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Media has become a dom­i­nant aspect of mod­ern life. Every­body con­sumes var­i­ous forms of media, from films, tele­vi­sion, books, radio, social media, news pro­gram­ming, and print. These medi­ums have a tremen­dous impact on our lives, and with­out good media, we would have trou­ble com­mu­ni­cat­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion. This is why media stud­ies have become such a pop­u­lar field of study in col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. Media stud­ies is an ever-grow­ing field for pro­fes­sion­als who are look­ing advanced ways of communication.

For work­ing adults and oth­er non­tra­di­tion­al stu­dents, get­ting an online bachelor’s degree can be a sol­id invest­ment in a new or advanced career. How­ev­er, these are also stu­dents who are not inter­est­ed in spoil­ing their invest­ment with a debt they’ll drag around for­ev­er. That’s why Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter has ranked the 10 Most Afford­able Online Media Com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­grams — to point stu­dents who care about val­ue to the pro­grams that will give them rea­son­able costs and real results.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Online Mass Communications Degree Programs

To rank the Most Afford­able Online Media Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Degree Bach­e­lor Pro­grams, Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors start­ed with a com­pre­hen­sive list of the online media, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and jour­nal­ism pro­grams avail­able in a ful­ly online for­mat from accred­it­ed, rep­utable insti­tu­tions. From there, rank­ing the most afford­able pro­grams was sim­ple: schools are ordered from low­est tuition to high­est, based on cur­rent IPEDS data.

1. Bellevue University

Belle­vue University’s online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies pro­gram strives to pro­vide every stu­dent with a sol­id foun­da­tion from where they can then focus on a par­tic­u­lar area of com­mu­ni­ca­tions. They rec­og­nize that today’s tech­nol­o­gy has forced pro­fes­sion­als to devel­op new tech­niques and meth­ods to work effec­tive­ly. The basis of the pro­gram is found­ed in com­mu­ni­ca­tion the­o­ry but works to devel­op the skillsets that employ­ers are look­ing for. The online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree revolves around busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion, lead­er­ship, con­flict res­o­lu­tion, and knowl­edge of tra­di­tion­al media stan­dards. After grad­u­a­tion, stu­dents are pre­pared for posi­tions in jour­nal­ism, dig­i­tal media for­mats, mar­ket­ing, and pub­lic relations.

Belle­vue is well known for the qual­i­ty of its degree pro­grams while remain­ing afford­able. The school strives to main­tain a high degree of flex­i­bil­i­ty and sup­port for online learn­ers. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for work­ing adults who would like to return to school. In fact, Belle­vue was found­ed as a school for work­ing adults, back in 1966, when the inter­net was bare­ly thought of, and today Belle­vue is ranked one of the top 10 online bachelor’s edu­ca­tors by U.S. News.

Degree: BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Studies

2. Thomas Edison State College

The online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Thomas Edi­son State Col­lege pro­vides stu­dents with a sol­id foun­da­tion in com­mu­ni­ca­tions the­o­ry and the estab­lished strate­gies used to com­mu­ni­cate with the pub­lic in a vari­ety of for­mats. Elec­tives allow stu­dents to tai­lor their degree to their intend­ed or cur­rent careers, from radio and movies to jour­nal­ism and tech­ni­cal writ­ing. As a pub­lic insti­tu­tion, TESC is also com­mit­ted to afford­abil­i­ty, with some of the low­est tuition rates in the Northeast.

Found­ed in 1972, Thomas Edi­son State Col­lege is a lead­ing col­lege in New Jer­sey. The aver­age age of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion is 30 years old. Most are work­ing adults who are return­ing to school to move into anoth­er career or com­plete their col­lege degree. In the spir­it of its name­sake, Thomas Edi­son State reach­es out to and attracts self-moti­vat­ed, dis­ci­plined learn­ers of all kinds and inter­ests, pro­vid­ing an afford­able means to career advancement.

