Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

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At its core, communication focuses on delivering messages to audiences. Whether to inform or shape public opinion, communication attempts to transmit ideas as efficiently as possible. This diverse field encompasses industries as varied as journalism, advertising, and public relations.

An online bachelor's in communication gives students the skills to enter this rapidly growing field. Communication ranks among the most popular online majors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in the media and communication field to grow 14% from 2020-2030. These professionals earned an annual median salary of $62,340 in May 2021.

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A bachelor's in communication typically takes four years to earn. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that bachelor's candidates of all majors paid about $66,400 in total tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Education Data Initiative reported that bachelor's candidates at online colleges paid about $51,000 total for their degree.

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

A bachelor's in communication focuses on delivering messages effectively. Students who possess written and verbal communication skills often excel in the field. Strong organization and interpersonal skills can also help communication students determine the best ways to reach audiences. Outgoing students who enjoy public speaking may find the field a good match for them.

Most online bachelor's programs last four years and include a minimum of 120 credits. In a communication degree, candidates can often choose a concentration, which builds specialized skills in one area of study. Typical communication concentrations include public relations, journalism, and marketing.

As part of a communication curriculum, candidates can often complete a practicum or apply for a professional internship. These experiences place students in a real-world communication environment, such as a public relations firm, marketing agency, or newspaper. Internships build professional skills and connections that can help graduates find a job after they graduate.

Undergraduate communication programs may offer either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science. These distinctions don't typically affect the communication major curriculum a lot, but they may result in a slightly different focus. A BA typically highlights communication's theoretical side, while a BS may focus more on quantitative approaches.

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How Do I Know If an Online Program Is Popular?

Online programs become popular for many reasons, including strong academics, top professors, and high job placement rates among graduates. Programs often develop a reputation in their field due to a combination of these factors. You can usually determine popularity by considering a program's average number of applicants and its admissions selectivity.

Name recognition can also indicate popularity, but don't be blinded by a school's reputation. Plenty of lesser-known colleges offer top-ranked communication programs, often at lower tuition rates than more famous schools. Research program websites for information on student testimonials, and never hesitate to ask questions when considering a program.

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 Program?

Introduction to Communication

This course introduces the foundational concepts of communication, including verbal and nonverbal styles, public speaking, and interpersonal communication. Students may also explore the role of mass media in shaping communication.

Professional Communication

This course highlights the role of communication in professional environments, such as workplaces. Common course topics may include leadership, business writing, and navigating conflict in the workplace.

Communication Theory

Studies of communication date back many centuries. This course explores major theories and approaches to the study of communication, such as rhetoric, information transmission, and mass communication.

New Media Studies

Digital forms of media have dramatically shaped the way communication occurs. This course explores the development and application of new forms of electronic media, such podcasting and social media.

Intercultural Communication

Communication frequently crosses national, ethnic, and cultural boundaries, creating potential for both conflict and growth. This course explores intercultural communication topics such as culture shock and cultural identity.

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

Online bachelor's in communication programs usually maintain the same admission requirements as on-campus programs. In general, most college applications call for students to submit transcripts and test scores. More popular or selective programs may include extra application components, such as documentation of extracurricular activities or an admissions interview.

This list highlights some of the most common undergraduate application requirements.

Application

All colleges and universities should allow prospective students to complete an undergraduate application online. The application portal usually requires candidates to submit personal information along with other required application components, such as academic transcripts and personal statements. Many schools maintain annual application deadlines, while others offer rolling applications throughout the year.

Test Scores

Many schools require applicants to submit scores from college entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT. The ACT features more complex math questions and a science component, while the SAT focuses more on problem-solving and logic. Some schools may waive test scores if learners exceed a certain age or if they meet certain GPA requirements.

Letters of Recommendation

More selective schools may require candidates to submit letters of recommendation as part of their applications. These letters usually come from teachers or other professionals familiar with their work, such as internship supervisors or volunteer coordinators. Letters of recommendation should speak to a student's academic qualifications and college readiness.

