With jobs in media and communications on the rise, it pays off for students to pursue an online communications degree. Employers need qualified editors, writers, and producers to meet the increased demand for new media content. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects media and communication occupations to rise 6% through 2026. Graduates who hold an online communications degree work as editors, public relations specialists, and advertising and marketing managers. Professionals in media and communications jobs earn a median annual wage of $37,690 as of May 2017. Salaries for communication specialists increase 45% as individuals gain experience, according to PayScale.
An online communications degree offers students a broad education in all forms of communication, from news writing to public speaking. Many degrees offer concentrations in journalism, public relations, or advertising. Taking classes online allows students to schedule their classes around their work and family life. Read on to learn more about what an online communications degree offers students in terms of coursework and career opportunities.
The Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Communications Programs Ranking Guidelines
The programs referred to below are ranked on the basis of the average yearly net price for undergrads at a given college, averaging the cost for all fees, books and other costs after factoring in financial aid. This list covers mostly fully online programs or those with limited on-campus requirements.
The Most Affordable Online Communications Degree Programs
1. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Average Net Price Per Year: $9,930
In the bachelor of arts in communication online at UTPB, students benefit from a fully online communications degree program allowing them to meet other responsibilities while advancing education and career. Full-time students can earn a bachelor’s degree in three years.
In the 120-credit asynchronous curriculum, students complete 42 general education credits, 36 communications core courses, 24 elective credits, and 18 minor credits. In the core curriculum, students complete coursework in areas such as introduction to the study of communication, modern media and society, rhetoric in western thought, theories of communication, and research methods.
Students personalize their majors by selecting six electives from a list of over two dozen courses. Finally, students choose a minor in either psychology or sociology. All courses last seven weeks, and students can pursue a degree full or part time. Throughout the program, students receive online library and technical support services.
Prospective students can apply for one of six start dates. At this time, UTPB only accepts transfer students—applicants with at least 24 undergraduate credits -- to its online undergraduate programs. For credits to transfer, they must reflect a minimum
C grade. UTPB charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students regardless of residency. New students interested in university-funded financial aid should submit their FAFSA results to UTPB’s financial aid office as soon as possible.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2. Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
Average Net Price Per Year $10,473
The communication studies (BS) program at Appalachian attracts both recent high school graduates and transfer students. The program features a flexible curriculum that prepares graduates for careers and graduate school. Full-time students without prior college experience graduate in four years. Appalachian graduates who choose not to attend graduate school can seek employment in the communication consulting, human resources, and nonprofit fields.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum includes general education requirements, major requirements, and electives. Students also choose a minor from over 100 options. The online bachelor’s degree in communications features major coursework in communication theory, communication research methods. argumentation and advocacy, minorities in media, and speechwriting.
Students can either choose courses from a list of electives or decide between two options (e.g., public speaking or public speaking in the disciplines) to fulfill both general education and major requirements. To stay in good academic standing, students maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Prospective students must hold a high school diploma and submit test scores. Appalachian waves the latter requirement for applicants 23 and older. Applicants do not submit recommendation letters. North Carolina residents pay approximately 80% less on their degrees compared to out-of-state and international students. Also, Appalachian’s tuition structure provides cost savings to full-time students, who do not pay extra tuition when taking more than 12 credits each semester. Freshman and transfer students may qualify for merit- and need-based aid. Students should submit a financial aid application by the Nov. 15 deadline.
Appalachian State University is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Average Net Price Per Year $11,283
UNM boasts three bachelor of arts in communications degree programs for students interested in developing a career in areas like public and media relations, media planning, human resources, or meeting and event planning.
As degree completion programs, the school only accept students who already possess associate degrees. As a result, full-time students can earn their bachelor’s degrees in two years. Learning and career outcomes vary for each program. The curriculum stresses knowledge and skills specific to the program. In the international communication track, students complete synchronous coursework in:
- Interpersonal communication
- Language, thought, and behavior mediation
- Nonverbal communication
- Communication and relationships
Courses do not overlap among degrees, meaning students receive a unique educational experience. However, students who need additional general education requirements select courses from the same list of electives. All courses last seven weeks, and students can study full or part time. Some courses may require students to take exams at proctoring centers in their home communities. To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. To promote students’ academic success, UNM provides multiple online learning resources covering topics such as turning in assignments and contributing to online discussions.
Prospective students can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester. Application requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores, ACT or SAT scores, and undergraduate transcripts. UNM charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students, making the university an excellent choice for budget-conscious out-of-state students. Distance learning fees apply as well.
University of New Mexico is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. University of Southern Maine
Average Net Price Per Year $11,338
USM created its BA in communication program for students planning to earn graduate degrees. As a result, the program focuses on academic rather than career skills. This fully online communications degree accepts both freshmen and transfer students. Full-time students typically earn their degrees in four years.
