Online Communications Degrees

The field of communications works to refine the way we convey meaning across culture and media. If you earn a communications degree online, you’ll learn how to effectively express and spread information and be prepared for rewarding careers in journalism, radio, film, television, broadcasting, marketing, advertising, and public relations. While the job market can be competitive, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment outlook for careers in communications is expected to grow by roughly 4% through 2024.

The skills you develop as you earn your communications degrees will vary depending on your chosen career path. If you want to pursue public relations, human resources, or marketing, you will use social media, development tools, and other web platforms to promote brands and facilitate communication between other parties. If you are interested in a career in journalism, broadcasting, or entertainment, you will hone your craft in writing, storytelling, and tracking sources, among other technical skills.

Online communications programs are a flexible and affordable alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar college. Read on to find out more about how earning a communications degree online can help you launch your career.

Meet our expert

Read More

Manuel Romero Communications

“This profession keeps me on my toes and challenges me to continue exploring new approaches to effectively deliver messages that will engage, entice and inform a variety of people.”

Online Communications Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $11,317 15.9% 2 years N/A N/A 8.2%
Bachelor's $19,400 9.4% 4 years $34,000 $63,000 5.6%
Master's $20,017 6.7% 1+ years $52,000 $75,000 4.5%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

While employment prospects are slightly greater for candidates with bachelor’s or master’s communications degrees under their belt, associate degrees earned through online communications programs will still prepare you for several job opportunities. In a two-year program, you will focus on your writing skills, computer literacy, and general speaking skills. Research-oriented positions are likely to require, at the very least, an associate degree. Some students may pursue two-year online communications programs with the intent of eventually earning their four-year bachelor’s in communications online.

Choosing Your Communications Careers

Average Communications Salaries

$60,250
$46,840
$124,850
$48,490
$56,770

Writer/Author

Salary: $60,250
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 136,500 Bachelor's None

Writers and authors are tasked with using written language to communicate ideas and information over various text-based media. They develop content for websites, advertisements, books, magazines, marketing materials, scripts, and any other text-based platforms. The may be self-employed authors who work from home, or they may be employed by large media companies to produce content on a frequent basis. They typically have language or communications degrees at the bachelor’s level, and exhibit exemplary knowledge and understanding of proper grammar, usage, and diction.

Event Planner

Salary: $46,840
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
10% 100,000 Bachelor's None

Event planners are responsible for coordinating and overseeing meetings and events held by businesses and organizations. They are expected to arrange and plan for all the details of such events, including transportation, location, hospitality, and guest lists, among other concerns. They tend to work on site at convention centers, hotels, and other event venues, and are expected to travel a lot. Graduates of online bachelor’s in communications programs are prepared for careers as event planners. Candidates should be able to balance several tasks at once, and are able to effectively communicate and socialize with clients, guests, and other relevant personnel.

Promotions Manager

Salary: $124,850
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
9% 225,200 Bachelor's MBA preferred, not required

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers are typically hired by advertising firms or businesses directly to generate interest in products, services, events, or campaigns. They are often responsible for coordinating and directing the disparate tasks of sales agents, account managers, and creative personnel, with the goal elevating the public appeal of a product or service. Earning a bachelor’s in communications online will fulfill the academic requirements for this position. Successful promotions managers are able to multi-task and effectively manage many different teams and task groups.

Advertising Sales

Salary: $48,490
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-3% 167,900 High School Diploma or Equivalent Google AdWords Certification preferred, not required

Advertising sales agents are responsible for selling advertising media to businesses and organizations in need of marketing and promotional services. They typically pitch ideas to businesses in sales presentations and maintain relations with their clients. Advertising content may include print layouts, online campaigns, radio spots, and television commercials, among others. BLS notes a slight decrease in job growth due to the decline of newspaper print advertising. Digital advertising is more prevalent, but is increasingly being done through software applications or search engine programs. While the industry may not see an increased demand for advertising sales agents, BLS reports that candidates who have bachelor’s degrees and experience in sales are likely to have the best job opportunities.

