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Online Courses in Mass Communications

written by: Stephanie Mojica•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 10/27/2010

You don't have to be enrolled in a degree or certificate program to find online courses in mass communications. A growing number of colleges and universities offer distance education in everything from sports journalism to broadcast communications.

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    People take online courses in mass communications for a variety of reasons. The good news is that some of the best colleges in the United States and beyond offer a variety of Internet-based courses across multiple disciplines of this exciting field.

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    Harvard University Extension School

    Harvard University Extension School regularly offers online courses in mass communications, most taught by staff professors of its Ivy League parent school Harvard College. Students don't have to be formally admitted into a degree program to take any online course for which they are qualified. You can pursue graduate or undergraduate credit (which could later be applied to a Harvard Extension School degree or certificate program, but not credentials at Harvard College) or take courses on a non-credit basis.

    Options include a graduate-level journalism writing seminar, freedom of the press, business writing, technical writing, development writing, organizational communication, and the Consitution and the media.

    The bad news is courses are not cheap; this is a division of Harvard so this is to be expected. If you're not covered by a tuition reimbursement program through your employer, you may want to save some money toward your continuing education in your personal spending plan. As of 2010, the estimated tuition cost (which does not include books and will vary depending on your selected credit option) for one course ranged from $950 to $1,850.

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    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    North Carolina and non-North Carolina residents alike can find plenty of affordable online course options in communications without enrolling in a degree program. The Friday Center of UNC Chapel Hill offers self-paced and traditional online courses in multiple areas of mass communications. Summer 2010 course offerings included media theory and criticism, organizational communication, gender and communication, and an introductory journalism course about Internet issues and concepts.

    You can begin UNC's self-paced online courses, such as mass communication education in the secondary school, any time of the year.

    Residents of North Carolina could expect to pay about $420 per course; non-residents are usually charged around $880. Non-degree students can only take two online classes per semester.

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    University of Massachusetts Online

    University of Massachusetts Online offers more than 90 online courses in mass communications through its professors at campuses such as Dartmouth, Amherst, and Boston. Many online degree programs and certificates in a diverse array of fields are offered to students. However, you need not pursue such a credential to take courses through UMassOnline.

    Residents of Massachusetts and non-residents pay the same tuition, which can range anywhere from $125 for a short non-credit course to $2,250 for a graduate-credit class.

    Depending on your semester of study, you could pursue an online class in sports journalism or learn about communication across social media. Some classes also incorporate several fields of study, such as the communications department course about gender, sex, and representation. Those hoping to improve their marketing and public relations skills can choose from multiple online courses in these fields.

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    You are now armed with a good starting list of colleges that offer online courses in mass communications. Don't forget that your local state and/or city colleges may also be good (and sometimes more affordable) sources of Internet-based classes in your field of interest.

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    • "Distance Education at UNC-Chapel Hill."
    • "Harvard University Extension School: Online Course Offerings."
    • "UMassOnline: Browse."