Why This Matters

  • DEVELOP SOUGHT-AFTER TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

    Transferable skills are aptitudes that are applicable to a number of jobs. In-demand skills like communication, critical thinking, organization, and teamwork, are all a part of a communications curriculum.

  • MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS JOBS TO RISE 4%

    Job growth for media and communications occupations is expected to increase at an average pace through 2028, with an estimated 27,600 new jobs added in that time frame. Job prospects are best for those with degrees.

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 22K NEW MARKETING MANAGERS

    Jobs for advertising and marketing managers are expected to increase at a faster-than-average pace in the coming years. Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but some may seek employees who have an advanced degree.

Our Research

To compile our list of the best online communications degrees, we reviewed bachelor’s and master’s level degree programs. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science (BA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) in communications. Each type of degree will have a slightly different approach, but all teach the necessary skills and theories for communications education. We included online, on-campus, and hybrid programs on this list.

All of the programs are offered by institutions that are regionally accredited, confirming the quality of the education they provide. Many programs have programmatic accreditation through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

We narrowed our list to 60 programs, and reviewed them on the basis of reputation, coursework, cost, faculty, and flexibility. Then we assigned each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for online communications degrees are affordable, and highly regarded in the field.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 53 hours to write this article
  • 300 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 394 education programs we compared

The Top 60 Online Communications Degrees

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What You Should Know About This Degree

The overall job outlook for media and communications and related occupations is strong, although a decline in employment is expected in some areas. The demand for broadcast reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts is expected to decline 10 percent, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is due to the shifting landscape of print and broadcast journalism. Having an understanding of multimedia journalism, and skills like social media and editing, will help keep job candidates competitive in this area of communications.

Individuals working in communications-related fields do not need any formal credentials or licenses. However, there are many professional organizations you can join. Membership in one or more of these organizations is a sign of professionalism to employers, and also gives you access to networking and training opportunities. These organizations include the International Association of Business Communicators, the Events Industry Council, and the Public Relations Society of America. These organizations may have student chapters you can join while you are completing your degree.

Since communications is such a broad field, many programs offer students the opportunity to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals. Popular specializations within communications include social media and digital marketing, media literacy and criticism, healthcare communications, human resources management, and more.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Communications programs:

  • Are there internship opportunities available? Having hands-on experience in communications is valuable when applying for jobs. Some programs require internships, while others offer them on an optional basis. For students attending online programs, this can mean making an in-person commitment for a period in the program, but it may be advantageous when it comes time to job search.
  • What are the thesis requirements? Depending on the master’s program you choose, you may be required to complete a research thesis as part of your degree. For students who are considering pursuing doctoral study in communications or a related field, writing a thesis may be worthwhile, as many doctoral programs require an academic writing sample as a prerequisite for admission.

Review the eligibility requirements and application procedures for the programs that interest you, to ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications for admission. Information about admission requirements is usually available online, or by contacting the school’s admissions office.

You should also consider how you will finance your college education. Funding options include federal financial aid, scholarships, assistantships, and possibly tuition benefits from your employer.