Online Communications Degrees & Programs

Students hoping to achieve an online degree in communications have numerous opportunities to explore. Online communications programs were among the first to be delivered via distance learning, and remain popular higher educational options today. But how do students find the right one? The following page makes it easier to locate quality online communications programs, whether at the associate, bachelor's or graduate level. It offers an in-depth guide to earning an online communications degree, from day one all the way to graduation and beyond. So whether you want a list of programs or more information about the discipline, this page can help.

Top Online Communications Degrees for 2015

Those searching for the right online communication degree will find they have many different options. From digital media to global strategic communications to rhetoric studies, colleges and universities across the nation offer a range of online degree options for aspiring communications professionals.

While most accredited online communications programs will teach students how to effectively persuade various target audiences, as well as enhance research and presentation skills in order to prepare graduates for a successful career, there are some colleges and universities that stand out; either for cost or quality or because of the range of online communications degrees offered. The following colleges have been recognized for being among the top for online communications programs in 2015.

To learn more about our selection criteria, please visit our methodology page.

ACO Score: 97.18 Student to teacher ratio: 17:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Minnesota

Students may pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Communication degree offered by the University of Minnesota Crookston through the University of Minnesota Crookston’s Digital Campus. Students choose one of three areas of concentration: writing, organizational communications/public relations or communication studies, which focuses on the theory, practice and analysis of communication. Courses for the writing emphasis explore the use of language and standard formats for promotional, technical and business writing. Communication majors can learn about the creation of reports, presentations, press releases, newsletters, brochures and flyers, while building portfolios to demonstrate their skills.

ACO Score: 96.51 Student to teacher ratio: 21:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Florida

The University of Florida has online degree options for both undergraduate and graduate students seeking a communications degree. Undergraduate students can find an online bachelor’s degree program in telecommunication media and society, which covers both digital and traditional forms of communication. Also available online is a master’s degree in mass communication with an emphasis in global strategic communications, social media, or web design and online communication. Graduate students can specialize even further with a Master of Science in Agricultural Education and Communication, which examines public relations and journalism relating to the field of agriculture. Each program has separate admission and graduation requirements, but all of them can be completed online.

ACO Score: 96.22 Student to teacher ratio: 11:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Ohio

Hiram College students can earn a bachelor’s degree in communication online. The program offers two choices of concentration: mediated communication — for example, public relations and digital media — or organizational, which focuses on professional and business communication. Each concentration requires 120 credits to graduate, with 38-39 from courses for the major, 39-48 credits from general education courses, and 33-43 credit hours for electives. Required subjects include human communication theory, communication between cultures and a survey of journalism.

Applications for online programs are accepted at any time, and Hiram College has six start dates throughout the year. Web-based courses usually last eight weeks. Course content is delivered via the Internet and using the Moodle platform.

ACO Score: 96.09 Student to teacher ratio: 11:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Kentucky

The University of Louisville allows students to pursue either a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in communication through online study. The major requirements for these web-based communication degrees can be earned in as little as two years. The programs contain 15 hours of communication electives and 21 core hours applied toward the 121 credits required for graduation. The B.A. program follows the same format as the B.S. degree, but requires more liberal arts and language courses. Students may complete their general education requirements in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and transfer their credits toward either program.

ACO Score: 95.68 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Illinois

Through DePaul University’s online degree completion program, students can finish a bachelor’s degree in communication and media. Students must transfer to the program with 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of college credit and good academic standing at their last school of attendance. They must complete most or all of their communication courses through DePaul. Students may test out of certain requirements, such as modern languages, English composition and the science inquiry lab. The instructors who teach on-site courses also teach the online classes, and the graduation requirements are the same for on-campus and online students. The program includes a senior capstone project and offers the opportunity for internships.

ACO Score: 95.58 Student to teacher ratio: 18:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: California

Communications students at California Baptist University can choose from three online undergraduate degree completion programs and one online graduate program. Available majors include communication studies, graphic design and digital media, and interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in communication arts. Requirements for these programs range from 49 to 53 credit hours beyond the undergraduate general education prerequisites. Students looking to further their studies for personal or professional fulfillment can earn a master’s degree in communication.

Online students work with individual advisors, and California Baptist University strives to offer an interactive learning environment. Distance learners can visit one of CBU’s professional studies locations for access to a variety of student and academic resources.

