Most Affordable Online Communication Degree Programs

An online bachelor's in communications can lead to careers from HR and public relations to advertising or politics. Learn about affordable degree paths.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published August 5, 2022

Edited by Jared McMasters
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A bachelor's program in communication emphasizes public speaking, writing, and critical thinking. With a communication degree, graduates can pursue diverse career paths. And many communication careers pay above-average salaries with strong projected job growth. The cost of a bachelor's degree continues to rise.

However, online programs can give students a more affordable route to a college degree. Students enrolled in on-campus programs can easily spend over $100,000, while online programs can alleviate some on-campus fees. Many online programs offer tuition discounts for fully online learners. Students also benefit from the ability to compare programs across the country and choose the most affordable option. Degree-seekers can enroll at a top-ranked online school to earn their bachelor's degrees. We rank the most affordable online bachelor's in communication programs to help prospective learners find an option that fits their budget and career goals.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program Cost?

Online undergraduates typically pay $300-$500 per credit. That translates to an average $51,000 to earn a bachelor's degree online. And the total cost also includes books, supplies, and fees.

Fortunately, degree-seekers can lower costs in several ways. First, choosing an affordable program can potentially cut the cost of a degree in half. Second, researching financial aid options such as grants and scholarships can provide savings. Finally, considering ways to limit expenses beyond tuition can help students save money. Look for lower-cost programs and factor in the savings from enrolling online instead of commuting to campus.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program?

Degree-seekers can complete a bachelor's degree online by earning a minimum of 120 credits, which typically takes four years for full-time students. In an online bachelor's in communication program, majors take classes within the department along with general education courses and electives.

Majors choose between a BA or BS track. The BA option typically includes more humanities and foreign language courses, while the BS option incorporates more math and science classes. Distance learners can also pursue internship opportunities in their local area to gain hands-on experience.

Communication programs offer concentrations to prepare for specific career paths. Some of the most common concentrations include:

Successful online communication majors bring strong research, analytical, and writing skills to their programs. Learners also benefit from self-direction and organizational strengths. Programs connect online students with tutors and academic advisors who provide support throughout the degree.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Popular Online Communication Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program?

Introduction to Communication

Majors examine key concepts in communication, with an emphasis on subfields, methodologies, and theories. The course introduces debates and challenges in the field to prepare learners for further coursework.

Public Speaking

Public speaking represents a key part of communication. Students learn how to choose and research topics, organize a speech, deliver material effectively, and adapt for different audiences. The class strengthens an in-demand, transferable skill.

Communication Theory

The course introduces students to communication theories related to group communication and mass communication. Learners gain analytical tools to evaluate various forms of communication, which apply in upper-division courses.

Business Communication

Communication plays a central role in organizational success. Learners examine effective communication strategies and the goals of internal and external business communication. Topics include the role of communication in corporate culture, teamwork, and success.

Public Relations

Students explore public relations, branding, and social media strategy. Drawing on case studies, the course emphasizes communication skills and trains learners to create public relations materials.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program?

Students interested in a bachelor's program must meet the admission requirements. At most colleges, applicants need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many schools also request standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. This section introduces the most common admission materials for online communication programs.

Application

Online schools ask for an undergraduate application that lists your educational and work background. Many applications also ask about volunteer experience, academic achievements, and extracurriculars. First-time college students and transfer students typically fill out separate application forms.

Test Scores

Applicants provide standardized test scores during the admissions process. Most schools request either SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students generally do not submit test scores. Students can also look for programs that offer test-optional admission or do not require test scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Many online colleges request 1-3 letters of recommendation. These letters should ideally come from former teachers, professors, or supervisors. Mentors can also write letters of recommendation. The letters ask about the applicant's background, strengths, and college preparation. Plan ahead and ask for letters of recommendation several weeks before the deadline.

Essays

Applicants generally submit one or more essays as part of their application. Many colleges provide essay prompts for applicants. The essay may also ask about your background and your career goals. In addition to essays, some schools request a writing sample.

