Whether verbal, nonverbal, visual, or written, communication is vital to impart and exchange information. A recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey found that employers rank communication as the #3 most important job skill. Earning a bachelor’s degree in communication can train you to effectively express yourself for countless fields. Perhaps that’s why approximately six percent of college students major in communication. Graduates can excel as reporters, editors, PR specialists, technical writers, marketing managers, nonprofit directors, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 27,400 new communication jobs will open through 2024. On average, graduates receive an above-average median salary of $53,530 each year. Communication degrees can provide lifetime earnings up to $3.1 million for ROI beyond 20 percent!
Improving Web technology has made it possible to earn your communications degree fully online for flexibility. Therefore, we conducted in-depth research to identify the top 10 online bachelor’s in communication degree programs in America. Using the NCES College Navigator, we located over 100 undergraduate schools offering online communication coursework. We narrowed the list by double checking for regional accreditation. The U.S. News and World Report rankings were consulted for determining which online schools had the best academic reputation. Extra brownie points were given to universities with multiple rankings and/or ACEJMC accreditation. Average online tuition was collected from each communication program’s website. Other factors were financial aid, credit transfer, student-faculty ratio, admission selectivity, applied learning, student support, and curriculum specialization.
1. University of Louisville
Established in 1798 as the United States’ first city-owned college, the University of Louisville is a premier public, co-educational RU/VH research institution with a $1.2 billion endowment. From its main 345-acre urban campus in Kentucky’s largest city west of the Allegheny Mountains, UofL educates over 22,300 students on-site and online. The Online Learning Division is SACS-accredited to provide education in 48 states. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Louisville is America’s 168th Best University, 91st Top Public School, and 134th Best College for Veterans. Washington Monthly placed the University of Louisville as the 119th Best University for Civic Engagement. Forbes magazine chose the University of Louisville as the South’s 114th Top Educator too.
Among Louisville’s five online bachelor’s degrees is a Bachelor of Science in Communication. The College of Arts & Sciences grants this 36-credit major to familiarize undergraduates with the theories and methods of rhetoric. It’s ideal for students seeking employment in digital or print media, public relations, marketing, and human resources. Award-winning faculty conduct medium-sized classes with a 17:1 ratio for personal connections. General education can be transferred via the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to graduate in two years. Online students access courses 24/7 through the user-friendly Blackboard system. There’s also a Bachelor of Arts in Communication online with a greater liberal arts focus.
Online Tuition: $497 per credit hour ($250 for active-duty military)
2. DePaul University
Endowed for $447 million, DePaul University is a private, nonprofit Catholic institution following in the Vincentian’s footsteps since 1898 to educate more than 23,500 students. As Illinois’ largest private school, DePaul stands on a 36-acre urban campus on the North Side of Chicago in Lincoln Park with three satellites and an online extension. One-third of enrollees in DePaul’s 10 academic colleges are first-generation students. The U.S. News and World Report ranked DePaul as the 123rd Best National University, 101st Top School for Veterans, and 21st Most Innovative College. The Princeton Review recognized DePaul University among the “Happiest Students.” The DePaulia also won 17 Illinois College Press Association Awards.
With a retention rate of 86 percent, DePaul uses state-of-the-art digital learning tools to confer six online bachelor’s degrees. The College of Communication offers its B.A. in Communication and Media fully online for transfer students. This two-year degree completion program helps juniors and seniors develop the fundamental speaking and writing skills for professional success. The 66-credit curriculum includes courses in public relations, rhetoric, persuasion, storytelling, journalism, and mass communication. Students could pursue the unique Latino Media & Communication concentration. The senior year includes skill application with experiential learning and a capstone project. Online admission will require transferrable credits with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Online Tuition: $600 per credit hour
3. Arizona State University
Classified as a public, doctoral-granting metropolitan RU/VH research institution, Arizona State University is the largest Pac-12 Conference member with enrollment surpassing 82,000. Along with an online division, Arizona State University runs a main 631-acre urban campus in sunny Tempe as well as branches in Phoenix, Mesa, Lake Havasu, Scottsdale, and Williams Air Force Base. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Arizona State is the 129th Best National University, 107th Best School for Veterans, 62nd Top Public College, and Most Innovative School. In particular, Arizona State University offers the country’s 11th Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees. Money magazine honored Arizona State University as the 154th Top Value producing America’s #5 most qualified graduates.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU has placed in the top 10 nationally for Hearst Journalism Awards. Here online students can pursue the B.S. in Communication from anywhere. The 120-credit curriculum contains a 45-credit major to build conceptual knowledge for managing communication issues in multicultural workplaces. ASU students unlock countless career paths where effective speaking is central. Required courses include English composition, critical inquiry, persuasion, conflict negotiation, gender studies, and linguistics. Learning experiences begin with the interactive Online Student Orientation. Becoming a Sun Devil connects students with prestigious faculty, including several Pulitzer Prize winners. Online learners could also earn the B.A. in Business – Communication degree.
