While a person spends approximately 75 percent of each day communicating in some manner, the academic field of Communications provides the tools for optimizing each interaction. Communications students are focused on developing vital skills in writing, speaking, critical thinking, interpersonal relations and technology to become specialists in this field. By promoting ethical and effective communication practices in all media, students can become responsible leaders, problem solvers and more engaged in their communities and workplaces. The core academics combine theory and application so students can develop communications skills required for any career. Emphasis is given to resolving workplace issues through exceptional writing and speaking skills, teamwork, group dynamics, planning and development, complex problem solving, technology proficiency including current multimedia applications, industry regulation and policy.
Communications majors are available at both undergraduate and graduate level. The popularity of this major is due in part to the flexibility it affords students for both interests and career opportunities. Bachelor of Arts degrees are offered for those with artistic talent with concentrations in Film/Video, Interactive Media, Photography, Graphic Design, Theater and Professional Communications. Bachelor of Science degrees for individuals interested in politics or communicating one-on-one may select tracks in Interpersonal/Intercultural, Public Communication/Rhetoric or Mass Communication. For those seeking an advanced degree in Communications, Master of Arts graduate studies are available in the following disciplines: Global and Trans-cultural Communication, Technology and Society, Persuasion and Politics, Visual Culture Studies and Social Processes. For students who are looking for a competitive edge in information science, data archiving and curatorial studies, a dual degree in Media and Library Sciences provides career opportunities in research and academic institutions, museums and other cultural facilities.
Individuals with a variety of interests and diverse talents are often drawn to the field. The best candidates for this program are outgoing, enjoy people and public speaking, and are well organized. Communication degrees can be earned with traditional on-campus, online and hybrid programs. Web-based curricula afford flexibility to undergraduates and adult learners to maintain daily responsibilities while continuing their education.
How to Find the Top Communications Degree Programs
Students must thoroughly research schools to find reputable programs that meet regional accreditation standards. Legitimate accredited programs can be identified through the Department of Education College Navigator tool. The best schools and Communications degree programs will provide coursework specific to the career path, provide transferrable credits and have a high graduation rate. College rankings, compiled and distributed by reputable sources, are valuable resources as well.
Online Communications Degree Programs
Some students will opt to study online. Online Baccalaureate degrees follow the same general education course requirements as on-campus programs. Each undergraduate curriculum includes state-mandated academic learning compacts for Computation, English, History/Social Science, Humanities/Fine Arts and Natural Science. Each institution structures completion of these courses differently but typically require the liberal arts requirements to be fulfilled prior to major courses. Some prerequisite upper-division classes can be taken during the first two years but critical courses for the Communications specialization are limited to third or fourth-year schedules. Online offerings often allow students flexibility to complete general education courses in an accelerated format and reach program-based skills sooner.
Master’s degrees completed through an online delivery system are not subject to the same mandates as undergraduate education. More graduate students are turning to online education to stay competitive in their jobs and field. With multiple responsibilities in a student’s personal and professional life, finding time to further their education goals can be challenging. The flexibility of online degree programs allows students to study on their schedule. Pursuing a Communications degree online can save time and money – no time is required to commute to campus, automobile wear and tear is reduced, and there are no fuel or meal costs. The instructional format for communications students utilizes video, audio, online bulletin boards, email and chat rooms. This provides experience and proficiency in the very skills necessary for a career in communications. Additional creativity and innovation is needed for students to build a rapport with instructors and other students through online media – also key components when pursuing a position in the communications industry. Achieving a master’s degree in Communications online also allows students to work at their own pace. By accelerating class schedules, a degree can be earned in as little as 18 months or as long as five years.
Below is a sample of top online Communications degree programs dedicated to helping student achieve their career goals:
Undergraduate programs such as Bachelor of Science in Communications at Devry University are structured to guide students through online courses to develop effective communication skills. As a fully accredited college, DeVry prepares students to face real-life career challenges and offers the specializations business leaders require. Preferred specializations include: Business Communication, Emerging Media Communications and Technical Communications. Tuition for the 122 credit hours is $68,000 plus fees and resource materials.
Arizona State University offers a 100 percent online Bachelor of Arts in Business and Communication degree. This unique undergraduate curriculum provides distinctive business-centered skills in informational and crisis communications. Graduates of this accredited series will be qualified to fill communication positions and provide an immediate value to employers. Tuition costs are $493 per credit hour with a total of 120 credit hours required for degree conferment.
