Graduates of the best bachelor’s in media communication have access to careers that are constantly in-demand and can pay upwards of three times the U.S. national average salary.
While traditional, print-based journalism may be in decline in this digital age, other occupations favored by media communication graduates are not. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the media and communication industry is still growing and is projected to do so for at least the next decade. What’s more, the median wage for all media and communication occupations was 150% higher than the U.S. average for all occupations in 2019.
What Is a Media Communication Degree?
Media communication degrees can lead to varied careers in industries including marketing and advertising, public relations, and communications. To prepare graduates for these roles, courses in a media communication program will teach the concepts behind public relations, journalism, advertising, digital communications, and film studies, among others.
Courses might include foundation studies in professional communications and media studies. You’ll likely learn how to create and execute social media campaigns, and how to design messages using varied techniques and technologies for different audiences and platforms. You’ll also study public relations, which is an essential domain for those working in professional communications.
For admission into most media communication degree programs at the undergraduate level, you’ll typically need a minimum 2.0 GPA (on a 4-point scale). However, if your GPA falls short, but you have evidence of strong academic performance in coursework or strong test scores, you may still be considered.
Careers for Media Communication Majors
One of the most common careers for graduates of a media communication degree program is the role of a public relations specialist. This well-remunerated position can also progress into managerial roles, which attract higher salary ceilings. In this role, you’ll typically work for an organization, creating, maintaining, and protecting the company’s image before the public.
News reporting and broadcasting has always been a highly sought-after and prestigious career too, though with the rise of digital news the opportunities are shrinking. Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collates all of these professions together, we can see a projected 11% decline in demand for qualified professionals in these areas over the next decade.
However, there are plenty of opportunities in many areas of business with the kind of strong written and verbal communication skills and other soft skills you’ll develop in this type of program. Many graduates choose to become technical writers and authors, editors, interpreters and translators, and more. Employers always need employees who are confident and professional communicators for all facets of business.
Media Communication Salary Potential
According to the BLS, those public relations specialists we referenced above earned a median salary of around $61,150 in 2019, around 150% more than the average U.S. salary of around $40,000 annually. The BLS also projected a rise in available positions of around 19,700 over the next decade, or 7%.
The outlook is even brighter for those who advance their careers, with PR and fundraising managers making around $116,180 annually and enjoying a projected 9% increase in demand. Elsewhere, media communication graduates have found work as market research analysts, making around $63,790, or advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, making an impressive median of $135,900 in 2019.
For the prospect of promotions and increased earning potential in future, you should be looking to get some work experience under your belt, while seeking out credentials relevant to your industry. For example, the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is suitable for any PR specialists or managers looking to evidence their professional competence and seek more executive roles.
What Are the Best Media Communication Degrees?
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Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Average Net Price
Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Louisiana State University (LSU) is the state’s flagship university. This status allows it to support students well; more than $300m in financial aid is awarded to students each year, and as such, two-thirds of students graduate without any student debt.
Under the Manship School at LSU, students can enroll in this BA in mass communication. You’ll be given a choice of five concentrations that include digital advertising, political communication, PR, journalism, and pre-law. These are four-year programs, with the exception of pre-law, which is a 3+3 program, meaning your senior year will also be combined with your first year of law school.
Otherwise, the other concentrations provide a breadth of opportunities and paths toward specific careers. With the digital advertising track, you could become a social media manager or copywriter. Journalism would prepare you for work within the reporting and broadcasting industry, while political communication is suited to those with political aspirations. And public relations will prepare you to support corporations with product launches, crises, and other high-stakes situations. The estimated annual cost of attendance for Louisiana resident undergraduate students is around $24,136. For out-of-state students, the cost of attendance is around $40,813. This includes tuition of around $11,962 and $28,639 respectively. For further information on cost of attendance, see the financial aid & scholarships page on the university’s website.
Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania
Average Net Price
Pennsylvania State University, or Penn State used to be known as the Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania when it was first opened in 1855. It is a top-25 U.S. research university and has been ranked within the top 50 world-class universities by the Center for World University Rankings.
You’ll need excellent written and verbal communication skills to succeed in this degree program, and the university highlights how a good knowledge of popular culture can help to propel your coursework to new heights. The curriculum is designed from an academic rather than professional approach toward media studies. You’ll need a strong academic background in the liberal arts, languages, and analytical pursuits.