Online Tuition: $500 per credit
4. CUNY School of Professional Studies
Founded by the City University of New York in 2003, the CUNY School of Professional Studies is a public, co-educational higher learning institution serving more than 2,000 for-credit students with flexible adult education. Registered with the NYSED and accredited by the SACS, the college is located on West 31st Street in Midtown Manhattan. Evening, weekend, and online courses are the staple for the 20 CUNY SPS programs. For 2016, the U.S. News and World Report recognized CUNY School of Professional Studies for awarding America’s 11th Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees. College Choice selected CUNY School of Professional Studies as the seventh Top Online School nationally. Washington Monthly recognized CUNY School of Professional Studies as the Northeast’s 34th Best Bang for the Buck.
Undergraduates who have earned 24+ accredited credits could apply to the Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media program at CUNY School of Professional Studies. This online, interdisciplinary major delves into the social, cultural, and organizational aspects influencing how people express themselves. Special emphasis is placed on new and traditional media to develop strategies for responding to audience differences. Requiring 120 total credits, the B.A. includes diverse courses from urbanization and global culture to web design and organizational change. Online students could select a minor in Cultural Sociology or Information Systems. There’s a transfer agreement for the A.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences program at Guttman Community College.
Online Tuition: $275 per credit or $3,165 each full-time semester
5. University of Central Florida
Enrolling over 54,500 undergraduates, the University of Central Florida is a public, state research institution holding space-grant status and a $155 million endowment. Near the Kennedy Space Center, UCF is located on a spacious 1,415-acre suburban campus in Orlando with 12 satellite locations across the “Sunshine State.” Since its birth in 1963, the SACS-accredited university has grown to confer 200+ majors. The U.S. News and World Report named Central Florida the 168th Best National University, 91st Top Public School, and 13th Most Innovative College. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance crowned the University of Central Florida as the 42nd Best Public Value. According to the ARWU, the University of Central Florida also lands in the world’s Top 300 Universities.
Florida’s largest university currently provides 16 online bachelor’s degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Conflict. The Nicholson School of Communication designed this 120-credit program to equip students with career-ready meditation and arbitration skills. Online learners examine interpersonal and intercultural conflicts to sharpen their ability for fostering agreement. The open-access program includes courses in computer science, speech, public relations, conflict resolution, organizational communication, and electronic media. B.A. majors can add six experiential learning credits with co-ops and internships. UCF courses currently aren’t authorized for Michigan, Minnesota, or Oregon. Another online option is the Bachelor of Arts in English – Technical Communication.
Online Tuition: $179 (in-state) or $383 (out-of-state) per credit
6. University of North Dakota
Six years before the Dakota Territory joined the Union in 1889, the University of North Dakota was established as the flagship public, state space-grant research institution. Within the heart of the Red River Valley Research Corridor, the University of North Dakota occupies a 550-acre urban campus in Grand Forks, the state’s third largest city. Across its 10 academic divisions, the University of North Dakota educates around 11,500 undergraduates and 2,800 post-graduates. The U.S. News and World Report ranked North Dakota as the 180th Best National University, 100th Top Public School, and 143rd Best Schools for Veterans. Best Value Schools recognized the University of North Dakota for the Midwest’s 10th Best Return on Investment (ROI). Washington Monthly lauded the NCA-accredited college among the “Top 50 Schools for Adult Learners” too.
The Extended Learning Office at the University of North Dakota offers 13 online bachelor’s degrees, such as the Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Starting every Fall, Spring, and Summer, this 125-credit online program integrates knowledge on how information is processed by people and technologies. Rooted in liberal arts, the program satisfies interests in public relations, advertising, digital media, print journalism, and organizational communication. UND mandates holding at least 36 credits before declaring the B.A. major. Online students benefit from one-on-one interaction with faculty who’ve published over 12 books. Classroom lectures, assignments, and exams are completed online for zero campus trips, but practicum is required.
Online Tuition: $339 per credit hour
7. California Baptist University
Inspiring more than 8,500 students to “Live Your Purpose,” California Baptist University is a private, nonprofit Christian liberal arts institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. With a $41 million endowment, the WASC-accredited university confers faith-based bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across 11 schools. Spanning 160 suburban acres, California Baptist University is nestled within the Inland Empire in Riverside just 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The U.S. News and World Report acclaimed California Baptist University as the West’s 39th Best Regional College and 31st Top School for Military. At 18:1, California Baptist is ranked 24th statewide by the College Database for student-teacher ratio. The BestSchools.org also named California Baptist University as the #5 Top Online Christian College Nationally.