ACO Score: 95.31 Student to teacher ratio: 14:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Texas

Dallas Baptist University offers a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in communication that students can complete 100 percent online. This 120-credit program allows students time for their current responsibilities while they earn their degree through DBU’s professional studies department.

Class topics include small group communication, communication styles for business, and desktop publishing and design. A course in leadership communications includes a field-based service learning component in addition to online instruction. Beyond the 30 credit hours for the major, course work is required in general subjects such as English, mathematics, social science and religion.

ACO Score: 95.15 Student to teacher ratio: 23:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Arizona

Arizona State University has a wide range of communication degrees offered completely online, including the Bachelor of Science in Communication. Students can choose from bachelor’s degrees in business communication, film and media studies, mass communication and media studies, nutrition communication and technical communication. An online master’s degree in American media and popular culture is also available. Students access course materials through Learning Studio, ASU’s web-based course management system, and most courses last about eight weeks. ASU has a designated community for remote students through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and a variety of online clubs and organizations.

ACO Score: 94.94 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: North Carolina

Appalachian State University offers online and hybrid academic programs, one of which is a bachelor’s degree in communication focused on advertising. This degree completion program uses a blended format, where students take 57 hours of upper-division coursework through online and in-person instruction. Online students work alongside a group of peers who have completed program prerequisites, usually through a college transfer program.

The curriculum explores elements of media graphics, publishing and production as well as the legal aspects of advertising. Those pursuing the advertising major must also choose a minor program of study, which may offer some classes online. The university encourages interested individuals to inquire about the availability of specific courses and programs.

ACO Score: 94.73 Student to teacher ratio: 15:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Mississippi

Mississippi College students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Communication via an accelerated degree program that offers online and evening classes. In this program students can develop skills in speaking, writing and public presentation. They can take up to 12 credit hours each semester as two eight-week sessions or enroll in classes following the standard 16-week semester schedule. Subjects for core college courses include English, history, the Bible, science, math, fine arts, social science and technology. There are also required courses for the major, including communication research, public speaking, mass media and journalism. Students in this program complete 18 credit hours for a minor and 27 hours of electives.

ACO Score: 94 Student to teacher ratio: 27:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Florida

Florida International University offers a fully online bachelor’s degree in organizational communication studies. The program uses case studies to examine the role of communication in business and public relations, with an emphasis on management, leadership and team building. Students can take courses in persuasion, intercultural/interracial communication, artistic expression, social media and conflict management. Also available online is a master’s degree in global strategic communications.

Each online student is assigned a personal success coach to provide guidance throughout the program. Students also receive online assistance for public speaking and professional communication courses through FIU’s Communication Arts Studio. In addition to the Blackboard learning management system, FIU Online uses distance education tools for collaboration, presentations and group meetings.

ACO Score: 93.77 Student to teacher ratio: 14:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Tennessee

The University of Memphis offers an online program that leads to a bachelor’s degree in communication. In a related field, students can pursue an online bachelor’s degree in English and choose a concentration such as professional writing. These online undergraduate programs require 120 credit hours.

Communication majors learn how to apply communication effectively in a variety of different settings. Courses in public relations focus on how to create awareness for a company, manage crises that might threaten an organization and build goodwill in target markets. Also available from the University of Memphis is an online program leading to a master’s degree in journalism.

ACO Score: 93.43 Student to teacher ratio: 12:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Illinois

Students of National Louis University can earn their Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communications through online and blended program offerings. The 15 courses required for the major are available online, and the program incorporates on-campus workshops for hands-on experience. While earning their degrees, students are mentored by a professional in the communications field so they can learn more about the industry. Required courses include effective speaking, basic statistics, writing in a digital age and modern advertising.

Students earning this communications degree from National Louis University can choose a minor such as psychology. A concentration in entrepreneurship can also be added, which includes courses featuring team projects.

ACO Score: 93.17 Student to teacher ratio: 26:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University has a number of online degree programs for students interested in the field of communications. The Bachelor of Arts in Communication offers specializations in professional writing or public relations. An online bachelor’s degree program is available in marketing, with a concentration in social media. The master’s degree program in communication provides a choice of emphasis such as new media and marketing, public relations or health communication. Each program has its own admission and graduation requirements, and some ask applicants to submit a statement of purpose explaining their desire to be a part of a particular program as well as an academic writing sample.

