Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Communication: Top Programs for 2016
Understanding Online Communication Degrees
If there is an industry that will never run out of demand, it is the communication industry. Communication is everywhere, constantly telling us how people feel, what they think and what their plans are. Students who graduate with degrees in communication are guaranteed of successful careers. Here there are jobs in broadcasting, public relations, journalism, education, and human resources…the list is endless. Communication degrees give students the opportunity to truly have an impact in the world by influencing the way people think, speak and feel about local and global issues. This role is vital to the very culture of humankind. There will always be demand for students who have graduated from universities, colleges and other institutions with communication degrees.
The Communication Career Path
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for communication degrees, between the years 2014 and 2024, will offer roughly 27,400 new job positions.
Students can choose to master anything; communication is a wide field and hence doesn’t restrict studies to merely journalism or broadcasting. There are more than a few options available to students, and although they differ from each other in one way or the other, those who chose to pursue any career path in the communication industry get to attain a number of relevant skills that come in handy when they are out looking for jobs. These skills include public speaking, persuasive writing skills, and critical thinking skills among others. Communication degrees also give graduates an upper hand when it comes to relationship and interaction issues in society. Simply, these graduates are given the necessary skill set to reach and make real changes in a large audience.
Before pursuing this career or, any career at all, students often wonder if it is the right fit for them. A career needs more than good grades, it needs passion…some would say careers are a calling. This guide is here to help the indecisive students who think they might have a chance in the communication industry take that final step of selecting and pursuing one specific career path in communication. This is a resource that not only shows students whether communication is their dream; it also shows them exactly how to get to the point of fulfilling this dream.
Communication and Careers in Media
Communication degrees are most commonly associated with a career path in the media direction. Reporters, journalists, broadcasters and other professionals in the media give information verbally, in print, or visually to audiences worldwide. A communication degree does not necessarily mean one has to take the media path. Students who finish their online communication degrees often get jobs in a vast array of unaffiliated industries and careers, including advertising, marketing and public relations. Communication majors not only open the door to diverse career choices, but they also face a lower rate of unemployment than most other majors.
The Online Communication Degree Timeline
Although some uniform standards apply, there is no set timeline that every student will follow during his or her pursuit of a communication degree online. One student may start at the associate level and then proceed to masters, while others may decide to start with the bachelor’s degree and end there. Though most students opt to take on a physical campus program, some of them opt to take a few online classes in order to increase flexibility whereas others offer to take the online path to maximize it. The following timeline explores all online communications degree options from start to finish, including purpose, example courses, and, perhaps most importantly, what to look for when it comes to quality.
What to Know Before Searching for a School
Those searching for online schools or any schools really, to pursue their degrees in, need to consider a number of factors. The good thing about communication degrees is that they can be offered both online and in physical institutions. Degrees are attainable even to those with busy schedules. While there are many schools out there, only a few can fit the particular aspirations and needs of a student. Therefore, before signing up to take the communication course anywhere, students are advised to first get their priorities straight. Below are a few guidelines to help clear the fog and lead students who wish to pursue communication degrees right to their perfect schools.
- For starters, the place of study is important: it all depends if one prefers the hot summers of California or the free spirit of New York. Since the school is online, this might not be a necessary factor to consider. Today, students can pursue long distance studies in the university of the their choice thanks to the technological advancements that are taking most schools online, making them not only available, but also affordable, to a wider and untapped market.
- Students need to consider the amount of money they have on them; is it less than $10,000, or more? There are communication programs available for less money on some of the smaller institutions.
- They also need to consider what level of education they wish to study in: while some schools offer great degree programs, others offer even better bachelor’s programs in communication.
- Another factor that should come to mind is the population of the school. Some students like studying in smaller inconspicuous schools with populations of less than 1,500 people, while some like the big schools with over 20,000 students.
- Students must be able to take classes on schedules that suit their needs and lifestyles. Courses should be available on a part-time or full-time basis, night and day, and out-of-session should be made available.
- The instructors should be those who teach at the physical university.
- Certification of a college means that this online institution has been reviewed by a governmental or independent agency, and that it meets the set standards in academics.
- Student and Alumni Support should be great. After they graduate, alumni should — for the rest of their lives — receive support from their college or university in career advancement or in the pursuit of further post-secondary education.
- The student will be limited to virtual interaction; therefore, the school needs to have the necessary resources to make this interaction as smooth as possible.
- Lastly, students have to consider if they want to attend a private or a public school.
