Whether you aspire to manage social media communications, or become a broadcast journalist, an online associate’s degree in communication is a great place to start. Online associate’s degrees in communication are still pretty rare, but our ranking of the top five community colleges offering this degree features some incredible values. These schools are:
- Allen County Community College
- Collin County Community College
- Chippewa Valley Technical College
- Lone Star College
- Georgia Military College
We ranked the schools by assigning points for affordability and graduation rate. Community colleges face a unique challenge in that most are open to anybody who wants to attend, and many people sign up for online degrees only to discover that the format isn’t for them. So the graduation rates of these community colleges aren’t as high as many traditional four-year institutions. Our methodology still takes graduation rate into account because it is a relevant statistic to incoming freshmen. You can find more information on our ranking methodology at the bottom of the article.
#1. Allen County Community College
The online communication associate’s degree offered by Allen County Community College is designed to serve as both a stand-alone degree and to meet all the requirements for the first two years of a communication bachelor’s. Students who earn this communication degree can go into journalism, broadcasting, public relations, marketing, advertising, and education. The program features courses like production media, public speaking, three one-credit news practicums, and reporting.
Graduation/Transfer Rate: 63%
#2. Collin County Community College
Collin County Community College offers an online associate of arts in communication and certificates in advertising/public relations, general communication, journalism/mass communication, and radio and television broadcasting/broadcast journalism. Students will take courses like introduction to mass communication, argumentation and debate, writing for radio, television, and film, and interpersonal communication.
Graduation Rate: 50%
#3. Chippewa Valley Technical College
Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an associate’s degree in professional communications online. Graduates from this program have career opportunities like communications specialist, copywriter, reporter, and technical writer. Students in this program will take courses that teach skills in rhetoric, writing, digital literacy theory, print and electronic media, documentation development, and document design, production, and management.
Graduation Rate: 52%
#4. Lone Star College
Lone Star College offers an associate of arts in speech communication online. The degree is specifically designed to transfer into a 4-year program. Students will take courses like composition and rhetoric, interpersonal communication, introduction to speech communication, public speaking, and visual and performing arts.
Graduation Rate: 33%
#5. Georgia Military College
Graduates from programs like this online associate’s in communication degree have become announcers, editors, broadcast and sound engineering technicians, interpreters and translators, public relations specialists, and technical writers. Students in this degree will take courses like public speaking, introduction to mass communication, interpersonal communication, and introduction to communication theory.
Graduation Rate: 57%
What exactly is the communication field?
The broader field of communications is comprised of several sub-fields in media and communication. These subfields include announcers, broadcast and sound engineering technicians, editors, film and video editors and camera operators, interpreters, public relations specialists, reporters and technical writers. Because communications is essentially made up of anybody whose job it is to facilitate communication between two or more parties, specialization can be beneficial, and having a strong grasp of the fundamentals can allow you to switch between sub-fields more easily.
Should I stick with an online associate’s degree in communication or transfer into a bachelor’s program?
With the exception of photographers, most communications fields require a bachelor’s degree for entry level positions. That’s not to say you can’t do anything with an associate’s degree. But not earning your bachelor’s will limit your options in the field. The good news is that starting out with earning an online associate’s degree in communications for an affordable price is a great way to save money. In most cases you will want to go ahead and spend the extra two years to earn your bachelor’s degree. The good news is that well-paying communications jobs only require a bachelor’s, so you don’t really need to worry about earning a master’s until later in your career, and maybe not ever.
How much do communication professionals make? Is the industry growing or shrinking?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following professions along with their median pay.
- Announcers: $31,500
- Broadcast and Sound Engineering Techs: $42,650
- Editors: $58,770
- Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators: $58,210
- Interpreters and Translators: $47,190
- Photographers: $32,490
- Public Relations Specialists: $59,300
- Technical Writers: $70,930
Film and Video Editors, Interpreters and Translators, and Technical Writers are all areas of communications with faster than average job growth.
How do I pay for this online associate’s degree in communication?
Associate’s degrees earned from community colleges are the cheapest form of higher education available in the United States. They are especially cheap if you are a resident of the state in which the school is located. Often times federal grants will cover almost all tuition costs. Obviously, you should take advantage of any scholarships offered by the community college, your high school, local organizations, or the state. Your next best option if those don’t cover your costs will be federally subsidized student loans. These are magnitudes better than private student loans. Make sure to fill out the relevant forms provided at FAFSA to determine your eligibility. The interest is significantly lower and doesn’t fluctuate much (or at all in some cases).
Federal loans are also very flexible with repayment plans, so if you end up on difficult financial times for a little while after graduation, the federally subsidized loans give you lots of flexibility in how you repay them. The last option you should look at is private student loans. Taking these out is often still worth it in moderation, especially if you are already heavily invested in the degree, but because the other options are so much better, you should work to minimize the amount of privately-held student debt you accrue.
Is online learning right for you?
Online learning can be a godsend because of its flexibility. Most students who earn their degrees online are older than the traditional college age (though in some cases they are younger). The variety of degrees offered online continues to grow, and the first generation to grow up with the internet is hitting college age, which means the online option is going mainstream fast. How do you know if it’s the right fit? That’s not an easy question to answer. Can you learn by watching videos? Would you be comfortable taking tests online? Can you handle not having any face-to-face interaction with your professors? If these things aren’t ideal for you, traditional university might be a better choice. However, if you need the flexibility and are comfortable with the format and technology, online education offers unprecedented levels of flexibility for anyone seeking to earn a degree.
Sources and Resources
National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition and graduate rates.
Point values were assigned based on tuition rates and graduation rate as follows.