ACO Score: 93.17 Student to teacher ratio: 11:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: North Dakota

Valley City State University offers both a B.A. and a B.S. in Professional Communication-Corporate entirely online. The curriculum focuses on marketing training and development, and is designed to serve as a platform to further education in theology, law, counseling, and college administration.

In their junior year, students will participate in an internship. The goal is to provide students with real world, hands on education and experience that makes their degree more marketable. Potential internships include: training, major event planning, technical writing, communication audits, marketing, crisis communication, and human resources.

ACO Score: 93.12 Student to teacher ratio: 18:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Indiana

Indiana University offers online degree completion programs for both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in communication studies. Degree completion programs serve students who have already earned some college credit. The B.A. degree in communication has more courses in liberal arts and humanities, while the B.S. track features more science courses. The curriculum includes subjects such as communication theories, public relations and nonverbal communication.

IU Online also has a bachelor’s degree completion program in English, technical and professional writing. This program has courses in argumentative writing, science writing, literary interpretation, literature and advanced technical writing. Students earning this degree earn 60 credits over six semesters if they’ve already completed general education requirements.

ACO Score: 93.03 Student to teacher ratio: 17:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Georgia

Columbus State University has a “DegreeIn3″ program for online students who seek a bachelor’s degree in communication. Depending on their schedule, students can complete their studies completely online in three years. This undergraduate program, which emphasizes civic leadership, has courses in subjects such as interpersonal and intercultural communication, public relations, and communication for community and organizational contexts.

Students complete project and internship work in their own geographic area, and the university offers online proctoring services for examinations. Academic advisors are available to assist students with registration and to answer questions about class availability. Students have access to online tech support 24 hours a day, and courses are offered throughout the year, including the “Maymester” and summer sessions.

ACO Score: 93.02 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Minnesota

Concordia University _ Saint Paul provides two online programs in communications: a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in strategic communication management. The undergraduate major consists of 44credit hours, with courses available in an accelerated 7-week format. Outside of this program, students fulfill additional course requirements culminating in 128 credit hours needed for the bachelor’s degree.

The graduate program is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree and want to further their studies in the field of corporate communication. The 36-credit program also provides blended and on-campus options. Online courses may have scheduling requirements such as attendance during “live” class sessions, which are typically offered in the evening.

ACO Score: 92.95 Student to teacher ratio: 11:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Illinois

Roosevelt University’s undergraduate organizational communication degree is a fast-track degree for adults, delivered online through tools such as the Blackboard platform. Fast-track programs move at a quicker pace than normal offerings, and new classes begin every eight weeks year-round.

This Bachelor of Arts degree looks at communication in large and small organizations, with an emphasis on virtual interactions. Students can learn to analyze organizational communication and make suggestions for improvement. Required classes include the theory and use of media outlets, persuasion and presentation skills, group dynamics and facilitation, and organization development. Of the 120 credit hours required, 18 must be from a minor or functional area, chosen by the student and an advisor.

ACO Score: 92.88 Student to teacher ratio: 20:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire offers an online Bachelor of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership and Communication, as well as an online Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The bachelor program is a 60-credit degree that is designed for adults who already have an associate’s degree or some college credits. It is also available as a 12-credit certificate.

The online graduate program is part time and requires three years to complete. Both programs are approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

ACO Score: 92.85 Student to teacher ratio: 14:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Delaware

Wilmington University offers a Bachelor of Science in Communication degree online. This program requires students to complete 39 credits of general education courses and 30 credits of communication core courses. Students working toward their degree must select one of the following areas of concentration: Integrated Marketing Communications or Media Communication.

Both concentrations require between 24-47 credits, with between 15 and 27 elective credits and any additional coursework required to meet the 120-credit graduation standard. All courses are taught by the same faculty and instructors who teach on the traditional physical campus.

ACO Score: 92.58 Student to teacher ratio: 15:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: New York

Dominican College offers its students an accelerated online bachelor’s degree program in communication studies. The curriculum includes persuasion and argumentation, gender communication, communication theory and a senior research seminar. This 120-credit program has frequent start dates throughout the year, and students can complete up to 36 credits each year in the accelerated program. A bachelor’s degree requires 90 hours of liberal arts studies in addition to courses for the major.

