Earning a bachelor’s degree in communication is an excellent path for quick-witted storytellers who are intrigued by the strategies behind great presentations. Communication majors study how people express information verbally, nonverbally, visually, and in writing. In this article, we name the best communications schools in the nation!
Originally published: November 2016
Last updated: January 2024
According to the Princeton Review, communications is among America’s “Top 10 College Majors.” Holding a communication degree can segue into exciting careers like:
- Public Relations Specialist
- Event Planner
- Sales Manager
- Technical Writer
- Advertising Manager
- Social Media Manager
BLS.gov reports that baccalaureate graduates in communication reap average salaries of $57,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that media and communication occupations will also grow by 13 percent through 2032.
Methodology: Best Communications Schools
Since many students seek the traditional college experience, we’ve done considerable research to highlight the Top 10 Bachelor of Communications Degree Programs available on campus.
- We began by consulting with the U.S. News and World Report national rankings.
- We narrowed to the country’s top 50 colleges and searched each one for a bachelor’s major in communication.
- Special consideration was given to communication schools recognized by PayScale for the best salary potential.
- Each bachelor’s degree had to be regionally accredited and include face-to-face class time for speaking skills.
- Average yearly tuition for undergraduates was calculated using the NCES College Navigator database.
- Other factors were experiential opportunities, class size, retention rate, concentrations, faculty credentials, and post-graduate success.
Here are our selections for the Top 10 Bachelor of Communications Degree Programs:
1. Stanford University
Dedicated to the late child of railroad tycoon Leland Stanford in 1885, Stanford University is a prestigious private, nonprofit RU/VH research institution carrying a $22 billion endowment to educate around 15,800 students in California’s Silicon Valley.
- Ranked #1 for Reuters’ “World’s Most Innovative Universities”
- Stanford is the fifth Best National University and fourth Best Value according to the U.S. News and World Report
From McClatchy Hall, the School of Humanities and Sciences confers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. The 60-unit major studies the techniques and technologies that shape personal interaction. Students benefit from the Daniel Pearl Memorial Internship, Rebele Symposia, and Stanford in Washington Program.
2. Northwestern University
Endowed for $10.1 billion, Northwestern University is a private, nonprofit RU/VH powerhouse historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church that’s enrolling over 20,900 students in Evanston, Illinois, along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
- Forbes gave a financial grade of A+ for America’s 45th most grateful grads from Northwestern University.
- Northwestern is ranked the 12th Best National University by the U.S. News and World Report.
The School of Communication’s cutting-edge curriculum offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. Students select from 14 modules, including Creative Writing, Digital Media, Music Theater, and Sound Cultures. Within the 120-credit program, majors could also study abroad at Northwestern Qatar and conduct research in the Social Media Lab.
3. Cornell University
Affiliated with 54 Nobel Laureates, Cornell University is a private, nonprofit Ivy League institution holding land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant status in Upstate New York’s Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region to serve the Big Red community of 21,900 students.
- According to the U.S. News and World Report, Cornell is America’s 15th Best University and 14th Most Innovative School.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences grants a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Tackling the 120-credit curriculum involves picking from four focus areas, such as Communication and Social Influence. Majors also complete off-campus practicum through the Ithaca College Exchange, Cornell in Hollywood, or CALS International Exchange programs.
4. Wake Forest University
Based on the Reynolda Campus around T.K. Hearn Plaza in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University is a private, non-sectarian research institution serving over 7,500 co-eds from a $1.16 billion endowment.
- Recognized for the country’s #3 “Best Career Services” on the Princeton Review.
- Wake ties for America’s 27th Best University according to the U.S. News and World Report.
From Carswell Hall, the Undergraduate College delivers a B.A. in Communication. The 30-credit major allows specialization in Communication Science, Media Studies, or Rhetorical Studies. Learners in good standing can complete 120-hour internships and participate in the Documentary Film Program (DFP).