If accepted, you’ll start on one of four tracks. Film and television studies examines the history and controversy of film and TV. You’ll have the chance to study a related subject, including creative writing and art. Another track offered is the international communications option, with a focus on mass media from a broader, worldwide point of view. Alternatively, there’s the media effect option, which looks at social and psychological effects of media, and the society and culture option, which examines the relationship between the two. Undergraduate students at Penn State University who are residents of the state can expect to pay around $18,450 annually in tuition. Non-residents can expect to pay a higher rate of around $35,514. For a more accurate cost of attendance figure that includes other expenses, you can check out this page on the university’s website.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Average Net Price
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can make some pretty bold claims, including being the only public university in the nation to have awarded degrees in the 18th century. Around 30,000 students attend annually, and around two-thirds of the student body are undergraduates. More than 70 bachelor’s, 100 master’s and 60 doctoral degree programs are offered.
Among the several media communication related programs at UNC, this major in media and journalism includes a foundation in basic liberal arts. You’ll also examine the role of the free press and free speech in society, in addition to the necessary skills and techniques needed to succeed in journalism.
A minimum 2.0 GPA is required for successful graduation, in addition to completing at least half of the major’s requirements at UNC-Chapel Hill. Note that in addition to this program, UNC-Chapel Hill also offers a major in business journalism, a minor in media and journalism, and a certificate program. Full details on undergraduate tuition at UNC can be found on this rates table. Full-time students are considered to be those taking 12 or more credits per semester, and these students pay tuition of around $4,490.06 including all fees. Non-residents pay a higher rate of around $17,925.06.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Average Net Price
As the second-largest university in Iowa, and the oldest, The University of Iowa has been offering higher education programs since 1847. Recent figures put the total enrollment at just shy of 32,000, with incoming students having a median GPA of around 3.78. According to U.S. News & World Report, the institution offers students access to more than 500 clubs and organizations.
One of the largest majors offered by Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, communication studies will prepare you for a variety of roles in professional communications in the business world. You’ll study the context of communication, the theory underpinning it, and the practices and processes used to communicate and influence audiences.
Courses are focused on areas that include media and society, rhetoric, interpersonal communication, and cross-cultural communication. You can also opt to take courses in areas that include verbal and non-verbal communication and persuasion. Throughout your program, you’ll be supported by a faculty that includes some of the country’s best in their areas of expertise. At the University of Iowa, the estimated cost of attendance for an undergraduate student is around $21,610 for state residents and $43,573 for non-residents. This includes tuition of between $9,830-$31,793, and housing and meals of $11,780. More information on other expenses can be found on this page.
Kansas State University
Average Net Price
Kansas State University opened in 1863 as the state’s first public higher education institution. Among its rankings, the university has been named as No. 1 for having the happiest students, and No. 3 for the best quality of life and best health services; these rankings can all be found here.
Requiring a minimum 2.5 average GPA in the prior 30 credit hours, this major in mass communications comprises 39 credit hours total. As part of the program, you will need to fulfill the requirements of one of the school’s offered options in advertising, public relations, or journalism.
Successful enrollees will choose from several outside concentrations. The first allows you to complete at least 15 credit hours within another academic department or program of your choice, while the second requires at least 15 credit hours from multiple departments or programs. Using this approach, you can tailor a unique study plan that’s aligned with your career aspirations after graduation (more information here).
Undergraduate tuition rates depend on the campus under which you are studying. At the Manhattan campus, you’ll pay tuition of around $312.50 as a state resident and $841.70 as a non-resident. The Olathe campus charges $312.50 for residents, while the Polytechnic campus charges $292.65 for residents and $788.80 for non-residents.
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Average Net Price
The University of South Carolina welcomes many new undergraduates each year, with a total enrollment of around 27,500 at the undergraduate level. According to U.S. News & World Report, it’s a great place to be a freshman, having been named No. 3 for First-Year Experiences.
This degree program is suited to students who haven’t yet decided in which area of communications their interests lie. You’ll receive a broad understanding of the industry as a whole, identifying the media industry’s place in modern society, in addition to its processes and practices.
With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll be ready for roles in reporting and broadcasting, public relations, marketing and advertising, and could even progress to law school. As part of the program, you’ll complete a capstone experience, which comprises two courses in both media ethics and criticism. These courses will further develop soft skills like critical-thinking and analytical reasoning.
Undergraduate programs at the University of South Carolina attract a tuition rate of around $12,688, which includes a technology fee. Including housing, meals, and books and supplies, the average cost of attendance is around $26,373. These rates are for state residents; non-residents pay tuition of around $33,928 for a rough cost of attendance of around $47,613.
University of South Florida
Average Net Price
The University of South Florida, or USF is located in Tampa Bay, Florida. Established in 1956, it is a research university that also has campuses in both Sarasota-Manatee and St. Petersburg. Overall, these campuses welcome a combined 50,000 students who select from a range of over 200 options that include majors, minors, and concentrations.