The 120-credit curriculum blends synchronous and asynchronous components. In the major curriculum, students complete foundational courses before moving on to communication courses and senior seminar courses. However, within each category, students take courses in any order they like, such as nonverbal communication, business and professional communication, persuasion, media effects, and small group communication.
The senior seminar represents the major’s capstone experience. Students earn a minimum
C grade in all courses to stay in good academic standing. Some students double major in media studies, which requires an additional 51 credit hours.
Prospective students should hold high school diplomas or pass a high school equivalency exam (e.g., GED or HiSET). Applicants under the age of 20 also must submit ACT or SAT scores. USM strongly recommends applicants submit personal essays. USM charges online students the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Students interested in university-funded financial aid should submit the FAFSA to USM’s financial aid office by the Jan. 15 deadline.
University of Southern Maine is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
5. Bellevue University
Average Net Price Per Year $11,359
Prospective communications majors seeking a bachelor of arts in communication studies at BU can personalize their education with an emphasis in mass media or organizational and strategic communication.
Students without prior college experience who study full time typically earn their degrees in four years. Some graduates enter the workforce, while others pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. BU graduates often enter the education and human resources fields.
The 127-credit curriculum features three components: general education, elective, and major courses. Although students benefit from an asynchronous curriculum, some courses do include prerequisites, such as critical thinking and communication, communication in the digital age, writing for media, communication and popular culture, and public relations.
The program concludes with a capstone experience wherein students synthesize their newly acquired knowledge and skills. This program may fulfill some states’ professional certification or licensure requirements. BU advisors work closely with students to ensure that students take the correct electives to meet these requirements.
Prospective students can hold either high school diplomas or GEDs. Transfer students may apply up to 90 credits towards their BU online communications degree. Unlike many online bachelor’s degree in communication programs, online students pay a higher per-credit tuition rate than on-campus students. However, online students may qualify for merit- and need-based financial aid. Financial aid applicants use the university’s Community Force application.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Lamar University
Average Net Price Per Year $11,485
At LU, students in the bachelor of science in communication online program benefit from both low tuition and a degree that prepares graduates for careers and master’s programs. With both full-time and accelerated options, students can earn their degrees in just 48 months, sooner if they enter the program with transfer credit. LU graduates work in community relations, public relations, and marketing, among other fields.
The 63-credit major curriculum instructs students in a synchronous format. Unique courses include media writing, desktop publishing, pop culture theories, communication law, and political communication. Courses do not use set meeting times, meaning that students can view course materials and submit assignments at any time of day.
Full-time students can start the degree program in the spring or fall semester, while accelerated students can enter at five points throughout the year. Application requirements include high school transcripts or a GED and standardized test scores. Applicants who do not meet some application requirements may receive conditional admission. Applicants with at least 18 undergraduate credits qualify as transfer students. LU does not charge out-of-state students a higher per-credit tuition rate. Online students do not qualify for university-funded financial aid. However, active military personnel and veterans automatically receive a 15% tuition discount.
Lamar University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Average Net Price Per Year $11,486
The regents bachelor of arts at WVU offers a well-rounded education that students can personalize to their academic and career aspirations. The program boasts eight areas of emphasis, including communication studies. Also, WVU created this program for working adults, meaning that incoming students can earn credit through transfer, challenge exams, and portfolios. Most full-time students take 12 credits each semester and graduate in eight semesters.
The 120-credit curriculum includes a 15-credit communications area of emphasis. Students take emphasis courses in a synchronous format, with offerings such as communications of organizations/institutions, nonverbal communication, intercultural communication, and persuasion.
Students then select a fifth communications course from a list of six electives. In the asynchronous general education curriculum, students take coursework in composition, the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics. Approximately one-third of the program includes higher-level courses. Students who need additional credits to graduate can complete a minor in one of 20 academic subjects.
Prospective students can apply for the fall, spring, or summer term; each term uses a different application deadline. WVU accepts applications from first-time freshmen, transfer, and international applicants. Applicants’ high school or college transcripts should reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA or a GED. Transfer applicants must possess at least 24 transferable credits. At WVU online, all students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Incoming freshmen and transfer students with excellent high school or college GPAs may qualify for an institutional, college, or departmental scholarship.
West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Arizona State University – ASU Online
Average Net Price Per Year $11,916
The online bachelor of science in communication at ASU prepares students to use effective communication skills in 21st-century workplaces. In addition to practical skills, the curriculum’s focus on research methodology also prepares students for master’s programs. The program boasts both full-time and fast-track options. Full-time students typically graduate in four years, while fast-track students earn their degrees in 2.5–3 years. ASU graduates who do not pursue advanced degrees sometimes work in the business, sales, and public relations fields.
