Best Online Communications Programs

An online bachelor's in communications program equips students with marketable skills and prepares them for careers in diverse industries. Our higher education experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online bachelor's in communications programs to help you find your path forward. Read on to learn more.

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Published on February 21, 2022 · Updated on April 29, 2022

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The communications field focuses on messaging, connecting with audiences, and exerting influence in organizations, mass media, advertising, and other professional contexts.

An online bachelor's in communications enables graduates to pursue work in many industries, do meaningful work, and advance their careers. A communications program at a top online school can help professionals tailor their education to meet almost any career goal.

Most students need about four years to earn a bachelor's degree in communications. The average costs — including tuition, fees, room, and board — for undergraduates at four-year colleges and universities was around $28,780 in 2019-2020, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Enrolling in an online program might be less expensive for students who do not have to pay for housing and other on-campus expenses.

Because of the variety of jobs requiring solid communications skills, job seekers typically see encouraging job prospects.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of media and communications jobs will grow 14% from 2020-2030, with growth projections varying by occupation.

The BLS reports that communications and media professionals with bachelor's degrees earned median annual salaries between $49,300 and $74,650, as of May 2020.

People who accumulate work experience can make more, especially if they move into managerial positions. Job location also has an impact on salaries.

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

Individuals who enjoy engaging audiences and relating to others might find communications a meaningful career path. Successful professionals can also express their ideas effectively in oral and written form.

Job seekers should prepare to network to gain access to employment and advancement opportunities.

Except for students with transferable college credits, most will need about four years to earn an online bachelor's in communications. Part-time students will likely need 5-6 years unless they enroll in an online accelerated program.

In addition to general education courses, communications majors typically need to take core classes in public speaking, business, and professional communication before enrolling in electives.

Communications majors typically do not need a specialization to graduate. Bachelor's programs that do not provide concentrations offer elective courses that enable students to design their curriculum. Students' electives can reflect their targeted interests in marketing, media, healthcare, finance, information technology, or other industries.

In addition to core and elective courses, many programs require students to complete a practicum or internship. Through these opportunities, communications majors receive mentorship and work experience. Internships also provide valuable networking opportunities.

Most bachelor's in communications programs offer a bachelor of arts (BA), which focuses on application and theory. A bachelor of science (BS) degree requires fewer general education classes, allowing for more communications credits. Students should consider their career goals when deciding which track to take.

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Popular Online Communications 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 Communications Program?

Public Speaking

Students learn about planning and giving presentations for various purposes, such as informing, persuading, or entertaining. The course focuses on elements of persuasive speaking, technology use, and strategies to reach and relate to audiences.

Intercultural Communication

This course exposes students to dimensions of cultural variability and the use of verbal and nonverbal communication to navigate those differences. Students learn how to use communication effectively to bridge gaps in understanding due to language and cultural influences.

Persuasion

Persuasion involves the use of nonverbal cues and verbal skills to confirm or change people's attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. Students learn theory and practical skills to exert influence in various professional contexts. The course also addresses ethical issues of persuasion.

Writing for New and Traditional Media

This course covers theories and principles guiding best practices in using various media forms. Students prepare for careers by learning techniques in writing and using visual imagery for traditional, social, and emerging new media.

Interpersonal Communication

Students in this course learn how to use communication to exchange information and build relationships between two people and within groups. The class explores effective verbal and nonverbal behaviors, and it examines when misunderstandings and conflicts emerge.

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

Like most traditional degree programs, online bachelor's in communications departments typically require a high school or GED diploma. Most applicants need to show a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher. Although few schools require work experience, students can include any work history on their applications.

Application

The college application process can take considerable time. Therefore, applicants should know what materials colleges require before they complete each application. Many schools use a standard online platform, such as Common Application, to receive and process applications. Prospective students should expect to pay an application fee unless their school waives it based on financial need.

Test Scores

In the past, most programs required scores from the ACT or SAT entrance exam. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes to these test processes and requirements.

The College Board has announced modifications to the SAT itself. And many schools have waived standardized test score requirements for admission — going to test-optional policies instead. Some schools have even banned standardized testing requirements altogether.

Also, critics have long claimed the tests are biased against low-income and racial minority applicants, something the College Board denies.

All this has many wondering what the future holds for standardized testing in college admissions.

So what does this mean for you as you apply to online communications programs?

Find out if these test results are required. If a school does not require entrance exams, students with excellent test scores may decide to still submit them to enhance their application.
Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation letters from teachers, employers, and mentors shed light on an applicant's suitability for a bachelor's in communications program. These letters also provide more information on an individual's strengths, academic accomplishments, and work ethic. Applicants should ask for letters well in advance of college application deadlines.

