Best Online Bachelor’s in Media Communications Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Media Communications2017
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An education in media and communications provides a path to fast-paced careers in broadcasting, sound engineering, and public relations. Demand for professionals in these areas is increasing, with media industry jobs expected to grow by more than 27,000 by 2024. Plus, the median salary for these careers is well above the national average. The first step to beginning your career in the field is earning an affordable and convenient online bachelor’s in media communication.

Choosing the right communication and media studies program is crucial to your success in the field. Core coursework typically incorporates journalism, digital media technology, intercultural communication, and PR and advertising. Media communication studies programs allow students to customize their degree through concentrations; aspiring scriptwriters or broadcasters may specialize in English or journalism, while business minors may focus on media sales or marketing. Those interested in incorporating liberal arts studies may focus on psychology of the mass media or global communication, and creative concentrations often include photography, motion graphics, and audio production. Ensure your chosen program offers the specialization you’re most interested in. Most bachelor’s degrees in media communications require an internship or immersive experience, along with a culminating capstone project.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Southern New Hampshire University 72.81 4/5 59% Manchester, NH

Online learning is a significant part of the delivery model at Southern New Hampshire University, which currently educates approximately 80,000 distance learners. Among its catalog of online offerings is the 120-credit bachelor’s of arts in communication & new media. This degree program focuses on writing and producing content in the age of new media where tweets and social media campaigns are essential. The curriculum includes coursework in public speaking, graphics layout for print media, social media marketing, and new media technologies.

This online bachelor’s in media communication teaches students how to use new media technologies; adapt content to different audiences; and utilize communication practices that are ethically, culturally, and socially responsible. Applicants should submit their high school diploma or GED and ACT or SAT scores. SNHU also has a generous transfer system, allowing students to transfer as many as 90 credits. Additionally, service members are eligible to receive a 30% tuition discount.

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2 University of Memphis 70.00 3/5 40% Memphis, TN

The University of Memphis’ global campus offers a wide selection of undergraduate degree programs, including a bachelor’s of arts in communication with a concentration in communication studies. Students can choose to pursue this degree in a fully-online or hybrid format. The four-year program focuses on five key areas: performance, analysis and critical thinking skills, knowledge, ethics, and mediated communication. The 120-credit curriculum includes core studies in media literacy, rhetoric/civic controversy, research methods, and communication ethics. Additionally, students are required to take three classes from one of three concentration options: professional and relational communication, rhetoric and public advocacy, or media and culture. There is also a required senior capstone project where students create a portfolio.

Admission into the program requires a high school diploma and SAT or ACT scores. The school allows a limited number of credits from other institutions to be transferred into the communication and media studies program; transfer credits are evaluated at the time of admission.

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3 Arizona State University-Skysong 66.56 3/5 51% Scottsdale, AZ

Arizona State University’s school of journalism and mass communication is one of the top journalism schools in the nation. It offers a 120-credit bachelor’s in mass communication and media studies where students learn about communication based on socio-political, cultural, technological, and economic perspectives. Students pursuing this 41-class, online bachelor’s in media communication program study mass communication, literacy and critical inquiry, and cultural diversity.

ASU Online delivers classes in 7.5-week terms and features multiple start dates throughout the year. This communications degree is also eligible for ASU’s fast track program, which allows students to earn a degree in a condensed time frame of 2.5 or three years. Online courses are accessible through the Blackboard learning management system. Freshmen admission requires a high school diploma and prerequisite courses in subjects such as math, English, and lab science. Transfer students must have more than 25 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.5.

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4 DePaul University 59.69 4/5 68% Chicago, IL

The bachelor’s of arts in communication and media offered by DePaul University has an online degree-completion option, which allows transfer students to complete their third and fourth years of undergraduate study entirely online once degree prerequisites and other requirements have been fulfilled. This communication and media studies program teaches students about business and professional communication, digital cinema production, documentary studies, editing, and media and cultural studies. It also offers a Latino media and communication track.

Transfer students seeking admission into the online degree-completion track must have a minimum of 30 transfer credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. The school also offers a five-year bachelor's/master's degree in communication and media, in which undergraduate students can complete 12 graduate credits that count toward both programs.

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5 Webster University 57.50 4/5 64% Saint Louis, MO

Webster University offers an online degree-completion program designed for students who have already completed some college-level classes. The 128-credit bachelor’s of arts in media communications at WU familiarizes students with a number of communication areas. In addition to the communications core, students can select from a variety of concentrations, such as journalism and photography, theory and history of media, or advertising and public relations. Required courses include intro to mass communications, media literacy, ethics in the media, and cultural diversity.

Graduates of this media communication studies program learn to critically analyze media messaging and master the strategic use of media in different contexts. Students are required to develop a portfolio, which is reviewed during their junior year. A capstone or thesis project must also be completed. Transfer students are required to submit their high school and college transcripts and should have at least 30 credits with a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.

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With the range of possible specializations, program details vary by school and specific course of study. Most bachelor’s degrees in media communications introduce first-year students to core concepts through foundational coursework.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS

While course topics vary by program, online bachelor’s in media communication programs typically combine liberal studies, humanities, and business concepts. Programs typically offer a range of electives to tailor the degree to students’ interests. Below are a few courses common in media communication programs.