Official Transcripts

Colleges request official transcripts showing a high school diploma or the equivalent. Students with prior college experience submit official college transcripts. Admission counselors evaluate transcripts to award transfer credits. Degree-seekers can significantly cut costs by completing some coursework at a community college and transferring credits toward their bachelor's degree.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree?

Career Outlook

Communication is one of the most popular online majors. And communication majors can pursue careers in several industries. Many work in the business, education, journalism, and nonprofit sectors. Within these fields, professionals specialize in areas like public relations, writing, marketing, and editing. A communication degree also prepares graduates for careers in sales or education.

Because communication majors work in so many roles, their earning potential varies. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, media and communication occupations reported a median salary of $62,340 per year in May 2021. This ranks above the median pay for all fields of $45,760. Media and communication professionals also benefit from faster than average projected job growth. The BLS projects the field will grow 14% between 2020 and 2030.

See where a bachelor's in communication can take you. Learn more about communication career paths.

Career Paths

Technical Writer

Technical writers create instructional content that helps non-technical users understand products and services. They write instruction manuals and other forms of technical documentation like how-to guides. Technical writers blend their communication skills with technical aptitude. The field requires the ability to communicate complex information in simple terms.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $78,060

Journalist

Journalists inform the public about current events. They work in print, digital, and broadcast news, where they can specialize in political, international, sports, health, and other areas. Journalists interview people and interact with experts to write stories. They review pieces for accuracy and explore ideas for new stories.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,370

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists help individuals and organizations build a positive public image. They create material to support their clients' public persona, including press releases and social media programs. Public relations specialists also work with clients to communicate with the public, including by writing speeches and coordinating interviews. They research public perception and suggest strategies for improvement.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $62,800

Editor

Editors revise written material for publication. They also read submissions and assign articles to writers. As part of the editorial process, they verify facts, rewrite text, and ensure material follows style guidelines. Editors ensure that published material fits the publication's style and editorial standards. They draw on strong communication skills to do their jobs.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $63,350

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Career and technical education teachers educate high schoolers in vocational subjects, including technical communication, business communication, and journalism. They create lesson plans that instruct students on career-focused skills. CTE teachers also incorporate hands-on activities and demonstrations. Educators then assign grades.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $61,160

Communication Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

A bachelor's in communication can lead to many career paths. After gaining professional experience, graduates often consider their next educational step. Some pursue voluntary certifications in areas like public relations or technical writing. A graduate degree can also help communication professionals advance their careers.

At the graduate level, students can earn an online master's in communication. Depending on their field and career goals, learners might pursue a graduate degree in public relations, nonprofit management, journalism, or education. Communication majors can also consider professional programs like law school. The training during a communication degree, particularly the research and writing preparation, can benefit law students.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program?

Cost

The average cost of tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree was over $35,000 per year as of 2021. On top of tuition, learners need to factor in books, supplies, and other fees. When comparing online and on-campus program costs, online learners can find ways to save money, including tuition discounts and savings on transportation and parking.

Program Format

Online programs come in several formats. Learners can choose between part-time and full-time enrollment. Many schools also offer accelerated bachelor's programs. And distance learners can enroll in classes synchronously and asynchronously. Carefully consider which formats fit your schedule and availability. Professionals working full time may prefer an asynchronous or part-time option, for example.

Location

Location makes a difference whether you're researching on-campus or online programs. In hybrid online programs, a local school can make it easier to complete in-person requirements. Local schools may also offer better internship options and networking events. However, an out-of-state program can sometimes be a cheaper route to a bachelor's in communication.

Accreditation

Accredited colleges meet the highest standards for academic excellence. To earn accreditation, schools undergo a voluntary review of their teaching materials, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes. Only the best colleges receive accreditation. Learn more about why accreditation matters in our accreditation guide.

Student Support

Online learners benefit from strong student services. These include academic advising, financial aid counseling, online tutoring, and career services. Many online schools also connect distance learners with college mentors and internship opportunities. Ask prospective schools about their student support services geared for virtual learners.

How Do I Pay for an Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Program?

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Online learners at accredited institutions can submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal student aid programs. For many students, federal aid represents a major part of financial aid planning. The Pell Grant, federal work-study programs, and federal student loans help many undergraduates pay for a bachelor's degree.

