Online Bachelor's in Communications Degree Programs

Rankings, Salaries & Courses

Updated on: 12/07/2018
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Communication involves verbal and nonverbal interaction in one-on-one conservations, small group discussions, and public speaking. The field also includes communicating indirectly through online channels, the written word, radio, and television. Students in these programs learn to deliver clear, effective messages by considering cultural factors, nonverbal strategies, and message organization. Depending on the program's focus, learners may also explore technical field components, such as camera production or communications for healthcare settings.

The internet provides innovative communications opportunities, including social media, online magazines, and blogs. Online learning, in particular, helps students prepare for virtual communications by providing experience in delivering messages from a distance. Current events also create an ongoing need for communicators, which creates job security. For instance, political campaigns, sports events, and community programs require speech writers, announcers, reporters, and spokespeople.

This page covers different field elements, including job opportunities, salaries, program curricula, concentrations, accreditation, and financial aid.

Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Communications 2018-2019

Get Seal Methodology


Best Online Communications Programs 2018-2019

Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors

Data Sources: Eligibility Criteria:
  • Each college must be accredited
  • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
  • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
  • Each college must have at least one online program 1
  • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Ranking Factors:
  • Affordability
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Program

Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.

  • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
  • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
2-Year Schools

A good program delivers core field ideas, such as verbal and nonverbal communications strategies, but may also allow concentrations for focused study. Programs should also supply numerous online courses for time flexibility and charge reasonable tuition rates. Students should only choose accredited programs and should look for institutions with high graduation rates to indicate past student approval.

All schools on the upcoming list deliver a combination of positive traits, based on information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Students can use this information to determine which school offers the best fit for their educational needs.

Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Florida International University Miami, Florida $4,721 44% 50% 60% 1 No Yes Yes

Enrollees in Florida International University's fully online program to receive a bachelor's degree in communication arts are matched with a success coach to assist them throughout their academic journey. Additional support includes career guidance, counseling and library access. Following the completion of 120 credits, students enter fields of human resources, public relations, marketing and political science. To apply for the program, you will need to provide evidence of a 2.0 GPA in high school studies, as well as present SAT or ACT scores.

School website
2 Truman State University Kirksville, Missouri $7,152 99% 68% 71% 1 No Yes Yes

Prospective students who want to major in communication at Truman State University will have the option to specialize in communication studies, journalism or public communication. In order to graduate, you must receive a grade C or higher in the required 120 credits of coursework, which is often available online. On-campus opportunities working for the school newspaper or Truman Media Network equip students to enter the workforce as social communication specialists, copy editors and sports reporters. High school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores and an essay will determine your eligibility for admissions.

School website
3 University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida $4,478 43% 50% 73% 1 Yes Yes Yes

The University of Central Florida provides the opportunity to receive a bachelor's degree in communication and conflict through an online format. Students choosing this option will receive a reduction in fees. Although there are no specific admissions standards, a 2.0 GPA is necessary in order for the required 120 credit hours to count toward degree completion. Graduates will be prepared for employment as mediators, family law facilitators, dispute resolution administrators and foreclosure coordinators. Student services such as career guidance and writing assistance will help you through your studies.

School website
4 Appalachian State University Boone, North Carolina $4,159 36% 68% 71% 2 Yes Yes Yes

Over the span of 6 semesters, students at Appalachian State University can complete a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies via a 100% online program. You must possess a minimum of 50 transferrable credits with a grade C or above in order to qualify. An additional 51 credits will be satisfied through university course offerings to result in the 122 total credits needed for graduation. Students are also required to select a minor in either business or sociology. Graduates have taken positions in broadcasting, corporate design and social media management.

School website
5 State University of New York at Oswego Oswego, New York $6,470 92% 55% 64% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Students possessing an associate degree or 60 credits from an accredited higher learning institution are eligible to participate in an online completion program to earn a bachelor's degree in broadcasting and mass communications. A minimum 2.3 GPA is required in order for coursework to transfer. The school collaborates with Open SUNY to provide an interactive and supportive online experience. Following the satisfaction of 42 credits with a 2.0 grade average, graduates find employment in public relations, corporate communications, advertising and journalism.

School website
6 University of Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, Colorado $6,624 46% 93% 50% 2 Yes Yes Yes

At the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, students working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Communication can specialize in General Communication, Organizational and Strategic Communication, Leadership Communication, Media Studies or Digital Filmmaking and Media Arts. All pathways require students to complete 36-42 credits of communications-specific coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Many classes are available through the web and resources such as the library and a credit transfer guide will assist in your online studies. Applicants will need to submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.

