Communications Management: Associate, Bachelor & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a communications management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of bachelor's and associate's degrees and potential careers.
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Communications Management Degrees at a Glance

Students in a communications management degree program receive training in the practical aspects of corporate communications. A bachelor's degree is required for most advertising, promotions and marketing management positions. Associate's degree programs may also help students build a strong foundation in communications principles.

Nearly every industry hires communications graduates for administrative, communication, consulting and management positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of advertising and promotions managers was expected to grow 13% from 2010 to 2020. Marketing managers could expect 14% growth during the same period. Competition for communications management positions is often fierce and competitive. As a result, an individual with a bachelor's degree and little or no experience may initially qualify for an entry-level position; associate's degree holders may need transferable, practicable experience in the field to qualify for these positions.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - Students who want entry-level communications positions
- Experienced professionals who want to obtain a relevant degree
- People who want to begin careers in communications management
- Students who want to eventually pursue a graduate degree in communications
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Marketing assistant ($39,000)**
- Communications worker ($53,000 - may vary with experience)*
- Communications manager ($88,700 - may vary with experience)**
- Marketing specialist ($67,000 - may vary with experience)**
Time to Completion Typically two years (full-time) Typically four years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Satisfy coursework (approximately 60 credits)
- Maintain GPA standards
- Satisfy course requirements (approximately 120 credits)
- Complete capstone and/or internship requirement, if applicable
- Maintain GPA standards
Prerequisites - Typically a high school diploma or equivalent
- Placement exams, if applicable
- Typically a high school diploma or undergraduate transcripts
- GPA requirements
- SAT/ACT test scores
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures) **Salary.com (October 2012 median figures).

Communications Management Associate's Degrees

Communications management associate's degree programs are typically designed for individuals looking to begin a career in the industry. Upon graduation, students can pursue continued studies in a bachelor's degree program or choose to enter the workforce.

Generally, curricula introduce the fundamentals of communications theories and applications. Associate's degree programs typically require approximately 60 academic credits. Programs may be formatted as Associate of Arts or Associate of Science programs with a concentration in communications or a similar major.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Communications skills are needed in nearly every organization and industry, so many possibilities exist for employment.
  • If you are unsure about pursuing a career in communications management, an associate's program can test your interest and skill level.
  • If you want to pursue a higher degree at some point, you may be able to transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program.

Cons

  • A bachelor's degree is the baseline educational requirement in this field.
  • Careers in this field can be competitive, even for entry-level positions.
  • If you know you will eventually pursue a bachelor's degree, it may not be practical to pursue an associate's degree.

Common Courses and Requirements

In a communications management associate's degree program, you can expect to study a range of topics, including a series of general education requirements in math, science and literature. Core courses in oral communication, English composition, introduction to mass media, media writing and broadcasting are common.

In a typical associate's degree program, you spend approximately two years completing academic coursework and studying independently. You may need to take some prerequisite courses (for example, English) if your previous academic history does not meet your school's requirements.

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in communications are available, but degrees specifically in communications management are not particularly common. If you do find an online associate's degree program in communications management, ensure that it is part of accredited institution. Keep in mind that online degree programs may require prerequisites and graduation requirements similar to those of a traditional, on-campus program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Consider participating in on-campus activities that highlight your communications skills. For example, if you enjoy writing, join your school's newspaper or Web team. If you want to fine-tune your oral communication skills, consider joining an on-campus debate team. These activities allow you to brush up on your skills, network in your field and help in developing a portfolio of work that exemplifies your ability to effectively communicate a particular message.

Communications Management Bachelor's Degrees

The format of bachelor's degree programs in communications management vary with each school, but generally require approximately 120 academic credit hours in core courses, electives and an internship. Some schools offer degree programs specifically in communications management, while others offer a communications specialty within the business school.

As a student in a typical communications management bachelor's degree program, you learn how to harness communications theories into practical knowledge and real-world applications. You will likely learn a wide array of communications competencies in addition to valuable management and leadership skills.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree is the baseline academic credential in this field.
  • Many bachelor's degree programs recommend or require an internship, which provides practical professional experience.
  • Employment growth was expected to remain strong from 2010-2020.*

Cons

  • You may need several years of professional experience to obtain a management position.
  • Professional experience is very important to employers, and it can be challenging to land your first relevant job even with a bachelor's degree.
  • You may be in competition with master's degree holders, particularly for positions in management.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Communications management bachelor's degree programs typically require students to satisfy approximately 120 academic credit hours, participate in a supervised internship and complete a capstone paper (or project). Additionally, some programs may require students to complete prerequisite courses in communications before starting their core coursework.

As a student in a communications management bachelor's degree program, you can expect to study the following topics:

  • Interpersonal communications
  • Communication and conflict
  • Strategic communication
  • Public speaking for the professional
  • Group dynamics and teambuilding
  • Organizational communication

Online Degree Options

Online communications management courses are available. Students who are interested in a distance learning bachelor's degree may have a hard time finding a communications management program, although similar degrees in mass communications are widely available.

If you find an online communications management bachelor's degree program, consider whether or not the curriculum includes an internship component. If your program does not include an internship, consider if you will be able to obtain professional experience on your own while in school.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Consider supplementing your bachelor's degree curriculum with additional courses in a topic of particular interest to you, such as technical communications or broadcasting. If you are unable to take a minor or specialize in a concentration, remember that even a single course can help you learn new skills. For this reason, continuing education courses are popular choices for professionals because of their convenience (many courses are available online) and broad applications. In addition to learning new skills, you can obtain a relevant credential on your resume.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
      • BS - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts - Communication and Media Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts - Communication and Media Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting
      • B.S. - Media Communications
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment
      • BS - Audio Production
  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

  • Durham, NC

    Duke University

Featured Schools

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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Brenau University

  • Bachelor of Arts - Communication and Media Studies

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Sportscasting
  • B.S. - Media Communications
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment

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