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.

What are the best media communications programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
2 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
3 Maryville University Saint Louis, MO
4 Washington State University Pullman, WA
5 Point Park University Pittsburgh, PA
6 DePaul University Chicago, IL
7 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
8 Brenau University Gainesville, GA
9 Brandman University Irvine, CA
10 Lynn University Boca Raton, FL

Choosing a Program

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.

What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Media Communications Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

ASU provides more than 300 degrees and certificates through its online platform. ASU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers an online bachelor of arts in mass communication and media studies that teaches graduates an understanding of the media's changing role in society.

This 120-credit bachelor's degree requires 45 upper-division credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the major. Students must earn at least 30 credits at ASU. Relevant courses include social media, digital media literacy, digital audience analysis, and media ethics. The program also offers a three-year fast track degree plan.

First-year applicants who place in the top 25% of their high school class or earn a minimum 3.0 GPA qualify for admission. Arizona residents with a score of at least 22 or 1120 on the ACT or SAT, respectively, also qualify. Non-residents need minimum scores of 24 or 1180.

2

Webster University

Saint Louis, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Founded in 1915 as a Catholic women's college, Webster now maintains a global presence and offers seven fully online degrees and three online degree completion programs. Interested learners can enroll in Webster's bachelor's in media communications program, which serves as a degree completion pathway.

This major includes required courses like media writing, literacy, ethics, and law. Students also complete a 12-credit concentration and a thesis or internship in a media-related area. Communications majors must pass a portfolio review after completing 15 major credits.

Students may apply to Webster using the school's application or the Common Application. Webster may require an essay, resume, and/or recommendations from some applicants.

3

Maryville University

Saint Louis, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Founded in 1872, Maryville enrolls more than 10,000 students annually, including about 5,500 online learners. The school offers more than 30 online degrees, including a 128-credit bachelor of arts in communication with concentrations in strategic communication and emerging media strategy and social media.

In addition to general education requirements and electives, the program's curriculum includes 27 core credits and 24 concentration credits. Core courses include principles of visual communication and digital media. All students complete an internship, and strategic communication students also complete a capstone.

Maryville prefers applicants with a minimum GPA of 2.5 (2.0 for transfer students) and does not require standardized test scores for admission. Transfer students must earn at least half of their major credits and their final 30 credits at Maryville.

4

Washington State University

Pullman, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Founded in 1890, WSU enrolls nearly 30,000 students. WSU's Global Campus provides 20 undergraduate degrees to distance learners, including a bachelor of arts in integrated strategic communication that is available entirely online. This 120-credit degree emphasizes traditional and digital media strategies and data-driven decision-making.

Learners study public relations and advertising and complete a communication internship. Upper-level course topics include persuasion, digital content promotion, branding, marketing, and research methods.

To earn admission into the major, students must complete four core communication courses and at least 30 credits (at least 15 from WSU) with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Transfer students must complete at least 30 credits at WSU.

5

Point Park University

Pittsburgh, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Point Park serves nearly 4,000 students through more than 100 programs. The university offers 10 online undergraduate bachelor's degrees, including a degree in public relations and advertising that features hands-on coursework.

Degree requirements include 32 credits of core courses and 15 credits of electives. Public relations and advertising courses include PR writing, ad copy and layout, and social media practices. Participants complete a practicum in the field and create a corporate or nonprofit marketing campaign as a capstone project.

Students complete Point Park's 122-credit degree by taking eight-week classes. The school may award up to 90 transfer credits, including credits for experiential learning. The program may require an interview or supplemental materials from certain applicants.

6

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Located in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul offers an online bachelor's degree completion program in communication and media. Participants are recommended to follow a two-year or three-year plan.

Relevant courses include digital cinema production, screenwriting, and television production. Students must also complete coursework related to presentation skills and media analysis. Learners can engage in a research practicum, independent study, or internship. All learners complete a capstone course in their final quarter.

Applicants must have at least 45 transferable quarter credits and meet DePaul's writing and algebra prerequisites. DePaul prefers transfer applicants with a minimum 2.0 GPA. More than 40% of the university's student body consists of transfer students.

7

University of Memphis

Memphis, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Founded in 1912, UofM currently offers 28 undergraduate degrees online, including a 120-credit bachelor's in communication studies. The program emphasizes the importance of producing tailored messages, analysis, ethical principles, and the impact of the media.

In addition to completing 41 general education credits, students take 33-37 major credits, including three classes in a focus area and a senior capstone project. Available focus areas include professional and relational communication, rhetoric and public advocacy, and media and culture. Students who maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA and complete a thesis project may graduate with honors.

UofM offers a guaranteed tuition plan and live online tutoring. Students may complete this communication program entirely online.

8

Brenau University

Gainesville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Founded as a school for women in 1878, Brenau University now includes a women's college within the larger coeducational university. Nearly 33% of Brenau's learners study online. The school offers 11 bachelor's degrees to distance learners, including a bachelor of arts in communication and media studies.

This program draws on the expertise of professionals in the Atlanta metro area, preparing graduates for jobs in public relations, marketing, instructional design, and social media. Students must complete liberal arts education requirements and major courses, such as diversity in media, persuasion, and communication theory.

Brenau accepts applications on a rolling basis and prefers applicants with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Military-affiliated students may qualify for tuition discounts. Online students can apply for federal and state financial aid.

9

Brandman University

Irvine, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

Students at Brandman can take on-campus courses at more than 25 campuses in California and Washington. They can also access online and hybrid classes. The university offers more than 31 undergraduate programs, including an online bachelor of arts in communications and media.

Major coursework emphasizes various multimedia tools, communication techniques, and storytelling. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, including general education, core, and elective credits. Core courses include strategic social media, multimedia journalism, and data analytics.

Applicants must have at least 12 transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Brandman offers a four-course online track for students who still need to meet this requirement. Brandman boasts an 81% degree completion rate for returning students.

10

Lynn University

Boca Raton, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Located in Boca Raton, Florida, Lynn serves more than 3,000 students and offers about 50 undergraduate majors. Undergraduates can pursue one of 10 online bachelor's degrees, including a BA in communication and media. This degree track prepares graduates for jobs in advertising, public relations, journalism, media production, and business.

This 120-credit bachelor's degree requires 33 core credits, 45 major credits, and 42 elective credits. Communication classes include screenwriting, digital video editing, and photojournalism. Students enrolled in the senior capstone course develop an e-portfolio. The program also includes internship opportunities.

Applicants must submit a personal statement and official transcripts. Nearly 25% of Lynn's communication students reside outside the U.S.

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

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.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Media Communications Degrees

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.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Media Communications Graduates

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.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Media Communications Program

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.