USF’s Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications offers two undergraduate majors. The first, a BA in mass communication, is a professionally geared program that includes hands-on experiences and intends to equip students for future roles in broadcast journalism, promotional communication, and digital media.
The second program, a BS in integrated public relations and advertising, is better-suited to students who are considering careers in marketing and advertising or public relations. Note that the mass communication program offers further specialization in the form of a broadcast news concentration or production concentration. State residents taking an undergraduate degree program pay tuition of around $105.07 per credit hour regardless of their campus location. However, varying fees apply depending on your campus. What’s more, non-resident rates vary on campus location even before fees are applied. Check out the full credit hour rates on this page.
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Average Net Price
Colorado State University (CSU) is part of the Colorado State University System. Comprising three campuses, the university is much-loved by its student body, with 90% of recent graduates saying that they would choose CSU again if they were to repeat their education. In recent years, CSU has celebrated breaking its enrollment record for more than a decade consecutively.
In this communication studies program, you’ll study three core areas, including rhetoric and civic engagement, media and visual culture, and relational and organizational studies. Along with a broad understanding of the theory and processes underpinning various types of communication, the program produces well-rounded graduates who seek careers in different areas of the media and business industries.
As a student in this program, you will be expected to enroll in courses outside of the department, including social sciences and arts and humanities; you’ll also complete a second major or minor, or a certificate program. At the culmination of the program, you will also complete a self-reflection capstone course. As a Colorado resident, you’ll pay base tuition of around $522.20, or around $664.59 per credit hour after fees are applied. Non-residents pay around $1,407.30 in tuition, or $1,643.69 per credit hour after fees. Check out the non-resident rates table on this page and the resident rate table on this page.
Brigham Young University
Average Net Price
A private university whose ownership falls under The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University has around 33,500 students. The student body is predominantly undergraduates, with around 30,700 students enrolled in an undergraduate program. In total, around 21,800 students have served missions.
While BYU’s School of Communications offers programs that hone in on specific areas, including PR, advertising, and journalism, the communications studies program provides a more broad and general look at these industries. Through varied coursework, you will strengthen your research, writing, communications theory, and critical-thinking skills. However, you will also get the opportunity to choose your own coursework from a wide catalog, tailoring your curriculum to your career aspirations.
These courses include subjects that include advocacy, international communication, popular culture, and digital media. To ensure that you create a curriculum that best aligns with your future plans, you’ll work closely with a faculty adviser from the offset. This will ensure that your course load is manageable and suitable for getting you to where you want to be. The undergraduate cost of attendance at BYU is around $19,654-$25,624. The difference in the rate of tuition you’ll pay at BYU isn’t down to residency; rather, Latter-day Saints pay tuition of around $5,970, while Non-Latter-day Saints pay a higher rate of $11,940. Information on room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses can be found here.
University of Idaho
Average Net Price
The University of Idaho welcomes around 10,700 students annually. Founded in 1889, the university’s colors today are silver and gold. To-date, the U of I has conferred around 132,500 degrees. For more information on the quality of programs, just check out their list of impressive rankings here.
Students can choose from two four-year programs, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. The BA includes a foreign language course, beginning in year Two, while the BS focuses more on the liberal arts and sciences. It’s worth checking out the program pages here (BA) and here (BS) to note the difference between curriculums.
Regardless of your choice, you’ll benefit from facilities that include a high-definition digital TV studio, media editing suites with the latest software, and a fully-equipped PC lab with digital Adobe editing software. There’s also an Idaho Public TV station located right on campus and a radio station managed by the student body. Idaho residents can expect to pay approximately $8,304 in undergraduate tuition, while non-residents pay around $27,540. There are some exceptions to these rates, which can be found on this page. Including fees and all other costs, the cost of attendance comes to around $21,898 for residents and $41,056 for standard rate out-of-state students.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
Average Net Price
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) was founded in 1957. Forming part of the Southern Illinois University System, the institution sits on a vast 2,660 acres of land near to the Mississippi River. The student body comprises around 13,000 learners, with programs available at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
Under the College of Arts and Sciences, you can enroll in this mass communications program, taught by the Department of Mass Communications. This is a faculty that has been accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), which means you’ll benefit from one-to-one tuition from your instructors.
Students will also benefit from the 21st largest media market within the nation, St. Louis. This affords you with numerous networking opportunities and a plethora of facilities and resources to take advantage of, including guest speakers, internships, and more. Students are typically placed in St. Louis media organizations for said internships. Full-time undergraduate students at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville pay around $9,123 in tuition annually. Fees total around $3,096, while room and board comes to around $9,881. This is based on a full-time study schedule of around 15 credit hours per semester. Part-time undergraduate rates are available on this page.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Average Net Price
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette can boast of being the second-largest university in the state, with a student body comprising around 19,000 students. Programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with more than 80 majors and 30 graduate programs available.