The 120-credit synchronous curriculum features an introductory course to online learning. In the first year, some students may need foundational coursework in mathematics and English before they move on to the core curriculum. Foundational coursework may extend students’ educations by up to one year. The communications major includes many exciting courses:
- Persuasion and social influence
- Gender and communication
- Communication, conflict, and negotiation
- Communication in professions
- Leadership in group communication
Students remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Prospective students who apply as freshmen must possess a high school diploma with a minimum 3.0 GPA. However, ASU’s Earned Admission Track allows applicants with GEDs to prove their college readiness by other means. Transfer students can apply up to 90 outside credits toward their ASU bachelor’s degrees. All transfer credits must reflect a minimum 2.5 GPA. ASU online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency.
Arizona State University – ASU Online is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. University of Wisconsin – Superior
Average Net Price Per Year $12,023
The University of Wisconsin system boasts dozens of entirely online bachelor’s programs. Through UW-Superior, students can earn a bachelor’s in communicating arts. Students gain much more than a traditional communications degree, choosing from two minors: communication or theatre and digital filmmaking.
The curriculum stresses hands-on experience, meaning that UW-Superior students can show graduate schools or prospective employers an academic portfolio. Students who follow the suggested academic pathway graduate in four years.
The 120-credit curriculum includes general education requirements, core communication courses, and electives. In the first year, students complete introductory courses in English, mathematics, science, and the humanities. Over the following three years, students delve into the latest communicating arts topics:
- Introduction to intercultural communication
- Communication inquiry
- Interpersonal communication
- Special topics seminar
The program concludes with a capstone experience. Students select from seven options that include study abroad, independent study, and a higher-level course in communicating gender. Throughout the program, students can complete internships or practicums in their home communities, a boon for those who plan to enter the workforce after graduation.
UW-Superior’s admission requirements for online students mirror those for on-campus students. Applicants’ high school transcripts must reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university does not accept the GED. Prospective students with GEDs should earn an associate degree at a local community college before applying to UW-Superior. Applicants with at least 12 undergraduate credits qualify as transfer applicants. Like many public schools that offer online degrees, UW-Superior charges the same tuition rate to all students.
University of Wisconsin – Superior is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Florida International University
Average Net Price Per Year $12,219
At FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, students can earn an online bachelor of arts in communication arts. With multiple start dates throughout the year, students have cheap online communications degree options that appeal to working professionals who want a program that can fit around their busy schedules. Typical freshmen students graduate in four years, while incoming students who already possess an associate degree can earn their degrees in two years.
The 120-credit curriculum boasts 60 credits in communication arts. Few programs on this ranking dedicate as much of their curriculum to the major. In class, students analyze many topics they can apply to their careers:
- Advanced public speaking
- Intercultural/interracial communication
- Organizational communication
- Communication for effective leadership
Students take general education and communications courses in an asynchronous format. Throughout the program, students work with success coaches who help them choose courses and find resources such as tutors.
FIU applicants must submit high school transcripts that reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. FIU does not accept prospective students with GEDs but does accept those who earned associate degrees. Transfer applicants should possess at least 60 transferable credits. Florida residents save approximately 33% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international students. On the FIU scholarship site, students can explore and apply to university-funded scholarships.
Florida International University is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Montana State University – Billings
Average Net Price Per Year $12,503
The bachelor of arts in communication program at MSU Billings boasts concentration options in organizational or mass communication.
The organizational communication concentration attracts prospective students who want to apply their communication skills in careers as managers, trainers, and corporate communicators. Many mass communications students apply skills to further their education in a master’s program. Full-time students with no undergraduate credits can graduate in four years.
Both concentrations use a 120-credit curriculum featuring robust general education requirements in the natural sciences, humanities, mathematics, and cultural diversity. The organizational communication concentration uses a synchronous major curriculum that includes coursework in:
- Exploring communication studies
- History and theory of persuasion
- Leadership and communication
The mass communication concentration differs by using a smaller major curriculum while adding additional electives. Some electives students select from include advertising, media and culture, popular culture and cultural studies, and the law of public communications. Both concentrations conclude with a capstone project.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Application requirements include a high school diploma or GED and a minimum score of 22 on the ACT or 1030 on the SAT. Applicants with lower scores may receive conditional admission based on other academic merit. MSU Billings online communications degree students save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international online students. Other fees apply. Students interested in university-funded scholarships submit only one scholarship application.
Montana State University – Billings is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
12. Valley City State University
Valley City, North Dakota
Average Net Price Per Year $12,715
At VCSU, students can earn a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in professional communication without ever setting foot on campus. This dynamic degree features concentration options in corporate communication, journalism and media, or digital media management.
