By earning an online associate degree in communications, students not only develop clear and effective writing and speaking skills, they also learn to apply these skills to careers in broadcasting, journalism, marketing, and public relations. To enhance their job opportunities, many associate students go on to pursue their bachelor's or even master's degrees. Some, however, immediately enter into the workforce as broadcast technicians, PR assistants, proofreaders, and technical writers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth in the communications field, including an 11% uptick in jobs for technical writers between 2016 and 2026. Whatever your academic and professional goals, an online associate degree in communications can propel you in the right direction.

What Are The Best Online Associate in Communications Programs?

Rank School Description Toggle
1

Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, CO

Colorado Christian University ranks among the best schools for individuals seeking an associate degree in communications online. This highly regarded program deepens learners' understanding of communication theory and its practical application. As a result, graduates can pursue careers in industries like broadcast media, publishing, journalism, and public relations. Moreover, the robust curriculum provides an outstanding foundation for those who wish to transition into a four-year bachelor's degree.

CCU delivers its associate of arts in communication through five-week courses, allowing students to complete their degree in less than two years. Those previously enrolled in college can transfer up to 45 credits to complete the program more quickly. CCU also awards prior learning credit for life experience. Students can verify this knowledge by either submitting a portfolio or sitting for an exam. In total, learners must earn 60 credits for degree completion.

Courses cover topics like interactive communication, communication and technology, and professional public speaking. The program emphasizes the media's role in today's society and strategies for creating compelling messages. In addition, CCU ensures learners identify connections between the communications field and biblical principles. Students can apply 18 credits earned within major coursework and general education and elective credits toward the school's bachelor of arts in communications.

CCU allows new students to enroll at the beginning of any course, with start dates throughout the school year. Admission requires an application and proof of high school completion.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Communication Studies
Tuition: $469/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.8 minimum
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (303) 963-3311
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

2

South Texas College

McAllen, TX

Students who earn the associate of arts in communication with a speech concentration at South Texas College build a solid foundation in debate, interpersonal interaction, public speaking, and group communication. This online communications associate degree not only provides the background necessary for a seamless transition to careers in mass communications and public relations, but also for continuing education through bachelor's degree studies.

South Texas College recommends students enroll in courses in accordance with the program's suggested degree plan to maximize learning outcomes. Examples of classes include argumentation and debate, which explores concepts like analysis, reasoning, evidence, and refutation. Learners must also examine the ethics of communication, speech organizational techniques, audience analysis, and cultural diversity.

All students must complete an academic cooperative during the final semester. This allows learners to integrate textbook studies with a practical, hands-on experience that engages them in a practical work setting. This course also includes seminars and allows learners to set the goals and objectives in their study of speech. Graduation requires 60 credits: 18 in the major and 42 in core curriculum.

For admission, prospective students should submit the ApplyTexas application, which offers a centralized portal to multiple postsecondary institutions in Texas. In addition, learners must provide proof of high school completion. Those who did not graduate may complete the GED. High school students may also enroll in South Texas College to earn dual credit.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Communication
Available Concentrations: Speech
Tuition: $77/credit in-district; $87/credit out-of-district; $200/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (855) 468-6782
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

3

Sinclair Community College

Dayton, OH

Sinclair Community College awards an associate of arts in communication studies to students who wish to explore how people interact in small group, interpersonal, mass media, and public speaking settings. Learners design their program to align with their specific interests, leading to either career entry or pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Those who decide to pursue a four-year degree also enjoy the benefit of Sinclair's articulation agreements with the University of Dayton and Wright State University.

The curriculum for SCC's online communications associate degree requires 62 credits. In addition to classes in communication theory and journalism, students enroll in English composition courses and electives of their choice. Learners must also complete electives in math, arts and the humanities, natural and physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. This allows students to fulfill SCC's requirement to complete the Ohio Transfer Module, which guarantees credits transfer to any public institution in the state.

Upon graduation, students can assess technologically mediated messages to understand their societal effects. Graduates can also evaluate and apply communication theories, analyze communication interactions, and communicate successfully with others in an array of situations. Students can work in careers related to speech education, government, business, and public relations.