School website
7 University of Minnesota-Crookston Crookston, Minnesota $10,180 85% 68% 48% 2 Yes Yes Yes

There are opportunities that go beyond the classroom for students enrolled in the online program to earn a Bachelor of Science in Communications at University of Minnesota Crookston. Distance education learners can study abroad, participate in internships and utilize the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Admission is based on your application, high school GPA and ACT or SAT scores. Admitted students will select a specialization in communication studies, organization communications and public relations or writing. Graduation entails completion of 120 credits with no more than 2 grades of a D.

School website
8 University of Florida Gainesville, Florida $4,477 29% 46% 88% 1 No Yes Yes

For those seeking to become an audiologist or speech pathologist, the University of Florida encourages you to start the journey with its online Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a focus on communication sciences and disorders. A total of 120 credits and a minimum 2.7 GPA is necessary for degree completion. The average admitted applicant possesses a 4.3-4.6 GPA, SAT scores of 1280-1430 and ACT scores of 28-32. The school also accounts for extracurricular activities, essays and student background when making a decision. Online learners can access resources such as academic advising and the library.

School website
9 Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska $6,840 62% - 32% 5 Yes No Yes

The online bachelor's degree in communication studies at Bellevue University offers students the opportunity to specialize in mass media or organizational and strategic communication. Both pathways require the fulfillment of 127 credits and online supports such as career services and tutoring will help you along the way. Upon completion, graduates enter the workforce as arts and humanities teachers, multimedia collections specialists and news correspondents. Prospective students will submit transcripts and a school application to be considered for admittance.

School website
10 Ohio University-Main Campus Athens, Ohio $11,298 82% 75% 69% 1 Yes Yes Yes

Students who have an associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA are eligible to participate in Ohio University's online program to complete a bachelor's degree in applied communication. The Harris Student Support Center works specifically with students in the Scripps College of Communication to ensure their success in fulfilling the 120 credits needed to graduate. The center's academic advisors will assist in developing plans of study and connect you to additional resources. Out-of-state students only pay $3 more per credit hour.

School website
11 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin Odessa, Texas $4,312 78% 81% 37% 2 No Yes Yes School website
12 Valley City State University Valley City, North Dakota $5,282 91% 98% 49% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
13 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona $8,698 82% 78% 54% 1 No Yes Yes School website
14 Mississippi College Clinton, Mississippi $15,800 99% 49% 54% 2 No Yes Yes School website
15 Southern Utah University Cedar City, Utah $5,774 82% 72% 43% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
16 Park University Parkville, Missouri $11,730 49% 85% 27% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
17 East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina $4,365 42% 70% 61% 1 No Yes Yes School website
18 Missouri State University Springfield, Missouri $6,150 54% 84% 57% 1 No Yes Yes School website
19 University of Wisconsin-Superior Superior, Wisconsin $6,535 27% 76% 46% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
20 National University La Jolla, California $13,016 4% - 50% 3 Yes Yes Yes School website
21 Columbus State University Columbus, Georgia $4,181 11% 53% 37% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
22 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, Colorado $22,360 96% - 41% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
23 University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona $10,160 74% 79% 63% 1 No Yes Yes School website
24 Mississippi University for Women Columbus, Mississippi $5,965 84% 99% 43% 1 No Yes Yes School website
25 University of Southern Maine Portland, Maine $6,578 85% 80% 37% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
26 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, Kentucky $9,000 61% 91% 40% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
27 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, Arkansas $6,060 70% 70% 41% 2 No Yes Yes School website
28 Fort Hays State University Hays, Kansas $3,789 73% 91% 44% 1 No Yes Yes School website
29 Lamar University Beaumont, Texas $5,664 20% 76% 38% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
30 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, Missouri $10,065 85% 71% 46% 1 No Yes Yes School website
31 University of West Alabama Livingston, Alabama $7,286 57% 53% 36% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
32 Montana State University-Billings Billings, Montana $4,397 53% - 28% 3 Yes Yes Yes School website
33 Louisiana State University-Shreveport Shreveport, Louisiana $5,656 51% 89% 34% 1 No Yes Yes School website
34 Indiana University-East Richmond, Indiana $6,478 48% 60% 31% 1 Yes Yes Yes School website
35 National Louis University Chicago, Illinois $12,456 5% 76% 25% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
36 University of Maryland-University College Adelphi, Maryland $6,816 11% - 10% 1 Yes No Yes School website
37 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, Colorado $7,536 45% 61% 45% 1 No Yes Yes School website
38 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, Colorado $8,400 - - - 2 Yes No Yes School website
39 Midway University Midway, Kentucky $23,100 74% 60% 29% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
40 Franklin University Columbus, Ohio $11,856 - - 16% 3 Yes No Yes School website
41 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, Texas $4,576 85% 48% - 2 No Yes Yes School website

How Much Can You Make in a Communications Career?