These are some of the important details that need to be put into perspective before students can start the selection process for schools to pursue their degrees in communication in. The flexibility of one’s schedule is important because not all students have the time to attend three or four lectures in a day: they can only make time for one, maybe be even none. Such students can find the perfect schools for them, maybe even be allowed to make their own hours.
Best Colleges and Universities to get a Degree From
- Columbus State University
Online students who seek a bachelor’s degree in communication can easily find it at this university. The degree can be completed online for as little as three years, depending on the specific schedules of students. Here, there are subjects such as intercultural communications, interpersonal communications, public relations, and communications for community that are offered. The students are then required to complete internships either in their own area or the surrounding areas, after which they will take examinations and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
- New Mexico State University
This university focuses mainly on the department of communication and journalism. There are different majors offered in communication, and depending on the major they are taking, students are usually required to engage in some hours of departmental courses. Students simply have to access the course material, follow the instructions on it, and submit the required assignments back to the Blackboard.
- The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
In as little as a year, students at this university could have completed their degree program and graduated. The focus is on modern communication methods; including modern media, crisis communication, and public messaging. The course topics are such as metrics for measurement in communication, non-verbal communication, and interpersonal communication.
- Valley City State University
Professional communication is the focus of this university.
Other universities that are famous to the affordable, yet incredible services they offer are:
- University of Florida
- University of Louisville
- Washington University in St Louis
- University of Memphis
- Liberty University
- Bluefield College
- Northeastern University
- University of Missouri – St Louis
- East Carolina University
- Dallas Baptist University
- Oral Roberts University
- Appalachian State University
- Florida International University
- Granite State College
- Siena Heights University
- Wilmington University
- Mississippi College
- Roosevelt University
- National Louis University
- Upper Iowa University
- University of Central Florida
- Californian Baptist University
- DePaul University
- University of Denver
- Old Dominion University
- University of North Dakota
- Austin Peay State University
- Arizona State University – Online
- Plymouth State University
Why Pursue a Degree in Communications?
A study that was conducted in 2015 in Georgetown University put mass broadcasting and interaction as the sixth common area in the study of academic in the country. In every ten thousand university students in that year, three hundred and fifty three students graduated well, that is with honors in that field of communication and mass broadcasting.
Data from the National Center of Education Statistics found out that there are over 87,604 students who attained Bachelor’s undergraduate degrees in journalism, communication, and other related fields in the industry. This was during the 2013/2014 academic year. There were 4,987 students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication technologies during the same academic year.
For the master’s and doctoral levels of study, the numbers were equally large. In the 2013/2014 academic year, there were 9,928 student s who graduated with masters in a communication field, while 614 students graduated at the doctoral level.
This should be enough proof to convince prospective students that pursing a degree in a communications-related field of study is fundamental to their overall success in life.
People working in communications have a primary obligation to deliver information to communities worldwide.
Communications does not offer courses at the certificate level. This field is complex, and for this reason, usually requires a full degree before a professional can establish themselves in the market. There are institutions that offer 2 year degree programs and there are those that offer up to 4 year programs: it all depends on the specific field of communications that a student wishes to study.
What to Pursue in Communication
One might have found the perfect school for their needs and preference, but they might still be undecided on the exact branch of communication to pursue. The options are endless; from digital media to global strategic communication, it is easy to be torn between one or two specialized degrees. For help with this, the guide below shows some of the best online communications degrees to pursue. These degrees are getting a lot of attention not now; they will be expected to rise even higher in the future.
For the years 2015 and 2016, there have been several communications degrees ranked high up in the ladder. The fact that the degrees are attained online makes it even harder to choose given the high number of available courses in the field. To truly stand out, an online school needs more than just a good design and attractive advertisements; a school needs to deliver the best services available. By the time a student graduates with a degree in communication from an online institution, they should be ready for the brutal job market. A school should not only equip students with the necessary skills to survive, it should provide them the necessary skills to thrive. The most efficient communications degree programs should:
- Equip students with the necessary skill set for them to be able to persuade the various target audiences that they will meet in the job market.
- Help enhance the research and presentation skills in their students for them to develop successful careers once they graduate.
Either for the quality of education offered or the range of communication programs at the online institution, sometimes both, these communication programs mentioned below stood out from the rest, and for this reason, were ranked among the best online communication degrees in 2015 and 2016. Communications is all about finding a balance between what is considered artistic and what is considered technical. This is to mean that the communication field takes a little from creativity; requiring graduates to use their imagination so as to reach a wider audience. Communication is also about the technicalities of human interactions and listening skills. Getting a high grade in one’s degree is therefore vital to their survival in the job market.