Students can further personalize their online bachelor’s degree in communications by completing a minor in library media and information science, speech, or theatre. With course sizes capped at 20 students, all students receive individualized attention from professors and can forge lasting bonds with peers. Full-time students with no prior college experience typically graduate in four years.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum uses an optional study plan to keep students on track for graduation. In the first year, students focus on general education requirements. In the following three years, students blend the major curriculum with a minor or electives. The major curriculum features courses applicable to both careers and graduate study, including gender communication, group dynamics, and communication theory. The program concludes with either an internship or field experience in students’ home communities.
Applicants to VCSU submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. The university excuses applicants over the age of 25 from many application requirements, including the ACT and College Preparatory Core Courses. However, VCSU strongly recommends that all new students submit ACT or SAT scores so that the university can determine initial English and mathematics course placements. Starting in Fall 2019, out-of-state and international students no longer pay a higher tuition rate than North Dakota residents.
Valley City State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Granite State College
Concord, New Hampshire
Average Net Price Per Year $12,905
The communication studies bachelor’s degree at GSC appeals to transfer students who want to apply their associate degree to a bachelor’s completion program. In addition to credits from their associate degree, new students can fulfill general education and major requirements through challenge exams, experiential learning portfolios, and military training. New students with associate degrees can graduate in two years.
Like nearly all cheap online communications degrees on this ranking, GSC uses a 120-credit curriculum. Students take general education and major courses in an asynchronous format. Communications courses unique to this program include:
- Conducting Critical Inquiry
- The Media and its Messages
- Introduction to Ethics
- Principles of Marketing on Global Marketing
- Managing Conflict
The program concludes with an integrative project where students synthesize what they learned throughout the program. Students remain in good academic standing by earning a minimum 2.0 GPA.
GSC uses rolling admissions. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. GSC accepts up to 90 transfer credits. Undergraduate transcripts should include coursework in interpersonal communications, media, and ethics. Out-of-state students pay 10% more for their degrees than New Hampshire residents. Active-duty military personnel and veterans receive a tuition discount. The college grants a similar discount to help children ages 23 and younger.
Granite State College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
14. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Average Net Price Per Year $13,327
At ECU, students in the BS in communication program customize their educations with one of four concentrations: Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, Media Studies, Journalism, and Public Relations.
This cheap online communications degree attracts prospective students who want to apply the latest communication skills to their current or future careers. Full-time students entering the program as freshmen can graduate in four years.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum includes 42 credits of general education requirements. All communications students take introduction to communication and introduction to mass media before moving on to their concentrations. Each concentration boasts a unique curriculum. In the interpersonal/organizational communication concentration, students analyze topics such as:
- Communication Criticism
- Public Speaking
- Small Group Communication
- Organizational Communication Theory
Each concentration allows students to personalize their degrees by choosing electives that align with their interests and goals. At the end of the program, students complete a capstone course. Students need a minimum 2.0 GPA in all courses to stay in good academic standing.
Prospective students need a high school diploma or GED. Applicants with less than a 3.0 high school GPA may receive conditional admission. Other application requirements include ACT or SAT scores. North Carolina residents save approximately 75% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international online students.
East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. Arkansas State University
Average Net Price Per Year $13,420
The bachelor of arts in communication studies online at A-State boasts affordable tuition and six start dates each year. All courses in the online communications degree last seven weeks. Students can double major in political science, criminology, or sociology. Full-time students without prior college experience graduate in four years.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum features general education courses in science, humanities, and mathematics. The major curriculum includes two components: program requirements and communications electives. Unique communications electives include:
- Computer Mediated Communication
- Narratives in Health and Healing
- Principles of Public Relations
- Conflict Resolution
- Seminar in Health Communication
Courses do not use set meeting times, making this affordable online communications degree ideal for working professionals balancing school with work and family responsibilities.
Prospective students need a minimum 2.75 high school GPA or a minimum score of 525 on the GED. Other application requirements include a minimum score of 21 on the ACT, but A-State waives this requirement for transfer applicants. Although a public school, A-State extends its in-state tuition rate to all U.S. online students. International students pay a higher per-credit tuition rate. The university does not award need-based grants or merit-based scholarships to online students at this time.
Arkansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. University of Memphis – UofM Online
Average Net Price Per Year $13,663
UofM offers an online education to recent high school graduates and working professionals who want to advance their careers. The bachelor of arts in communication with a concentration in communication studies focuses on five skills:
- Critical Thinking
- Academic Knowledge
- Mediated Communication
Academically gifted students may qualify for the university’s honors program, a boon for students planning to attend graduate school. Full-time students can earn their bachelor’s in four years.
The 120-credit online bachelor’s degree in communications includes general education, major, and communication studies courses. Communication studies courses include:
- Media and Information Literacy
- Rhetoric/Civic Controversy
- Communication Ethics
- Communication Research Methods
- Senior Capstone
During the capstone, students create a work portfolio of their best pieces from prior courses and include findings from a capstone research project. Students need a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.