SCC requires either a paper or online application. Students can submit SAT or ACT scores earned within the last two years to help determine their placement in core coursework. SCC also offers a placement test for those who do not have these test scores.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Communication Studies
Tuition: $116/credit
Credit Requirements: 62 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (937) 512-2271
Email: heidi.mcgrew@sinclair.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

4

Anne Arundel Community College

Arnold, MD

Anne Arundel Community College's associate of applied science in business management - business communications teaches students to effectively communicate with others. Whether it involves business writing or using social media to connect with consumers, learners can sharpen their communication skills with expert guidance from professors and visiting members of the business community. Furthermore, the program offers an opportunity to gain practical work experience to prepare for future careers.

This two-year program requires 60 credits to complete. Classes explore business law and legal issues, while the business communications concentration includes coursework in marketing principles and professional ethics. Those who already possess either an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree may bypass the program's general education requirements through a fast track option and only need to fulfill the other mandated credits.

Graduates who earn this associate in communications online can articulate the dynamics of today's evolving global environment and make critical financial decisions by analyzing financial statements. AACC encourages an appreciation for diversity, both throughout education and within the workplace.

AACC's straightforward admissions policy only requires a completed application, with no essay components. AACC generally informs applicants of its decision within days of receiving an application. Once admitted, students meet with an advisor who assists them in planning and registering for courses throughout the enrollment process.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Business Management
Available Concentrations: Business communications
Tuition: $116/credit in-county; $231/credit in-state; $395/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (410) 777-2289
Email: sbewart@aacc.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

5

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa, CA

The associate of arts in communication studies at Santa Rosa Junior College offers a generous transfer policy that allows learners to rapidly complete their degree requirements. In addition to ensuring students understand the fundamentals of communication, SRJC helps learners build a solid understanding of speech. The program emphasizes both the theoretical and practical aspects of the speaking experience that benefit graduates in the workplace.


SRJC's 60-credit online communications associate degree requires coursework in general education and 18-22 semester units in classes for the communication studies major. Examples of the latter include courses in spoken word, argumentation, intercultural communication, and group discussion. Students must earn a minimum 2.0 GPA to satisfy degree requirements. Studies equip learners to effectively communicate in private, public, and social contexts. Learners can also express ideas through oral communication and critically defend presentations.

In addition to textbook learning, students can participate in SRJC's award-winning speech and debate team or join its school newspaper, The Oak Leaf, to practically apply learning. Furthermore, this program offers a clear pathway to a bachelor's degree, since California Community College students who complete SRJC's communications degree receive guaranteed admission to a California state university with junior standing. Those interested in transferring to a baccalaureate program should meet with a counselor to develop an appropriate educational plan.

Admission requires completing an application. Once admitted, students must attend orientation. SRJC also performs a placement assessment for all admitted students to determine best enrollment options.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate in Arts in Communication Studies
Tuition: $258/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (707) 527-4217
Email: mnelson@santarosa.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

6

Allan Hancock College

Santa Maria, CA

Learners seeking a top online communications associate degree choose Allan Hancock College because of its reputation for enhancing its students' personal, public, and professional lives. The program allows learners to explore communication dynamics in groups, social settings, and interpersonal relationships. By examining the why and how of communication methods, students can better understand the consequences of these interactions. Learners develop competencies in written and oral communication as they strengthen their critical thinking and analytical abilities.

AHC's associate of arts in speech communication is a transfer degree that mandates 18 credits of required major coursework. Courses include small group communication, oral interpretation of literature, argumentation and debate, and intercultural communication. In total, students must complete 60 credits to meet graduation requirements. Upon program completion, learners can pursue a baccalaureate degree in communications or speech by transferring earned credits.

Program graduates not only demonstrate a deep understanding of communication theories, but also the ability to determine the most appropriate communication behaviors for various purposes. They can gather, assess, and leverage research that supports what they communicate through verifiable evidence.