Loans

Many students borrow to pay for college. Before taking out student loans, make sure you understand the different types of loans and your repayment options. Federal loans typically offer lower interest rates and provide more repayment options than private loans.

Grants

Online learners qualify for many college grants, including the federal Pell Grant. States and institutions also offer grants. When planning for college expenses, make sure to prioritize grants. Like scholarships, recipients do not need to repay grants, making them one of the best forms of financial aid.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs connect qualifying students with work-study jobs. These jobs, typically offered on-campus or through nearby nonprofits, provide a paycheck that recipients use to cover educational expenses. Work-study programs can also help students gain hands-on experience.

Scholarships

Scholarships provide free money for college. Like grant recipients, scholarship recipients do not repay their awards. Private organizations, colleges, and nonprofits offer scholarships to support students. Make sure to research scholarship opportunities when putting together your financial plan for college.

Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Communication Degree Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $146
Out-of-State | $264

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

FIU's online BA in communication arts builds students' foundational knowledge in business and interpersonal communication, group dynamics, and persuasion. The curriculum combines general education with 60 credits of communication arts, including an interviewing principles and practices course with a lab. Topics covered include communication theory, rhetorical communication, and communication for effective leadership.

First-year applicants must submit an application with official high school transcripts and official ACT or SAT scores. Program acceptance requires a minimum GPA of 2.0.

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#2

University of Missouri-St Louis

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $396
Out-of-State | $1,070

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UMSL's online BA in communication program builds an understanding of the theory and research underlying effective communication. Core curriculum topics include organizational communication, professional communication, and intercultural communication. This program includes internship and practicum requirements. 

Students can tailor course selection to future career goals or choose from four optional areas of emphasis: applied visual communication, interpersonal communication, mass communication, or strategic communication. First-year applicants must submit an online application with ACT or SAT scores and test dates. 

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#3

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $179
Out-of-State | $716

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

UCF's online BA in communication and conflict builds the skills to guide people or organizations in conflict resolution. Students have the opportunity to navigate negotiation and conflict resolution in a real-world context. Students graduate prepared to enter professional careers in counseling, family law, and human resources. 

First-year applicants must submit an online application, official high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT test scores. An application essay is recommended but not required. 

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#4

Appalachian State University

School Information
Location Boone, North Carolina
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $203
Out-of-State | $870

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

ASU's online BS in communication studies prepares students for effective leadership in many industries by building communication skills. The curriculum combines general education, communication core, public and professional contexts, applications, and a capstone project. Topics covered include communication theory, internet communication, media planning, literary journalism, and communication ethics. 

This bachelor's in communications readies graduates with the skills for careers in many fields. First-year applicants must include official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores with their applications. 

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#5

Northeastern University Lifelong Learning Network

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $541
Out-of-State | $541

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | New England Commission on Higher Education

Northeastern's online BS in digital communication and media prepares students with the skills and hands-on experience to meet the demand for digital communication professionals. The curriculum combines general education, digital media and art, marketing, writing, and communication core courses like public relations and professional speaking. The program culminates in a professional communication capstone project.

First-year applicants must submit an application with official transcripts. ACT or SAT scores are not required. 

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#6

University of Minnesota-Crookston

School Information
Location Crookston, Minnesota
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $437
Out-of-State | $437

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UMN Crookston's online BS in communication program emphasizes communication skills desired by employers. Students can choose between three emphasis areas: social media, communication studies, or organizational communication/public relations. Topics covered include communication theory, research fundamentals, human relationships and leadership, and persuasion. 

Coursework includes the creation of professional portfolio material and an internship. First-year applicants must submit an application with a high school transcript. ACT or SAT scores will not be considered. 

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#7

University of Illinois at Springfield

School Information
Location Springfield, Illinois
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $521
Out-of-State | $841

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UIS's online BA in communication focuses on the theoretical, critical, and technical aspects of communication. In addition to the core curriculum, students can choose to specialize in interpersonal communication or journalism and media studies. Topics include public relations, media law and ethics, fake news and fact-checking, non-verbal communication, photography, radio, and video communication.  