The online Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication at Northeastern University incorporates the fundamentals for success for graduate students just entering a profession in communications or seeking advancement in a current career. Basic writing and public speaking are featured skills as are complex subjects such as crisis management, interview techniques and multinational communication. The online master’s degree curriculum is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and its digital format is ideal for hands-on communication practice. Northeastern University has recently introduced an innovative, online experiential learning program that integrates professional workplace models with specially developed curricula. Real-world experiences through global partnerships provides a professional perspective to communications previously not available. All undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered through Northeastern University will have access to this state-of-the-art education model. Full-time students can complete the program within two years for a total tuition of $25,740.
Internship opportunities are available for online students and vary by locale. Most programs require an internship credit and have a database of authorized sites (paid or credit-only positions). Most reputable institutions provide assistance to students in researching and locating optimum internship opportunities for their career path. Often those internships transition into full-time job opportunities and give immediate value to both the student and the organization.
Financial aid packages are available for online and on-campus programs. Need-based grants, merit-based scholarships, Federally-funded, low-interest loans, and some employer-sponsored reimbursement programs are also offered and can add significant value to the educational process.
Careers and Salaries for Individuals with Communications Degrees
Listed among the top 10 most popular college programs, below-average unemployment and an expansive list of career options, Communications majors have a favorable job outlook for the near and distant future. Corporate leaders recognize that communication skills are critical for every facet of business. Communications graduates are proficient in writing, speaking, technology, interpersonal and problem solving and are ideal candidates for today’s careers. Industries such as advertising, education, government, social services, journalism, business management, marketing, broadcasting, entertainment, technology and public relations, social media and podcasts are just a few areas that would benefit from this academic background.
Specific job titles within these industries may require additional education and include:
-Human Resources Director
-Customer Service Representative
-Labor Relations Representative
-Account Executive Manager
-Language Arts Coordinator
Radio and Television Broadcasting/Electronic Media:
-Digital Media Director
-Advertising Sales Representative
-Community Relations Director
-Talk Show Host
Journalism (Electronic or Print):
-News Service Researcher
Communication and Health Care:
-Medical Grants Writer
-Health Care Administrator
-Director of Communications
Social and Human Services:
With Communication Studies spanning such a diverse range of career choices, it can be difficult to clearly define a job outlook or salary structure. As in most fields, inexperienced college graduates typically earn the least amount. While the average starting salary for a recent graduate is between $30,000 and $50,000, those figures can vary depending on location, industry and experience. A median annual salary for a reporter or broadcaster is $36,000, editor is $50,000, public relations specialist is $57,500, sales manager is $68,500, movie producer/director is $68,500 and an advertising/marketing manager is $108,000. Public relations job prospects through 2020 are strong with an estimated 50,000 new jobs being created. In addition, graduates will be qualified for positions in sales, retail banking, operations and hospitality. Starting salaries for these roles start in the low $30,000s and rise considerably with experience and drive. Leaders in these industries typically earn over $100,000 annually.
Additional Resources for Communications Degrees and Careers
National Center for Education – College Navigator – This useful tool will assist students in choosing the right college, check accreditations, research financial aid programs and provide information needed to make academic decisions.
U.S. News & World Report – An expert evaluation on Communications degree programs at online colleges and universities. Reporting is done with a ranking system to annually provide students with detailed statistics on schools and programs.
Public Relations Society of America – This networking group provides opportunities for professional contacts in the field of public relations. Membership is available to college students and professionals in the industry.
Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) – The largest provider of federally-funded student aid in the United States. Federal Student Aid is a division of the Department of Education and provides federal grants, loans and funds for work study programs to college and technical school students.
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Media and Communication Occupations – Provides statistical data on various employment positions in the media and communication industries. Detailed information is available for occupation, job title, education required and salary. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/home.htm
DeVry University – College of Liberal Arts & Sciences – Learn more about the Online Bachelor of Science in Communications degree. DeVry has been educating corporate leaders for over 80 years. Today, they offer innovative, real-world education to guide students toward a path of success. Several other degrees and online certificate programs specializing in communication are offered for enhanced learning outcomes.
Arizona State University – W. P. Carey School of Business – Fully accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, the online Bachelor of Arts in Business and Communication degree provides a rigorous interdisciplinary program structured to meet the high-demand communications industry. Other communications degrees offering various concentrations are also available online.
Northeastern University – College of Professional Studies – The Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication takes online studies to a new height. By providing all students with enhanced training in the skills corporations need, they are ready to be contributors and leaders immediately upon graduation. Additional undergraduate and graduate-level communications disciplines are also available.