The Best Online Bachelor’s in Communication Programs

Communication is a broad, multidisciplinary area of study dedicated to the methods, tools and platforms human beings use to interact with one another. The field incorporates language, history, fine arts and social sciences like sociology, anthropology and psychology, as well as technical disciplines like information technology and web media. Students who earn academic degrees in communication studies go on to pursue a wide range of careers in business, education, law, technology and media-related fields.

At the bachelor’s level, communication majors gain foundational knowledge in areas like mass media, digital communication and public relations. They also study the laws and ethics guiding today’s media, both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to general communication studies, a large number of colleges and universities also offer specialized degree tracks in niche fields like business communication, visual communication and broadcasting. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree in communication online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based communication degree programs follow the same rigorous, comprehensive curriculum as brick-and-mortar options. And because many online degree programs follow an asynchronous (or self-paced schedule), this system is ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with full-time on-campus learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor’s in communication and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE COMMUNICATION DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Due to the generalized nature of communication studies, an online bachelor’s degree in this field will prepare students for many different occupations. Those with a specific career path in mind may be able to further boost their professional standing by earning a specialized degree. Many online bachelor’s in communication degree programs also feature required or optional internships, which allow students to receive supervised, hands-on training from experienced professionals at functioning worksites.

WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN COMMUNICATION PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

An online communication degree program will provide more flexibility than brick-and-mortar alternatives. Students will be able to access course lectures and readings, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule from the comfort of their home computer. Current learning technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other devices with Wi-Fi capabilities. For added convenience, online students can often arrange internship opportunities that are relatively close to their current address, rather than commuting long distances to fulfill these requirements.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR’S IN COMMUNICATION?

An online bachelor’s in communication will serve as an entry point for any student seeking a career in broadcasting, digital media or media arts. Additionally, communication degree curricula emphasize leadership, organization and interpersonal effectiveness. As a result, many communication majors go on to pursue careers in fields dedicated to working with others and creating harmonious workplace environments, such as human resources and office administration. Other popular career routes for communication degree recipients include journalism and writing, marketing and advertising, public relations and graphic design.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE COMMUNICATION DEGREE PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s degree in communication programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor’s in communication, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor’s degree requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1

East Carolina University

74.72/558.63%Greenville, NC

campus_East_Carolina_University

East Carolina offers an online communications degree with four concentrations: interpersonal/organizational communication, media studies, journalism, and public relations. The ECU communications department is proud to have nationally recognized professional experience and award-winning professors who focus their classes with the intent to create authentic, real life lessons to prepare students for their future careers.

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2

Colorado State University – Global Campus

65.52/5N/AGreenwood Village, CO

campus-colorado-state-university-global-campus

CSGC offers a fully accredited, online bachelor’s degree program in communications. CSU offers 18 specializations within this degree, including criminal justice management, human resources and educational development, information technology and operations, and public and non-profit management.. Each course and specialization has classes that will strengthen your oral and written communication skills.

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3

University of North Dakota

64.73/555.49%Grand Forks, ND

campus_university_of_north-dakota

UND’s online communications program allows you to tailor your degree to suit your academic and professional interests. Distance learners can focus their study in one of five concentrations, including organizational communication, public relations, advertising, print journalism, and media studies. This degree is offered entirely online, and all students pay in-state tuition.

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4

Regis University

62.73/559.05%Denver, CO

campus-Regis-University

As a Jesuit school, Regis respects that most of its students are not only students, but also working professionals, parents, and spouses. Communications classes emphasize the importance of leadership, critical thinking, persuasion, motivation, problem solving, and negotiation. Regis also offers a combined "bachelor's to master's" program with the intent of streamlining your education. This option requires students to complete 128 credit hours, and students graduate with both a bachelor's and a master's degree in communications.

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5

Liberty University

62.54/550.41%Lynchburg, VA

campus_Liberty_University

LU offers a combined BS in communications and business administration online. Not only is the required coursework only 120 hours (shorter than the on-campus program), but Liberty also allows students to submit prior experience and certification for course credit through exams, proof of job training, military experience, and more. This reduces the time it takes to go from student to professional, though you’ll still need to complete at least half of your credits at Liberty.

