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Distance Learning Communications Associate Degree Program Overviews

Dec 03, 2019

Get info about online programs in communications. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in communications, whether online or on campus, are rare, but do exist. These degrees can be completed totally through distance education, with students viewing lectures and completing class assignments over the internet at their own pace. Specific software and applications may be required.

General education courses in areas including English, science and social studies are required. Other courses may also cover communications theory and types of communications, such as personal communications and mass communications. An associate's degree program gives a student a foundation in communications, but most graduates will want to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in order to qualify for advancement in the field.

Associate's Degree in Communications

This program provides a broad survey of modern communication technologies. It covers how individuals and commercial entities communicate, as well as the role of media and journalism in America. Students learn the attributes of print, broadcast and online information sources and develop their own communication strategies. They also examine the history and development of media. Enrollment in an associate's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Associate's degree programs in communications are not widely available online as of 2012.

Program Information and Requirements

An associate's degree program for communications studies can be completed fully online in two years. Course materials and assignments are distributed via a school's website. Students may access and work with class supplements as their schedule allows. Video lectures and live chat sessions are other possible elements in a distance-learning program.

A personal computer, Internet connection and Web browser are the primary technical requirements for participating an online communications program. Productivity applications and presentation software--such as multimedia players--are also recommended.

Course Topics

All associate's degree programs include a general education component in the humanities, math and science. A few core curriculum units for a communications program in particular are described below.

Introductory Communications

This class covers the history of communications and communications theory. Communications between individuals, among small groups, across organizations and throughout society are among the topics considered.

Interpersonal Communications

The focus of this course is how theories of communication apply to individual interactions. Topics include verbal and non-verbal communication, conflict resolution and adaptations to interpersonal settings.

Mass Communications

Students consider theories of communication on a broad scale as they engage in critical analysis of mass media. They also explore ethical issues in mass communication.

Cultural Communications

This course examines the expectations societies have for how communication ought to occur based on underlying values and customs. Students attempt to develop effective approaches to communication that bridge intracultural and intercultural differences.


Career Information

Communications skills have applications in the arts, business, education, healthcare and government. However, an online associate's degree may only qualify its holders for entry-level positions. Candidates can possibly become copywriters, public relations specialists or reporters. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2018 to 2028, employment of all writers will grow 0%, while employment of public relations specialists will grow 6%. Employment of reporters is expected to decline by 12%. According to Payscale.com in 2019, workers can earn a median annual salary of $50,887 as copywriters, $38,784 as public relations assistants and $39,815 as reporters.

Continuing Education Information

Students who earn an online associate's degree in communications can look into transferring their academic credits to a 4-year bachelor's degree program. A large number of schools offer communications programs at the baccalaureate level, but very few offer these online.

In online associate's degree programs in communications, students learn about media, relevant technology, and various forms of communication approaches. Graduates are qualified for entry-level roles in copywriting and public relations, among others.

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