Essays

Most programs offering an online bachelor's in communications request admission essays or statements of purpose as part of their applications. An essay should have a solid introduction, body, and conclusion. It should also highlight the student's career objectives, their fit for postsecondary study, and why they want to attend a particular school.

Official Transcripts

Applicants are generally required to submit official transcripts from high school and/or any college or university they have attended.

Applicants with course credits from an accredited institution may transfer them if they fulfill bachelor's of communications requirements. Working professionals might identify credits they already earned that can meet core curricular requirements, reducing the time they need to graduate.

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

Career Outlook

Graduates with an online bachelor's in communications can pursue work in many fields because they possess skills that employers seek.

According to the BLS, the number of media and communications positions is projected to grow 14% from 2020-2030, higher than the average projected growth of all U.S. occupations. People who speak more than one language enjoy expanded career opportunities.

Technical writers with a bachelor's in communications make a median annual salary of $74,650, as of May 2020, according to the BLS. In comparison, news analysts, reporters, and journalists earned a median annual salary of $49,300. Managers and directors with four-year degrees can potentially earn higher salaries.

Professionals with a communications background work in public relations (PR), nonprofit organizations, healthcare, sports communication and reporting, technical writing, business and finance, and other sectors. Communications majors can qualify for many jobs that require interpersonal skills, brand building, marketing, writing, sales and persuasion, or audience engagement.

Learn about the opportunities that a bachelor's in communications can create. Learn about careers in communications.

Career Paths

Communications Director

Communications directors oversee their organizations' information delivery and assume responsibility for their PR. They represent their companies or agencies in establishing and communicating their goals internally and externally. Communications directors often write press releases, hold press conferences, and respond to media requests for information. These professionals work in various private sectors, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Average Annual Salary (as of January 2022): $72,140

Marketing Communications Specialist

Marketing communications specialists often act as spokespersons for their organizations, present them in the best possible public image, and promote their commercial interests. Tasks typically include developing presentations, writing reports, and generating visualizations of market research data. These professionals might enlist marketing services from other companies or manage an internal marketing department.

Average Annual Salary (as of January 2022): $53,300

Communications Specialist

Communications specialists help organizations maintain positive relationships with their employees, stakeholders, the media, and the public. They supervise information dissemination, supervise social media strategies, perform PR, and write press releases. They might also assist with communication coming from management. Communications specialists typically hold a bachelor's degree in communications, marketing, journalism, or a related field.

Average Annual Salary (as of January 2022): $54,650

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists work as employees or independent contractors. PR professionals perform various duties that help maintain their employers' or clients' positive image and relationship with the public. They often create press releases, plan focus groups, write speeches, and develop image-building approaches.

Average Annual Salary (as of January 2022): $51,000

Social Media Specialist

Social media specialists help employers or clients create and employ strategies for their presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online platforms. These professionals must remain up-to-date on web-based developments and adapt to changing consumer demands. They work for private enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Average Annual Salary (as of January 2022): $46,360

Communications Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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Continuing Education

Many new professionals obtain entry-level communications positions to start.

Some communications specialists seek advanced degrees to expand their employment prospects and earnings. Because some higher-level jobs require a master's degree or doctorate, students might consider their long-term objectives when pursuing their education.

Communications specialists can acquire additional skills and experience with on-the-job training, online courses, and certifications, especially if they are seeking credentials for specific industries. For example, technical writers interested in healthcare might earn certification from the American Medical Writers Association.

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

Cost

Tuition for an online bachelor's in communications program varies depending on student residency, location, and a school's private or public status. Figure out the true cost of your online program. For instance, professionals pursuing an online degree can schedule classes that allow them to keep their full-time jobs. However, they might have to pay higher technology fees than on-campus students.

Program Format

Full-time students in a bachelor's in communications program usually take at least 12 credits per semester. Full- or part-time learners with busy work schedules can enroll in asynchronous courses to progress at their own pace. Also, many online schools offer accelerated programs that enable some students to complete their bachelor's program in less than four years.

Location

People applying to online degree programs might wonder if they need to choose a school close to where they live. Choosing a nearby school might suit students who want to enroll in hybrid programs, which offer on-site and online classes. Applicants should find out if a prospective online program requires students to attend occasional meetings or seminars on campus.

Accreditation

An online bachelor's in communication program with the proper accreditation can show that it meets the minimum standards for rigor and academic quality. Getting a degree from accredited institutions allows students to obtain financial aid and transfer their credits to other accredited schools.