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6

Arizona State University

62.42/563.43%Tempe, AZ

ASU’s communications programs focuses on both conceptual knowledge and practical skill development. Graduates leave school ready to pursue a career in sales, human resource management, event planning, management, and a whole host of other careers that require critical thinking and research. This online program also adequately prepares students for graduate school in law, business, and more. ASU online offers six start days throughout the year, allowing students to tailor their schedule around work, family, and other obligations.

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7

Dallas Baptist University

61.83/554.6%Dallas, TX

DBU offers a renowned online communications program. To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 120 credit hours, the final 30 of which must be completed on campus. In addition to academic learning, Dallas Baptist University seeks to enhance each student’s spiritual enlightenment, and the school provides a variety of online religious courses and spiritual services to distance learners.

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8

Webster University

61.53/563.64%Saint Louis, MO

WU’s online communications program is a degree-completion offering. This means that any student wishing to enroll in this program must have already completed a minimum of 15 credit hours in a related field, and must submit these credits for review prior to matriculation. Once enrolled in this program, students can complete their entire degree online. Distance learners are allowed to transfer up to 89 credits into the school.

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9

Florida International University

60.52/554.19%Miami, FL

FIU offers an online BA in communications. The program teaches students the fundamentals of business and how to interact with clients in a professional environment. The curriculum is well-suited for distance learners interested in exploring a career in law or business administration after they graduate. Each undergraduate has access to a success coach devoted to counseling and advising students through their coursework and advancement in the program. Students can also apply to the online Honors College.

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10

Drexel University

60.34/567.36%Philadelphia, PA

Drexel’s communications program begins with a core set of classes that emphasize the theory of communication and its methods; these classes are followed by courses focused in public relations and corporate communication. Students can take classes on-campus or online. To enroll in Drexel's online communication degree, you need to have obtained at least 24 previous college credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better.

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12

Northern Kentucky University

58.31/536.18%Highland Heights, KY

An online communications degree from NKU provides graduates with a general background in practice, theory, history, and criticism of communicative acts. The program addresses more than just communications education, also including courses in other fields to further enhance each student’s background in a variety of subjects. Students must complete a minimum of 39 credit hours in communcations classes in order to satisfy university requirements. Students may also pursue a minor in communications.

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12

Trine University

59.13/5N/AIN

Trine’s online classes are recorded and archived, which allows students to access them at their convenience. Both online and physical applications are accepted on a rolling basis, meaning that there is no formal application deadline. TU’s online programs do not guarantee 24-7 tech support to its students, but do state that replies from professors will be sent in less than 24 hours.

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13

Minnesota State University – Mankato

57.92/550.36%Mankato, MN

Students in MSUM’s online communications program can take courses from other departments as they complete their degree. In the early 1900's, the academic area of speech communication was housed in the school's English department, until the 1970's when a new department was dedicated to the study of communications. As recently as 2010, the department was granted the title of the Department of Communication Studies to reflect the ever-expanding areas of study included in this discipline.

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14

University of Memphis

55.42/544%Memphis, TN

At Memphis, students can pursue a BA with a concentration in communications; the program requires students to take 120 credits to graduate. Required coursework can be completed entirely online or can be combined with courses offered on campus. Memphis also allows students to transfer credits earned at other institutions, though there is a limit to how many credits from other institutions may be accepted by UM. The University prides itself on being an institution of "learning by doing" and its classes reflect this ideology by grounding course materials in practical contexts.

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15

University of Houston-Victoria

55.12/5N/AVictoria, TX

To enroll at UHV, you must be taking or have already taken some college classes. Students are also eligible to enter this online program if they have taken at least 24 semester hours of vocational or technical credit from an accredited community or technical college. Classes are available on the computer, tablets, or mobile devices, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

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16

University of Denver

55.04/576.48%Denver, CO

UD’s online classes are taught by respected instructors through multimedia discussions and other audio and visual platforms. The school’s online degree in communication is one of five distance programs available at Denver. The degree provides distance learners with a range of employable skills and also prepares students to solve problems and conflicts in the workplace. All students must complete an integrative project before they graduate.

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17

Oral Roberts University

52.53/553.44%Tulsa, OK

ORU’s online communication program covers communication theory, the practice of interpersonal interaction, intelligence, and communicating through the media and on business platforms. Online students can enroll at any time prior to the beginning of one of the school's seven-week instructional sessions, which run in the spring, summer, and fall. Once they’ve finished all courses, online students are invited to attend the school’s on-site graduation ceremony in Tulsa.