Online students have access to on-campus student services from Dominican College, including learning resources and the campus ministry. Course content is delivered through digital technology such as the Blackboard learning platform.

ACO Score: 92.51 Student to teacher ratio: 19:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: North Dakota

The University of North Dakota’s online bachelor’s degree program in communication starts three times a year ã in the fall, spring and summer. It consists of 125 credits and typically takes at least four years to complete. Online students can apply for the in-state tuition rate no matter where they live.

Students may customize their communication degree by choosing from several areas of focus, including media studies, print journalism, advertising, public relations, organizational communication and interpersonal communication. Another option, an emphasis in health communication, offers courses such as medical sociology and health promotion. The online undergraduate program provides opportunities for participation in internships or cooperative education.

ACO Score: 92.39 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: New Hampshire

Plymouth State University students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication online through the Division of Online and Continuing Studies. This degree program allows students to specialize in either professional communication or in film and media studies. The curriculum includes course work on communication technology, theory and research methods, with 15 credits in core classes and 30 credits for the concentration.

The media studies program investigates media history, criticism and production, with classes on media effects, film analysis, and game design and development. The professional communication track focuses on persuasive communication, and some classes are taken through the business department. Potential subjects include organizational communications, principles of marketing, business and the media, and corporate public relations.

ACO Score: 91.95 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Missouri

Students of the University of Missouri-St. Louis have access to a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree completion program with online study options. The program offers concentrations in communication and related fields such as film studies and media studies. This degree program allows students to tailor their coursework around their own schedules and interests. Several courses are blended, meaning that students receive most instruction online, with limited on-campus attendance required. The university provides more than 150 courses online, including many of those needed to satisfy general education requirements.

ACO Score: 91.94 Student to teacher ratio: 24:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Minnesota

Minnesota State University-Mankato has several communications-related online study options. Students interested in technical communication can find an online bachelor’s degree completion program, a master’s degree program and an undergraduate minor requiring 16 credits. Students at MSU-Mankato have the option of earning an online master’s degree in communication studies. This program consists of 36 credit hours from classes such as communication research methods and communication pedagogy.

In a related field, MSU-Mankato offers a master’s degree in library media education designed for practicing teachers. Also available online are undergraduate and graduate certificates in subjects such as communication education and professional communication. Online programs often include an internship, although individuals with work experience may be exempt from this requirement.

ACO Score: 91.72 Student to teacher ratio: 20:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Pennsylvania

Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers two online programs in communication: a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in communication as well as a master’s degree in mass media arts and journalism. The undergraduate curriculum can give students a background in mass communication, writing and communication theory. The master’s degree requires 36 credit hours and a thesis, and it allows students to choose their final project, for example, an internship or a portfolio. Students in distance education programs have access to online services including tutoring and writing assistance, textbook loans, counseling resources, and an orientation to the virtual campus and the Desire2Learn platform.

ACO Score: 91.42 Student to teacher ratio: 16:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Colorado

University of Colorado Denver students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree online. The undergraduate communication program focuses on active learning with internships, projects and a capstone course. Students learn how communication plays a part in everyday life, in organizations and in public affairs. A related online program in English writing targets skills that can be useful in digital media and professional communications. The English writing degree consists of 39 credits, 27 of which must be in upper-division courses. Available courses change each semester, but may include multimedia composition, technical writing, language theory and business writing.

ACO Score: 90.74 Student to teacher ratio: 17:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: New Mexico

The University of New Mexico offers an online bachelor’s degree in communication through the Department of Communication and Journalism. This degree completion program focuses on organizational communication. For a major in communication, students complete 36 hours of departmental courses, consisting of 15 core courses, 12 electives and nine hours in the concentration, in addition to other university requirements for graduation.

Online UNM courses follow the same semester-based schedule as traditional, on-campus classes. Students access lessons, receive instruction and submit work through the Blackboard learning management platform. While instruction is delivered primarily through digital means, courses may have scheduled activities or in-person requirements such as proctored exams.

ACO Score: 90.24 Student to teacher ratio: 18:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Tennessee

Austin Peay State University offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts, with an information specialist concentration. This online program covers trends in mass communication, public affairs, promotion and publicity. While content is delivered through the course management system, Desire2Learn, classes may require proctored or in-person exams.