Bachelor’s in Communication
A communication degree typically includes a mix of humanities, technology, and the arts. As a communication major, you will gain a detailed understanding of the role that marketing and media play in the modern society. You will also learn to engage an audience – through both the spoken and the written forms of communication – and explore into both the qualitative and quantitative forms of research. Last but not least, you will develop relevant skills that are highly valued by employers, including Photoshop, web design, and statistical analysis.
- Broadcast journalism:
This field of study ensures students have the necessary skills to disseminate information by all available means: be it visually through video or simply dissemination of audio through radio.
- New media:
As the digital age continues to advance the evolution of journalistic mediums and practices, the coursework involved with the study of new media changes and evolve right along with them. New media studies include social media relations, marketing, technology, multi-media design and applications, web and graphic design, advertising in electronic media platforms such as blogs, new media presentation and layout and digital media law.
The communications experts who work in this field may just have the most influence in the industry. Video is a powerful thing because unlike any other media, it delivers visual and audio aspects of communication at the very same time. Such content, especially with the advancements in the internet, will be viewed and shared multiple times across numerous platforms. The technology and software used to develop videos is evolving. By taking a course in this specialized field, students have the chance to keep up with the changing trends such as mobile video, multimedia communications, and the art of editing raw footage into a final product that be watched, and understood by an audience.
- Creative Writing
- Debate and Speech
- Public Speaking
Online Associate Degrees
Associate of Arts degrees are available online, but they are not nearly as common as more in-depth degrees. They are offered primarily by community colleges, or by fully online schools that specialize in distance learning. A two-year program may provide students with simple historical and theoretical aspects of communication. It is possible to enter the workforce with only an associate degree, but they would likely be locked out of many media and marketing jobs. In addition to mandatory core courses, an associate degree is comprised of general education units and electives.
How to be accepted into an Online Institution to Pursue a Degree in Communications
There are plenty of online schools, but to be accepted into one of the above mentioned programs, students must make sure that they have met some set requirements.
- Students must submit a formal application requesting entry into the school. In this application, they must include their academic background, important aspects of their personal background, and any other relevant information about themselves.
- Students are required to submit academic transcripts from their high schools, or from any other institutions they have previously attended.
- The test scores of the applicant must be more than a specified number. For standardized tests like SATs or the ACT, students are evaluated and accepted based on a certain predefined standard.
- Some online institutions consider recommendations from previous teachers. Prospective students are therefore advised to bring recommendations.
Students can also choose to pursue masters or doctorates in communication studies. Advancing one’s knowledge is always best as the market is ever changing, transitioning from old ways of handling communication problems to new ways that need the help of specialized experts.
Now that we have discussed some of the best degrees in communication to pursue, and some of the best online schools that offer degrees in communication, it is time we take a look at the job market. Students, after graduating, need jobs. Some of the questions they ask at this point include, “where do I start?” and “where do I apply to?” This should be easy to do if they know the job favor-ability of different areas in the country for a career in communication.
Alternative Degree Paths
Students have the freedom to choose between several major in the communications industry. Most online institutions allow their students to pursue careers in the following fields:
- Creative writing
Creative writing is all about the aspects that are used to compose; be it prose, drama, screenwriting or poetry. There are other literary styles that require creative writing as well.
- Media Studies
- Public Relations
Specializing in the Field of Communication
Students engage in different areas of study when pursuing a degree in communications. Although communication is a wide area of study with many application, there are many programs out here that give the students the chance to specialize in one area of communication; hence giving them the opportunity to really grow and become experts in these fields.
- Digital Media
There are several areas of application of these specializations including radio, film, television, and web-based media. Communications programs offered online help students understand aspects such as development, design, production, marketing, broadcasting, monitoring, and evaluation of a digital media project and so on. In specialization courses, students get to study subjects in audio and video production, interactive media, graphic design, animation, and writing. Even while they develop specialized skillsets, they also diversify and explore the available options in the market.
- Intercultural Communication
This type of communication put into examination broadcasting and communication via anthropology. They mostly focus on the factors that show how humans interact. This also includes the interaction between people or gatherings of diverse languages and cultures, races, sex and education. You will also learn about various technologies and platforms both traditional media and modern media, used to facilitate communication between different groups.