Essays

Many schools call for personal essays as part of the application process. College application essays go beyond grades and test scores, giving learners an opportunity to describe themselves both as a student and a person. Some essays may require applicants to respond to a question or prompt, while others ask them to describe their background.

Official Transcripts

Schools typically require prospective students to submit high school transcripts as part of their applications. Learners transferring from another higher education institution, such as a community college, must submit transcripts that show all coursework completed. Many community colleges partner with four-year colleges to offer convenient transfer pathways for students.

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

Career Outlook

Communication majors can pursue various career paths, including public relations, journalism, and marketing. They may also move into careers such as writing, translation, and advertising.

Communication majors can expect strong job prospects in the field upon graduation. The BLS projects media and communication careers to grow 14% from 2020-2030, creating around 151,000 new jobs. This is significantly higher than the 8% projected growth for all U.S. careers.

Media and communication professionals earned an annual median salary of $62,340 in 2021, which exceeds the median of $45,760 for all U.S. occupations. Graduates of the most popular bachelor's in communication programs can increase their job prospects and salary potential through networking and completing professional development activities, such as internships.

Career Paths

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists shape favorable public perceptions of clients, including individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Their typical duties include writing press releases, drafting speeches, and evaluating communication strategies. They may also help clients understand public opinion through research on various media channels, such television and social media.

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

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts gather and analyze consumer data to predict the sales potential of products or services. They use this information to help companies market to consumers more effectively. Their job duties often include monitoring sales trends, analyzing market data, and presenting their findings in written reports.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $63,920

Journalist

Journalists report on current events for news media, including newspapers, radio, and television. They research topics, investigate stories, and interview subjects to present news to the public. Journalists may report for local, national, or international news sources. They may also present stories in an online multimedia format that combines text, audio, or video.

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

Public Relations Manager

Working with individuals, businesses, and other organizations, public relations managers help clients develop and maintain a positive public image. They may oversee entire public relations campaigns, directing other public relations specialists and devising overall communication strategies. These positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree and significant professional experience in the public relations field.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $119,860

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

These managers oversee an organization's marketing and promotions strategies, planning campaigns and programs that generate interest in goods or services. They may plan overall advertising strategies, oversee market research initiatives, and direct the hiring of other staff members. Managers need at least a bachelor's degree and several years of professional experience.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $133,380

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Continuing Education

A bachelor's in communication builds widely transferable skills, and graduates can pursue advanced education in many study areas. While many careers in the field don't require a master's degree, further education can help communication professionals obtain advanced positions with higher salaries. Very few jobs in the field require a doctorate, except for academic and research positions.

Communication majors can build directly on their undergraduate skills by pursuing a master's in communication. Other common graduate pathways include an MBA in marketing, a master's in journalism, or a master's in public relations. Communication specialists can also develop their professional skills through certificate programs in areas such as digital marketing.

Should I Choose a Popular Online Bachelor's in Communication Program?

A popular bachelor's in communication program can offer many advantages, such as a larger alumni network and more internship opportunities. However, these programs may also be more expensive and more selective. When exploring program options, it's important to consider a school's overall package, rather than just its prestige or reputation.

Additional Program Factors to Consider

Cost

In general, public schools offer lower tuition rates than private schools and charge the lowest rates to in-state students. Some online programs can help you save on tuition costs, but they may not always be the cheapest option. Always consider an online degree's true program cost before enrolling.

Program Format

Online programs occur either synchronously or asynchronously, with asynchronous courses requiring no set class times. Many schools offer accelerated enrollment options, which feature a heavier course load but let students graduate faster. Conversely, part-time enrollment can help learners balance employment and other obligations with schoolwork.

Location

Even when enrolling in an online bachelor's in communication program, location can play a role in your school selection. Some programs include on-campus requirements, which can be hard to attend for students who live far from their school. Degree-seekers may also find it easier to take advantage of certain school resources, such as career services, if they live closer to their school.

Accreditation

When researching bachelor's in communication programs, make sure a school holds proper institutional accreditation. Accreditation indicates academic program quality, ensuring that a college and program meets standards for academic and professional preparation. Without proper accreditation, credits won't transfer to other accredited schools, and a degree may not prepare students to enter the workforce.