Prospective students with high school diplomas apply as freshmen, while prospective students with GEDs apply as nontraditional students. Both admission tracks use different criteria, such as GPA and test score cutoffs. Different requirements also apply to homeschooled and international applicants. Online out-of-state students pay double the in-state tuition rate.
University of Memphis – UofM Online is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
17. University of Minnesota – Crookston
Average Net Price Per Year $13,962
At UMC, students in the bachelor of science in communication program benefit from professors with advanced degrees and professional experience in the communications field. The program gives students many options to customize their degrees, including three areas of emphasis:
- Communication Studies
- Organization Communication/Public Relations
Throughout the program, students develop work portfolios, a valuable tool for applying to graduate school or a new job. Full-time students typically graduate in four years. Graduates work in management, marketing, and sports information, among other fields.
The 120-credit degree features 63 communications credits, so students spend more than half of their time in school focusing on major and concentration requirements. The synchronous major curriculum features coursework in:
- Communication Technology Trends
- News and Promotional Writing
- Organizational Communication
- Social and Behavioral Science Research Methods
Students also complete an internship in their home communities. Each concentration features required courses and electives. Students stay in good academic standing by not earning more than two D grades throughout the program.
Prospective students must submit high school transcripts or GED scores. UMC accepts applicants based on their talents, achievements, extenuating circumstances, and military service. It does not post GPA or test score cutoffs. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.
University of Minnesota – Crookston is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Average Net Price Per Year $14,445
The bachelor of arts in communication at UWM provides students worldwide with a world-class education. The online curriculum closely mirrors its on-campus counterpart: classes last 16 weeks and use set meeting times. Full-time students who start this online communications degree as freshmen can graduate in four years.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum includes 36 credits dedicated to the communications major. Unique core courses include:
- Public Speaking
- Critical Analysis of Communication
- Qualitative Research in Communication
Students customize their education by selecting eight courses from an extensive list of communications electives. Due to online course availability limitations, some students may need to take general education courses at a local community college and transfer the credit to UWM. Wisconsin residents can take some courses on one of the university’s four campuses while retaining their status as online students. Students need a minimum 2.0 GPA in all courses to remain in good academic standing.
Prospective students submit high school transcripts or GED scores. UWM qualifies transfer students as those with at least 17 transferable credits. Wisconsin residents save approximately 50% on their education compared to out-of-state and international students. In-state students may qualify for university-funded scholarships or grants.
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
19. University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Average Net Price Per Year $14,478
Students in UND’s bachelor of arts in communication can complete their degrees entirely online or in a hybrid format, taking some courses on the university’s Grand Forks campus. This career-centered program appeals to recent high school graduates and working professionals planning to enter new careers or pursue a promotion in their current roles. Prospective students who want to earn a graduate degree in communications should consider other programs on this ranking. Full-time students can graduate in four years.
The 120-credit online communications degree includes general education requirements, major requirements, and an optional minor. Students who do not complete a minor take additional electives instead. During the online communications degree, students complete local internships at places such as newspapers, advertising agencies, and public relations firms. Classes do not feature set meeting times, so students enjoy the flexibility to continue working while earning their degrees.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Students need a minimum 2.75 high school GPA or a 145 on the GED. UND charges all online students an in-state tuition rate. Students seeking financial aid should apply by the deadline.
University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. University of Colorado Denver
Average Net Price Per Year $14,586
At CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students earning the bachelor of arts in communication degree benefit from a program with four specializations:
- Community Service and Public Affairs
- Global and Intercultural Communication
- Media and Cultural Studies
- Health Communication
Students living in the Denver area can complete this online bachelor’s degree in communications in a hybrid format. Full-time students without prior college experience can graduate in four years.
The 120-credit asynchronous program includes 39 credits of general education requirements. Courses last for 15 weeks. The 12-course major curriculum features multiple exit course options, including:
- Communication, Prisons, and Social Justice
- Advanced Strategic Communication
- Health Communication
- Senior Seminar: Transitioning from College to Career
Each exit course includes a unique capstone component. Students can further personalize their degrees by taking up to 56 communications credits. Students need a C grade in all courses to stay in good academic standing.
The typical CU Denver applicant possesses a minimum 3.2 high school GPA and 1070 on the SAT or 25 on the ACT. Colorado residents save approximately 66% on their degrees compared to out-of-state and international students. CU Denver provides eligible Colorado residents with generous financial aid through its College Opportunity Fund. Out-of-state students may qualify for a university scholarship.
University of Colorado Denver is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
21. Bemidji State University
Average Net Price Per Year $14,653
Prospective students interested in business careers should consider BSU’s bachelor of science in marketing communication. The fully online communications degree accepts applicants with at least 24 transferable college credits, and students typically graduate in two years.
