​Leveling Up: How to Build Skills in Communication

Clear, concise, and effective communication skills are the cornerstone of successful personal and business relationships. In professional contexts, strong communication skills enable us to share information accurately, foster healthy collaborations, and build trust with clients and colleagues. However, these skills have significantly eroded with the advent of AI, the prevalent use of shorthand in texting and business chats, and an overall decline in traditional written communication.

Researchers have concluded that “no organization can succeed or progress, build up a reputation without effective communication skills. Poor communication systems may result in mismanagement and bad business results.” While many professionals, new and veteran alike, may be lacking strong communication skills, the good news is that it is a solvable problem.

Gaining communication skills is a matter of practice and dedication, and many tools are available to help people gain mastery in this arena. There is a wide variety of communication degree options from two-year associate degrees up to doctorate programs. For individuals who don’t have time to complete a degree program, there are certificates, online courses, and professional associations whose explicit goal is to help level up communication skills.

Online learning platforms allow students to learn from top communication experts while still maintaining their full-time jobs.

Fast Facts About Communication Skills

Communication skills are not just for business professionals or those working in media. They are essential for success in various fields, including healthcare, education, and the arts. Here are some fast facts about communication skills that highlight their importance:

  • In a survey of 200 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), communication skills ranked as the most desired quality in job candidates.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management reports that, according to a study by David Grossman, poor communication is responsible for over $62.4 billion each year in lost productivity and poor performance.
  • In healthcare, poor communication has been shown to increase medical errors, worsen patient outcomes, and decrease patient satisfaction.
  • Strong communication skills are critical for teachers to convey material and build relationships with students effectively. It is also essential for students to express themselves clearly and persuasively.

One misunderstood fact about communication skills is that it is not simply about what you say. It starts with understanding the perspectives of others and actively listening to what they are saying. This leads to fewer misunderstandings and strengthens cooperation. This is something that ChatGPT or other AI writing software simply cannot do.

Three Communication Skills Gurus to Know

Degree and Certificate Programs in Communications

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online bachelor of science in communication program that provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in communication-related careers. This program has strong emphasis on effective written and oral communication skills, critical thinking, and strategic problem solving prepares its students for success in today’s fast-paced, global environment.

The online format offers flexibility, ideal for working professionals and those with other commitments. In total, students must earn 120 credit hours to earn this degree. Upon completing the program, students are equipped with the communication skills employers value most, positioning them for a wide range of career opportunities.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University students can complete an online bachelor of arts in communication. This program emphasizes the development of both strategic and critical thinking. It equips students with the knowledge to effectively communicate in various contexts, such as interpersonal, group, and public settings. It also offers coursework in public relations, advertising, social and digital media, and intercultural communication, providing a rounded understanding of the field.

Thanks to the online delivery of classes, this program ensures flexibility, accommodating working professionals and individuals with other commitments. Classes are offered in weekly terms, and all material is available asynchronously. Graduates of this program are well-prepared to excel in various communication-related roles across numerous industries.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

University of North Texas

For those seeking an advanced degree in communications, the University of North Texas offers a master’s or arts or science in communication studies. Students in this program are equipped with advanced skills in oral, written, and visual communication and critical thinking. Graduates will possess a broad knowledge of communication theories, research methodologies, and contemporary issues in the field. The curriculum is flexible, with options for both thesis and non-thesis tracks, catering to the unique academic and career goals of each student.

Courses offered emphasize theory and application, with opportunities for practical experience through internships, teaching assistantships, and research projects. In total students must complete 36 credit hours to earn this degree. This program can be completed full-time or part-time, making it a flexible choice for working professionals.

  • Location: Denton, TX
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

John Hopkins University – Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

The master’s in communication degree through John Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts & Sciences is an online program catering to working professionals who want to learn strategic communication skills essential for success in today’s dynamic digital world. The curriculum covers key areas such as public and media relations, political communication, and health communication, offering a well-rounded understanding of the field.

