Online Associates Degree in Media Communications

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

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Essential Information

Online associate's degree programs in media communications are rare; online and hybrid bachelor's degree programs are more commonly offered in this field of study. Those who complete an on-campus associate's degree program may be able to transfer those credits to an online bachelor's degree completion program. Students in these programs may need specialized software, including digital cameras and multimedia or graphics editing software. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the minimum educational requirement for a reporter, correspondent, or broadcast news analyst is typically a bachelor's degree.

Media Communications Associate's Degree

Depending on the school, media communications programs may also be titled media studies or mass communications. Students generally learn concepts related to news media, film and online broadcasting.

Online associate's degree programs that focus primarily on communications are quite rare; however, general associate's degree programs that offer some communications courses are available. Programs at this level typically include courses on general communication theories and the hands-on technical aspects of media, such as video editing and photojournalism.

Program Profile and Technical Requirements

An online associate's degree program can take about two years to complete, including general education courses. Students who have already completed general education courses at another college may be able to transfer those credits to the school offering the online program. Courses of a particular program may not be offered online as frequently as their on-campus versions; students are often advised to carefully plan their schedules in accordance with the availability of the school's online offerings.

Students might need to purchase specialized software or equipment, such as digital cameras, for some hands-on courses. They may also need to use multimedia or graphics editing software for some courses, and have access to a computer with enough power to utilize these programs.

Common Courses

Online media and communications programs include courses on general communications, which hone students' writing and speech skills. After taking such courses, students move on to courses based on their areas of interest, such as news media, photojournalism or film.

World Media

Particularly pertinent to students interested in journalism, politics and foreign policy, courses on world (or global) media introduce the factors that influence media and journalistic reporting in other countries. Topics related to global economics and current events are explored.

Cross-Cultural Communications

This type of course shows how Americans communicate with people of other cultures and subcultures. In addition to exploring ethnic groups, students learn ways of communicating with other cultural factors in mind, such as age, gender and physical appearance.

Basic Media Law

Media law courses give students perspectives on the legalities of all types of media, from journalism to entertainment. Topics commonly include media licensing, copyrights and advertising regulations.

Media Communications Bachelor's Degree

A common follow-up to associate's degree programs in media communications, 4-year bachelor's degree programs provide additional preparation for careers in media and journalism. Some colleges offer degree completion programs for students who already have obtained an associate's degree. Some schools may offer the bachelor's degree program fully online, while others may only offer some courses online.

Advanced study of public speaking, media writing and advertising is included in most of these programs. Students can gain insight on how the media can affect cultures, both domestically and globally.

Program Profile and Technical Requirements

Some bachelor's degree programs in media communication can be taken completely through the Web, but others may require students to take some campus-based courses. Online coursework is often delivered through an educational interface system accessed through the school's online education website.

Most online programs require a high-speed Internet connection, a computer and an up-to-date browser. Students will typically need a word processing program to complete their written assignments, as well as presentation software and programs to view recorded lectures and videos.

Common Courses

Since most communications, media and journalism programs place heavy emphasis on a well-rounded liberal arts education, coursework can include many electives. Electives can deal with such diverse topics as documentary film traditions, emergency communications and the use of the Internet in politics. Programs often include numerous writing and speech courses as well.

Communications Leadership

This course covers management principles as they apply to communications and media. Concepts explored include maintaining social responsibility, establishing goals and designing communications strategies.

Web Communications

Students looking to be Internet communications professionals can take courses on Web media, which cover basic Web design principles and the best practices for online communications. Courses on Web communications are especially useful for those in online programs, because students get practice in the medium while learning the course material.

Public Relations

Online courses in public relations deal with the methods used for reaching and communicating with large population groups. Students learn how businesses and media outlets present information to the public and explore how public relations can affect politics and economics.


Career Information

Many who work in journalism hold bachelor's degrees and up; those with associate's degrees in this field often pursue internships or entry-level work while earning their bachelor's degrees. According to the BLS, many news outlets have student internship programs in editing and reporting where students can gain valuable real-world experience (www.bls.gov). Students seeking experience in this field may also consider working for the college's newspaper or part-time positions with local newspapers and television stations.

Generally, a bachelor's degree is the main educational requirement most employers set for communications and journalism positions. Competition for these jobs was expected to be tough, especially at large traditional news outlets, such as national television stations and newspapers, according to the BLS.

Associate's degree programs in media communications are not commonly found online, though students in these programs can study public relations, media law, Web communications and more. These topics can also be studied through online programs in general communications.

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