Students looking for advanced opportunities in distance education can also earn a master’s degree in corporate communication. This APSU program has both a fast track, consisting of one year and two summer sessions, and a professional track, which requires two years and two summer sessions. Web-based graduate programs in communication often include research projects or a thesis.

ACO Score: 90.19 Student to teacher ratio: 19:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: Texas

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree online. Students can earn the required 120 credits in as little as one year, depending on the time they can devote to their studies. Each course lasts seven and a half weeks, and this program has six start dates per year. Students focus on a variety of issues related to communication today, such as the modern media, crisis communication and public messaging. Course topics include organizational, interpersonal and nonverbal communication, as well as metrics for measurement in communication.

ACO Score: 89.18 Student to teacher ratio: 11:1 Academic/Career Counseling: Yes State: New Hampshire

Granite State College provides two different bachelor’s degrees related to communications for students looking for online programs. The bachelor’s degree program in communication studies requires 120 credit hours in areas such as organizational behavior, social media trends and professional writing. The undergraduate program in digital and social media explores topics including interpersonal communication, marketing, media messages, and privacy and ethics.

Other online offerings include an associate degree in communication sciences, but this program is focused on speech and language disorders rather than business and professional communications. Online programs from Granite State College allow full-time or part-time enrollment, and students can inquire about transferring credits from previous schools or even work and life experience.

A Complete Guide to Online Communications Programs

Communications degrees are most commonly associated with a career in media. Journalists, reporters, broadcasters and other media professionals deliver information visually, verbally or in print to audiences across the globe. A communications degree, however, does not necessitate a career in media. Students who complete online communications programs often find jobs in wide range of unaffiliated industries and careers, including advertising, marketing and public relations. Communications majors not only open the door to diverse career choices, but they also face a lower rate of unemployment than most other majors. Let’s take a detailed look at online communications degrees at each level of higher education.

The Online Communications Degree Timeline

Although some uniform standards apply, there is no set timeline that every student will follow during his or her pursuit of a communications degree online. One student may begin at the associate level and work through a master’s, while another may begin at a bachelor’s degree and make it terminal. This same variation occurs with delivery mode. Although most students opt for a fully campus-based program, some take a handful of online classes to increase flexibility, and others go the full online route to maximize it. The following timeline explores all online communications degree options from start to finish, including purpose, example courses, and, perhaps most importantly, what to look for when it comes to quality.

Online Associate Degree – Two Years

Associate of Arts degrees are available online, but they are not nearly as common as more in-depth degrees. They are offered primarily by community colleges, or by fully online schools that specialize in distance learning. A two-year program may provide students with rudimentary theoretical and historical aspects of communication. It is possible to enter the workforce with only an associate degree, but they would likely be locked out of many media and marketing jobs. In addition to mandatory core courses, an associate degree is comprised of general education units and electives. Unlike other fields that provide certificates, communication is a field that generally requires a full degree. Therefore, institutions offering 2-year degrees online are rare in comparison to the many schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in communications online.

Seminole State College of Florida
  • Enrollment: 27,853
  • Tuition: $3,131
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Associate in Arts Major in Human Communication
National University
  • Enrollment: 15,925
  • Tuition: $11,736
  • College Type: Private
  • State: California
  • Associate of Arts in Communications
Midland College
  • Enrollment: 11,007
  • Tuition: $3,180
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Texas
  • Associate of Arts in Communications
  • Associate of Applied Science in Communications

Online Bachelor’s Degree – Four Years

Communication is among the 10 most popular undergraduate majors in the country (Source: US News and World Report). Although the basis of a communications degree is dissemination of information through the written and spoken word, students should expect to supplement their instruction with courses in graphic design, layout, public speaking, research and media writing. Communications majors will hone their skills in the art of communicating ideas by gathering information and relaying it through writing, video, television, the Internet, social media or some combination of them all. Common courses or specializations in a 4-year online communications program include:

Broadcast journalism: Students will become proficient in the dissemination of information through the visual- and audio-based mediums of radio, video and television. They will study reporting with audio and video, broadcast newsroom basics, the nuances of editing, the editorial process, ethics and standards in broadcast journalism, writing for broadcast and documentary production.