California Baptist University Online offers year-round, transfer-friendly distance education for non-traditional students to balance school with family and work. Using Blackboard and Webex, the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies is delivered 100 percent online. Students foster the creative confidence to create, develop, and deliver presentations. The 48-unit major integrates verbal and nonverbal communication principles to ensure students can optimally communicate. Informed by California Baptist University’s Christian heritage, the curriculum melds courses in English, speech, mass media, rhetoric, and digital engagement. Accelerated online sessions start every eight weeks for transfers to graduate in 16 months. Online students can access educational services in Riverside, Temecula, Brea, and Rancho Cucamonga or via Smartthinking.
Online Tuition: $547 per unit
8. Arkansas State University
Formerly called First District Agricultural School until 1925, Arkansas State University is the Natural State’s second largest public, four-year research institution striving to “Educate, Enhance, and Enrich” the lives of over 21,900 students. With branches in Paragould, Beebe, Blytheville, and online, A-State is located on a 1,376-acre urban campus atop Crowley’s Ridge in Jonesboro on the Arkansas Delta. Boasting over 75,000 alumni, Arkansas State was chosen among Military Times’ best for vets for six years. The U.S. News and World Report noted A-State as the South’s 53rd Best College and 21st Top Public School. In 2016, Arkansas State University also claimed the #10 spot in the “Best Colleges for Parents with Children.”
Distance learning at A-State matches non-traditional students with highly qualified faculty to complete one of nine online bachelor’s degrees. The Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies is a versatile option for undergraduates to become effective interpersonal communicators in broad careers. The 120-credit plan expands students’ understanding of how people share and interpret language in various audiences. Arkansas State is authorized in 49 states, excluding Kentucky. Online courses are accessible asynchronously to study argumentation, oral speech, public speaking, visual communication, crisis communication, persuasion, and more. Taking at least three foreign language courses is required for intermediate proficiency. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass COmmunication (ACEJMC) accreditation ensures online students earn an affordable degree that’s marketable.
Online Tuition: $233 per credit or $699 per course
9. Ottawa University
Affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, Ottawa University is a private, nonprofit liberal arts institution with HLC-NCA accreditation to award degrees in 25+ disciplines. In addition to its residential 64-acre campus in rural Franklin County along the Marais des Cygnes River, OU has adult campuses in Kansas, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Across the system, Ottawa University has grown to serve over 7,000 students since 1865. OU was ranked the 62nd Best Regional College and 41st Top School for Veterans in the Midwest by the U.S. News and World Report. Ottawa University has America’s 163rd Best Online Business Degrees. Chosen as a “College of Distinction,” Ottawa also earned the Luther Wesley Smith Education Award.
The School of Arts and Sciences promotes liberated inquiry with nine online, outcomes-based bachelor’s programs. In particular, Ottawa’s Bachelor of Arts in Communication trains students to tailor their communicative techniques to suit specific audiences. Majors become more aware of cultural, social, political, and generational differences to speak to anyone with poise. It’s possible to declare a Business Communication Concentration to focus on targeting potential clients for modern organizations. Suitable minors also include English, Human Resources, Marketing, and Leadership/Management. Eight-week, online courses have a student-faculty ratio of 4:1 for working with personal success coaches. Students could also pursue the online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology: Communication Concentration.
Online Tuition: $495 per hour ($250 for active-duty military)
10. Stevenson University
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur created Stevenson University in 1947 as Villa Julie College to educate medical secretaries. Today, the MSCHE-accredited university is a private, co-educational teaching institution endowed for $77 million to educate over 4,100 students. Stevenson’s main 104-acre urban campus is located within Owings Mills, Maryland, within Baltimore County’s Greenspring Valley. Noted for its “Career Architecture” program, Stevenson has a 93 percent job placement rate. The U.S. News and World Report ranked Stevenson as the South’s 79th Best College and 58th Top School for Veterans with the 100th Best Online Bachelor’s nationwide. Niche also gave Stevenson University a B for technology and A- for safety.
The Brown School of Business and Leadership awards an online Bachelor of Science in Business Communication for working adults attending Stevenson. Over eight-week sessions, students gain vital insights on the inner workings of organizations to understand how businesses communicate. Online learners meet competencies designing presentations in various media, including photography, Internet technology, and architecture. The 120-credit curriculum offers focused electives from event planning to negotiation for career specialization. Admission requires at least 15 transferrable credits with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Students earning an associate degree from Maryland community colleges qualify for tuition discounts. Stevenson University offers a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies – Communication too.
Online Tuition: $450 per credit hour