5. Vanderbilt University
Degree: BS in Communication
Belonging to the elite Association of American Universities (AAU), Vanderbilt University is a private, non-sectarian RU/VH research institution attracting over 12,600 students from 90+ countries to study in the West End of Midtown Nashville, Tennessee.
- Placed #2 for the Princeton Review’s “Happiest Students”
- Vanderbilt is named America’s 15th Best University with the 10th Top Undergraduate Programs by the U.S. News and World Report.
The College of Arts and Science redesigned its 30-credit Major in Communication Studies in 2015. Bachelor’s students survey rhetorical traditions and improve their oratory skills. As an SEC Champion in Debate, Vanderbilt encourages majors to compete in the Frank K. Houston Public Speaking Contest.
6. Washington University in St. Louis
Established in 1853 by Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot, Washington University in St. Louis is a selective private, non-sectarian research institution enrolling around 14,800 students with an acceptance rate of 17 percent in Missouri’s second-largest city.
- Washington University in St. Louis is the country’s 19th Best University and 10th Best for Veterans school according to the U.S. News and World Report.
The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts provides a unique B.F.A. in Communication Design. Within the 128-credit curriculum, the “New Ivy” surveys information conveyance through emphases in Graphic Design, Illustration, and Interaction Design. Students complete a nine-week artistic summer program in Florence, Italy.
7. University of Southern California
Degree: Undergraduate Communication
Sitting between Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street two miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, the University of Southern California is an esteemed private, sea-grant and space-grant research powerhouse founded in 1880 that’s enrolling 42,400 Trojans.
- University of Southern California is deemed America’s 23rd Best College and the 19th Most Innovative School by the U.S. News and World Report.
The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism grants a B.A. in Communication for exploring rhetorical processes. The 48-unit major offers electives ranging from contemporary sport to health communication. USC students also intern with top-notch companies like 20th Century Fox and NBCUniversal.
8. University of California, Los Angeles
As part of the Pac-12 Conference, the University of California-Los Angeles is a public, land-grant APRU member institution opened in 1919 that’s educating over 43,300 Bruins from Westwood just south of Sunset Boulevard.
- Placed 12th in the Shanghai ARWU rankings, UCLA is crowned the 24th Best National University and second Top Public School by the U.S. News and World Report.
With a 96 percent retention rate, the Social Sciences Division bestows a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. Students in the 45-unit major often join the UCLA Speech & Debate team. Communications faculty have earned seven Distinguished Teaching Awards.
9. University of Pennsylvania
Located in Philadelphia’s University City district along the Schuylkill River, the University of Pennsylvania is a private, non-sectarian Ivy League member affiliated with 30 Nobel Laureates and over 24,800 high-achieving students.
- Named the 12th “Hardest College to Get Into” on Niche
- UPenn is applauded as America’s eighth Best University and third Most Veteran-Friendly school by the U.S. News and World Report
With a 6:1 student-faculty ratio, the Annenberg School for Communication awards a Bachelor of Arts. This 14-course major offers concentrations like Political Communication, Media Effects, Marketing Messages, and Critical Journalism. Penn Quakers gain experience through the Communication and Public Service (ComPS) program.
10. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor
Degree: Communication Studies Major
Chartered in 1817 by Judge Augustus B. Woodward, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is the state’s oldest public, co-educational RU/VH research institution with enrollment surpassing 44,700 on its urban campus separated by the Huron River.
- Honored as America’s #2 “College with the Best Student Life” on Niche
- The University of Michigan — Ann Arbor is the 27th Best National University according to the U.S. News and World Report.
The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts supports a 40-credit Communication Studies Major. Bachelor’s students can benefit from research in the Media Psychology Lab, joining the Michigan Association of Communication Studies (MACS), and running The Michigan Daily.
How Do You Find the Best Schools for Communications?
If you want to study mass media in higher education, communications students have had good experiences in colleges like Purdue University, the University of Florida, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin Madison, and the University of Texas at Austin. These have some of the best communications schools.