
Oct 03, 2018 | By OnlineColleges Editors
Education in the communications and media field opens up many possibilities for a long-term, successful career in many for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies. 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 attention in a 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 can be an excellent foundation for satisfying that need.
Best Online Colleges for Communications and Media in 2018-19
Anyone thinking about studying communications and media in college may find it challenging to identify all of the program options and pick out the best ones. Don't worry, we're here to help! We've analyzed schools across the U.S. on numerous metrics, including in-state tuition and graduation rates, using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). With this data and our unique methodology, we've created this list of the 10 best online colleges for communications and media.
Founded in 1873 as a private liberal arts college, Drury University reaches out to U.S. and international students through its main campus in Missouri, its satellite campus on the Greek island of Aegina, and the online portal hosted by its College of Continuing Professional Studies. Among the university's online programs is a Bachelor of Science in organizational communication and development, which requires a minimum of 36 credit hours to complete.
Drury also offers students the option of pursuing an M.A. in communication, which requires at least 30 credit hours. Those who are accepted to this program must choose between the Integrated Marketing Communications and the Organizational Leadership and Change tracks. Since Drury's online courses start every eight to sixteen weeks, this M.A. can be completed in as few as 18 months.
Online University of Phoenix students interested in the field of communication can opt to enroll in the university's online bachelor's program, which culminates in a Bachelor of Science in Communication. This program requires 120 credit hours to complete and can be completed one course at a time -- a boon for busy working professionals or those with other pressing obligations.
The for-profit University of Phoenix offers generous transfer policies and a variety of financing options to help students complete the program. With an open admissions policy and several start dates throughout the academic year, UOPX students are able to take more control of their educational pursuits.
A nonprofit, Christ-centered private college with generous transfer and military benefits, Liberty University's strong online department can help each student get the attention they need to complete the education they deserve. Those seeking a wide variety of communications program options can find it at Liberty, from the online bachelor's program in business administration with an emphasis on communications, to several online master's and graduate certificate paths.
When crafting their degree path, students can choose from tracks such as organizational communication, communications and human services, and strategic communications, as well as four tracks -- project management, public relations, digital marketing and advertising, and sports marketing and media -- under the online Master in Marketing umbrella.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
*NOTE: Kaplan University has merged with Purdue University Global since this list was made. Please contact Purdue Global University-Omaha to learn whether the merged school can still fulfill your transferring needs.
The Bachelor of Science in Communication program at Kaplan University emphasizes writing and speaking skills, team building, resolution of complex workplace issues, creating multimedia presentations and websites, understanding the governmental, ethical and legal issues in communication, and tracking new trends and emerging tech. The university offers rolling start dates, open admissions and a self-paced curriculum, with the goal of helping students reach their required 180 credit hours in a way that is most suitable to their busy schedule.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to a few different options for communication majors, especially those who want to make their mark in the world of health care. The asynchronous Health Communication Online Master of Science program explores ways to help others change their behaviors through strategic communication. There are multiple specializations available for this program, allowing students to focus their studies on family, interpersonal, organizational, cultural or socially-mediated communication.
Aspiring communicators can also pursue the Health Communication Online Certificate, a 12-credit program that can be completed in less than one year. The certificate courses are targeted toward the specialization a student wants to pursue, including those in interpersonal, organizational or social/mediated health communication.
National University, a veteran-founded institution, is part of the National University system: a network of nonprofit institutions that connect a diverse population of students to innovative educational opportunities. The university's students enroll in one class per month, giving them the time to dive into each course in depth and the flexibility to fit each class into their schedule.
In the field of communication, National University offers two degree levels for aspiring students: the online bachelor's in strategic communications -- designed to teach skills relevant to entry-level positions in advertising, public relations, corporate communications and more -- or the online master's in strategic communications -- which helps students learn how to develop strategic communications programs for a global environment.
Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Those seeking a communications degree have two options to choose from at California Baptist University, where online programs are one of the cornerstones of education. The Bachelor of Arts in communication studies requires 48 major units to complete, with an average completion time of 16 months. Admission requires at least a high school diploma, 24 transfer credits preferred, and a 2.0 GPA. The Master of Arts in communication requires 30 major units to complete, which takes an average of 12 months.
Accelerated classes begin every eight weeks at CBUOnline, and though they are entirely online, students can take advantage of a wealth of resources, including access to an online career center, faculty support, the One-Stop Student Service Advisor and an academic success center.
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission
If you're looking for versatility and customizability in an online communications degree program, Mississippi College might be the place to start your search. Mississippi College's specialty is not in number of degree programs -- although it does offer programs at both the master's degree level and the bachelor's degree level -- but in the number of focuses it offers between all these programs. For example, at the master's degree level, students can choose between a journalism concentration, a theater concentration, a professional communication in sports program or a professional communication in health services program, to name just a few.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
In 2001, the University of Minnesota-Crookston awarded its first bachelor's degree for a program completed 100 percent online -- a Bachelor of Applied Health. This made it the first campus within the University of Minnesota system to offer an online degree program.