Prospective students must complete AHC's free application for admission and apply for financial aid if needed. Once admitted, learners complete the school's online orientation to learn about support services, tips for college success, and other important AHC information.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Speech Communication
Tuition: $216/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (805) 922-6966 ext. 3732
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

7

Lone Star College

The Woodlands, TX

Lone Star College awards an associate of arts in speech communications through a transfer degree that allows learners to satisfy lower division requirements necessary for a four-year degree at a Texas college. Students can also transfer earned credits to other four-year institutions in the state. LSC's associate of arts in speech communications takes two years to complete.

Classes include introduction to speech communication, public speaking, behavioral science, and professional communication. Students must also complete coursework in English, government, math, and science. In total, the online communications associate degree requires 60 credits. LSC prepares learners to transfer to any public university or college once they complete their two-year degree.

Students who decide to transfer to a four-year degree should meet with an academic advisor to determine the best degree plan for the student's educational goals. LSC maintains transfer agreements with an array of schools throughout Texas and provides resources to help learners understand which courses meet their bachelor's degree requirements. All six of LSC's campuses house transfer centers that provide one-on-one appointments, university visits, and workshops to guide students throughout the transfer process.

LSC boasts an open-enrollment policy, accepting most students who complete the admission process. This includes submitting an application, completing placement testing, submitting high school and previous college transcripts, and participating in new student orientation. Applicants taking the Texas Success Initiative Assessment must first complete a pre-assessment activity.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Speech Communication
Tuition: $103/credit in-district; $208/credit in-state; $263/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (832) 813-6500
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

8

Northern Virginia Community College

Springfield, VA

The associate of arts in liberal arts with a specialization in communication studies at Northern Virginia Community College attracts students who want to study speech communication and those who ultimately want to transfer to a four-year program. Students seeking a bachelor's degree once they graduate should work closely with faculty and college counselors to design an appropriate plan of study that prepares them for this transition.

NOVA's two-year online communications associate degree allows learners to dive deeply into the communications specialization during their final semester. For example, coursework in interpersonal communication strengthens the skills needed to interact with others in the workplace and everyday life. It explores concepts in nonverbal communication, self-disclosure, listening, and assertiveness. Studies in communication theory and research emphasize various perspectives in these areas and procedures for communication writing.

Students must earn 60-62 credits to satisfy requirements for this degree. Placement tests determine the foreign language class level the learner should enroll in, though students should consult their academic advisor to select electives that align with the requirements of their preferred four-year program.

To apply for admission to NOVA, future students should complete the school's online application and prepare for evaluation through placement tests. Alternatively, they may submit SAT, ACT, or GED scores or a high school transcript in lieu of taking a placement test. NOVA also requires transcripts from any colleges previously attended. Upon admission, students should contact an advisor to help them set academic goals and select classes.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Liberal Arts
Available Concentrations: Communication studies
Tuition: $180/credit in-state; $360/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60-62 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (703) 323-3000
Email: information@nvcc.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

9

Volunteer State Community College

Gallatin, TN

The online communications associate degree at Volunteer State Community College awards ranks among the best in the U.S., building students' knowledge in liberal arts while deepening their understanding of communication and language. Learners' coursework includes history, English, and social sciences in addition to classes in this specialized area. As a result, students can enter an array of careers upon graduation, including those in education, administration, and public relations.

VSCC requires 41 credits in general education and 19 credits in a specialized interest to earn an associate of art in liberal arts with an emphasis in communication and language. A public speaking class prepares students to deliver persuasive, informative, and special occasion speeches. Courses also include argumentation and debate to help learners develop skills in analyzing and presenting evidence and coursework in foreign language studies.

The college encourages students to use DegreeWorks and the most up-to-date course catalog when planning their program. Furthermore, the school's My Volstate portal allows learners to track their degree progress, including what requirements they must fulfill for program completion. Graduation also requires sitting for the Educational Testing Service Proficiency Profile.

Potential students must submit an application for admission and verify either their U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country. In addition, VSCC requires an official high school transcript. Applicants age 20 and older must also submit ACT scores, which VSCC uses for placement purposes.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Liberal Arts Development
Available Concentrations: Communication; language
Tuition: $164/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: ACT

Contact
Phone: (615) 230-3200
Email: humanities@volstate.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

10

Genesee Community College

Batavia, NY

Genesee Community College's associate of science in communications and media arts recognizes the surge in print and broadcast media over the past few decades and prepares learners for today's fast-paced world of communications. This fully online communications associate degree equips students to employ current concepts in marketing and programming. Learners develop production, writing, and media business skills while deepening knowledge in satellite and computer technologies through hands-on experiences.

