Communication involves verbal and nonverbal interaction in one-on-one conservations, small group discussions, and public speaking. The field also includes communicating indirectly through online channels, the written word, radio, and television. Students in these programs learn to deliver clear, effective messages by considering cultural factors, nonverbal strategies, and message organization. Depending on the program’s focus, learners may also explore technical field components, such as camera production or communications for healthcare settings.
The internet provides innovative communications opportunities, including social media, online magazines, and blogs. Online learning, in particular, helps students prepare for virtual communications by providing experience in delivering messages from a distance. Current events also create an ongoing need for communicators, which creates job security. For instance, political campaigns, sports events, and community programs require speech writers, announcers, reporters, and spokespeople.
This page covers different field elements, including job opportunities, salaries, program curricula, concentrations, accreditation, and financial aid.
A good program delivers core field ideas, such as verbal and nonverbal communications strategies, but may also allow concentrations for focused study. Programs should also supply numerous online courses for time flexibility and charge reasonable tuition rates. Students should only choose accredited programs and should look for institutions with high graduation rates to indicate past student approval.
All schools on the upcoming list deliver a combination of positive traits, based on information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Students can use this information to determine which school offers the best fit for their educational needs.
Communications includes face-to-face conversations, newspaper reports, blog posts, and video tutorials, as well as television, movie, and radio production. Due to this diversity, graduates who earn an online bachelor’s degree in communications can work in a variety of settings. Each career includes individual job growth projections and salary expectations. For instance, public relations and fundraising managers, as well as advertising, promotional, and marketing managers, earn median salaries of more than $100,000, and market research analyst opportunities are projected to increase by 23% by 2026. Students can use this information to decide on career paths.
Holding a degree does not guarantee a career or salary. However, a bachelor’s degree in communications prepares candidates for the following careers.
Public relations and fundraising managers promote positive company images and seek donations. Managers must communicate with clients about company goals to find the right promotional options. Professional tasks include creating press releases, overseeing company employees, and organizing activities to encourage contributions. A bachelor’s in communications prepares candidates for many of these positions, though some organizations may require a master’s.
These managers create promotional strategies to increase client or product appeal. To perform these tasks, candidates decide which promotional methods to pursue, assist with web design, and ensure that all plans fit within the client’s budget. Additional responsibilities include overseeing other employees for good performances, as well as discussing advertising, promotional, and marketing needs with clients. These positions may only require a bachelor’s.
Companies rely on analysts for insights on products to sell, pricing, and potential consumers. Analysts assess market details and interpret findings through graphs and easily understood reports. Candidates also explore research techniques, such as surveys and questionnaires, and examine competitors’ products and prices for guidance. Market research analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree.
These workers capture and perfect scenes for television shows, movies, documentaries, and news broadcasts. Editors and camera operators should understand related equipment, including software and lenses, and must communicate with clients to ensure that final products fit with clients’ goals. These employees also oversee their assistants. Companies typically require a bachelor’s degree for these positions, and may insist on onsite training.
Technical writers create instructional pieces, such as how-to guides and instruction booklets. These products present complicated ideas in simplified terms, with drawings, charts, and photographs to illustrate points. Writers communicate with developers for product insights, and update instructional materials as necessary. Employers require a bachelor’s for this occupation, but may also insist on field experience. For instance, a technical writer for computer software may need software experience.
Sources: BLS 2018
Salaries for public relations and fundraising managers vary by location based on the cost of living. Specifically, candidates in high-cost areas often earn more than people in low-cost locations. Candidates with graduate degrees may earn more than bachelor’s-level workers.
For public relations and fundraising manager positions, New York, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey pay more than other states, with metropolitan areas around New York and Jersey City offering high pay as well. The District of Columbia provides a higher concentration of these managerial jobs than any state. Colleges, universities, and professional schools deliver the most field employment, and general financial investment activities supply the highest pay among industries.
Candidates can use this information to determine promising work locations.
While earning a communications degree online, students can enroll in specializations that influence coursework. For instance, a television broadcasting focus involves more technological classes than a speech communications concentration. However, certain communications classes that cover general field ideas appear in many programs. The following classes provide examples, but students should review their program requirements to determine the necessary courses for their degree.
These courses train students to use efficient verbal and nonverbal tactics to enhance professional and personal communications. Students learn the importance of word choice and listening strategies to ensure that others receive the intended message, in spite of cultural or situational differences.
Candidates explore ways to develop a speech, including information arrangement and visual aid incorporation. Classes provide tips for changing speeches based on audience and purpose, as well as idea clarity. Students may need to deliver several speeches during these courses.
