The digital age has utterly transformed how we communicate, both personally and professionally. Social media dominates our day-to-day lives; and from a business perspective, communication has become a high risk, high reward gambit: one misstep can ruin an organization, but opting out won’t yield good results, either.
In short, private, public, and non-profit organizations all need well-trained communications professionals, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts between 6-11% job growth in the next decade. While many new hires will be current communication experts, many will be newly-minted graduates with bachelor’s degrees in communication and communication studies, looking for job titles like Communications Planner, Social Media Communications Specialist, and Public Relations Specialist.
If a career in communications sparks your interest, we’ve compiled ten of the best online bachelor’s in communication, combining flexibility, affordability, and rigorous curricula. Keep reading to find the best degree for your needs!
Affordability (1/3): the out-of-state tuition per credit hour (where applicable).
Flexibility-Enhancing Components (1/3): the range and quality of flexibility-enhancing components including accelerated courses, prior learning credits, asynchronous learning opportunities, and more.
Core Content Areas Covered (1/3): core content areas for bachelor’s in communications degrees that each individual degree program covers: strategic communications, new media, crisis management, and audience research.
1) Colorado State University-Global Campus
Founded in 2007, Colorado State University-Global Campus has a total enrollment of about 12,000 students. US News places CSU-Global among the top colleges in the country on its rankings for value and high school counselor ratings, and Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Consumers Digest rank the university highly, too. With an impressive 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Colorado State combines a vibrant, collaborative atmosphere with tailored instruction to support a tight-knit learning community; over a third of classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 20% have 50. Financial aid is available, as well: 45% of full-time undergrads receive some form of tuition assistance, and the average need met is 75%.
CSU-Global’s BS in Communication consists of 36 major credits, including core courses in Communication in the Global Information Age, Interpersonal Communication, Mass Communication and Society, Strategic Communication, and Communication Conflict and Persuasion. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the program toward areas of professional interest, from Business Administration and Project Management to Public Relations and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In addition to specific curricular requirements, students will learn a variety of essential career skills, and an integrated capstone and practicum adds an experiential learning component to the bachelor’s. All courses are 100% for maximum flexibility, CSU-Global’s generous transfer policy can help students with prior academic credits waive redundant course work to accelerate the path to completion.
Founded in 1970, Walden University created one of the first fully online universities and now offers more than 140 degree programs with over 300 specializations and concentrations. Further, with an enrollment of over 47,000 students, Walden features a diverse student body from all 50 states and over 150 countries around the world. The 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a collaborative learning atmosphere with personalized instruction, combining the resources of a research university with the intimacy of liberal arts school. Finally, for adult learners and working professionals, the university has numerous affiliations with school districts, healthcare centers, corporations, and nonprofits.
Walden offers two related bachelor’s in Communication (50 credits) and Business Communication (60 credits). The communication bachelor’s includes is the broader of the two, with classes in Writing for the Digital Age, Organizational Communication, Crisis Communications, Marketing Communications, Intercultural Communication, and Principles of Public Relations, among others. The Business Communication program builds on those studies and adds classes like Marketing, Management and Leadership, and International Marketing Communications. Both degrees offer concentrations in Public Relations and Media Studies, giving undergrads the chance to tailor the degree to a specific area of professional interest. A generous transfer policy waives up to 135 non-major credits, Walden’s AIM program allow undergraduates to begin master’s course work during their bachelor’s.
University of Texas of the Permian Basin, founded in 1973, has a total enrollment of about 5,900, the majority of which is undergraduate. US News ranks UTPB among the top public 40 colleges and universities in the region, with top-rated individual programs across several disciplines; its online bachelor’s programs are ranked 2nd in the state. Leveraging its 24:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the university combines a vibrant, collaborative educational setting with personalized instruction. About a third of classes have less than 20 students and only 13% have 50. Financial aid is available, as well: over half of full-time undergrads receive some form of tuition assistance, and the average need met is 70%.