This 62-credit program includes classes in broadcasting, video production, journalism, media writing, and mass media. A core curriculum that explores the sciences, math, and history rounds out students' coursework. Upon graduation, students can seamlessly transfer to a four-year program with the State University of New York (SUNY) system, which includes over 60 colleges and universities.

Experiential learning further equips students for their ultimate career path. For example, learners can work at GCC's radio station or TV production studio. Radio stations in the surrounding cities of Rochester, Buffalo, and Batavia also offer internship opportunities and entry-level positions for recent graduates.

To apply to GCC, prospective students must complete an application, submit a high school transcript, and include any advanced placement test scores. Those who submit ACT scores may bypass the college's placement test for course assignments.


Program Overview
Program Name: AS in Communications and Media Arts
Tuition: $2,075/semester in-state; $2,375/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 62 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: ACT

Contact
Phone: (585) 343-0055 ext. 6286
Email: vcbello@genesee.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

11

Georgia Military College

Milledgeville, GA

Georgia Military College offers an associate of science in communications and media arts that ensures learners develop a solid foundation in communication skills, communication theory, and public speaking so they can pursue a four-year degree. GMC's communications program allows students to analyze both historic and current trends in the communication marketplace to sharpen critical thinking and analytical abilities.

GMC's core curriculum includes classes in English, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. These courses align with the core requirements of most four-year institutions across the country, which helps facilitate students who choose to transfer to a four-year program. Classes specific to the online communications associate degree include public speaking, which engages learners in preparing and presenting speeches, and basic news writing, which build skills in news gathering and journalistic writing.

Between core coursework and the communications concentration, students can expect to complete 95-100 quarter credit hours. In the program, learners polish their writing and public speaking skills, which attract employers across an array of industries. Alumni often go on to earn degrees in law, social work, and psychology.

GMC is an open admissions institution, granting admission to all applicants who have completed high school. Potential GMC learners only need to submit an online application and transcripts from any previous schools attended. GMC does not require SAT or ACT scores, but learners may submit scores to bypass placement testing.


Program Overview
Program Name: AS in Mass Communication
Tuition: $156/credit
Credit Requirements: 90-96 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.6 minimum
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (480) 461-7400
Email: dwilcox@gmc.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

12

SUNY Broome Community College

Binghamton, NY

SUNY Broome Community College offers one of the country's top online communications associate degrees. The program prepares learners for careers in graphic and game design, animation, and fine arts in addition to equipping them with the knowledge needed to pursue a four-year degree. Studies ensure graduates possess both technical and conceptual skills in image-based communications to succeed in today's global environment. Students learn how to analyze and assess the creative process.

The college's associate of science in visual communication arts requires learners to complete a set of core courses that examine two- and three-dimensional design, computer graphics, drawing, and art history. Students must also enroll in either a theater or speaking course. All learners complete general education classes, too, in fulfillment of SUNY's competency requirements in math, humanities, foreign language, and natural and behavioral sciences. The curriculum's broad and innovative instruction aims to meet learners' diverse needs and interests.

This SUNY Broome program takes two years to complete through earning 62 credits. Upon degree completion, students understand the development of visual communication through the lenses of history, fine and applied arts, and theory. They can also explain the role of visual communication in society and help solve an array of visual communication challenges.

SUNY Broome requires an application and official transcripts from high school and any colleges previously attended. Students must submit proof of high school graduation by the first day of classes for consideration by New York's Tuition Assistance Program. SUNY Broome does not require SAT or ACT scores.


Program Overview
Program Name: AS in Visual Communication Arts
Tuition: $2,364/semester in-state; $4,728/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 62 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (607) 778-5094
Email: groathp@sunybroome.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

13

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Eau Claire, WI

Chippewa Valley Technical College offers a 60-credit associate of professional communications. CVTC enables students to earn an associate degree in communications online in just two years. The program emphasizes technical, professional, and business writing so graduates can enter professions, such as editor, grant writer, and technical writer. This degree opens an array of career possibilities for graduates in industries like government, business, and nonprofit programming.