There are five undergraduate concentrations to choose from in the Department of Communication, including advertising, broadcasting, journalism, organizational communication, and PR. Regardless of your chosen major, you will also be expected to enroll in a course in web design or print-based visual communication, in addition to law and ethics.
Once you’ve chosen your concentration, you’ll also need to select a minor, which comprises 18 credit hours of required courses. As a Department of Communication student, this will be a minor in another academic department, broadening your skill set for graduation. What’s more, you’ll complete an internship in your final year, gaining valuable real-world experience.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette charges around $10,370 annually for undergraduate tuition, including fees. The average cost of attendance is around $20,312-$28,350 depending on your housing situation. Students from out of state should add around $13,728 to these totals to calculate their approximate cost of attendance.
University of Washington
Average Net Price
Founded in 1861 and located in Seattle, the University of Washington has a student body comprising around 54,000 learners. It has been ranked as the 14th best university in the world according to a 2018 report, the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Around 1,800 undergraduate courses are offered every quarter.
As a media and communication studies major at the University of Washington – Bothell, you’ll understand how the media is accessed, exercised, and regulated both domestically and abroad. You’ll gain hands-on experience in production, while completing coursework, participating in workshops, and working as part of a community research project team.
Graduates from this program typically target roles in digital media production, writing for journalistic purposes, and corporate communication. Alternatively, you might choose to pursue a graduate program of study in areas including communication, media, production, or cultural studies. For information on admission requirements, check out the course page. As an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, you’ll pay tuition of around $11,659 annually. This figure includes all applicable fees too, which are detailed on this page. Bear in mind that these figures are for state residents. If you’re an out-of-state student, then your approximate costs for tuition and fees will be around $39,028.
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Average Net Price
Southeast Missouri State University provides access to a range of over 145 undergraduate majors and 100 minors. The student body, representing around 12,000 learners, has access to experiential learning and internships in every major that’s offered by the institution. There are also study abroad programs that can span anywhere from two weeks’ study to an entire academic year abroad.
Comprising a total of 36 credit hours, this major requires students to complete 15 hours in core mass communication courses and 21 hours of electives. You’ll also pick up a minor of your choosing, in addition to 6 hours in support courses. You have four professional options when it comes to your major.
The advertising option focuses on the creation and implementation of promotional communications, while the multimedia journalism option is geared toward the creation of broadcast news content and media. Students choosing the TV and film option will similarly focus on the creation of narrative scripts for use in news, film, and sports broadcasting. Lastly, the public relations option is tailored toward the creation of organizational communication.
Undergraduate tuition for students residing in Missouri comes to around $6,779, assuming a load of around 30 credits per year. For non-residents, the cost rises to $12,951. Including all fees and other costs, the estimated cost of attendance for each type of student comes in at around $17,997 and $24,149 respectively.
Average Net Price
Comprising over 25 campus locations in both California and Washington, Brandman University specializes in higher education for working professionals. More than 50 programs are offered, a combination of certificates, degree programs, and professional credentials to help boost your career progression and recognition. According to U.S. News & World Report, Brandman has some of the best programs for veterans.
This Bachelor of Arts in communications and media is available across 16 Brandman campus locations. Providing you with a broad overview of the media and communications industry, you’ll be ready for a variety of roles after graduation. The course page highlights nearly 10,000 possible career options from the past 12 months alone, also highlighting excellent earning potential and growth statistics for program graduates.
Courses include foundation-level written and oral communication, liberal arts core foundations, and information fluency. Admission into the program requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 and official transcripts from any colleges and universities attended. You may be able to transfer 12 or more bachelor’s level credits toward your program progression too. For this bachelor’s degree in communications and media, your estimated tuition is around $500 per credit. However, to find out more about your estimated cost of attendance, and to see a rough estimation of the financial aid you could be eligible for, you can check out this calculator on the university’s website.
University of North Alabama
Average Net Price
The University of North Alabama is situated on a 130-acre campus in Florence, Alabama, which has been called one of the safest cities in the nation. The institution itself has also been ranked as one of the best value for money universities according to U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1830, the institution offers more than 100 program options for undergraduates and graduates.
At the University of North Alabama, you can choose a bachelor’s program in communication arts or mass communication. Concentrations for the mass communication program include both journalism and digital media production, along with public relations, while the communication arts has a simple emphasis of broad communication studies.
