Communication and Media Science Schools

Undergraduate Degrees in Communications – Choosing to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree with a major in communications will give you the qualifications you need to start a career in mass media and digital communications. Whether you’re interested in journalism and independent filmmaking, or marketing and public relations, the know-how needed to reach people with a targeted message starts with a degree in communications.

Through communication we explore and interact with the world, strengthen social ties, create and nurture business relationships, and facilitate the exchange of information.

The study of communications has become integral to many professions—even those outside of the traditional realm of communications. Effective communications is the driving force for innovation and progress, and it is certainly at the core of every successful business.

Communications degrees, whether at the associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree level, provide students with skills related to critical thinking, comprehension and problem solving, preparing them for success in a myriad of cultural, political, and business environments.

These versatile degree programs explore social, cultural, rhetorical, and communications processes, allowing graduates to pursue careers in fields ranging from journalism and international relations to politics and public relations.

Those interested in pursuing a communications degree may choose a general course of study, or they may focus their degree program on a specific area within this field, such as:

  • International/Intercultural Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Journalism
  • Political Communications
  • Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Rhetoric/Cultural and Critical Studies
  • Writing and Publishing

According to an assessment by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, communication studies continues to post strong growth in terms of the number of undergraduates that declare a communications major, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded, student popularity, and the number of institutions that offer the degree.

Degrees in International and Intercultural Communications

International or Intercultural Communication looks at the similarities and differences in communication across cultures, nations, and language groups, whether within a single city or across the world. Such work is increasingly valuable in our interconnected era, whether applied to trade, diplomacy, development, or simply to help neighbors understand one another. In addition to such practical applications, the field also has a theoretical component: scholars seek to understand how communication processes help individuals develop, understand, and negotiate their cultural or national identities.

Degrees offered in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in International Communications
  • Master of Arts in International Communications
  • Masters of Arts in Global Communication
  • Masters of Arts in International Media
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Theory & Research

Students who concentrate on international or intercultural communications can expect to study communications theory, international relations, international law, economic development issues, war, terrorism, international reporting, diplomacy, globalization, comparative media systems, and foreign languages. (Many degrees require proficiency in a foreign language.) They may also study research methods, and conduct fieldwork in their own communities or other cultures.

By the end of their degree, students will have honed their intercultural communication skills and learned how to communicate more effectively on the global stage. Some will also have learned how to create written, audio, video, and digital media that transcends cultures, how to deliver business presentations to international audiences, or how to plan international events. Students will develop key “soft skills” such as critical thinking, tolerance for difference, comfort in ambiguity, respect, and empathy – skills that will serve them in all areas of life.

Internship possibilities include work in a US government agency, at a foreign embassy, in an international association, at a non-governmental, aid, or development organization, in international media (such as the BBC or Voice of America), at a think tank or policy institute that conducts work on international issues, or even at the UN. Closer to home, students might find internships at a local multicultural newspaper, community group, or advocacy organization. Some cities and towns even have offices exclusively devoted to helping immigrants adjust to their new life, which could be a great place for communications majors to help out.

Students who specialize in international or intercultural communications will be well-prepared for business careers that include work conducted across borders. Their training will also be good preparation for work as a foreign correspondent, diplomat, intercultural or diversity trainer, study abroad coordinator, or travel industry representative.

Degrees in Interpersonal Communication 

Interpersonal communication focuses on the study of communication in pairs or small groups and its impact on personal relationships. Students study the development of such relationships, the role communication plays within them, the processes of group deliberation, how communication affects social influence, and other face-to-face communication activities and processes in everyday life. Increasingly, such programs focus on interpersonal communication that occurs online as well as off.

Degrees offered in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communications
  • Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Communication
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Theory & Research

Classes in this area may include topics such as interpersonal communications principles, communications theory, public speaking, interviewing, ethics, nonverbal communications, ethnic and gender issues, conflict resolution, processes of group deliberation, cultural issues, research methods, and possibly fieldwork. By the end of their degree, students will have enhanced their knowledge about how interpersonal communication works, improved their written and oral communication skills, and learned how to help others communicate more effectively in pairs or small groups. They’ll also have gained many of the “soft skills” learned in international communications, such as respect, empathy, tolerance, and critical thinking.

Internship possibilities include work in a human resources department, in a nonprofit or advocacy organization, with a community group, in a counselor’s office, or as a public relations assistant. Students with an interest in speech communications can also look for opportunities with speech therapists or in educational settings.

Career options include work in human resources, public relations, speech therapy, education, counseling, and teaching.

Degrees in Organizational/Business/Corporate Communications

Organizational Communications – also called Business or Corporate Communications – studies communication processes and activities within large groups, such as corporations or the military. The field has a strong applied component, and can help students gain skills in leadership, problem solving, and crisis communications. On the more theoretical side, students and professors look at how communication within organizations relates to structures of identity and power, as well as how organizations use communications to tell stories about themselves.