Public Relations Specialist

Salary: $56,770
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
6% 240,700 Bachelor's None

Public relations specialists are tasked with cultivating and preserving a positive public image for the organization or individual that employs them. They create media, manage news stories, and interact with the press to shape public perception, with the long term goal of establishing a conducive environment for their employer’s agenda or reputation. PR specialists are typically well versed in modern media, and have strong interpersonal communications skills to achieve organizational objectives. Students who earn a bachelor’s in communications online are set to enter this field upon graduating.

Communications Degree in Action

Manuel Romero Communications

Before joining BMCC as Executive Director of Public Affairs, Manuel Romero served as Director of Public Relations at Baruch College, where he developed and oversaw the college’s communications and public relations strategies, as well as its initiatives to secure regional and national media coverage. His earlier roles included serving as Director of Communications and Marketing at Marymount Manhattan College, and as Associate Executive Director of NYC’s contemporary dance company, Parsons Dance. Romero also worked as a public relations manager at the law firm Snell & Wilmer, and was Director of Hispanic Media at Arizona State University, where he earned a master’s degree in Mass Communication. He’s a product of the public community college system, having earned an associate degree at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona and soon after he earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

What do you find most fulfilling about a career in communications?

As a communications professional, I truly enjoy building communications campaigns across many channels. The communications profession continues to evolve as technology becomes more advanced. A successful communications campaign entails a strategic approach to reaching a variety of audiences. Using social media, websites, digital communication and marketing resources, when executed correctly, can produce a strong message across all audiences.

What types of people excel in this field?

People who excel in the field of communications are individuals who are driven and not afraid to explore new and different ways of communicating. It’s important for a communications professional to provide options to clients and not force people into one-way communication. Communications is ever-evolving and a successful communications professional should also be willing to evolve and continue learning.

What was the job search process like after earning your degree?

I was very strategic in identifying the businesses where I wanted to work. After I received my bachelor’s degree, I knew I wanted to work with a daily newspaper, because I knew it would enable me grow as a writer and it would provide a rigorous experience meeting deadlines and expanding my approach to telling stories and reporting the news. I was hired at the Yuma Daily Sun in Yuma, Arizona as their education reporter. I covered school board meetings, academic development and the occasional student or faculty profile feature. It was one of the best experiences I had.

What challenges do you face at work on any given day?

Working in the communications field for a higher education institution offers many challenges, but it’s important to see these challenges as opportunities. On a daily basis, my team must seek out the most effective way to communicate to students, faculty and the community about significant developments at BMCC. At a moments notice, my Public Affairs team can be called upon to create a campaign to promote a research program, handle a crisis, or celebrate an achievement by one of our professors or students. This profession keeps me on my toes and challenges me to continue exploring new approaches to effectively deliver messages that will engage, entice and inform a variety of people.

What additional advice would you give to a student considering a career in communications?

I have two pieces of advice. First, remember that your first job will not be your only or final job. The job market offers many opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in college. Use your first job to refine what you’ve learned; you’ll make mistakes, but it’s important that you learn from them so you can later avoid them when you step into an executive position down the road. Second, have fun! The communications field can be very stressful, but you have to remember that your job is to keep people informed and interested. If you aren’t having fun coming up with ideas or ways of communicating, then chances are your audience won’t be willing to pay attention.

Online Communications Degrees

Associate

Completing an associate communications degree online can provide a foundation of skills for a wide variety of employment opportunities. Depending on your academic focus, you will develop skills in handling interpersonal relations and/or the technical skills to pursue a career in advertising, broadcast media, or written communications. Graduates may pursue careers in government relations, business PR, nonprofit outreach, human resources, and advertising, among many others.