The 54-credit program uses a synchronous curriculum. Students explore topics such as:
- Advertising Management
- Media Writing
- Social Media Marketing
- Public Relations
- Media Design
The program concludes with two internships that students complete locally. The university works closely with students to find appropriate placements. Students should ensure that they can work at their internship sites full time for at least one semester.
Prospective students submit high school and college transcripts. As the program accepts only transfer applicants, it does not require standardized test scores or recommendation letters. Although a public university, all online students pay the in-state tuition rate. Incoming students with excellent GPAs may qualify for the Michael McKinley Distance Learning Scholarship. New students can apply for this and other distance learning scholarships by submitting just one application.
Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
22. Northern Arizona University
Average Net Price Per Year $14,901
The bachelor of science in communication studies at NAU features two concentrations: communication general and organizational communication. The program emphasizes hands-on learning, making it ideal for students who plan to start their new careers after graduation. The program is also an excellent precursor for graduate law or business programs.
The 120-credit program features 42 credits of major requirements and 18 credits of an emphasis or minor. Unique major courses include:
- Rhetorical Criticism
- Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
- Senior Seminar in Communication Studies
- Communication in Contemporary Affairs
- Gender and Communication
Students who maintain a high GPA may qualify for fieldwork experience or the university’s honors program. Students need a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.
NAU accepts up to 90 transfer credits, making this cheap online communications degree an excellent choice for applicants with associate degrees. NAU typically grants the most transfer credits to students who earned their degrees from Arizona community colleges.
Students enjoy two tuition payment options: pay for each credit hour or pay a flat subscription fee. The latter method benefits students who take more than seven credits per semester. Online students may qualify for one of six merit-based scholarships. These scholarships do not require additional applications.
Northern Arizona University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. Wilmington University
New Castle, Delaware
Average Net Price Per Year $14,955
WilmU students can earn their bachelor of science in communication entirely online or in a hybrid format through one of the university’s four Delaware campuses. The degree offers two concentrations: integrated marketing communication and media communication.
Ambitious students can extend the bachelor’s program by earning a certificate in advanced technical communication, which qualifies them to earn the certified professional technical communicator credential. First-time students can graduate in four years. Graduates enjoy careers as public relations managers, web developers, and search marketing strategists.
The 120-credit asynchronous curriculum includes 39 general education credits and 36 communication core credits. Core classes include:
- Internet Marketing
- Legal Aspects of Communication
- Technical Communications and Project Management
- Media and Society
- Communication Ethics
After completing the core curriculum, students pursue their concentrations. Both concentrations comprise nine courses in areas such as writing for the media and social media marketing. WilmU offers a suggested course sequence to keep students on track for graduation.
WilmU uses rolling admissions and accepts new students every two months. Applicants submit high school transcripts or GED scores. New students take math and English skills assessment tests to determine course placement. Students who submit ACT or SAT scores do not take placement tests. A private university, WilmU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. Active-duty military personnel receive a 33% tuition discount.
Wilmington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
24. Missouri State University
Average Net Price Per Year $15,173
The bachelor of science in communication studies program at Missouri State offers four-year and degree-completion tracks in addition to an accelerated master’s track where students begin their graduate educations in their senior year. Students pursuing the online communications degree hone interpersonal, intercultural, and nonverbal skills. Full-time students can graduate in two years.
Students select from two concentrations: communication studies and intercultural communication and diversity. The 33-credit major curriculum uses a synchronous learning model. All students take the same core curriculum before starting concentration coursework. The core curriculum features classes such as:
- Fundamentals of Public Speaking
- Communication Research Methods
- Rhetorical Tradition and Contemporary Applications
- Interpersonal Communication Theory
- Advanced Speaking in Professional Settings
All students earning a communication studies degree from Missouri State pursue a minor. Students with excellent GPAs can participate in the university’s honors program, which proves ideal for students considering the accelerated master’s track or other graduate-level degrees.
Applicants need an associate degree or at least 59 transferable credits. Prior undergraduate coursework should reflect a minimum 2.5 GPA. Missouri residents save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international students. Missouri State awards over a dozen scholarships each year to eligible students. New online students interested in scholarships should submit the MSU Annual Scholarship Application by the deadline.
Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
25. Old Dominion University – ODU Online
Average Net Price Per Year $15,213
The fully online bachelor of science in communication program at ODU attracts first-time college students and community college graduates. Students complete a concentration in professional communication and select an emphasis. Emphasis areas include:
- Communication Foundations
- Lifespan Communications
- Media Studies
- Public Relations
Full-time students can earn their degrees in as little as one year if they already possess an associate degree. Graduates work in fields such as public relations, training, and broadcast journalism.