Student Support

A quality online school provides academic support services to help students get the most out of their educational experience. For instance, online student services assist learners with finding and developing mentoring relationships that help them build networking skills. Students can also access internship opportunities, tutoring, academic advising, job placement, writing assistance, and other services.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Communications Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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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.

Best Online Bachelor's in Communications Programs

  1. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    Established in 1963, the University of Central Florida began as a regional talent supplier for the space program. Since then, the Orlando-based school has grown into a major research university of 13 colleges and almost 72,000 enrolled students.

    UFC's online bachelor of arts in communication and conflict program trains students to moderate almost any disagreement to find a mutually gratifying resolution. Whether between individuals or corporations, this bachelor's in communication offers students the conflict resolution training needed to seek a career as a lawyer, an arbitrator, a contract negotiator, or a government liaison.

    The curriculum provides foundational courses to help communication majors become knowledgeable and socially aware communicators. It features classes such as finite mathematics, gender issues in communication, and group dynamics.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor Arts in Communication and Conflict
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $179 per credit (in-state); $716 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum specified
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  2. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $9180

    With a student population of over 58,000 learners, Florida International University operates as a top research university in Miami. Additionally, FIU Online offers over 130 degrees and certificates.

    The bachelor of arts in communication arts from FIU Online presents a logical next step for anyone seeking to develop professional communication skills. By following the organizational communication studies track, students can learn to be vital role-players in government, nonprofit, businesses, and education settings. FIU Online's interactive technology allows students to get real-time responses from instructors, view lectures, and interact with classmates on projects. Courses include intercultural/interracial communication, persuasion, and conflict management.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $229 per credit (in-state); $349 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was originally established as a Daytona Beach flight school. Offered through its Worldwide & Online campus, Embry-Riddle's online bachelor of science in communication program combines communication fundamentals with science and technology to help students meet the demand for degreed communication professionals.

    With a strong emphasis on the aviation field, this online bachelor's in communication helps students develop communication expertise to pursue careers in aviation communication, technical journalism, and other tech-centric fields.

    Along with essential writing and creative communication skills, students learn aviation, technical, and aerospace vocabulary through the program curriculum. They can customize this technical-based course work by choosing from 30 aviation, business, social, and STEM-related subjects. A sample of the course load includes an introduction to computers and applications, macroeconomics, and mass communication law and ethics.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Communication
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $447 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 GPA
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT optional

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  4. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Pennsylvania State University has been operating its World Campus since 1998. With over 20,000 enrolled students, Penn State's online university has the second-largest campus in the Pennsylvania State University system.

    The School of Liberal Arts and Communications at Penn State World Campus offers a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in organizational and professional communication. This online bachelor's in communication caters to individuals pursuing communication careers in specialized technical fields.

    For working adults, this program's flexibility allows students to integrate their higher education into their work and family lives. The coursework lays a framework for students to develop highly valued oral and written communication skills essential to thrive in law, media, and high-tech careers.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Organizational and Professional Communication
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $576 per credit (in-state); $617 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  5. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $10491

    Located in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University traces its roots back to 1899. The school currently enrolls over 20,000 enrolled students on campus and online.

    Appalachian's online bachelor of science in communication studies program teaches students the techniques needed to influence industry and organizational outcomes. This online bachelor's in communication program is particularly accommodating to military members and their qualified dependents, granting priority admission to these learners.

    Appalachian online students have an opportunity to adjust the curriculum to suit their specific ambitions and interests. Participants take courses such as argument and advocacy, persuasion, political communication, and speechwriting.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $143 per credit (in-state); $643 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  6. Eastern Washington University
    Location

    Cheney, WA

    Tuition

    $10751

    Founded in 1882 in Cheney, Eastern Washington University now oversees more than 12,000 enrolled students on campus and online. U.S. News & World Report ranked EWU one of the top public schools in the nation in 2021.

    The Communications Studies Department at EWU offers a bachelor of arts in communication studies. The program has a mass media and journalism slant. Students become proficient at message writing, public speaking, ethical communication, and researching.

    This online bachelor's in communication features a senior capstone requirement. Coursework provides the groundwork for graduates to begin careers in various fields or extend their studies to the master or doctoral level. Some featured courses include sports and leadership, health communication, and topics in leadership and strategic communication.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    School Status: Public
    Tuition:$199 per credit (in-state); $799 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 180 quarter credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  7. Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses
    Location

    Fort Wayne, IN

    Established in 1884 as Tri-State Normal College, Trine University currently educates more than 4,500 online and at its main campus in Angola, Indiana.