Degree: BA in Communications

3. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas of the Per­mi­an Basin BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is an online pro­gram that involves all of the chal­leng­ing course­work and engag­ing activ­i­ties that stu­dents engage in on a tra­di­tion­al cam­pus. This allows stu­dents to devel­op crit­i­cal think­ing skills, as well as the “soft skills” of lead­er­ship and team­work that are in high demand from cor­po­ra­tions. Beyond these basics, stu­dents select elec­tive sources in areas they are most inter­est­ed in pur­su­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ly such as broad­cast jour­nal­ism, print media, radio and social media mar­ket­ing. As an online bach­e­lors in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, this pro­grams afford­abil­i­ty and adapt­able sched­ule is a good choice for set­ting some­one in this field.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas of the Per­mi­an Basin is a rel­a­tive­ly young school that has evolved through its 45-year his­to­ry to become lead­ers in the field of online high­er edu­ca­tion. Through­out their devel­op­ment, they have been rec­og­nized by numer­ous sources in high­er edu­ca­tion. In fact, U.S. News & World Report names them one of the top online bachelor’s degree col­leges in the US. With mas­sive growth in the region, due to the oil indus­try, UTPB is prime to make an impact across the Southwest.

Degree: BA in Communication

4. Arkansas State University

The online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies at Arkansas State Uni­ver­si­ty is a mod­el of afford­abil­i­ty and qual­i­ty. Designed for a stu­dent body of work­ing adults, A‑State’s online bachelor’s in com­mu­ni­ca­tions empha­sizes applic­a­bil­i­ty; stu­dents are pre­pared to take their media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills to vir­tu­al­ly any indus­try and field. The most up-to-date the­o­ry com­bines with expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing to ensure that stu­dents can not only use what they learn imme­di­ate­ly, in their cur­rent jobs, but adapt to any changes in their career or their occu­pa­tion that might come up.

Arkansas State has always put prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions first. Found­ed as an agri­cul­tur­al and mechan­i­cal school, A‑State is built on applied tech­nol­o­gy and sci­ence, but that spir­it is part of every pro­gram — even media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. ASU’s online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree is intend­ed to have real job mar­ket appeal, and an afford­able tuition rate helps grad­u­ates enter their careers ahead of the game rather than behind in debt.

Degree: BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Studies

5. University of Maryland University College

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies gives stu­dents a deep ground­ing in the lib­er­al arts — par­tic­u­lar­ly the adapt­able skills of crit­i­cal think­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This broad foun­da­tion allows stu­dents to add on, build­ing online bach­e­lors in com­mu­ni­ca­tions that pre­pare them for careers as var­ied as man­age­ment, jour­nal­ism, or mar­ket­ing. A gen­er­ous trans­fer pol­i­cy and low tuition con­tribute to mak­ing UMUC’s online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree a great value.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege is one of the most unique pub­lic high­er learn­ing insti­tu­tions. With its roots in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Maryland’s evening class­es for work­ing adults and out­reach pro­grams for return­ing WWII vet­er­ans, UMUC has always had the spe­cial needs of non­tra­di­tion­al stu­dents at its heart. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest online edu­ca­tors, reach­ing more than 90,000 stu­dents world­wide. A his­to­ry of qual­i­ty and afford­abil­i­ty makes UMUC one of the best choic­es for an online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree.

Degree: BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Studies

6. Granite State College

Gran­ite State College’s online BS in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies is designed to give work­ing pro­fes­sion­als media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills that they can trans­fer and adapt to their cur­rent careers, or to move into careers in areas like pub­lic rela­tions and mar­ket­ing. With an empha­sis on nav­i­gat­ing the media-sat­u­rat­ed infor­ma­tion econ­o­my, GSC’s online bachelor’s in com­mu­ni­ca­tion helps stu­dents learn to effec­tive­ly use both tech­nol­o­gy and their own crit­i­cal rea­son­ing abil­i­ties to push their com­pa­nies for­ward, reach­ing diverse audi­ences with their brand and message.

Part of the Uni­ver­si­ty Sys­tem of New Hamp­shire (the Gran­ite State itself), GSC was found­ed in 1972 explic­it­ly to meet the spe­cial require­ments of New Hampshire’s work­ing adults. While back then that meant night and week­end class­es at exten­sion cam­pus­es, today it means ful­ly online degree pro­grams, and Gran­ite State Col­lege is quick­ly becom­ing one of the most trust­ed names in online edu­ca­tion. In fact, GSU is U.S. News & World Report’s high­est-rank­ing online edu­ca­tor in New Hampshire.