The 120-credit asynchronous online communications degree features a comprehensive major curriculum. Students analyze topics such as:
- Human Creativity
- Impacts of Technology
- Language and Culture
- Oral Communication Skills
- Understanding Media
Incoming students must take at least 30 credits at ODU. Some online courses use set meeting times, while others allow students to view lectures at any time of day. The program features virtual office hours where students teleconference with their professors.
Prospective students with associate degrees from Virginia community colleges automatically receive admission to ODU if their transcripts reflect a minimum 2.5 GPA. Freshman applicants submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. The university recommends that applicants also submit recommendation letters and a personal essay. ODU charges out-of-state online students 15% more for their degrees than in-state students.
Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The Advantages of a Communications Education
Employers in media and communications often prefer candidates to hold an online bachelor’s degree in communications. That said, candidates with an associate degree can find work as broadcast technicians and public relations assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sound engineering technician makes a median annual salary of $55,810.
To work as a professional writer or author, employers typically choose candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or English. Working professionals who want to go into academia need at least a master’s degree, or even a doctoral degree. Read on for more information about potential careers and salaries open to online communications graduates.
Average Salary by Degree Level
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Communications||$48,000|
|Bachelor’s Degree in Communications||$56,000|
Communications Degree Salary Information
From writers and authors to public relations specialists, graduates with an online communications degree can find various job opportunities in media and communications. Students can strengthen their talents while in school by earning specializations or concentrations in a specific field, and then find work in careers that align with their interests, skills, and personality types. Below are five popular jobs for graduates who hold an online communications degree.
- Social Media Specialist:
- Social media specialists work in all sectors, managing a company’s or individual’s presence on social media. They write and create video and photo content to share with followers and also create campaigns to hit specific goals.
- Technical Writer:
- Technical writers work on various assignments, translating technical information into simple language for users. They create manuals, diagrams, and how-to-guides.
- Entry–level: $49,000
- Midcareer: $63,000
- Experienced: $70,000
- Late–career: $79,000
- Editors work for newspapers, magazines, TV, websites, or freelance. They edit print and digital content, and proofread content and correct it for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
- Entry–level: $41,000
- Midcareer: $53,000
- Experienced: $59,000
- Late–career: $63,000
- Public Relations Specialist:
- Public relations specialists communicate to the public and promote their clients, designing media campaigns that include press releases, social media content, and press relations.
- Entry–level: $42,000
- Midcareer: $53,000
- Experienced: $58,000
- Late–career: $60,000
- Interpreters and Translators:
- Interpreters and translators convert materials from one language to another, requiring a bachelor’s degree and verbal and written fluency in at least two languages. Most work in professional, scientific, and technical services.
- Entry–level: $40,000
- Midcareer: $43,000
- Experienced: $50,000
- Late–career: N/A
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Choosing an Affordable Online Communications Degree Program
Numerous factors influence a student’s decision-making process when it comes to choosing an online communications degree, including educational needs, budget, and lifestyle. Every program comes with different financial and time obligations. Programs differ in size and length. With many programs out there, students can find an online program that suits their needs. Below are important factors to consider when making a decision about which college to attend:
- Program Cost:
- College tuition prices fluctuate depending on different variables. Attending school in-state almost always costs less than out-of-state programs, and private schools typically cost more than public colleges. Part-time students also often pay higher tuition rates than full-time students.
- Transfer policies:
- Students who have transfer credits from accredited schools can often apply those credits to their online communications degree and graduate in less than four years. Not all credits transfer, however, as regionally accredited schools typically do not take credits from nationally accredited schools.
- School Size and Type:
- Generally public colleges have larger student populations and classrooms, while private schools benefit from smaller class sizes. If students prefer individual attention, they should seek out a smaller college.
- Program Length:
- The average online bachelor’s degree in communications takes four years to complete when students attend college full time, whereas part-time students usually take between 5–6 years to graduate. Some programs offer an accelerated pace, allowing students to graduate in less than four years.
- On-campus Requirements:
- Colleges often require freshman students to live on campus, a policy that typically does not extend to students taking courses online. Online college students can generally take classes from anywhere with internet access.
Accreditation for Online Communications Degrees
Colleges either possess national or regional accreditation. Academic two- and four-year colleges receive regional accreditation, whereas vocational schools receive national accreditation. Regional accreditation remains the more prestigious distinction. Six regional accrediting bodies provide accreditation to colleges across the nation: the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Accreditation Commission, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Schools undergo the accreditation process on a voluntary basis. Regional accreditation means a college meets set quality standards, students can receive federal financial aid, and students can transfer credits to another regionally accredited school. The Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize legitimate national and regional accrediting agencies. CHEA also recognizes programmatic accrediting bodies, which review departments or specific programs. Many online communications degrees receive accreditation from the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.