UTPB offers an online BA in Communication that consists of 36 hours, including courses in Modern Media and Society, Small Group Communication, Measurement in Communication, and Rhetoric in Western Thought, among others. To tailor the curriculum, students complete 15 hours of electives in a variety of communication-related subjects, and minors are offered in Psychology and Sociology. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility – 100% online and accelerated 8-week delivery blocks – and entry dates are available six times per year to accommodate schedules for working professionals, adult learners, and non-traditional students. Ranked 16th in the country, its student support services include the Blackboard learning platform, which features group discussion boards, live chat rooms, tech assistance, and 24/7 access to course material.
Florida International University, founded in 1971, is a public research institution with a total enrollment of 55,000 students, including about 30,000 online students. Financial Times, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Washington Monthly, and US News each rank FIU programs among the best in the country. The 27:1 student-to-faculty ratio promotes a vibrant and collaborative learning community that combines the individualized instruction of a liberal arts school with the large resources of major research school. A fifth of classes have less than 20 students and 57% are between 21-49. Financial aid opportunities are available, as well: 82% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.
Florida International’s online BA in Communication Arts requires 60 major credits, which can be completed in any order: Advanced Public Speaking, Business and Professional Communication, Conflict Management, Interviewing Principles and Practices and Lab, and Rhetorical Communication: A Theory of Civil Discourse, among others. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree through electives in studies from Gender and Communication to Political Communication. All courses are 100% online for maximum flexibility, and every student is paired with a success coach to set academic goals, plan a curriculum, and monitor academic progress. With asynchronous delivery options, students complete course work on their own schedules, and FIU’s learning platform features interactive tools to offer real-time instructor feedback, peer-to-peer collaboration, and more.
Founded in 1883, University of North Dakota has a total enrollment of about 15,000 students from 50 states and 85 countries. US News ranks the school among the top 100 public universities in the country, and Forbes, Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly have all highlighted NDU’s programs. Classes are capped at 22, and the 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio fosters a tight-knit educational community that balances collaborative learning with individualized, intimate instruction. Over 40% of classes have less than 20 students and only 8% have 50. Most important, 90% of full-time undergrads receive some form of financial aid.
North Dakota’s online BA in Communication totals 36 major credits, including Media Writing, Communication and the Human Community, Fundamentals of Public Speaking, and Information, Technology and Social Change. In particular, students learn how to create and edit socially responsible oral, written and visual communication; how to use communication technologies in an ethical manner; how to analyze communication problems; and how communication affects communities and individuals. With a highly customizable curriculum, students have leeway to choose courses in areas of professional interest, and practicum, internship, and independent project opportunities give the degree an experiential learning component. All courses are 100% online, and three entry dates per year allow for maximum flexibility to accommodate a variety of students.
The University of Phoenix, founded in 1976, is a proprietary institution with a total enrollment of about 150,000, including a substantial population of online students. Specializing in adult learning, Phoenix’s average student is in their 30s, and many are enrolled on a part-time basis. All programs are built for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ individual schedules, and flex, blended, and hybrid delivery options are available in addition to 100% online progressions. The university’s open enrollment structure guarantees admission for any student holding a high school diploma or GED, and all students receive some form of financial aid.
University of Phoenix’s online BS in Communication includes core classes in Mass Communication, Small Group And Team Communication, Communication Theories And Practice, Media And Society, Communication Law, and Communication In Mediation And Conflict Resolution, among others. Designed to develop communication skills for both private and public work environments, Phoenix’s program offers a variety of electives and focus areas to tailor the degree – among them, business communication, intercultural communication, conflict resolution, legal and ethical issues, and future trends in communication technology.
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a private Christian school that specializes in flexible, affordable online education for adult learners, working professionals, and non-traditional students. The school’s dynamic learning platform gives students 24/7 access to course material, live chat rooms, and group discussion boards, promoting a tight-knit collaborative learning community, and multiple delivery options allow students to complete course work in accelerated cohorts, flex paths, MOOCs, and course clusters, among others. Further, Bellevue maintains a 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio with a total enrollment of 11,000.