New media: As the digital age continues to advance the evolution of journalistic mediums and practices, the coursework involved with the study of new media changes and evolve right along with them. New media studies include social media relations, social media marketing, social media technology, multi-media design and applications, web and graphic design, advertising in electronic media, electronic media platforms such as blogs, new media presentation and layout and digital media law.

Videography: Photojournalists and videographers wield a power unrivaled by any other player in the field. Video delivers the stimuli of sound and sight simultaneously, creating compelling content that is the most viewed and most shared on the Internet. Students will learn about editing software, evolving camera technology, video for mobile, multimedia reporting, storytelling through video, raw footage editing, sports video, live video vs. stock video, audio principles, subtitling, video graphics and writing for video.

Other primary courses include:

  • Advertising
  • Creative Writing
  • Civics
  • Debate and Speech
  • Media Psychology
  • Public Speaking
  • Research
  • Social Media

Applying to an Online Bachelor’s Program

The application process and requirements can differ widely depending on the college or university, the program or type of degree. Virtually all credible online communications programs, however, will require some form of the following:

  1. Formal application: These used to be giant booklets that were mailed, filled out, and mailed back. Now — especially for online programs — they can be done digitally, with supporting documentation either mailed or faxed. The formal application tells schools about a student, their background and other important personal and academic information.
  2. Academic transcripts: Virtually all online communications programs require transcripts from high school, from a previously attended college or, in some cases, from a different division within the same college or university. These requirements can vary wildly. Highly selective colleges accept fewer than 25 percent of applicants. Many others accept more than three-quarters. Open admissions colleges accept virtually all high school graduates.
  3. Test scores: Unless you’re transferring, most accredited colleges and universities put some weight on standardized tests like SAT or ACT. In the modern era, however, many schools place far less emphasis on these tests than they used to. Find out from your prospective schools what the standardized test requirements are for their online communications degree programs.
  4. Other Considerations: Many schools heavily weigh grades and test scores with mitigating factors, such as the level of difficulty of high school courses, participation in extracurricular activities, community service, recommendations from teachers and other community leaders and an admissions essay or statement of purpose.
Florida International University
  • Enrollment: 51,334
  • Tuition: $6,417
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts - Organizational Communications Track
University of Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 44,332
  • Tuition: $13,459
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Minnesota
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication
University of Maryland
  • Enrollment: 43,574
  • Tuition: $6,384
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Maryland
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies
Arizona State University
  • Enrollment: 43,072
  • Tuition: $9,724
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Arizona
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business (Communication)

Master of Arts in Communications

Full-time students generally finish an online M.A. in communications in a year, part-time students in two years. Master’s courses are taken following the successful completion of a B.A. or B.S. in Communication with a minimum GPA, usually at least 3.0. Just as when applying for undergraduate programs, mitigating factors such as strong recommendations are factored into acceptance decisions. Some master’s programs require hybrid study, which is dominated by online coursework, but supplemented with on-campus requirements.

Master of Science in Communications

Online M.S. Communications degrees are still fairly rare. Walden University’s fully online program, for example, is one of the first of its kind. It can be completed in 20 months, and it focuses on career preparation in the global marketplace. It requires 30 total semester credits. The goal of an M.S. in communications is to provide students with additional advanced study in the field of communication to help prepare them for communication careers in business, industry, or media. Generally, a student will choose two main areas of study.

University of Florida
  • Enrollment: 20,747
  • Tuition: $12,642
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Master of Arts in Mass Communication - Web Design And Online Communication
  • Master of Arts in Mass Communication - Global Strategic Communications
National University
  • Enrollment: 14,242
  • Tuition: $10,368
  • College Type: Private
  • State: California
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
Florida State University
  • Enrollment: 10,324
  • Tuition: $11,543
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Master of Science in Communication Disorders
Georgia State University
  • Enrollment: 9,309
  • Tuition: $8,392
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Georgia
  • Master of Science in Communication Sciences And Disorders
West Virginia University
  • Enrollment: 8,806
  • Tuition: $7,218
  • College Type: Public
  • State: West Virginia
  • Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications

Doctor of Philosophy in Communications

Many universities and colleges offer doctoral degrees in communication online. A PhD qualifies and prepares students to teach communications and conduct research at the university level. Many programs grant students assistantships once they are accepted. Coursework requires students to demonstrate a broad knowledge in the field, as well as the ability to identify, explain and evaluate primary theories. Generally, it takes three years to complete a PhD. This includes coursework, as well as examinations. Most programs expect students to become broadly knowledgeable while displaying expertise in at least two areas of research. Students are also required to write and defend doctoral dissertations. A dissertation is a student’s first independent research and significant contribution to their field. Some dissertations find their way into academic or industry publications.