Students have the option to select a concentration in either public and media relations, political communication or health communication. This flexible program enables students to apply what they learn in real-time, enhancing their professional competence while they are still in the program. Graduates of this program are well-prepared to excel in various communication-related roles such as advertising, marketing, public relations, media, and communications education.

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Portland State University

With just four four-week courses, professionals can improve their communication skills with the Portland State University strategic communications and public relations certificate. This program equips students with the advanced skills necessary to excel in the fast-paced world of communications by emphasizing strategic communications planning, public relations, digital and social media, content creation, crisis communication, and ethical considerations. Upon completing this certificate, students will have the competencies to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate communication strategies.

The course structure allows students to complete the program at their own pace, making it a suitable choice for those balancing work or other commitments. The certificate received upon completion signifies a student’s proficiency and could enhance career prospects in various communication-related roles. Enrollment is once per year in the winter/spring.

  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Duration: Four four-week course
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Harvard Extension School Division of Continuing Education

The three-course business communication certificate through the Harvard Extension School Division of Continuing Education aims to enhance professional communication skills in business contexts. This program strongly emphasizes business writing, presentation skills, and interpersonal and team communication. Students will gain the tools to communicate effectively and persuasively in a business environment.

The flexible course structure allows students to complete the program at their own pace, which is ideal for those juggling work or other commitments. If students prefer in-person classes, there are on-campus options as well. Skills students will master include public speaking, persuasive writing, message development, and conflict management.

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Duration: Three online courses
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

DIY Online & Low-cost Communication Skills Programs

While there are many opportunities to complete formal degree or certificate programs in communications, there are many informal learning options that will allow professionals to upgrade their skills quickly.

Stanford Graduate School of Business

The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers several Executive Education courses to help professionals develop skills that will help them succeed in business.

Their Sharpen Your Communication Skills course is designed to help professionals find new and effective ways of getting their ideas across. This course delves into behavioral science research, unlocking the secrets to effective communication. Students will refine their communication skills and ensure your message truly resonates by exploring essential concepts of communication theory and honing their style.

Upon completing this course, participants will get a certificate of completion. Tuition is $1,500 and the program is offered asynchronously online.


MasterClass is an online platform that offers a wide range of high-quality, expert-led classes designed for students of all skill levels. The platform provides access to renowned instructors who are experts in their respective fields.

Each class consists of a series of professionally produced video lessons, typically totaling between two and four hours. There are over 40 classes dedicated exclusively to communication skills from well-known experts such as Geoge Stephanapolous, Anna Wintour, and Bob Woodward. Membership costs vary based on current promotions but start around $120 for a year.


Top universities and institutions worldwide use Coursera to deliver their programs online to students across the globe. For those who want to work on their communication skills, there is a “Improving Communication Skills” course offered by the University of Pennsylvania. This course aims to help professionals enhance their listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities.

It covers key concepts like understanding your audience’s behavior, designing impactful speech content, and delivering a powerful message through confidence and authenticity. This program is self-paced and entirely online, allowing learners to study at their convenience. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate that can be added to their LinkedIn profiles or resumes. The cost varies based on location and promotions.


Udemy offers over 130,000 courses in various disciplines including over 10,000 courses focused on communication skills. Programs students can complete include The Complete Communication Skills Master Class for Life, Assertive Communication Skills Masterclass, and Workplace Communication.

Courses are designed to provide professionals with effective communication strategies and cover key areas such as verbal, non-verbal, written, interpersonal, and intrapersonal communication. Most courses are self-paced with lifetime access to course materials once purchased. On completion, most programs offer students a certificate indicating their accomplishment. The cost of courses vary.

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek offers an online course called The Art of Presenting for those who want to work on their presentation communication skills. This course lays out the foundation for successful communication, helping professionals master the art of inspiring action from their listeners. At the program’s core is the ability to genuinely connect with the listener so that they will listen to what you are sharing. This course is self-paced and costs $250. Students have access to their materials for 12 months.

Kimmy Gustafson
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world-traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was six and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 25 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. When not writing or parenting she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.

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