CVTC's robust curriculum deepens learners' understanding of document design, production, and management. Students learn the underlying theories of writing, rhetoric, and digital literacy while strengthening skills in multimedia composition, web writing, and publishing. CVTC delivers this fully online program in eight-week courses. Examples of classes include professional/technical writing for the workplace and proposal/grant writing for clients that seek foundation, government, and corporate support.

CVTC learners can easily transfer earned credits to another institution if they wish to complete a bachelor's program. Students can more quickly finish their CVTC classes if they either transfer previously earned college credits or request credit for work and volunteer experiences through the school's credit for prior learning option.

Those seeking admission must complete an application that takes about 20 minutes. Most programs maintain an open access status, which means they do not require an entrance exam. However, CVTC suggests all new students take the Inventory for Student Success to better determine necessary support.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Professional Communications
Available Concentrations: Web development
Tuition: $134/credit in-state and Minnesota; $210/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (715) 833-6300
Email: therightchoice@cvtc.edu
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

14

Northampton County Area Community College

Bethlehem, PA

Northampton Community College recognizes the importance of outstanding communication skills in careers like public relations, politics, and journalism. NCC's associate in applied arts in communication studies covers courses typical in a four-year program, making it easy for learners to pursue their bachelor's degree upon graduation. Learners can collaborate with academic advisors to plan how best to transfer to a four-year college if they choose to do so.

This online communications associate degree ensures comprehensive communication studies through 12 hours of coursework. Courses include intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, and small group communication. Learners must also select electives in topics like mass communication, business, communication technology, and performing arts. Classes allow customizable instruction to align with the student's interests. In total, learners must complete 62-63 credits for degree completion.

NCC graduates demonstrate an understanding of critical thinking as it pertains to the theory and practice of communication. Not only can graduates leverage their skills and experience to lead and participate in groups, but they can skillfully adapt how they communicate depending on the audience and context. Moreover, they can communicate effectively in a diverse society.

NCC accepts high school graduates or those holding a GED. Admission requires a completed application and transcripts, including those from any previous college experience. Once admitted, learners must attend a mandatory new student orientation prior to registering for classes.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate in Applied Arts in Communication Studies
Tuition: $1,605/semester Northampton County; $2,580/semester Monroe County; $3,210/semester in-state; $4,815/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 62-63 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (610) 861-5500
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

15

Nassau Community College

Garden City, NY

Nassau Community College offers an associate of arts in communication arts through a hybrid program that students can complete 50% online. A 66-credit degree, NCC's associate of arts in communication program builds learners' understanding of communications content, processes, and media to deepen the awareness of self and society. While students spend some time on campus for classes and seminars, they can complete the rest of their degree requirements online at a time and place most convenient to them.

A college within the SUNY network, NCC offers communications classes that explore effective listening, interpersonal problem solving, and verbal and nonverbal differences in cultural expression. In addition, the program addresses issues in diversity by helping students explore ways to eradicate stereotypes, strengthen intercultural interactions, and resolve conflict through topics that consider non-Western civilization. Additional courses include debate and argumentation, human communication, and social media for professional purposes.

Students can expect to spend 3-4 hours per course credit each week. This means three credits generally require 9-12 hours of weekly study. Moreover, learners should plan to regularly interact with faculty and classmates throughout the week using digital platforms. Graduates who wish to earn a four-year degree can easily transfer their associate in communications online credits to a college or university within the SUNY network.

Applicants must create an online account, complete the application, and submit any required documentation, such as school transcripts. Prospective students must also schedule a placement test to determine which coursework best aligns with their skills.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Communication Arts
Tuition: $2,675/semester in-state; $5,350/semester out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 66 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (800) 342-3811
Social Media Accounts:Facebook;Twitter

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Communications Program?

Academic programs at the associate level cover the fundamental topics and skills needed to land many entry-level positions in the field. However, other curricular and professional development components vary based on the orientation of the department and faculty expertise.