Core requirements for each of the majors comprise around 20-22 credit hours, with both curriculums sharing some similarities. All students will gain an understanding of communication in the modern age, media writing, and research methods. What’s more, each set of core requirements includes the need for a professional internship that will give you hands-on experience.
At the University of North Alabama, undergraduate tuition runs at around $4,800 for full-time students taking 12-18 credits per semester. For part-time students taking less credits, it’s charged at a rate of $320 per credit hour. Out-of-state students pay a flat rate of $9,600 full-time or $640 per credit hour part-time.
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Average Net Price
Founded in 1886, Winthrop University is a public institution that ranks within the top 15 public and private institutions in the region. Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, it has also been ranked No. 6 by U.S. News & World Report in a listing of the best Southern public universities.
With a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication such as this one, you’ll be prepared for careers in journalism, whether that’s through broadcast, newspaper, magazine, business, or online delivery methods. You’ll learn how to collate, analyze, and process gathered information, creating quality pieces of journalism that meet ethical standards set by the industry.
Comprising 120 credit hours total, and lasting for four years, this program requires students to evidence their competency in a foreign language to the second semester college level. You can prove this through the completion of any recognized proficiency testing or by completing a Winthrop foreign language course. The estimated tuition for a full-time undergraduate student at Winthrop University is around $16,400 for a state resident and $31,002 for non-residents, including fees. With all other costs factored in, the cost of attendance for each student group is around $30,680 and $45,282 annually, respectively. Check out the net price calculator for more information.
Average Net Price
Northeastern University welcomes around 18,300 students annually. Learners have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs, with around a sixth of undergraduates having had a global learning experience in recent years. And around 97% of graduates from a recent year were employed or had moved into graduate education within their first nine months of graduation.
Students enrolling in this Bachelor of Science in digital communication and media will receive one-to-one goal planning, which will let you find a unique curriculum tailored to your aspirations. The program includes coursework, real-world case studies, and employer-based projects. What’s more, a part-time study option is available for working professionals looking to get their college degree.
https://cps.northeastern.edu/program/bachelor-of-science-in-digital-communication-and-media-boston/#Courses include research and creation of media content, channel development, and campaign management. The university also employs a virtual PR firm project to immerse you in the kind of environment in which you’ll likely be working after graduation. On this page, you can see a video of this concept in action. For this Bachelor of Science program, you can expect to pay approximately $1,600 per course. Around 45% of students at the university receive some form of financial aid, and the average institutional aid at Northeastern University is around $10,200. You can find out more about Northeastern’s financial aid on this page.
Mid-America Christian University
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Average Net Price
Based in Oklahoma City, Mid-America Christian University offers both fully online and on-campus programs. The institution is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers programs that are grounded in the principles and service of Jesus Christ. Facilities and resources include a campus police department, student success center, and one-on-one mentorship.
In the MACU bachelor’s degree program in communication, media, and ethics, you will develop a range of soft skills that are critical to any career, including critical-thinking, problem-solving, and both written and verbal communication skills. These will be honed in the context of social media management, event management, campaign management, and public relations domains.
Thanks to the small class sizes and low student-to-professor ratio at MACU, you’ll be supported with career and curriculum planning and study support at every step. Graduates of this program have gone on to work in fields including government and politics, digital and print media, business, law, and social media management. Undergraduate tuition for Mid-America Christian University comes in at around $17,568 for full-time students. This does not include the cost of room and board, and other miscellaneous expenses. For the most accurate estimate of your cost of attendance, the university has a net price calculator on their website, here.
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Average Net Price
The University of San Francisco (USF) is a private Jesuit university that’s nestled on a beautiful 55-acre campus not far from the Golden Gate Bridge. Students enjoy access to more than 100 clubs and organizations, and undergraduate students choose from over 40 majors and 70 minors. The student body represents every state in the U.S., in addition to over 110 countries worldwide.
USF’s College of Arts and Sciences offers a media analysis and media production bachelor’s program that emphasizes the liberal arts. Thanks to the institution’s location in San Francisco, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get involved in the creation of media as you learn your craft and put theory into practice.
Minors in this program include film studies and journalism, with students also having access to high-quality facilities and resources like the Media Lab, an on-campus, state-of-the-art production and editing suite. You’ll also have the chance to participate in media projects across the Bay Area and complete internships or voluntary work.
As an undergraduate studying at the San Francisco Hilltop Campus, you can expect to pay tuition of around $51,930 annually, as a full-time student. Including fees, housing, and dining, the estimated cost of attendance is around $68,472 per year. Note that these rates tend to increase by around 2.8-4.4% annually.