Finding a Quality Online Communications Program

Online communications degrees can focus on anything from journalism to marketing. They can be started at the two-year associate level and taken all the way to PhD. Like any other degree program, some are better than others. No matter what program you choose, look for these criteria.


Accreditation ensures an independent agency has reviewed a college or university to ensure it meets high and consistent academic standards, and that it has the financial resources to meet these standards. Accredited online communications programs have received an official stamp of approval that is recognized by other schools, employers and the government.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, or ACEJMC, is the agency responsible for the evaluation of professional journalism and mass communications programs in colleges and universities. ACEJMC requires its programs to provide retention and graduation data to the public. Data are to be published on the program’s website and updated annually. Programs not meeting this requirement are placed on probation.

Student and Alumni Support

There is a direct correlation between student support and graduation rates. A dedicated advisor should help a student from the enrollment process through graduation. A student should be able to change advisors at any time. Upon graduation, alumni should — for the rest of their lives — receive support from their college or university in career advancement or in the pursuit of further post-secondary education.

The Right Resources

Nowhere is it more important to have stellar supporting resources than in online education. Since the student will be limited to predominantly digital interaction, it is important to look for communication technology, remote support, digital libraries and other platforms that empower students.

Scheduling Flexibility and Qualified Staff

Students must be able to take classes on schedules that suit their needs and lifestyles. Courses should be available on a part-time or full-time basis, night and day, and seasonal and out-of-session options should be available. Instructors should be university or college professors who teach at the physical campus, as well.

Interview with an Online Communications Graduate

Want to learn about an online communications degree? Then it’s time to hear from someone at the source. A graduate who has experienced the pros, cons, highs and lows of the journey and emerged with degree in hand. Let’s hear how Pubudu, an immigrant from Sudan, viewed his online communications program at the University of Maryland.

What were your biggest challenges?

Staying motivated. When I started classes, I was working full time, so I originally though the biggest challenge would be finding time to do the coursework. But once I settled in, I became my own worst enemy. It wasn’t that I lacked time to get the work done. I lacked motivation. The beginning was tough because I didn’t have the motivating pressure of physical presence, of having to physically show up. Before this, every academic pursuit came with built-in pressure, kind of like “show up here at this time with this book.” The flexibility of online learning put me in charge. Eventually I became my own drill sergeant. But in the first six weeks or so, I struggled.

What most surprised you about online learning?

The personal relationships I developed with the professor and the other students. I went into it with the assumption that online learning was very impersonal — that since it was geographically distant, it must be emotionally distant, as well. I think it was more personal — more one on one — than physical classes I took in the past.

What made you pursue communications?

In Sudan, where I grew up, war was a fact of life. My mother and my brother escaped to the United States before the fighting affected us directly, but this was not the case for many of our friends and family. When Western media outlets began showing up, things got better wherever they went. It was like the men perpetrating the violence knew that with news media there, the horrible acts they committed wouldn’t remain secret, so they stopped their attacks or fled. News people had this incredible power. They frightened powerful, dangerous men — but they didn’t even carry guns. I thought they were so brave. I became obsessed with journalism. I said to myself, when I make it to America, I will become a journalist.

But you didn’t become a journalist!

I know! If you would have told me then that I would have focused on social-media marketing, I would have laughed. Why waste your life selling things to people you’ve never met? But as I began my studies, I become obsessed with a new kind of power — the power of the Internet. This device — this thing — that could connect far away people who would have otherwise lived their entire lives without knowing that the other existed. It seemed almost magical.

Did employers give the same credibility to your online communications degree as they would have to a traditional diploma?

Yes. But part of it was my attitude, my outlook. My counselor — Mrs. Harrison — told me to “just own it”. I made a point of putting high up on my resume that I studied online. I knew other students who just wrote on their resumes that they graduated from the University of Maryland, sort of like they were hiding the fact that they got their diploma by studying online. But I “owned” my online degree. I took it as a point of pride that I found a way to work full time and pursue an education on my own time. I think my employer appreciated the initiative — the ambition.