Curriculum for an Online Associate in Communications

Beyond certain required topics, advanced classes differ depending on specific program goals. You may find that one program offers electives and another requires an internship or a capstone experience. Research thoroughly and ask questions of admission counselors to identify the school that best aligns with your interests, career plans, and schedule. The list below details five sample courses that are commonly found in online associate degree in communications programs.

  • Information Literacy: As information becomes more readily available, using it effectively and ethically is more and more important. This course teaches students how to gather, interpret, and synthesize information and analyze its effects on our politics and culture.
  • Communication Theory: In this course, students explore interpersonal communication theories, including ideas of "self" and the effect of communication on public consciousness. The class also explores relationship building, diversity, and theoretical applications.
  • Critical Thinking and Argumentation: In this class, students learn to apply communication theory to problem solving and persuasive reasoning. Programs typically emphasize either oral communication or written communication -- the latter is geared toward analysis, presentation, and rebuttal.
  • Mass Communication: This course takes students through the history of media, such as the press, television, film, and the internet. Students also learn the fundamentals of media theory, its applications in advertising and public relations, and related ethical challenges.
  • Research Writing: An integral communication course for all professionals, this course teaches students how to conduct academic and professional research using reputable sources. Students then synthesize that information in written form. Additional topics include publication, editing, peer review, and research funding.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Associate in Communications?

Online associate degrees in communications usually take two years to complete, requiring at least 60 credits. Beyond these requirements, specific program structures may affect how long it takes to earn your degree. Instructors typically deliver coursework asynchronously, and most programs enable you to take as many or as few courses as you like each semester through individually paced learning. Some programs, however, offer or require cohort learning, where you progress through classes with the same small group of peers -- sometimes taking one class at a time. This model emphasizes collaboration and benefits distance learners who want to maintain a full-time job, but it usually takes more time.

Internship and capstone requirements also affect the graduation date. Some schools, especially community colleges, offer baccalaureate pathways that let you transition into a four-year program after completing general education and prerequisite coursework. If you hope to expedite the time it takes to earn a degree, look for online associate degree in communications programs that provide accelerated classes year-round, including summer sessions.

Accreditation for Online Associate in Communications Degrees

For colleges and universities to confer valid degrees, they must obtain and maintain accreditation at either the national or regional levels. Organizations with authority from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) grant national accreditation, which reflects a school's adherence to governmental academic standards as well as those defined by CHEA. In return, the school's enjoy the support and resources of both organizations, including federal funding through the ED.

Schools receive regional accreditation from the regional accreditor for their section of the country. Overseen by CHEA, these institutions ensure that colleges and universities adhere with their standards. Employers tend to value regional accreditation more highly because they work with local and state authorities more often. Online associate degree in communications programs also earn the backing of professional organizations like the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

As a government body, the ED ensures that schools work with the federal government to maximize pedagogical and testing outcomes. Without regional or national accreditation, schools lack access to government financial aid and other crucial resources. For more information, visit the ED's and CHEA's websites.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Communications Degree?

Career Paths

Obtaining an online associate degree in communications enables you to pursue careers in writing, journalism, and subfields related to business and the media. Communication specialists display time- and detail-oriented characteristics. They also possess exceptional critical thinking, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. The list below details five popular communication careers.

Technical Writer

Technical writers create articles, manuals, and how-to guides focused on complex business and technical topics. They work as freelancers or for businesses collecting and disseminating information. Though many enter the field with an associate degree, other technical writers hold a bachelor's and specialize in a particular industry, such as computer networking or industrial production.

Median Annual Salary: $69,850
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Broadcast Technician

These communication professionals work for television channels/shows, film companies, or at a particular venue like a recording studio or stadium. They help create media products through various tasks, from drafting and proofreading to operating lighting and sound equipment. You can become a broadcast technician with an associate degree in communications and learn more advanced skills on the job.

Median Annual Salary: $42,550
Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists cultivate and maintain a favorable public image for their client, creating campaigns to increase awareness of a company's services or products. They also work for individuals such as celebrities and politicians. Most PR specialists hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

Median Annual Salary: $58,020
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Marketing Manager

These communicators work in advertising and promotions, generating public or private buyer interest for a business or organization. They lead teams through the process of creating, implementing, and evaluating social media campaigns and other marketing projects. As one of the top professionals in their field, marketing directors must earn at least a baccalaureate degree (and usually a master's) and possess years of experience.