Degree: BS in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Studies

7. Florida International University

Flori­da Inter­na­tion­al University’s online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is designed for stu­dent suc­cess. With a per­son­al suc­cess coach, sup­port­ive online learn­ing envi­ron­ment, and top-notch, world-class fac­ul­ty, stu­dents in the online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­gram get more than just an afford­able, con­ve­nient online degree. The ACE­JMC-accred­it­ed Col­lege of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Archi­tec­ture, and the Arts gives stu­dents all they need to become lead­ers, man­agers, and spokes­peo­ple for gov­ern­ment, indus­try, and any oth­er employer.

FIU is the pub­lic research insti­tu­tion for the greater Mia­mi met­ro­pol­i­tan area, so it’s one of the most diverse, dynam­ic, and inno­v­a­tive insti­tu­tions in high­er edu­ca­tion right now. With an empha­sis on entre­pre­neur­ship, cre­ativ­i­ty, and com­mu­ni­ty, FIU is bring­ing the spir­it of dis­cov­ery not only to South Flori­da but all over the world with its online programs.

Degree: BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Arts

8. Arizona State University

Ari­zona State University’s online BA in Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Media Stud­ies takes the same inno­v­a­tive approach to learn that ASU is known for. World-class fac­ul­ty make the Cronkite School of Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (yes, named for that Cronkite) into one of the world’s most cut­ting-edge schools of its kind. Stu­dents can con­cen­trate on areas that inter­est them, from social media to polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions and media stud­ies pro­gram is an afford­able, accom­mo­dat­ing online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree.

US News & World Report ranks ASU as the nation’s most inno­v­a­tive school, as it has for years, thanks to the rad­i­cal New Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty mis­sion. By wel­com­ing all stu­dents, pro­vid­ing them the sup­port they need to suc­ceed, and lever­ag­ing their fac­ul­ty, alum­ni, and indus­try part­ners for job sup­port, ASU is well known for the pro­fes­sion­als that they turn out. Ari­zona State is trans­form­ing high­er edu­ca­tion, and with it, the world of work.

Degree: BA Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Media Studies

9. University of Memphis

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mem­phis’ online BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Stud­ies gives stu­dents the basis for a career in a wide range of com­mu­ni­ca­tion-relat­ed fields, from PR and Mar­ket­ing to broad­cast­ing and jour­nal­ism. Because UM’s pro­gram is specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed toward work­ing adults, stu­dents have an advi­sor who can help them strate­gize their online edu­ca­tion for max­i­mum effi­cien­cy and afford­abil­i­ty. Stu­dents also ben­e­fit from a cul­ture of hands-on, prac­ti­cal learn­ing, includ­ing intern­ships in their own area.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mem­phis is a pub­lic research uni­ver­si­ty cen­tered in the Home of the Blues. In a his­to­ry span­ning a cen­tu­ry, UM has gone from a small teacher’s col­lege to a major uni­ver­si­ty of more than 20,000 stu­dents by focus­ing on the needs of Mem­phis and west­ern Ten­nessee. That means out­reach to work­ing adults, minor­i­ty stu­dents, low-income and first-gen­er­a­tion stu­dents, and all kinds of oth­er non­tra­di­tion­al col­lege stu­dents. Afford­able online degree pro­grams like the online bachelor’s in com­mu­ni­ca­tions are a major part of that mission.

Degree: BA in Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Studies

10. CSU-Global Campus

Stu­dents in the Col­orado State Uni­ver­si­ty-Glob­al Cam­pus BS in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions are part of one of the most influ­en­tial move­ments in high­er edu­ca­tion. As the first ful­ly online wing of a pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem, CSU-Glob­al Cam­pus has defined stu­dent sup­port (with an online library, online tutor­ing, and an online writ­ing cen­ter) and career edu­ca­tion (with a game-chang­ing career cen­ter). The online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree pro­gram com­bines edu­ca­tion­al excel­lence with afford­abil­i­ty to show what online edu­ca­tion can accomplish.

CSU-Glob­al Cam­pus is ded­i­cat­ed to the needs of work­ing adults. Pri­or work expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge are assessed with the poten­tial of apply­ing some of this toward cred­it, sav­ing time and mon­ey for every stu­dent. With the chang­ing land­scape of the media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions fields, the cur­ricu­lum is con­tin­u­al­ly being assessed to ensure that it meets the need of today’s pro­fes­sion­als. With chang­ing indus­try stan­dards and evolv­ing tech­nol­o­gy, they work to make sure that stu­dents have the tools and knowl­edge that they need.