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18

Valley City State University

52.32/548.05%Valley City, ND

VCSU offers an online communications degree with multiple concentration options. Distance learners can pursue a concentration in corporate communications, digital media management, or journalism and media communication. Each concentration employs practical lesson plans, grounding theory and lecture in real-world contexts. Each concentration requires students to complete a capstone project to graduate.

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19

Indiana University – East

51.62/526.8%Richmond, IN

IUE’s online communication degree program requires applicants to have completed at least 60 semester hours of transferable college credit and to have earned a 2.0 GPA or higher before they apply; an associate degree is a satisfactory prerequisite as well. Most students are able to graduate from IUE in two years or less. In the program, students explore the foundations of journalism and mass communication, and examine how communication differs across cultures. To graduate, students must also complete a capstone in communications and culture.

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20

Troy University

51.13/534.98%Troy, AL

TU’s college of communication and fine arts offers multiple online communication degrees. These programs cover the modalities of communication, including journalism, theatre, visual arts, graphic design, and more. In order to remain in any concentration of the major, each student must maintain a "C" average in their coursework. Popular courses include international communication, propaganda and persuasion, advanced technologies in communication, and a fundamentals of speech course.

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21

University of Minnesota-Crookston

50.82/547.9%Crookston, MN

UMC’s communication program emphasizes communication theory and practice in the creation, presentation, and evaluation of coherent messages. The three primary concentrations of study include writing, organizational communication, or communications studies. By creating portfolios in the classroom (and online), students are able to strengthen and develop their writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills. All students pay in-state tuition.

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22

Pace University

50.73/554.89%New York, NY

Pace’s communication program prepares students to be successful in a variety of professional environments. The program is available entirely online, and students can take classes in an accelerated format. Courses cover mass communications trends (including the internet, newspapers, and magazines) and effective oral and written communication styles, while also exploring how public relations and opinions research translates to business success.

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23

University of Maryland – University College

50.22/58.33%Adelphi, MD

UMUC’s communications program was developed in conjunction with employers and offers a balance of theoretical knowledge and communication skills. Students learn how to create and use communication techniques to interact across multiple contexts, channels, and cultures. Courses teach students how to apply their analytical skills to interpret, use, and deliver information through mass media, and how to craft professional and appropriate communications for specific audiences. Out-of-state students are required to pay out-of-state tuition.

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24

Philadelphia University

49.23/566.03%Philadelphia, PA

The entirely online BS in professional communications and emerging media is a curriculum founded in social media, writing for the web, and communications in multimedia platforms. As part of the program, students are asked to write interesting stories for a 21st-century audience. PhilaU Online has a rolling admissions policy. In order to apply, you must provide a high school transcript or GED. To graduate, students need to complete 120 credit hours, which can usually be done in two or three years.

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25

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide

49.03/5N/ADaytona Beach, FL

ERAUW’s online communications degree emphasizes scientific communication. As part of the degree, students will enhance their writing, critical thinking, analytical, and technical skills. Students have the opportunity to pursue a variety of courses, and can tailor the degree to suit their interests. Distance learners also have the opportunity to pursue flight ratings.

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Timeline
4 to 5 years
Program Costs
$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
Communications Theory, Mass Media, Broadcasting, Journalism, English, Creative Writing, Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising, Human Resources, Organizational Psychology
Accreditation
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

Job Placement

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the outlook for communication majors is on par with the average outlook for all occupations. A recent NCES survey found that communication bachelor’s degree recipients between the ages of 25 and 29 face an unemployment rate of 4.8% ― the same rate for people in this age bracket with degrees in all fields of study. Using data from the survey, the following table compares the unemployment expectations for communication majors and students with degrees in related academic fields.

Bachelor’s Degree Major Unemployment Rate for Degree-Holders
Between 25 and 29 Years of Age
Communications and Communications Technologies 4.8%
Computer and Information Systems 4.6%
Marketing and Marketing Research 5.0%
Sociology 5.1%
Commercial Art and Graphic Design 5.6%
Linguistics, Comparative Language and Literature 5.6%
Liberal Arts and Humanities 5.7%
English Language and Literature 5.9%

Source: ‘Employment Outcomes of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients’ by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

As the table shows, the unemployment rate for communication majors is significantly lower than degree-holders in other subjects ― in some cases, more than a full percentage point. The unemployment rate for communication degree-holders is also lower than the 5.0% national average for employees in all industries.