Median Annual Salary: $131,180
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Human Resources Manager

These professionals maintain the interpersonal functions of an organization, serving as the link between the company and its employees. They recruit and train staff, develop business plans, and handle HR issues like sexual harassment cases or an employee's benefit plan.

Median Annual Salary: $106,910
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Educational Paths

While you can work certain jobs with an associate degree in communication, the majority of related careers require at least a bachelor's. Obtaining baccalaureate credentials not only widens your potential opportunities, but also enables you to advance beyond entry-level positions and earn a higher salary. For example, marketing professionals who start out as marketing coordinators can become specialists, improving their pay by more than $5,000 per year.

  1. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Mass Communications: Drawing on core topics from associate programs, this bachelor's degree teaches students to apply communication theories to a variety of media, such as broadcasting, print journalism, and advertising. Students usually select a specialization.
  2. Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing: This concentrated BBA provides students with training in advanced topics like pricing theory, buyer behavior, and importing/exporting. Students also develop leadership skills that empower them to manage teams and create effective marketing campaigns.
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Journalism: In addition to cultivating research, writing, editing, and digital communication skills, journalism students study the ethics and laws at work in the field, including their First Amendment rights.
  4. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Human Resource Management: This bachelor's tackles advanced topics like recruiting, training, and employee incentivization. Students learn to develop organizational strategies and conduct research that identifies and resolves complex HR challenges at the management level.
  5. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Digital Media: This degree teaches students to create virtual communication products using visual, audio, and written design elements. Digital media emphasizes computer skills, and students complete coursework in Adobe, Apple, and other design software.

Employment Outlook for Associate in Communications Graduates

Associate in Communications Salary

Most communication careers require at least a bachelor's, though some -- such as copywriting, editing, and broadcast production -- allow entrance at the entry level with an associate degree. However, additional academic training and certification typically leads to higher salaries. The table below details five careers and their pay ranges over a professional's lifetime.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Median Salary for Mid-Career State
Social Media Strategist $51,054 $47,911 $62,933 $78,787
Advertising Broadcast Producer $65,875 $59,359 $71,503 $83,970
Corporate Communications Manager $77,166 $65,122 $78,574 $87,364
Web Editor $48,985 $44,600 $54,589 $64,964
Marketing Copywriter $46,613 $43,569 $58,460 $61,000

Professional Organizations

Networking and project funding serve as crucial tools for the success of professionals in any field. Associate degree in communications students should consider joining an organization that provides its members with these kinds of resources. Though most memberships come with an annual fee, the pay-off can be invaluable. In addition to research, award, conference, and leadership opportunities, some professional organizations also offer a wealth of professional development services such as skill-specific webinars facilitated by the Public Relations Society of America.

  • Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications: With more than 113 partner institutions, the ACEJMC serves as the primary professional accreditation organization in communications. Members enjoy social opportunities and access to the council's enormous library of research and strategic plans.
  • Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals: Founded in 1995, the AMCP recognizes and supports excellence in marketing and communication. The association also provides members with access to work opportunities through its business partners.
  • National Communication Association: Dedicated to advancing the field through research, inquiry, and public advocacy, the NCA also holds conferences and provides students with opportunities to join honor societies and engage in academic discourse and research.
  • Public Relations Society of America: The PRSA is the largest community of public relations and communication professionals in the U.S. Members can access benefits such as research sponsorship and scholarships, professional development training, and a resource library.
  • The Association for Women in Communications: With a mission to empower female communication professionals, the AWC boasts over 1,100 members and offers up-to-date research, conferencing, networking events, financial support, and a job board.

Financing Your Online Associate in Communications Program

When researching prospective online associate degree in communications programs, look at both the price and funding and consider how a program matches your personal interests and future goals. Doing the proper financial legwork enables you to greatly minimize student loan debts, and you might even end up earning a degree that costs you nothing. The Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) provides a convenient way to sign up for multiple scholarships and grants at the same time. You should also look into awards offered by community programs and private organizations like ACES: The Society of Editing.

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.