Degree: BS in Communication

What is the ROI of an Online Media Communications Degree?

Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, jobs for those with media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions degrees is on pace to grow four per­cent between 2022 and 2032. This will result in 23,780 new media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions jobs. This may seem like sig­nif­i­cant growth for com­mu­ni­ca­tions and media stud­ies jobs but in fact, the rate growth is sim­i­lar to the aver­ages of every oth­er occupation.

What is chang­ing is the types of media com­mu­ni­ca­tions jobs that are being cre­at­ed. Cor­po­ra­tions, non­prof­its and gov­ern­ments are now demand­ing pro­fes­sion­als that bring ‘soft skills’ to the table. These include con­flict res­o­lu­tion, cri­sis man­age­ment, team build­ing, and medi­a­tion. Also, the type of jobs is chang­ing as a result of chang­ing indus­try stan­dards and the devel­op­ment of new tech­nolo­gies and media platforms.

High-pay­ing jobs with a com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree are becom­ing avail­able to meet the demands of the chang­ing mar­ket­place. Indi­vid­u­als grad­u­at­ing with mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degrees who have the skills for social media mar­ket­ing, for instance, are find­ing posi­tions. It is an abil­i­ty to pro­fes­sion­al­ly craft, edit and trans­mit mes­sag­ing through these new emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and plat­forms that grad­u­ates are find­ing high-pay­ing jobs with a com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree. The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics report­ed in May 2022 that the annu­al wage for media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion jobs was $113,840. That was high­er than the medi­an wage of $61,900.

Are There Free Media and Communications Courses Online?

There are many free online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion cours­es online but do not expect to receive col­lege cred­it. It can be a good to “road test” the field, how­ev­er, for poten­tial stu­dents to under­stand whether or not they would enjoy work­ing in the field. Well-known sites such as LinkedIn, Study.com and Ali­son have free cours­es. Some of which are free online media cours­es with cer­tifi­cates. LinkedIn pro­vides free online mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion cours­es that are designed for busi­ness lead­ers but also help any­one inter­est­ed devel­op their skills. Study.com con­nects stu­dents with promi­nent uni­ver­si­ty media and com­mu­ni­ca­tion cours­es. There are also cours­es in media and enter­tain­ment. Every course will have a dif­fer­ent start time. Also, dif­fer­ent options will be avail­able. Some can be used toward cred­it. Oth­ers will deliv­er a cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion and pass the course for a fee.

Is a Media and Communication Certification Online Worth It?

Chang­ing careers can be very dif­fi­cult for work­ing adults. How­ev­er, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion online can help make that change pos­si­ble. In recent years, online high­er edu­ca­tion pro­grams have become more refined. Stu­dents who are able to par­tic­i­pate in a cre­den­tialed high­er edu­ca­tion pro­gram while still meet­ing the demands of their cur­rent job. Uni­ver­si­ties have respond­ed by build­ing bet­ter sup­port sys­tems for their stu­dents and keep­ing costs low. This has encour­aged more indi­vid­u­als to get the edu­ca­tion they need to change pro­fes­sions and be suc­cess­ful in their new fields. Today, stu­dents have access to online libraries, tutors, and career cen­ters. Some pro­grams assign men­tors to their stu­dents. These indi­vid­u­als help guide stu­dents through their degree pro­grams, help them select elec­tives that will push them along their cho­sen career path, and sup­port them when they need it.

The ver­sa­til­i­ty of media/communications degree means that grad­u­ates will enter posi­tions in a vari­ety of fields rang­ing from tra­di­tion­al broad­cast­ing to radio to new media roles in emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies. Alter­nate­ly, free online com­mu­ni­ca­tions cours­es let peo­ple learn new skills and decide whether to pur­sue fur­ther edu­ca­tion. As the mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions and media fields are rapid­ly chang­ing as indus­try stan­dards have to meet the demands of new tech­nol­o­gy, a sol­id media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree pro­gram estab­lish­es a new pro­fes­sion­al as knowl­edge­able and cred­i­ble. Today there are many options for those seek­ing to explore media and mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions degree cours­es online.

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