- Interpersonal Communication
This area of communication emphasizes the importance of individual development. You will explore the nature of relationships between different groups in both social and professional settings, along with strategies for improving these dynamics through clear communication and positive interaction. The curriculum usually includes courses in public speaking, public relations, communication theory, and research methods.
- Strategic Communication
If you plan on pursuing a career in advertising, marketing, public relations, or corporate management, you may choose to specialize in strategic communication. The curriculum concentrates on the relationship between organizational communication and the globalized market. You will learn how to apply theories and best practices to real-world problems in order to develop effective communication strategies.
Distance Learning in Communications
Online education evolved to fulfill the academic needs of those who are too busy to attend class physically. Some may have family obligations, some may have other professional commitments, and some may be taking more than one course. Here is the scope of distance learning in the field of communications and mass media:
- Some online degrees follow the usual quarter or semester timeline, while others are designed to allowing one to complete courses on their schedule.
- These degrees generally require a three-year commitment, which includes a lengthy final paper known as a dissertation.
- Distance courses allow you to access course materials, submit assignments, and take exams from home with user-friendly online learning platforms.
- You can pursue an online degree in communication at any educational level.
Communication Careers in different States of the US
Before pursuing a career, most people sit down and think hard about where they want to work. Students in communication majors are advised to be careful when selecting a working area because, according to published statistics, a degree in communication is best in some states of the US while it does not fare well in others. The details are given below:
- The State of New York
Here, the job favor-ability for the graduates with degrees in communication is high. After the District of Columbia, this state ranked at the second position for providing the highest annual salary to the graduates with communication degrees. In terms of score, New York scored a clean 98.2. Graduates would definitely be lucky to find a job in this state, especially at the start of their careers so that they can grow to be big players in the communication industry.
- Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Maryland
These were the next four states after New York, ranking just a little bit lower in job favor-ability for communication majors, but still presenting themselves as great places for those with communication degrees to find employment.
- West Virginia
This state ranked among the lowest in job favor-ability to communication majors. It scored an 8.4; comparing this to the 98.2 scored by the state of New York we find that those with communication degrees would be much better off working in the states like California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York than in West Virginia.
Minnesota scored a 10.6 in the ranking. This is a bit better than the 8.4 score from West Virginia.
Arkansas ranked at 14.3 – far from New York, but still manageable for those just at the start of the communication career.
Louisiana scored a 17.9. It seems the scores just keep getting higher and higher; good news for communication majors.
Finally, this area ranked at 23.1. Those with communication degrees are therefore advised to check the ranking of a state in terms of communication job favor-ability before seeking employment. This will go a long way in ensuring that they get the best exposure there is, while still being paid good money to start off their lives.
Applied Communications in a variety of fields.
Communication mainly features on how messages are conveyed across various contexts in the globe. This has made communication a good foundation for a variety of jobs in a number of areas such as:
- Public relations: this field of study majorly focuses on the management of the reputation of an individual or a firm so they should have proficient experience on communication.
- Marketing: communication focuses on sensitizing the public about the products and that they are still available in the market hence influence on their choice.
- Journalism broadcasting: good, elaborate communication and written media is the center of the news and media houses.
- Government: is a basis for the political jobs as one should be able to tackle various problems that affect the governance and have a good relationship with the public
- Education: this sector requires communication as there is a lot of interaction between the teachers and students both in writing and by word of mouth. This also depends on the country that one will teach because of the various modes of communication and also if the clients have special needs.
- Social and human services: those working in the social related workplaces should be proficient in communication so as to have a good reasoning of social issues.
- Business: for an effective business to run, professionals with clear communication skills, which are necessary for solving business problems
- International relations and negotiations: interactions with people across the globe with different cultures and ways of life requires effective communication.
- Law: the language of the law requires understanding and articulation of various departments of the law hence communication is key. There is also the aspect of qualification depending on the place you want to work
- Healthcare: communication is key to prescribe drugs, provide diagnosis and understand how the patients are feeling so as to provide effective service to the patients.
- Media: the main aim of the media is to facilitate communication between the listeners and them hence the need for communication. The communication major’s career paths include:
- Public relations:
- Communication editors: they correct spelling errors in articles, advertisements and also review them so as to fit the requirements of editorial.
- Communication Directors: they are in charge of the firm’s public reputation. They are in charge of producing the materials used both inside and outside the company.
- Investor relation managers: they are responsible for planning and implementation of the strategies of communications in programs in written and other media.