    TrineOnline hosts a bachelor of arts in communication program that is a cost-effective and flexible way for students to strengthen their professional potential in many industries. It offers four concentrations: healthcare administration, organizational leadership, information systems, and criminal justice. Students also have the option of designing a concentration that meets their goals.

    The curriculum for this online bachelor's in communication gives students a well-rounded perspective of communication studies with courses such as writing for media, media laws and ethics, web content management, and intercultural communication.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts With a Communication Major
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $399 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum specified
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT optional

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  8. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $15374

    The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks was founded in 1883. This high-activity research university currently enrolls more than 13,600 students.

    UND's online bachelor of arts in communication program offers program customization with concentrations in public relations, strategic communication, social media strategy, digital journalism, digital analytics, and advertising. Plus, this online bachelor's in communication allows students to adjust their online class schedule to fit their schedule and mix on-campus and online classes.

    Online classes follow the same semester schedules as on-campus offerings. This program requires all communication majors to complete an experiential requirement through an internship or some other means.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Communication
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $356 per credit (in-state); $534 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.75 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  9. Indiana University-East
    Location

    Richmond, IN

    Tuition

    $7898

    From its Richmond campus, Indiana University East was founded as an educational extension center in 1946. Today, the university educates around 3,700 students who attend classes on campus and online.

    IU East's online bachelor of arts in communication studies program focuses on communication within groups, organizations, and electronic channels. Students learn how theoretical premises have real-world applications in foreign policy, business, marketing, and other fields. This degree could lead to careers as an event planner, TV producer, or media relations specialist.

    The curriculum helps students improve their interpersonal, organizational, diverse, and ethical communication skills. Some sample classes include communication research methods, interpersonal communication, and techniques in data analysis.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $236 per credit (in-state); $341 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum specified
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

  10. University of Arkansas
    Location

    Fayetteville, AR

    Tuition

    $15781

    The University of Arkansas became the first public university in Arkansas in 1871. Today, U of A has about 27,000 enrolled students on its Fayetteville campus and online.

    The online bachelor of arts in communication at the University of Arkansas teaches students strategies for effective mass communications through multiple channels in the current high-tech environment. While completing this program, students develop a professional understanding of organizational power structures, effective techniques for interpersonal persuasion, and media's impact on social constructs.

    Through this program's curriculum, students can get a panoramic perspective of all forms of formal and informal communication. Course topics include interpersonal communication, introduction to mediated communication, and introduction to communication research.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Communication
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $252 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 120 credits
    Program Length: 4 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about this program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Communications Programs

Is a bachelor's in communications worth it? true

Although an associate degree would suffice for some entry-level jobs, a bachelor's in communications provides more employment opportunities, especially in management.

An online bachelor's degree can offer the necessary skills and experience for communications positions with the potential for advancement. Also, a four-year degree can serve as a stepping stone in pursuing a master's or doctorate, expanding a professional's earning potential and job prospects.

What can I do with a bachelor's in communications? true

An online bachelor's in communications program can equip students with skills like public speaking, critical thinking, and writing — relevant to various career paths. Communications graduates work in healthcare, business, finance, information technology, government, and many other sectors.

Communications students can focus on a concentration to narrow down their job search and further define themselves as communications professionals. Even with a specialization, graduates can still seek employment in various fields or continue their master's or doctorate education.

Are communications majors in demand? true

Organizations in various industries will always need professionals who can express their ideas clearly, relate well with audiences, build brands, and interact with others. Demand for many communications jobs will likely increase due to professionals switching careers or retiring.

However, job projections vary slightly depending on the occupation. For instance, the BLS projects that, from 2020-2030, the number of jobs for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers and public relations specialists will grow 10% and 11%, respectively. According to the BLS, technical writers will see a 12% projected job growth in the same period.

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

Communications salaries typically vary by location, occupation, work experience, and requisite education level. The BLS reports that media and communication professionals earned median annual wages between $41,950 and $74,650, as of May 2020.

Individuals with advanced degrees and relevant work experience can make higher annual salaries. Management and leadership positions and jobs in larger metropolitan areas also provide higher earning potential. Professionals wanting to expand their earning potential can pursue a master's or doctorate in communications.

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

Professionals working as directors and high-level managers tend to earn some of the highest salaries in the field.

For example, according to Payscale, marketing and communications directors and public relations directors earn average annual wages of $86,200 and $91,680, respectively, as of January 2022. Individuals in advanced stages of these careers can make, on average, over $100,000 each year.

Work experience, education level, occupation, and geography can influence the pay rate in most communications positions.

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