Student Support

Research what type of student services a school offers, particularly services for online students. Most institutions offer comprehensive professional and academic resources, including tutoring, counseling, and mentorship connections. The campus career center can also provide valuable resources, including internship opportunities, career coaching, and job listings.

Most Popular Accredited Online Bachelor's in Communication Programs

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#1 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Little Rock, AR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $280

Out of State | $280

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A top-ranked public college, UA Little Rock offers one of Arkansas' most popular online bachelor's in communication programs. The BA in applied communication trains students to analyze and develop communication strategies in various media. The program also offers internship opportunities at UA Little Rock's Communication Skills Center.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma. Students with a GPA above 3.0 can waive the school's test requirement. Those with a GPA below 3.0 must submit SAT, ACT, or ACCUPLACER scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,495
Out-of-state
$18,750
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
9,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Brenau University

  • Gainesville, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $690

Out of State | $690

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A private college based in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau offers an online BA in communication and media studies. The degree curriculum highlights major media channels and communication techniques. Typical courses include media history and culture, nonverbal communication, and diversity in media.

Bachelor's in communication applicants must hold a high school diploma. Students applying directly from high school must hold a minimum 2.75 GPA. Transfer candidates from other colleges must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,370
Out-of-state
$29,370
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
2,817
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Ashland University

  • Ashland, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $575

Out of State | $575

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

Located in Ashland, Ohio, the BA in applied communications at AU explores the role of communication in the workplace, mass media, and personal relationships. Typical course topics include verbal and nonverbal communication, leadership, and conflict negotiation.

Program applicants must submit high school transcripts. Transfer applicants should submit college transcripts from any institutions attended, along with high school transcripts if they are transferring fewer than 30 undergraduate credits.

Average Tuition
In-state
$20,950
Out-of-state
$20,950
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
5,091
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Ottawa University-Online

  • Ottawa, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $499

Out of State | $499

Credits to Graduate

124

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A private Kansas college, OU hosts an online BA in communication, The program curriculum highlights critical, analytical, and practical skills for communication systems in different social settings. Candidates can also complete an optional speech performance concentration, which emphasizes argumentation and advanced public speaking.

Online bachelor's in communication applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma. With official evaluation, OU may accept previous professional and life experience to fulfill some credit requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,976
Out-of-state
$11,976
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
261
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Dominican College of Blauvelt

  • Orangeburg, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $650

Out of State | $650

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Orangeburg, New York, Dominican College hosts a top bachelor's in communication program. The school's BA in communication trains students to deliver messages in various media contexts, including mass communication and new media. The program highlights key topics such as public relations, crisis communication, and organization communication.

Program applicants should hold a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Dominican College accepts up to 70 transfer credits for incoming transfer students.

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,984
Out-of-state
$28,984
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
1,868
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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.

#6 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

University of Northern Colorado

  • Greeley, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $403

Out of State | $403

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | Yes

Program Accreditation | N/A

A public college based in Greeley, UNC offers one of Colorado's most popular online bachelor's in communication programs. The BA in communication studies uses a liberal arts framework to explore topics including communication theory, public speaking, and communication research and inquiry. All candidates can complete an internship for up to six credits.

UNC's communication degree is a degree-completion program. Applicants should hold either an associate degree or 60 undergraduate transfer credits. Successful applicants typically hold at least a 2.4 GPA on undergraduate coursework.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,596
Out-of-state
$19,854
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
12,930
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Ohio University-Southern Campus

  • Ironton, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $307

Out of State | $312

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A major Ohio public college, OU hosts a top-ranked BS in communication program available fully online. Degree candidates gain the skills to analyze and develop both internal and external communication for a variety of settings. Typical course topics include cross-cultural communication, online journalism, and mass media writing principles.

