Corporate Communications Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in a corporate communications degree program? Read about potential careers, program requirements and the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree program.
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Studying Corporate Communications: Degrees at a Glance

Corporate communicators manage internal and external communications on behalf of businesses and organizations. In addition to creating a vast array of company collateral, such as email blasts, pamphlets, press releases and corporate social media identities, they act both as the public voice for a company's message and as trainers of management in effective and on-message public speaking on the company's behalf. In non-profiting settings, communications professionals execute and manage fundraising activities, including donor solicitation. As public relations professionals, communications specialists and managers help craft and maintain a company or organization's brand.

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from March 2012, job opportunities for public relations (PR) specialists are expected to increase 23% from 2010 to 2020 (www.bls.gov). Similarly, the number of jobs for PR managers is anticipated to increase 16% during the same decade. Employers typically prefer that PR managers have advanced degrees. Bachelor's degree holders with little or no experience qualify for entry-level PR specialist positions; associate's degree holders may not qualify for these positions without transferable, practicable experience in the field.

Here's a comparison of the two degrees:

ASSOCIATE'S BACHELOR'S
Who is this degree for? Students who wish to work in public relations or corporate communications at the junior-level Students who endeavor to work as public relations specialists or media relations specialists for corporate or non-profit organizations
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual median salary) -Public Relations Specialist ($45,651)*
-Communications Representative ($47,470)*
-Public Relations Manager ($93,310)**
-Marketing Manager ($116,010)**
-Media Relations Manager ($86,487)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements -6-8 core courses
-25-30 core interdisciplinary courses
-Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma, GED or Associate's degree
Online Availability Rare Uncommon

Sources: *Salary.com (June 2012), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011)

Associate's Degree in Corporate Communications

Associate's degree programs in communications fall under an abundance of titles, which affords you plenty of opportunity to find a program and emphasis fitting your needs. There are associate's degree programs in communications, public relations, business communications, marketing - all of which may translate into an entry-level position in corporate communications. Many programs stress that they prepare students to continue their studies in bachelor's degree programs; therefore these programs tend to be comprised mainly of general liberal arts courses mixed with several survey classes in the fundamentals of communications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Shorter time to completion than a bachelor's degree
  • Credits earned in most degree programs are transferable, allowing you to continue your studies towards a bachelor's degree
  • Many programs afford you the opportunity to specialize in public relations, mass communications or corporate communications

Cons

  • Most professionals in the field hold higher-level degrees
  • The accelerated nature of the curriculum leaves less time for internships and portfolio building
  • May compete with bachelor's degree holders for entry-level positions

Courses and Requirements

As mentioned above, many associate's-level programs are a stepping-stone towards a bachelor's degree program. As such, emphasis in these programs is on completion of general education requirements while also providing you with an overview of your communications specialty of choice. Core communications classes typically take up one-third, or approximately 6-8 courses, of the total associate's degree program requirement of 30 classes.

Examples of courses you might take at the associate's level:

  • Introduction to mass communication
  • Introduction to public speaking
  • Introduction to public relations
  • Business writing and communications

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in communications are rare. Further, these programs may not necessarily offer corporate or business communications specialization. Online certificate programs in communications, public relations or digital marketing are more common.

Stand Out with This Degree

Individuals with an associate's degree may face intense competition for entry-level communications positions. To stand out, you may find it necessary to pursue as many extracurricular activities as possible, for example:

  • Seeking out internships on your own will provide you with invaluable professional experience and make you more competitive against bachelor's degree holders.
  • Completing coursework in the research aspects of corporate communication demonstrates that you are familiar with investigating communications issues, which some employers may prefer
  • Seeking opportunities for publication while you are completing your degree - such as through school newspapers or volunteer public relations activities - will help you create a portfolio of work that exemplifies your ability to effectively communicate a particular message.
  • Blogging: if you market yourself well, prospective employers may see your ability to effectively present a strong personal online social media presence as a transferable skill to effectively communicating their company message.

Bachelor's Degree in Corporate Communications

Bachelor's degree programs in corporate communications are offered in a variety of subjects. Some schools offer degree programs specifically in corporate communications that are typically offered through interdisciplinary coordination between communication and business departments. Other programs are offered in communications, but allow for specialization in business communications or corporate public relations. In these programs, you are usually enrolled within a department of communications or journalism, and will complete business, social science and writing work in elective courses. Many programs offer internships and opportunities so that you can gain professional experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A large number of professionals working in the field hold bachelor's degrees
  • Bachelor's degree programs allow for extra time to build your portfolio and book of work which you can later show to potential employers
  • Some programs require completion of an internship, which gives you experience working in the field

Cons

  • May compete with graduate degree holders for specialist positions
  • Employers prefer managers to hold master's-level degrees
  • Success within the field requires interdisciplinary skills in verbal and written communication, crisis management and business analytics and strategy, which may not be covered in all degree program curriculum

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs require completion of approximately 30 core classes in communications, business and the social sciences. Most programs also train you in writing techniques, public speaking, marketing principles and business strategy. Additionally, some programs add organizational behavior and business ethic classes to their curriculum. Most programs include an internship lasting one semester or an entire summer.

Examples of courses you might take at the bachelor's level:

  • Business communication
  • Organizational behavior
  • Principles of public relations
  • Speech writing

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree program in communications are uncommon. However, these programs do not necessarily offer specific training in corporate or business communications. Many of these programs also lack internship requirements.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Social media has become a big influence on and driver of corporate communications. You may find that degree programs offering classes in user experience management, social media marketing, and technology and customer relationship management better prepare you for a career in public relations in the corporate digital environment. Courses in public policy and political science may also benefit you, particularly if you would like to work as a PR specialist or manager in highly regulated industries, such as oil and gas, utilities or insurance.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University Global

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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BSBA in Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

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    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Marketing Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
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    4. Grand Canyon University

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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
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    5. Florida Tech

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Business Administration/Marketing
      • BA in Business Administration/Management
      • BA in Management
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    6. Independence University

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    Bachelor's
      • Business Administration - Marketing Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration (BS)
      • Business Administration - Technology Emphasis (BS)
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    7. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Marketing
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
      • BS - Business Management
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    8. Biola University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Online BS in Business Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Marketing
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration
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    10. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Marketing and Sales, B.S.
      • Business Administration, B.S.
      • Business Administration, B.S. - Emphasis in International Business

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment
  • BSBA in Marketing

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Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management: Marketing Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

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Florida Tech

  • BA in Business Administration/Marketing
  • BA in Business Administration/Management
  • BA in Management

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Independence University

  • Business Administration - Marketing Emphasis (BS)
  • Business Administration (BS)
  • Business Administration - Technology Emphasis (BS)

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Marketing
  • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Business Management

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Biola University

  • Online BS in Business Management

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