Best Online Bachelor’s in Media Communications Programs

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

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

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Arizona State University-Tempe RANKING SCORE 69.69 COST GRADUATION RATE 67% LOCATION Tempe, AZ

Along with five main campuses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, ASU is home to one of the country's largest distance education programs, enrolling more than 25,000 students in online courses annually. Offered through ASU's prestigious Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the bachelor of arts in mass communication and media studies counts Pulitzer Prize winners and media research pioneers among its faculty members.

This fully online media communications degree takes an interdisciplinary approach to the field, with perspectives rooted in politics, history, economics, culture, society, and technology. The degree requires a total of 45 upper-division major credits, which primarily take the form of elective courses, allowing students to pursue their own academic path based around professional interests.

Some unique elective offerings include war and mass media, media issues in American pop culture, social media, and international mass communication. Courses last eight weeks each, and the program also offers an intensive, accelerated format that allows for faster degree completion.

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2 Arizona State University-Skysong RANKING SCORE 69.38 COST GRADUATION RATE 20% LOCATION Scottsdale, AZ

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

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

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3 Webster University RANKING SCORE 67.81 COST GRADUATION RATE 59% LOCATION Saint Louis, MO

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

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

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4 DePaul University RANKING SCORE 60.16 COST GRADUATION RATE 73% LOCATION Chicago, IL

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

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

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5 University of Memphis RANKING SCORE 60.00 COST GRADUATION RATE 42% LOCATION Memphis, TN

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

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

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6 Brenau University RANKING SCORE 59.84 COST GRADUATION RATE 45% LOCATION Gainesville, GA

A private liberal arts college based in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau serves around 3,500 students annually through both campus-based and online degrees. The school's bachelor of arts in communication and media studies offers a broad overview of the relationship between media, communications, and culture, preparing graduates for careers in a variety of fields, including public relations, social media, journalism, and marketing.

This media communication studies degree requires 45-47 major credits and is available through both online and evening campus courses. The program begins with three introductory courses that build foundational skills in film appreciation, fundamentals of speech, and persuasion. Students then move into major courses that provide a comprehensive overview of the field, with unique courses including media philosophy and ethics, nonverbal communications, diversity in media, and crisis communication.

The curriculum also requires one major elective, with four available course options: principles of leadership, conflict resolution, principles of project management, or special topics.

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7 SUNY College at Oswego RANKING SCORE 58.44 COST GRADUATION RATE 66% LOCATION Oswego, NY

Based in North-Central New York State, SUNY Oswego offers an online bachelor of arts in broadcasting and mass communication degree exploring the industries of radio, film, television, the internet, and multimedia. The 42-credit communication major curriculum includes 24 credits of core courses, 15 credits of electives, and one cognate requirement course in American government and politics.

The program core covers major industry topics such as programming, electronic media marketing, and media law. Candidates also chose one course in either radio or video. Electives focus on specialized topics in both communications in broadcasting, with several options available to suit students' interests.

SUNY Oswego's communication and media studies program is a degree completion program, and most applicants hold an associate degree in mass communications, broadcasting, media studies, radio/TV, or a related subject. Program entrants are expected to have already fulfilled most lower-division credit requirements while completing the remaining upper-division credits entirely online.

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8 The University of Texas at El Paso RANKING SCORE 53.75 COST GRADUATION RATE 39% LOCATION El Paso, TX

Through based in the westernmost corner of Texas, UTEP is home to a sizable distance education program that serves students around the state. The college's bachelor of arts in media advertising prepares graduates for careers in advertising, media, and marketing, stressing communication theory along with practical skills such as research, design, and copywriting.

Students gain a broad understanding of media and advertising history and trends, preparing them to stay abreast of developments in the industry. The program includes 18 credits related specifically to communication media studies, including courses such as creative strategy and copywriting, media planning and buying, advertising campaigns, and new media advertising.

A media advertising internship allows students to gain practical experience through hands-on work with a professional media or advertising company. All degree candidates complete a capstone course that requires them to design and develop an advertising campaign, a valuable professional experience that also serves to bolster graduates' professional portfolios.

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9 Regent University RANKING SCORE 53.44 COST GRADUATION RATE 30% LOCATION Virginia Beach, VA

A private Christian college based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent is home to a comprehensive online degree programs that combine Christian values with wide-ranging professional education. The online bachelor of arts in communication studies with a concentration in internet and social media is a forward-thinking degree that trains students to design effective, interactive social media campaigns and online media.

Stressing the theories and technologies that enable social media outreach, this specialized degree prepares graduates to design and implement digital content across a variety of platforms. Program graduates often find work as web content developers, internet marketers, digital media strategists, and social media strategists.

The communication media studies curriculum includes unique course such as introduction to digital art, narrative concept and development, and communicating in the 21st century. Students also complete a capstone seminar that integrates major program concepts and culminates in the design and execution of a major paper or research project.

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10 Louisiana State University-Shreveport RANKING SCORE 48.59 COST GRADUATION RATE 36% LOCATION Shreveport, LA

A relatively small public college that enrolls around 5,800 students annually, LSUS offers an online bachelor of arts in mass communication with two concentration options: public relations or journalism. Both tracks require a total of 31 major credits, divided almost evenly between core courses and concentration courses.

The 16-credit program core introduces major topics that inform the remainder of the curriculum, including newswriting, public relations, new media, and communication theories. For each concentration track, students take two required courses and then choose three additional elective courses. For example, the journalism track requires courses in copy editing and opinion writing, while the PR track requires courses in public relations campaigns and practical applications in public relations.

Elective courses offer the opportunity to explore additional topics in both concentrations. LSUS also offers the option to take accelerated online courses, allowing candidates to complete the media communication studies program in under four years.

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

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOB PLACEMENT

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

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

Source: Payscale

BACHELOR’s IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS SALARY

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

Average Salary by Location

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

Source: Payscale

BACHELOR’S IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS CAREERS

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

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

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

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

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

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

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

Public Relations Specialists

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

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

Technical Writers

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

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

Writers and Authors

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

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

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

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

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

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Bachelor's in Media Communications Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
2 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
3 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
4 DePaul University Chicago, IL
5 Webster University Saint Louis, MO