To prepare for specific careers after graduation, definitive concentrations help guide aspiring communications professionals. Schools that offer concentrations in subjects such as journalism or public relations allow students to hone skills for promoting themselves. Below are some common concentrations.
- A concentration in journalism teaches students the technical skills needed to cover, research, and write news for print, online, or TV, including the AP Stylebook guidelines.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Reporters, editors, copyeditors
- Public relations:
- Studying public relations introduces students to all aspects of the field, from writing press releases to organizing events. Students also learn about social media management, brand building, and media relations.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Public relations specialists, event coordinators
- A concentration in advertising teaches students how to think critically and creatively to launch advertising campaigns. The course covers digital advertising on social media, TV, and online.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Creative copywriters, social media advertising managers, advertising sales representatives
- Broadcast media:
- Broadcast media concentrations teach students how to write, create, edit, and produce content for TV, radio, or YouTube.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Radio producer, video editor, video producer, TV broadcaster
- Technical and Science:
- Students enrolled in a technical and science concentration take courses in technical writing, software documentation, and science writing, which is the technical skills needed to do grant writing and conduct research in science, medicine, and health.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: With the skills learned in this concentration, students can find work as technical writers in various fields
How Much Does an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Cost?
The total cost of college for an online bachelor’s degree in communications varies depending on where a student decides to go to school. Tuition can run from around $5,000 to over $10,000 a year. Costs almost always increase when students take classes out of state. Sometimes online programs extend in-state tuition rates to students even if they live out of state. Colleges within the same regional accreditation agency may also offer students discounted out-of-state tuition rates, for a cheap online communications degree. It is also important to consider how tuition fluctuates depending on the number of credits a student takes. Part-time studies often cost more than attending full time because program duration increases.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Communications?
On average, students pursuing a cheap online communications degree take four years to graduate, completing about 120 credits.
Numerous factors can impact a student’s graduation timeline. Accelerated programs, or taking classes during the summer, allow students to finish quicker than the typical amount of time it takes to graduate.
On the other side of the spectrum, students also often take longer than four years to graduate for various reasons. Students who take a double major, minor, or concentration take more credits, which may impact their graduation date. If a student works full time or has children they may take classes on a part-time basis, which means they may graduate in five or six years rather than the traditional four. Tuition rates per credit typically cost more for part-time students than full-time students, increasing the overall cost of a part-time student’s program.
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Communications Program
- Communication Theory
- This course introduces students to the principle theories and conceptual frameworks that allow them to analyze human communications. Students analyze communication in a theoretical manner and apply their knowledge to the various conflicts and issues that arise in human communication.
- Writing for Media
- From online to print, media requires writers to use different styles and techniques. Students learn how to write for broadcast news, advertising, public relations, newspapers, magazines, and online. They also learn about conducting research and writing stories in adherence to journalistic principles and ethics.
- Fundamentals of Oral Communication
- Students learn how to prepare and give public speeches for large and small audiences, gather research, and source information. Part of the course develops the interpersonal communication skills students need to work in communications and media.
- Mass Communication and Media Studies
- This class teaches students how to use critical thinking to survey the broader impact of mass communication and increase their media literacy. Students study media policy, regulation, laws, and the impacts of print media, marketing, social media, and popular culture.
- Gender, Communication, and Culture
- Students study how gender and culture influence communication and how communication shapes social systems and conceptions of gender. The class strengthens a student’s critical thinking skills and helps them better understand gender issues within a historical and modern context.
Paying for Your Online Bachelor’s in Communications Program
Paying for college presents a challenge for many students. If students need funding to help pay for college, the first step in their educational journey begins with filling out a FAFSA form. Students can complete the FAFSA online for free. This application determines how much federal funding every student receives for school, including loans and grants. Colleges sometimes also offer students federal work study opportunities on or off campus.
Scholarships for Communications Students
- Dairy Management, Inc. Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board distributes 11 scholarships to undergraduates studying communications, public relations, journalism, and marketing fields. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may apply. One outstanding student receives the James H. Loper Jr. Memorial Scholarship of $3,500. To apply students must submit an essay about their career ambitions and transcripts.
- Dan Klepper Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Texas Outdoor Writers Association offers this scholarship, named after outdoor writer Dan Klepper, to Texas students studying communications. Students must have an interest in pursuing a career related to the outdoors. An application must include letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, writing clips, an essay on the applicant’s outdoor activities, and a statement about career ambitions.
- Society of Professional Journalists Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Society of Professional Journalists provides multiple scholarships to students studying communications or journalism. Undergraduates in their junior or senior year and graduate students can apply.
- Leonard M. Perryman Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship, named after journalist Leonard M. Perryman, awards funding to an ethnic minority undergraduate student majoring in communications or journalism. Candidates must attend an accredited college or university and identify as a United Methodist. To apply, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, transcripts, writing samples, a photograph, and an essay about their career interests.