Bellevue’s online BA in Communication Studies includes 36 major credits like Oral Communication Skills, Critical Thinking and Communication, Communication Theory and Practice, and Communication in the Digital Age. From there, students have the ability to customize the degree to areas of professional interest through a wide selection of electives and an optional emphasis in Mass Media. Bellevue’s extensive student support services feature personal academic advising to plan academic goals, select courses, and monitor academic progress; career services to assist students in their job hunt; and tutoring services, a writing center, and 24/7 tech support and library resources. Programs operate on an open enrollment basis, and new classes begin throughout the year for maximum scheduling flexibility.
Founded in 1885, Arizona State University has a total enrollment of 52,000, including 20,000 online students. US News ranks ASU as the #1 Most Innovative School in the country, and Forbes, Money, The Daily Beast, and the Wall Street Journal have each ranked ASU highly, as well. One of the top institutes for research funding, ASU emphasizes multidisciplinary learning, and the university’s 23:1 student-to-faculty ratio promotes a lively, collaborative learning environment that maintains individualized instruction. Approximately 40% of classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 20% have 50.
Arizona State offers an online BS in Communication that requires 45 major hours, including Communication in Business and the Professions, Gender and Communication, Persuasion and Social Influence, Leadership in Group Communication, Communication Training and Development, and more. ASU also offers students a range of elective options to help tailor the curriculum to areas of professional interest, and all classes emphasize communication as practiced in modern workplace settings. Courses deliver in accelerated 7.5 week blocks for maximum flexibility and are designed to accommodate working professionals, adult learners, and non-traditional students. For those interested, ASU offers several related degrees, including a BSBA in Communication, BA in Mass Communication and Mass Media, and BS in Technical Communication, in additional master’s degrees and graduate certificates.
Founded in 1958, Brandman University operates 25 campuses in California and Washington in addition to an extensive online learning center. Specializing in adult education, the university is a leader in innovate teaching, including Brandman’s signature iDEAL curriculum model (Instructional Design for Engaged Adult Learning), which combines flexible, tailored online instruction with real-world learning to give students a balanced and career-oriented experience. The 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports individualized instruction, and over 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students. For those interested in financial aid opportunities, 60% of full-time undergrads receive some form of tuition assistance.
Brandman’s online BA in Communications and Media totals 42 major credits: History of Communication and Technological Revolutions, Multimedia Journalism, Media Psychology, Principles of Public Relations, Media Ethics, Strategic Social Media, and Data Analytics, among others. A wide range of humanities and business courses are available as electives, and students can minor in six communications-related areas. Brandman also requires all students to complete a capstone to graduate, which acts as a comprehensive study and gives the curriculum an experiential learning component. Designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate a variety of students, the program is offered in both 100% online and hybrid delivery formats. Applicants must have at least 12 transferable baccalaureate level credits or the equivalent.
Founded in 1891, Drexel University is a private school with a total enrollment of about 22,000. US News ranks Drexel among the best colleges in the nation for academics, overall value, veteran services, and innovation; its online programs are included in six US News rankings. Nearly 60% of classes have less than 20 students and fewer than 10% have 50, creating a tight-learning community that balances collaborative education with individualized instruction. For those interested in financial aid opportunities, 60% of full-time undergraduates receive some form of aid, and the average need met is over 70%.
Drexel’s online BS in Communication consists of 36 core credits in Human Communication, Mass Media and Society, New Technologies In Communication, Ethics and the Media, Quantitative Research Methods in Communication, and more. Students interested in pursuing a career in PR, marketing, or brand management can complete a concentration in Public Relations, and several additional electives are offered to customize the degree further. Courses deliver in accelerated 10-week blocks, and Drexel’s generous transfer policy allows students with prior academic credits to waive all non-major requirements. Student support services include a personal academic advisor, enrollment counselor, 24/7 tech support, career services, and a writing center.