Sample Courses
English Composition, Principle of Marketing, Oral Communication, Communication and Technology, Public Speaking
Common Majors
Communications, Media Relations, TV and Radio, Journalism, Rhetorical Studies
Potential Jobs
Radio and Television Announcer, Copywriter, Public Relations Specialist
Average Income
$30,080 for radio and television announcers, $60,250 for copywriter, and $56,770 for public relations specialists
Employment Prospects
From 2014 to 2024, 11% decrease for radio and television announcers, 2% increase for copywriters, and 6% increase for public relations specialists

Bachelor’s

Earning a bachelor’s in communications online typically provides a more comprehensive foundation for a career in public relations, media, broadcasting, and other fields. It is often the minimum degree requirement for most employment opportunities in the industry. Graduates of bachelor’s in communications online programs often pursue careers in advertising, marketing, public relations, and event planning, among others. An online bachelor’s in communications program can usually be completed in four years.

Sample Courses
Communication Theories And Practice, Media And Society, Conflict Resolution, Writing for the Digital Age, Principles of Public Relations
Common Majors
Marketing Communication, Emerging Media, Public Relations, Management and Organizational Communication
Potential Jobs
Public Relations Specialist, Copywriter, Promotions Manager, Event Planner, Journalist
Average Income
$56,770 for public relations specialists, $60,250 for copywriter, $124,850 for promotions managers, $46,840 for event planners, and $37,720 for journalists
Employment Prospects
From 2014 to 2024, 6% increase for public relations specialists,
2% increase for copywriters, 19% increase for promotions managers, 10% increase for event planners, and 9% decline for journalists

The Top 5 Online Bachelor's Degrees in Communications

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

East Carolina University

Greenville
  • in-state tuition: $6,143
  • out-of-state tuition: $20,256
2

Northern Kentucky University

Highland Heights
  • in-state tuition: $8,376
  • out-of-state tuition: $16,464
3

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester
  • annually: $28,884
4

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks
  • in-state tuition: $7,508
  • out-of-state tuition: $17,794
5

University of Memphis

Memphis
  • in-state tuition: $8,312
  • out-of-state tuition: $23,024

See full rankings

Master’s

Communications degrees at the master’s level usually provides a more technical level of specialty for careers in public relations, advertising, broadcast media, entertainment, and journalism. Graduates can expect to receive some training in modern communications technologies, as well as marketing theory and method. With a more strategic command of the field, communications professionals may depend on a master’s degree to help further advance their careers. Students can typically earn a master’s in communications degree online in about two years on top of an online bachelor’s in communications program.

Sample Courses
Seminar in Crisis Communication, Strategic Communication and Fundraising, Leadership & Global Strategic Communication, Survey Design, Analysis, and Reporting
Common Majors
Public Relations, Communication, Rhetorical Studies
Potential Jobs
Market Research Analyst, Corporate Communications Manager, Creative Director
Average Income
$62,150 for market research analysts, $124,850 for corporate communications managers, and $89,760 for creative directors
Employment Prospects
From 2014 to 2024, 19% increase for market research analysts, 9% increase for corporate communications managers, and 2% increase for creative directors

Doctorate

Communications degrees at the doctorate level are less common than their bachelor’s and master’s counterparts, but they may provide a range of advanced skills and credentials for employment in the fields of communications, public relations, and media. A PhD provides a highly technical understanding of research methods, or may employ a more philosophical approach, focusing instead on current and historical trends in communications, as well as theories for future practice. Such degrees can be completed in three to four years through online communications programs.

Sample Courses
History of Communication, Academic Writing and Publication, Philosophy and Communication, Topics in Digital Media, Media Activism
Common Majors
Global and Transcultural Studies, Technology and Society, Visual Culture and Sound Studies
Potential Jobs
Media Analyst, Research Director, PR Specialist
Average Income
$62,150 for media analysts, $102,690 for research directors, and $56,770 for public relations specialists
Employment Prospects
From 2014 to 2024, 19% increase for media analysts, 6% for research directors, and 6% increase for public relations specialists