- Public Relations Account coordinator: they give the necessary support for the monetary services department.
- Marketing and advertising:
- Brand Managers: they are responsible for the formulation and execution of brand strategies and marketing of a commodity or a service they provide the market.
- Chief marketing officers: they are in charge of formulating new developments of a business, marketing strategic, coordination, and implementation of the marketing activities.
- Event planners/managers: they are in charge creating the budget, timeframes and creating marketing steps. They also plan and make sure that the events take place according to plan.
- Market researchers: they get information about their competitors, customer preference and predicting future sales. They also research on new products and how to make existing ones continue to sell.
- Marketing directors: they create and implement the marketing ideas so as to improve the sales of the product. They also price them, gather research and also analyses the market findings
- Account managers: they represent clients and are the major communication media between the clients and the firms.
- Labor Relations Managers: they are in charge of making sure the company’s policies are maintained and at the same time maintaining a good relationship with the employees, they also manage the management of new deals.
- Human resource managers: they are in charge of coordinating, administering duties and also facilitating the renewal, administration and termination of human contracts.
- Corporate Recruiters: they collaborate with managers to gather talent, diversify it and bring up talent in order to improve the company’s performance.
- Government and Politics:
- Campaign director: are in charge of planning, organizing and controlling the campaign strategy and activities
There are numerous job sites and other helpful resources to help students make the best of their degrees in communications. The resources are discussed below in detail:
There are many communication Job Sites that graduates can access to find companies that are looking for employees in the market.
- National Communication Association:
This site feature an extensive listing of communication jobs across the country, along with college program information and resume services.
- International Association of Business Communicators:
This site features a national aggregator for job openings in public relations, social media, and other communication-related fields.
- The NCA’s “Find a Job” tool
This tool allows its users to browse jobs for communication majors, post a resume, and receive new job alerts via email.
This website features some positions in digital media, graphic design, advertising, among other jobs on communication in creative areas of the field.
For the students, or graduates, looking for resources for continuing their education in communication, they are mentioned in brief detail below:
- The Professional Association for Graphic Design (AIGA):
The AIGA’s professional development website features links to design-related MOOCs, online tutorials and web seminars, along with upcoming conferences and other events.
- Professional Photographers of America:
The PPA’s professional development page provides information about certificates, merit and degree programs, and photography competitions around the world.
This database hosts an extensive collection of online courses and webinars in subjects like design and composition, language and arts, and writing and publishing.
- Society of Professional Journalists:
This eCampus includes links to the section for journalism training, along with articles and blogs on media-related topics. Members gain access to journalism resources.
There are also resources for the professional organizations that offer communications careers to prospective students out there.
- The Direct Marketing Association
This DMA’s Education and Learning section comprises online courses related to copywriting, digital and direct marketing as well as data marketing analytics.
- The Professional Association for Graphic Design:
The PRSA is a professional organization that strives toward PR professionals with more than 20,000 members in the entire country; members pay a one-time $65 initiation fee and $225 in annual dues. The site features continuing education and professional development opportunities, a virtual library, and networking tools.
Founded in 1909, the SPJ is the nation’s largest professional organization for journalists. The site shows details about SPJ Communities across the nation dedicated to areas of journalism like freelancing, writing, digital media, and international journalism. The society hosts the annual Excellence in Journalism convention in a different U.S. city each year.
One of the country’s largest media-related professional organizations, the AIGA hosts 70 U.S. chapters serving more than 25,000 members. Annual membership begins at $150; students and recent graduates may join the AIGA for $50 per year. Members gain access to job listings, continuing Ed opportunities, and discounts for design events and competitions.
- The Direct Marketing Association:
The DMA is the most outstanding professional organization that aims to offer information on data-driven marketing. Its members can access networking tools and continuing education opportunities. The firm is also in charge of the Data- Driven Marketing Institute, a company that collaborates with formulators of policy, lawyers and press people.
Founded in 2004 by a group of 15 colleges and universities, this association strives to create academic programs and opportunities for post-secondary students. Annual membership is $35 for students and $125 for professionals.
For any prospective student who is looking for a degree in communication, they need to ensure they gather enough information on the field so that they can make informed choices. The guide provided herein, should be useful for anyone desiring to follow the path on communication. The tips and the suggestions provided should stir the student’s mind, and provoke a series of thoughts that will pave the way to realizing what suits them as they contemplate taking their degree in communication. The importance of creating connections and trying to market yourself is crucial.