Degrees offered in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Science in Business Communication
  • Master of Communication Management
  • Master of Communication
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications

Students may study organizational communication principles, public speaking, team dynamics, presentation techniques, workplace culture, ethics, regulatory requirements, corporate writing and editing, technical writing, research methods, and statistics. They may also conduct fieldwork. At the end of their degree, they will have learned how to communicate more effectively in an organizational context, and have a better grasp of the complexity of organizational dynamics. Depending on the program, they may also have learned other real-world skills such as troubleshooting and conflict resolution, as well as how to deal more diplomatically with workplace issues such as operations, management, sales, marketing, business development, or technology.

Career and internship possibilities include work in a corporate communications or human resources department, at a strategic communications firm, at a media organization, on a political campaign, in a community relations position, or in sales and marketing. Eventually, students may even consider creating their own corporate or strategic communications firm or consultancy.

Degrees in Journalism and Mass Communications

Journalism programs may be located inside or outside of communications departments. Either way, the focus is on teaching students to produce print or audio and visual journalism on a variety of topics, both on and off the web. It’s an exciting time to be a journalism student: although the industry is in a transitional period, with many outlets still searching for stable revenue streams, the field is rich with experimentation and new models for producing content. A number of programs have designed innovative coursework to explore and explain these possibilities. Most journalism program also offer students the opportunity to work on a campus newspaper, magazine, radio station, or other local media outlet.

Degrees offered in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Communications in Print and Digital Journalism
  • Bachelors of Science in Mass Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communications
  • Master of Science in Mass Communication
  • Master of Science in Journalism
  • Master of Arts in Journalism
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Communication
  • Master of Mass Communications
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications

Journalism students can expect to take classes in writing, reporting, photojournalism, research, media ethics, diversity issues, media law, media history, statistics, online and digital media, and various technical programs such as Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. By the end of their degree, they should have basic skills in writing and reporting, as well as an understanding of the complex legal and ethical issues involved in working in the media. They will also have developed essential critical thinking skills that will guide them as citizens in a democracy.

Prospective interns might seek work at a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station, or even a blog. They might work as a reporter, photojournalist, production assistant, junior copy editor, or assistant to a designer. It’s also worth noting that many major media organizations have specific programs just for journalism interns.

Career possibilities include writing for a magazine, newspaper, or blog; authoring or ghost-writing books; work in broadcast media; and teaching journalism students. A journalism degree can also be good preparation for jobs in public relations or government communications, since these careers depend on being able to work with the press.

Degrees in Electronic Media and Broadcasting

Communications programs focused on Electronic Media and Broadcasting take many forms. Some emphasize hands-on skills, while others take a more theoretical approach with coursework on media systems, mass communication theory, aesthetics and criticism, or the history of broadcasting technologies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is one of the more employable majors: the government forecasts that jobs for Broadcast News Analysts will rise more than 10% between 2010 and 2020.

Degrees in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Communications in Broadcast and Digital Journalism
  • Bachelors of Science in Mass Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communications
  • Master of Arts in Broadcast Communication
  • Master of Science in Mass Communications with an emphasis on Radio and Television
  • Master of Digital Media
  • Master of Interactive Technology
  • Master of Entertainment Technology
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications

Coursework in this area may include radio production, television production, reporting, editing, directing, radio and TV announcing, documentary production, legal and ethical issues, regulation and policy issues, communications theory, and broadcast media history. By the time their degree is done, students will likely have learned how to write, edit, produce, direct, or anchor content for radio, television, and/or the Internet. They may also have learned skills such as production budgeting and planning, or how to work within a team environment. Many programs include chances to gain real-world experience through projects and fieldwork.

Internship possibilities and career options include work at a radio or TV station, media production company, film company, video game company, animation studio, documentary production company, film festival, or digital ad agency. Graduates may find themselves working as broadcast journalists, directors, DJs, anchors, production staff, equipment operators, weather or traffic specialists, film editors, and more.

Degrees in Political Communications

Although this is one of the more specialized areas of study within communications, it has broad applications. Political Communications looks at the role communication plays in political systems, which may include the study of speeches, speakers, campaigns, and movements, all within their social and historical contexts. It often looks at how people use communication and information to further their political goals. In recent years, the field has increasingly turned to computers to analyze data on the dynamics of political communication, which means that topics such as machine learning and network analysis have become increasingly important.