  • New media tools: This course examines digital and online communication tools, including streaming audio and video, text, and image-based apps and platforms. Students evaluate and compare new and old methods of communicating and build problem-solving skills through interactive class projects.
  • English composition: This course exposes students to formal writing. The coursework emphasizes logical compositional structure and rhetorical cohesiveness, and students learn to develop ideas and cultivate a distinct writing style.
  • Aesthetics and theory of communications: This bridge course blends visual arts and socio-psychological concepts, exploring the aesthetics of engaging and appealing to an audience, along with the psychological implications.
  • New media formats: Using interactive technologies and web-based editing tools, this course encourages students to explore nonconventional methods of digital creation and communication. Students create commercials, music videos, and short films.
  • Intellectual property: Addressing business and legal aspects of media communications, this course teaches students how to use trademarks, copyrights, publicity rights, and patents. Students learn how to protect the ownership, licensing, and transfer of rights of their intellectual property throughout the creative process.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS?

The time required to complete an online bachelor’s in media communications is impacted by whether the student studies full- or part-time, the course delivery methods, and specific program options. Earning a communication and media studies degree with a business or PR concentration may take less time to complete than a program that combines psychology and communications, due to clinical and research-intensive requirements.

Most online bachelor’s degrees are either individually paced or cohort-based. Some schools implement one method for all programs, while others utilize different methods for each program. While the number of required credits vary, most bachelor’s degrees in media communications comprise about 120 credits and are designed to be completed in four years, although some accelerated programs may be completed in two.

When selecting a program, choose a school with current accreditation. Any legitimate college or university will be accredited by an agency such as the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation is the most rigorous and common type of accreditation. However, if you plan to transfer credits, consider a nationally accredited institution, as they typically accept credit from regionally or nationally accredited institutions. Regionally accredited schools, on the other hand, rarely honor credits from nationally accredited institutions. Some media and communications programs may be individually accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Check your school’s accreditation on the DOE or on CHEA websites.

JOB PLACEMENT

Graduates with a bachelor’s in media communications degree earn higher salaries than peers without a bachelor’s degree. With mid-career salaries starting at $51,000 per year, jobs in media and communications span a range of fields and industries. Below are common careers for graduates of online bachelor’s in media communication programs.

Job Title Most Common Major % of Workers with Major Mid-Career Salary
Journalist Journalism 41% $52,000
News Anchor Broadcast Journalism 37% $69,800
Public Relations Coordinator Public Relations 27% $51,900
News Reporter Broadcast Journalism 25% $56,500

Source: Payscale

BACHELOR’s IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS SALARY

Average salaries for careers in media communications vary wildly. Even in cities like New York and Houston, where communications and media jobs are especially abundant, average salaries can vary by more than $57,000, depending on a candidate’s experience and education. The U.S. cities listed below are the most popular for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Average Salary by Location

U.S. City Average Salary
New York, NY $45,000–$102,263
Houston, TX $46,452–$51,468
Boston, MA $58,983
Los Angeles, CA $58,000
Seattle, WA $65,000

Source: Payscale

BACHELOR’S IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS CAREERS

A degree in media communications opens the door to the career of your choice. Graduates of bachelor’s in media communications programs find employment in broadcasting, production, and PR, with endless opportunities to secure niche positions within these fields. Below are a few common media communications careers.

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

These professionals typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in communications or journalism. They research and present news stories, either behind the scenes or as an on-air personality.

Median Annual Salary – $38,870
Projected Growth Rate – -9%

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Along with a bachelor’s degree in communications, these careers require specialized training in cinematography, film theory, digital camera operation, and/or video-editing software. Video editors and camera operators capture and manipulate the images that comprise TV shows, films, and news programs.

Median Annual Salary – $59,040
Projected Growth Rate – 11%

Public Relations Specialists

Employers prefer PR specialists with a bachelor’s degree in communications, English, journalism, or business. PR specialists cultivate a positive public image for their clients, utilizing various types of media.

Median Annual Salary – $58,020
Projected Growth Rate – 6%

Technical Writers

Unlike creative writers, technical writers communicate complex technical information. They draft materials such as instruction manuals and how-to guides.

Median Annual Salary – $69,850
Projected Growth Rate – 10%

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors are crucial to all forms of media, from advertising to books to movie scripts. Writers typically study English, journalism, or communications and gain professional experience through internships and freelance writing.

Median Annual Salary -$61,240
Projected Growth Rate – 2%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

There are countless professional organizations in the field of media and communications, each providing a wealth of networking, leadership, and professional development opportunities. Members of professional organizations stay apprised of the latest industry trends by attending conventions, seminars, and conferences. Below are premier national organizations for communications media professionals.

When determining the best way to finance your online bachelor’s in media communications, begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Whether you pursue scholarships, loans, grants, and/or work-study funding, completing the FAFSA helps you and your family understand federal funding opportunities and allows your school to evaluate your eligibility for financing programs. Communications programs often provide scholarship and grant opportunities for students meeting certain criteria—such low-income or minority students—or for those planning to pursue certain specializations.

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 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 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.