Bachelor's in communication applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma. Transfer applicants from other colleges must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,674
Out-of-state
$8,666
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,232
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
75% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced or Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $370

Out of State | $370

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A public college based in Grand Forks, UND offers one of North Dakota's top bachelor's in communication programs. The school's BA in communications offers a broad introduction to written and oral communication, analytical skills, and digital media. Candidates can choose from several specializations, including advertising, public relations, and social media strategy.

Program applicants must hold either a high school or GED diploma. UND does not maintain specific GPA requirements, but the school recommends a minimum 2.75 for competitive applicants.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,212
Out-of-state
$14,371
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
13,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

DePaul University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $722

Out of State | $722

Credits to Graduate

192 quarter credits

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | Yes

Program Accreditation | N/A

One of Chicago's top private colleges, DePaul offers a popular communication degree available fully online. The BA in communication and media introduces major perspectives on human communication and its use in mass media. Typical course offerings include group communication, introduction to journalism, and public relations.

DePaul's degree-completion program requires applicants to hold at least 30 credits (45 quarter credits) with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students must complete prerequisite courses in English composition and college algebra.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,551
Out-of-state
$40,551
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
22,064
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Most Popular Online Communication Degree Programs

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $500

Out of State | $500

Credits to Graduate

128

Program Information

Degree-Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | N/A

A private college based in Saint Louis, Missouri, Maryville offers a BA in communication that explores strategic media and communication strategies for business. Students choose from two concentrations in emerging media strategy and social media or social strategic communication. 

Maryville requires undergraduate applicants to hold a GED or high school diploma and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,070
Out-of-state
$26,070
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
10,013
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Popular Communication Programs

Are popular online bachelor's programs more difficult to get into?

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More popular programs may be more selective because they admit students from a larger applicant pool. The most popular schools inevitably receive more applications than they have space to admit. Accordingly, these programs enroll a lower percentage of applicants, with only the most qualified candidates receiving admission offers.

When researching bachelor's in communication programs, it can be difficult to understand acceptance rates just from browsing a program page. Not all schools make their admissions numbers widely available. However, it doesn't hurt to contact a program to ask them about their selectivity and admissions rate.

What are the most popular college majors?

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According to an NCES report from 2019-20, the three most popular college majors are business, health professions, and social sciences. Other popular majors include engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, and psychology. Students also commonly pursue majors in communication or journalism, visual and performing arts, and computer and information sciences.

In general, the most popular online majors share strong job growth and salary potential. For example, the BLS projects communication careers to grow 14% from 2020-2030, a rate much higher than the national average. Similarly, career fields such as engineering and the biomedical sciences boast median annual salaries above $90,000 per year.

How should I choose an online degree program?

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Several factors come into play when choosing an online bachelor's in communication program, including academics, cost, and convenience. Consider which factors are most important in your school selection, and identify programs that meet all your criteria. Finding the best fit can also come down to additional factors, such as diversity, student resources, or professional opportunities.

For many students, choosing an online program hinges on cost. Watch out for schools that offer special tuition discounts to online learners or in-state students. Quality of academics also ranks among most students' top concerns. Comparing curricula and professors at different programs can give you a sense of how different schools operate.

Are the most popular online programs also the highest quality?

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Programs often become popular because of their strong academics, but popularity is by no means the only gauge of a program's quality. Prestigious programs at expensive schools often have more money to promote their academic offerings, leading to a reputation that may not always be backed up by academics.

Careful research can help you determine whether a program's popularity actually equates to quality. Try to talk to students, alumni, and professors to get a sense of what actually occurs beyond the program brochure. Less popular programs may offer comparable academics at a lower price, potentially with more individualized student support.

What jobs can I get with an online bachelor's in communication?

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A bachelor's in communication prepares you for jobs in many fields, such as public relations, advertising, and marketing. Other potential career fields include journalism, editing, and technical writing. A communication major builds versatile skills that can help you find a job in many industries that depend on messaging audiences.

With a bachelor's in communication, you can pursue many entry- and mid-level jobs in the field. More advanced roles with specialized duties or greater leadership responsibilities may call for a master's degree. Communication professionals pursuing management and editorial roles can often benefit from advanced education.

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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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