Degrees in the field include:

    • Bachelors of Science in Mass Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communications
    • Master of Science in Journalism
    • Master of Arts in Communication
    • Master of Communication
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications

Coursework in this field includes political writing, public policy studies, campaign management, political and public speaking, political advertising and marketing, crisis communications, research methods, political journalism (campaign reporting), media law, speechwriting, and campaign strategy. Many such programs hope to help students develop a deeper understanding of political institutions, as well as the way those institutions interact with both the media and the public. Some also focus on the development of practical skills, such as speechwriting, polling, planning campaign events, understanding journalists, and using social media for a specific goal.

Prospective interns might look for a position on a political campaign, in a speechwriter’s office, at a think tank, in a public relations or strategic communications firm, or in a political consulting firm. Current students might also consider getting involved in student government.

Careers include work as a campaign advisor, communications director, political journalist, Op-Ed editor, speechwriter, columnist, in a press office, and many other options.

Degrees in Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations

Broadly speaking, advertising and related areas of study look at the management of communication between an organization and its audience. Many such programs specifically train student to help organizations communicate their messages more effectively. These skills are increasingly valuable: the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that jobs for Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers will grow nearly 13% between 2010 and 2020, while jobs for Public Relations Specialists are forecast to rise over 22% during the same time period.

Degrees in this field include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Advertising
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Relations
  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communication
  • Master of Marketing Research
  • Master of Arts in Public Relations and Corporate Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations
  • Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Master of Science in Marketing and Communication

Students in this area can expect to study advertising theories, principles, and practices (or those of public relations, if that’s their focus), event management, crisis and issues management, media and community relations, campaign planning, writing public affairs, fundraising, and case studies. At the conclusion of their degree, they should have an understanding of how to communicate more effectively, work with the press, manage an advertising or public relations campaign, create campaign materials, or defuse a crisis.

Internship possibilities include work at an advertising, marketing, or public relations firm, a position with a local tourism or hospitality organization, or work within the public relations department of a local business or non-profit. In addition to internships for credit, volunteering for a local charity organization is a great way to gain valuable experience.

The career options in this field are plentiful: graduates may find work as a copywriter, media planner, PR specialist, marketing, advertising, or PR director, account executive, sales agent, promotions manager, production manager, art director, and more. In addition, new opportunities around social and digital media are being created every day.

Degrees in Rhetoric/Cultural and Critical Studies

The study of rhetoric, grouped here with critical and cultural studies, is one of the more theoretical areas of communication studies, although it has a variety of practical applications. Scholars of rhetoric and cultural studies analyze the way that communication works within various kinds of texts, public discourse, and culture. In particular, rhetoric looks at the principles that account for the impact of human communication, whether in a novel or a political speech. Cultural and critical studies programs focus on developing a critical and historical understanding of public communication, including art and literature.

Degrees in the field include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communications
  • Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Rhetoric
  • Master of Communication
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communications
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Professional Communications

Coursework may cover theories of argumentation, the rhetoric of various ethnic groups, rhetoric in certain historical periods, the power of rhetoric in modern life, art history, film studies, or literary theory. By the end of their degree, students should have learned how to critically analyze arguments in texts and public life, and have developed a critical and historical underpinning for their participation in public communication.

Interns may find applicable positions working at a local newspaper, magazine, or website covering books, music, or film. They might also apply their skills working at a publishing company, where there are always plenty of manuscripts in the “slush pile” to read. Career options include work as a critic, theorist, author, speechwriter, or communications director. A degree in rhetoric can also be a solid foundation for a career in public relations, business, and politics.

Degrees in Writing and Publishing

Degrees in writing and publishing offer students a chance to hone their writing and editing skills, as well as learn the ins-and-outs of the publishing business. These programs are usually very hands-on, and supplement coursework with projects and presentations from industry professionals. Despite the frequently-heralded death of print, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that jobs for writers will rise almost 6% between 2010 and 2020. Technical writers are particularly in demand, with a growth of more than 17% during the same period.

Degrees in this area include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication – Professional Writing
  • Masters of Arts in Publishing and Writing
  • Master of Professional Writing
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
  • Master of Science in Publishing: Digital and Print Media
  • Master of Professional Studies in Publishing

Courses may include work in composition for a variety of media, editing, design, proofreading, information and media history, the business of publishing, and literature. By the end of their degree, students will have learned how to participate in the publishing world, and how to think critically about its past and future. Many will have also had their work published, or at least learned how to navigate the publication maze.

There are many internship possibilities for writing and publishing students, including work as an editorial assistant at a publishing house, at a literary magazine, at a literary agency, with a magazine publisher, or in a literary festival. Local magazines and newspapers with book sections are also great places to intern.

Graduates may consider careers as a writer or editor, or working in the sales and marketing side of publishing. They may also review books, or start their own publishing houses (the barrier to entry is lower and lower). In addition to options opportunities, many writers and editors are also building successful freelancing businesses. A solid foundation in writing can also serve many other fields, including corporate communications and public relations.

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