Communications includes face-to-face conversations, newspaper reports, blog posts, and video tutorials, as well as television, movie, and radio production. Due to this diversity, graduates who earn an online bachelor's degree in communications can work in a variety of settings. Each career includes individual job growth projections and salary expectations. For instance, public relations and fundraising managers, as well as advertising, promotional, and marketing managers, earn median salaries of more than $100,000, and market research analyst opportunities are projected to increase by 23% by 2026. Students can use this information to decide on career paths.

Holding a degree does not guarantee a career or salary. However, a bachelor's degree in communications prepares candidates for the following careers.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +10%
Job Description

Public relations and fundraising managers promote positive company images and seek donations. Managers must communicate with clients about company goals to find the right promotional options. Professional tasks include creating press releases, overseeing company employees, and organizing activities to encourage contributions. A bachelor's in communications prepares candidates for many of these positions, though some organizations may require a master's.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +10%
Job Description

These managers create promotional strategies to increase client or product appeal. To perform these tasks, candidates decide which promotional methods to pursue, assist with web design, and ensure that all plans fit within the client's budget. Additional responsibilities include overseeing other employees for good performances, as well as discussing advertising, promotional, and marketing needs with clients. These positions may only require a bachelor's.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +23%
Job Description

Companies rely on analysts for insights on products to sell, pricing, and potential consumers. Analysts assess market details and interpret findings through graphs and easily understood reports. Candidates also explore research techniques, such as surveys and questionnaires, and examine competitors' products and prices for guidance. Market research analysts need at least a bachelor's degree.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +13%
Job Description

These workers capture and perfect scenes for television shows, movies, documentaries, and news broadcasts. Editors and camera operators should understand related equipment, including software and lenses, and must communicate with clients to ensure that final products fit with clients' goals. These employees also oversee their assistants. Companies typically require a bachelor's degree for these positions, and may insist on onsite training.

JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +11%
Job Description

Technical writers create instructional pieces, such as how-to guides and instruction booklets. These products present complicated ideas in simplified terms, with drawings, charts, and photographs to illustrate points. Writers communicate with developers for product insights, and update instructional materials as necessary. Employers require a bachelor's for this occupation, but may also insist on field experience. For instance, a technical writer for computer software may need software experience.

Sources: BLS 2018

Salaries for public relations and fundraising managers vary by location based on the cost of living. Specifically, candidates in high-cost areas often earn more than people in low-cost locations. Candidates with graduate degrees may earn more than bachelor's-level workers.

For public relations and fundraising manager positions, New York, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey pay more than other states, with metropolitan areas around New York and Jersey City offering high pay as well. The District of Columbia provides a higher concentration of these managerial jobs than any state. Colleges, universities, and professional schools deliver the most field employment, and general financial investment activities supply the highest pay among industries.

Candidates can use this information to determine promising work locations.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Communications Degree?

While earning a communications degree online, students can enroll in specializations that influence coursework. For instance, a television broadcasting focus involves more technological classes than a speech communications concentration. However, certain communications classes that cover general field ideas appear in many programs. The following classes provide examples, but students should review their program requirements to determine the necessary courses for their degree.

Interpersonal Communication

These courses train students to use efficient verbal and nonverbal tactics to enhance professional and personal communications. Students learn the importance of word choice and listening strategies to ensure that others receive the intended message, in spite of cultural or situational differences.

Public Speaking

Candidates explore ways to develop a speech, including information arrangement and visual aid incorporation. Classes provide tips for changing speeches based on audience and purpose, as well as idea clarity. Students may need to deliver several speeches during these courses.

Organizational Communication

Coursework examines communications between people and groups within an organization. Addressed topics include conflict management and public image, as well as positive and negative communications tactics for maintaining an efficient company.

Intercultural Communication

Students explore culture's influence on communications. Phrases hold different meanings between cultures, causing each person in a conversation to interpret a message differently. Candidates learn methods for handling these complications by examining cultural identities.

Technology in Communication

These classes deliver insights on how technology impacts communications. Students learn tips for effective use of social media when communicating and explore concepts such as visual aids and software.