In the years since, the number of online degree programs at U of M-Crookston has expanded greatly, and one of the many options available is a Bachelor of Science in communication. 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, offering a venue for students of other subjects to develop their communication and media skills.
As the name suggests, San Diego Christian College is a Christian college located in southern California. The school seeks to equip an academic and learning community, foster a Biblical worldview and inspire cultural and global involvement among graduates. For those with an interest in communications and media, SDCC offers a fully online B.A. in communication program. Each course in this program takes five weeks to complete; 123 degree credits are required, so students should expect up to four years of study. Though these courses can be taken entirely online, students who want a more in-person experience can opt for flexible hybrid courses instead.
Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Degree Overview : Communications and 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 Specializations
The communications and media field is highly competitive, and with so many people vying for jobs, it's important to get an edge on the competition. While certifications are not required for employment, earning one can go a long way toward impressing a prospective employer and standing out from the crowd. The following are some of the certifications workers can earn.
The Global Communication Certification Council awards Communication Management Professional (CMP) and Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) certifications for those who demonstrate knowledge of ethics, analysis, context, strategy and engagement.
The American Management Association has a certification for business communicators in management and non-management positions.
The STC Certification, which is offered by the Society for Technical Communication, is available to those that demonstrate knowledge of the profession's best practices. There are three levels of certification offered: foundation, practitioner, and expert.
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
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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.
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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
Projected Job Openings
Projected Job Growth
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.
About A-State Online, Arkansas State University, Accessed March 2017, http://degree.astate.edu/about.aspx
About Full Sail's Accreditation, Full Sail University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.fullsailblog.com/about-full-sails-accreditation
About Pace University, Pace University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.pace.edu/about-us/all-about-pace
At a Glance, Georgia Military College, Accessed March 2017, https://www.gmc.edu/about-gmc/at-a-glance-overview.cms
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
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
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
Earn Your Communication Degree, Online Degree Programs, Mississippi College, Accessed March 2017, http://www.mc.edu/online/degree-programs/accelerated/communication/
Mass Communication, Georgia Military College, Accessed March 2017, https://www.gmc.edu/about-gmc/at-a-glance-overview.cms
Media Communications, Full Sail University, Accessed March 2017, https://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/media-communications-bachelor
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
Online Communications & Media Technologies Degree Program, Academy of Art University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.academyart.edu/academics/communications-media-technologies/online
Online Degree Programs, Undergraduate Degrees, Oral Roberts University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.oru.edu/academics/online-campus/accred-bachelor-deg/
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
Regional Accreditation, Mississippi College, Accessed March 2017, http://www.mc.edu/academics/accreditation
Communication and Media, DePaul University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.depaul.edu/academics/undergraduate/majors/Pages/comm-media.aspx
Communication and Media Studies Curriculum, Barry University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.barry.edu/department-of-communication/undergraduate/communication-and-media-studies/curriculum.html
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
CMJ Degree Programs, University of North Georgia, Accessed June 2017, https://ung.edu/communication-media-journalism/
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
What Can I Do With a Major in Communication, St. Norbert College, Accessed June 2017, https://www.snc.edu/careers/students/programs/communication.html
3 Skills All Communications Majors Must Have, The Princeton Review, Accessed June 2017, https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/communications-majors-career-skills
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, California Baptist University, https://www.cbuonline.edu/degrees/bachelor-of-arts-in-communication-studies
Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications, National University, https://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/CollegeOfLettersAndSciences/ArtsAndHumanities/Programs/BAStratCom.html?reftab=flt
Bachelor of Science in Communication, Purdue University Global, https://www.purdueglobal.edu/degree-programs/social-behavioral-sciences/bachelor-communication/?wid=1&AOI=Business&page=2#startDatesAnchor
Bachelor of Science in Communication, University of Phoenix, https://www.phoenix.edu/programs/degree-programs/arts-and-sciences/bachelors/bs-com.html
CCPS Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication and Development, Drury University, http://www.drury.edu/ccps/about-the-ccps-organizational-communication-and-development-program
Communication, B.A., San Diego Christian College, https://sdcc.edu/online-and-adult/communication-ba/
Communications, Liberty University, https://www.liberty.edu/ms/libertyonlinedegrees/communications.php
Health Communication, Illinois Online, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://online.illinois.edu/online-programs/graduate-programs/health-communication
Health Communication Online Certificate, Illinois Online, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://online.illinois.edu/online-programs/graduate-certificates/health-communication-online-certificate
Master of Arts in Communication, California Baptist University, https://www.cbuonline.edu/degrees/master-of-arts-in-communication
Master of Arts in Strategic Communications, National University, https://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/CollegeOfLettersAndSciences/ArtsAndHumanities/Programs/710-507.html?reftab=flt
M.A. in Communication, Drury University, http://www.drury.edu/communication-masters/about-the-ma-in-communication