First-year applicants must submit official transcripts with a minimum GPA of 2.0, standardized test scores, and a personal statement about academic and professional goals.

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#8

Regis University

School Information
Location Denver, Colorado
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $500
Out-of-State | $500

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

Through coursework and mentorship, RU's online BA in communication program encourages self-reflection, critical and creative thinking, and community outreach. The curriculum combines general education with communication core courses. Topics covered include environmental communication, follower-centered leadership, cultural intelligence, communication through social media, mediation, and negotiations. 

This program includes a capstone project or experiential learning. Applicants need to submit an application with official transcripts and a resume. Standardized test scores are not required.

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#9

University of North Dakota

School Information
Location Grand Forks, North Dakota
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $385
Out-of-State | $577

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UND's online BA in communication program features flexible specializations. Specializations include strategic communication, digital journalism, advertising, public relations, social media strategy, and digital analytics. 

This bachelor's in communication prepares graduates for careers from advertising and public relations to journalism, video production, fundraising, and politics. The curriculum combines general education, communication core and major requirements, a capstone project, and an internship. 

First-year applicants must meet college preparatory course requirements and submit high school transcripts. ACT or SAT scores are not required.

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#10

University of Denver

School Information
Location Denver, Colorado
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 77%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $719
Out-of-State | $719

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

DU's online BA in communication caters to students with previous college credits as a degree completion program. The curriculum covers the foundations of communication in the digital age. Topics include creativity and innovation, organizational behavior, public speaking, effective presentations, and directed research. 

Graduates can pursue careers in public relations, advertising, fundraising, events, or HR. First-year applicants can use the common app to submit an application with transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and ACT or SAT scores. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Communication Degree Programs

Is a bachelor's in communication worth it?

Many prospective students wonder if the return on investment for a bachelor's degree will justify the cost.

However, professionals with a bachelor's degree benefit from higher salaries and lower unemployment numbers. Compared to someone with a high school diploma, a professional with a bachelor's degree can earn more per year. And an affordable online bachelor's in communication degree from an accredited college can help professionals increase their earning potential and move up the career ladder.

What can I do with a bachelor's in communication?

A bachelor's degree in communication can lead to career opportunities in corporate communication, mass media, public relations, and sales. Communication majors also work as writers, editors, journalists, and teachers.

A communication degree emphasizes in-demand skills like critical analysis, effective communication, and public speaking. These skills may help professionals move into careers in human relations, speechwriting, and training and development.

Students earning a communication degree can gain industry-specific training by choosing electives, concentrations, and internships in their chosen field. In particular, an internship can help students build valuable career skills while expanding their professional network.

Are communication majors in demand?

Communication majors benefit from strong demand. The BLS projects media and communication occupations will grow 14% from 2020-2030. Within the field, career paths like technical writer and public relations specialist are projected to grow rapidly.

Majors also pursue careers in business, sales, advertising, and fundraising. Strong communication skills, including written and speaking, help professionals stand out in these fields. By emphasizing these people skills, communication majors can move into many industries.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in communication?

Professionals with a communication degree report above-average salaries, according to the BLS. For example, writers and editors report median salaries of around $63,000-$68,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the median wage for all occupations of $45,760.

Many other career paths report above-average salaries. According to the BLS, public relations specialists earned a median annual wage of $62,800 in May 2021. With experience, professionals typically see their earning potential increase. Keep in mind that salaries range widely depending on the industry and role. Location also plays a major role in earning potential.

What are the highest paying jobs with a bachelor's in communication?

Communication majors can increase their earning potential by pursuing certain career tracks. According to the BLS, the highest paying communication occupations include technical writer, writers and authors, and editors. Within those fields, the highest-paid professionals report even higher salaries. For example, the top-paid technical writers earned over $125,000 annually in May 2021.

Professionals with experience or a master's degree can also move into higher-paying managerial roles. According to the BLS, public relations and fundraising managers earned a median salary of nearly $120,000 in May 2021. These career paths require a bachelor's degree plus five or more years of experience.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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