How to Choose the Best Online Communications Program

When choosing a school, degree seekers should consider program and degree opportunities. For example, a communications student can choose an institution with a program related to television broadcasting to pursue related careers. Learners should also think about program cost and degree requirements that impact time commitments. Candidates with limited time can select programs that do not require a capstone project. Students should also consider school and faculty reputation, and should only choose accredited institutions, since these details verify that a candidate earned a quality education.

How should I decide which classes to take?

Departments require core classes and general requirements, but may allow learners to select courses from subject lists. For a mathematics requirement, for instance, departments may permit students to take algebra, geometry, or statistics. When possible in these situations, candidates should choose options that relate to their desired careers. This strategy also applies to electives. For example, a student intending to work as a political speech writer should take political science classes, while candidates who want to become social media directors can enroll in additional marketing courses.

How do concentrations affect degree requirements?

Given the field's diversity, communications departments can offer a variety of concentrations that alter curricula. As examples, a health communications focus includes coursework concerning the medical field, while a broadcasting specialization involves audio and camera production. However, departments may require the same general education and core courses for all concentrations, with a handful of classes designated to the focus. Essentially, these concentrations prepare for career categories, but often with a foundation in general communications concepts.

Will I complete a final project?

Earning a communications bachelor's degree online often requires a capstone course. For these classes, students create portfolios of previous or new coursework, design communications plans for organizations, or complete assignments that use information from all previous classes. These projects may involve heavy research, as well as a strong grasp on communications theories and practice. Some schools, however, do not require a final project. Students should consult their program's curriculum for details on any needed final project.

I work full time. Can I fit coursework into my schedule?

Studying online saves time since students do not need to commute to classes. Additionally, asynchronous courses allow learners to tend to coursework over a period of time, such as one week. Degree seekers can complete assignments anytime by logging onto the class website. Communications programs often do not require fieldwork or practicums. These factors permit busy students to manage coursework.

Can I learn communications as well online as I can on campus?

Communications involves face-to-face dialogue, which may seem out of place for an online degree. However, the field also includes technology and social media, and an online program prepares candidates for these virtual details. Candidates can explore other communications concepts through online programs by recording speeches and presenting information in papers, presentations, and discussion board posts. Overall, then, online programs remain different from on-campus options, but may deliver the same level of quality.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Communications Programs

Students can pay for educational expenses out-of-pocket or seek financial assistance methods. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement plans, although many students do not work for companies with this agreement. Additionally, learners can take out federal or private loans, but these decisions cause student loan debt.

Candidates can also explore grants and scholarships that, in general, do not require repayment or an employer agreement. Communications majors can explore the following scholarships.

Dairy Management, Inc. Scholarship Program

Undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors may apply for these $2,500 scholarships. Applicants can major in a variety of fields, such as communications, marketing, public relations, and journalism, but must intend to work in the dairy field. Candidates must submit transcripts that include dairy-related classes, and should provide evidence of participating in dairy-related activities. Recipients should also demonstrate leadership abilities and academic merit, and must submit a recommendation letter.

Ed Bradley Scholarship

Full-time students can earn this $10,000 scholarship for their sophomore, junior, or senior year of undergraduate study. However, candidates must intend to work in digital media, television, or radio, and should supply a minimum of three online video samples of related work. Applicants must also submit a cover letter that illustrates related experience and career goals, as well as a resume and recommendation letter. Recipients may not reapply for future Ed Bradley scholarships.

Jim McKay Memorial Scholarship

Various cable networks provide this scholarship in memory of sports journalist, Jim McKay. Candidates attend the Sports Emmys for presentation. High school and full-time undergraduate students can apply for this $10,000 fund to pursue majors related to media arts, such as photojournalism, radio broadcasting, music, filmmaking, and communications. This funding only goes to one student per year, and students may not renew the funding. Recipients must hold U.S. citizenship.

Leonard M. Perryman Scholarship

United Methodist undergraduate students may qualify for this $2,500 scholarship for their junior or senior year. However, candidates must major in communications or journalism. Applicants should also submit three recommendation letters and transcripts that prove academic achievement. Candidates must also provide three writing examples and a short essay on their religion and interest in communications to show promise as a future religious journalist.

Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) Bodie McDowell Scholarship

Applicants should hold an interest in outdoor communications and possess relevant experience. Acceptable career goals for this funding include writing, photography, and creating films that relate to the outdoors. Candidates must submit an application; transcripts; a declaration of career intentions; and a print or digital example of outdoor communications. Applicants can also submit a recommendation letter, and must answer questions concerning their previous outdoor experiences. Recipients typically receive $1,000-$5,000.

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