Coursework examines communications between people and groups within an organization. Addressed topics include conflict management and public image, as well as positive and negative communications tactics for maintaining an efficient company.
Students explore culture’s influence on communications. Phrases hold different meanings between cultures, causing each person in a conversation to interpret a message differently. Candidates learn methods for handling these complications by examining cultural identities.
These classes deliver insights on how technology impacts communications. Students learn tips for effective use of social media when communicating and explore concepts such as visual aids and software.
When choosing a school, degree seekers should consider program and degree opportunities. For example, a communications student can choose an institution with a program related to television broadcasting to pursue related careers. Learners should also think about program cost and degree requirements that impact time commitments. Candidates with limited time can select programs that do not require a capstone project. Students should also consider school and faculty reputation, and should only choose accredited institutions, since these details verify that a candidate earned a quality education.
Departments require core classes and general requirements, but may allow learners to select courses from subject lists. For a mathematics requirement, for instance, departments may permit students to take algebra, geometry, or statistics. When possible in these situations, candidates should choose options that relate to their desired careers. This strategy also applies to electives. For example, a student intending to work as a political speech writer should take political science classes, while candidates who want to become social media directors can enroll in additional marketing courses.
Given the field’s diversity, communications departments can offer a variety of concentrations that alter curricula. As examples, a health communications focus includes coursework concerning the medical field, while a broadcasting specialization involves audio and camera production. However, departments may require the same general education and core courses for all concentrations, with a handful of classes designated to the focus. Essentially, these concentrations prepare for career categories, but often with a foundation in general communications concepts.
Earning a communications bachelor’s degree online often requires a capstone course. For these classes, students create portfolios of previous or new coursework, design communications plans for organizations, or complete assignments that use information from all previous classes. These projects may involve heavy research, as well as a strong grasp on communications theories and practice. Some schools, however, do not require a final project. Students should consult their program’s curriculum for details on any needed final project.
Studying online saves time since students do not need to commute to classes. Additionally, asynchronous courses allow learners to tend to coursework over a period of time, such as one week. Degree seekers can complete assignments anytime by logging onto the class website. Communications programs often do not require fieldwork or practicums. These factors permit busy students to manage coursework.
Communications involves face-to-face dialogue, which may seem out of place for an online degree. However, the field also includes technology and social media, and an online program prepares candidates for these virtual details. Candidates can explore other communications concepts through online programs by recording speeches and presenting information in papers, presentations, and discussion board posts. Overall, then, online programs remain different from on-campus options, but may deliver the same level of quality.
Students can pay for educational expenses out-of-pocket or seek financial assistance methods. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement plans, although many students do not work for companies with this agreement. Additionally, learners can take out federal or private loans, but these decisions cause student loan debt.
Candidates can also explore grants and scholarships that, in general, do not require repayment or an employer agreement. Communications majors can explore the following scholarships.
Undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors may apply for these $2,500 scholarships. Applicants can major in a variety of fields, such as communications, marketing, public relations, and journalism, but must intend to work in the dairy field. Candidates must submit transcripts that include dairy-related classes, and should provide evidence of participating in dairy-related activities. Recipients should also demonstrate leadership abilities and academic merit, and must submit a recommendation letter.
Full-time students can earn this $10,000 scholarship for their sophomore, junior, or senior year of undergraduate study. However, candidates must intend to work in digital media, television, or radio, and should supply a minimum of three online video samples of related work. Applicants must also submit a cover letter that illustrates related experience and career goals, as well as a resume and recommendation letter. Recipients may not reapply for future Ed Bradley scholarships.
Various cable networks provide this scholarship in memory of sports journalist, Jim McKay. Candidates attend the Sports Emmys for presentation. High school and full-time undergraduate students can apply for this $10,000 fund to pursue majors related to media arts, such as photojournalism, radio broadcasting, music, filmmaking, and communications. This funding only goes to one student per year, and students may not renew the funding. Recipients must hold U.S. citizenship.
United Methodist undergraduate students may qualify for this $2,500 scholarship for their junior or senior year. However, candidates must major in communications or journalism. Applicants should also submit three recommendation letters and transcripts that prove academic achievement. Candidates must also provide three writing examples and a short essay on their religion and interest in communications to show promise as a future religious journalist.
Applicants should hold an interest in outdoor communications and possess relevant experience. Acceptable career goals for this funding include writing, photography, and creating films that relate to the outdoors. Candidates must submit an application; transcripts; a declaration of career intentions; and a print or digital example of outdoor communications. Applicants can also submit a recommendation letter, and must answer questions concerning their previous outdoor experiences. Recipients typically receive $1,000-$5,000.