Earning a Living

According to the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, students who earn a bachelor’s degree in communication stand to earn a median annual salary of $42,100 during their first five years on the job, and $72,300 after 10 years in the workforce. However, the salaries for communication students will vary by their major specialization. Using PayScale data, the table below ranks communication-related bachelor’s major fields in terms of median salary at the entry-level and mid-career marks.

Bachelor’s Degree Major Median Annual Salary for
Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)
Median Annual Salary for
Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Technical Communication $45,300 $85,100
Advertising and Marketing Communications $43,400 $79,800
Business Communication $44,400 $76,600
Communication (General) $42,100 $72,300
Public Relations and Communication $39,800 $71,200
Journalism and Mass Communication $41,100 $71,000
Speech Communication $42,000 $70,600
Broadcast Communication $35,600 $68,700
Organizational Communication $41,400 $65,000
Visual Communications $40,500 $62,400
Graphic Communication $40,500 $57,300
Communication Arts $40,500 $50,800

Source: The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

According to the table, college graduates with degrees in these 12 communication-related majors earned average annual salaries of $41,383 at the entry-level mark and $69,233 at the mid-career mark. However, it’s also important to note that salaries in communication fields will also depend on specific job titles. The next table features career growth and salary expectations for five of the most common career paths in the communication industry.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Communications Specialist $44,974 $54,130 $59,340 $62,464
Public Relations Specialist $41,894 $51,732 $60,650 $57,808
Human Resources Specialist $44,843 $50,172 $53,529 $59,188
Marketing Coordinator $40,275 $45,874 $49,077 $50,703
Writer $43,975 $49,917 $51,473 $52,171

Source: PayScale

Of the five career paths listed on the table, communications specialists experience the highest rate of career salary growth; median earnings for this profession increase 38.9% between the entry-level and late-career marks. Public relations specialists placed in a close second with 38.0% career earnings growth, despite a salary dip between the experienced and late-career stages. The remaining three careers saw their salaries grow between 18% and 32% after 20 years on the job.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers: These professionals oversee marketing campaigns, promotional events and other programs designed to boost public interest in a specific product, company, individual or event. They often work closely with their clients to ensure their program depicts the subject in a flattering, accurate light and is accessible to a wide audience.

Public Relations Specialists: Public relations (or ‘PR’) specialists are responsible for generating and maintaining a positive image for their clients, which often include companies, organizations and/or notable individuals. They produce literature (known as press releases) to promote their clients and handle booking for conferences, speaking engagements and other events.

Interpreters and Translators: Interpreters and translators specialize in converting spoken or written information from one language to another; most of these professionals specialize in one or more specific languages. As more people immigrate to the U.S. from around the world, the industry growth projections for interpreters and translators are quite high.

Human Resources Specialists: Human resources (or ‘HR’) specialists manage the recruiting, screening, interviewing and hiring of new company employees. They may also design and develop orientation programs for incoming workers, and mediate disputes between different employees at the workplace.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $124,850 9% (+19,700 jobs)
Public Relations Specialists $57,700 6% (+14,900 jobs)
Interpreters and Translators $44,190 29% (+17,500 jobs)
Human Resources Specialists $58,350 5% (+22,000 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to communications is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for communication professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • Public Relations Society of America: Founded in 1947, the PRSA is considered the world’s largest PR-related professional organization with more than 22,000 members in the PR and media communication industry. A comprehensive professional development tool on the organization’s website allows users to browse courses and training sessions by category and location.
  • National Human Resources Association: Founded in 1951, the NHRA seeks to assist aspiring HR employees through networking events, job training and continuing education. Individual, corporate and student memberships are all available.
  • American Marketing Association: Founded in 1953 by business pioneer Neil Borden, the AMA is dedicated to providing advocacy and professional development for members of the marketing industry. The association’s website is a compendium of information, with an extensive amount of resources on branding, engagement, consumer metrics and other areas of marketing.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.