Communication Major

Career Paths With a Degree in Communication

Male journalist and cameraman on urban sidewalk

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Earning a communication degree involves studying how humans create information and share it both on interpersonal and organizational levels. Students who major in this subject will graduate with the ability to present and exchange information—whether it is written, visual, or oral—in an appropriate manner for the audience and context.

The communication major encompasses several areas of specialization including:

  • Journalism
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Mass communication: Subspecialties are television, radio, and film
  • Strategic communication: Subspecialties are health, public relations, and advertising
  • Games and interactive media design
  • Visual communication
  • Sports communication

While communication majors at some schools study all of these topics, some ​allow or even require, their students to have a concentration in one. Communication is a versatile major in that graduates can take one of a variety of career paths. 

Students can earn associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees in communications. Most associate degree programs are designed for students who plan to transfer to bachelor-level programs, but there are some that offer a terminal degree in communications. Master's degree programs focus on teaching communication theory, research methodology and practice, therefore preparing students for academia or the workplace. Doctoral programs emphasize original research and students are expected to develop an area of specialization. Earning a Ph.D. prepares students for academic careers or for managerial or consulting positions that draw upon an individual's area of expertise.

Sample of Courses You Can Expect to Take

Bachelor's or Associate's Degree Courses

  • Introduction to Communication Studies
  • History of Television
  • Principles of Persuasion and Influence
  • Rhetorical Criticism
  • Mass Media and Society
  • Techniques of Speaking
  • Principles of Public Relations
  • Public Relations Campaigns
  • Media Writing
  • Audio Production
  • Storytelling for Communications
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Digital Design in Communication
  • History of Journalism
  • Communication Law and Ethics

Master's Degree Courses

  • Rhetorical Theory
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Research and Writing Methods
  • Communication in Practice
  • Media Policy and Regulation
  • Race and Media
  • Organizational Strategy and Leadership
  • Strategic Writing
  • The Role of Communication in Conflict Negotiation
  • Media Relations
  • Digital Media Production
  • Public Relations Management
  • Designing and Evaluating Effective Communications for the Web
  • Writing for Multimedia
  • New Communication Technologies

Ph.D. Courses

  • Media Theory
  • Philosophical Foundations of Communication
  • Technical Writing
  • Ethics for Science and Technical Communication
  • Methods of Communication Research
  • Information Needs, Seeking and Use
  • Communication Research Design
  • Special Topics in Cultural and Visual Studies
  • New Media Research Studio

Career Options With Your Degree

Bachelor's Degree (entry-level or one to two years of experience)

  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Media Communications Manager
  • Marketing Assistant
  • Marketing Communications Specialist
  • Technical Writer
  • Event Marketing Specialist
  • Customer Communications Specialist
  • Content Marketing Campaign Manager
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Media Specialist (Traditional and Emerging Media)
  • Social Media and Communications Coordinator
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Communications Coordinator

Master's Degree

  • Senior Communications Specialist
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Senior Manager of Communications
  • Community College Communications Instructor

Doctoral Degree

  • Professor
  • Consultant

This list was compiled by searching job sites for openings that require a degree in communications. It includes options for those who graduate with a degree in communications only. It does not include any jobs that require earning an additional degree in another discipline.

Typical Work Settings

Strong communication skills are invaluable in many occupations which gives those who major in this subject a wide range of choices. In addition to the more obvious choices listed above, including jobs in media, marketing, and public relations, communications majors can take some alternative routes. They typically work in offices but may find themselves in jobs that involve interacting with people in a variety of settings.

How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major

If you are a high school student who is thinking about studying communications in college, take classes in writing, speech, journalism, and theater.

What Else You Need to Know

  • This major may also be called communication studies, mass communications, strategic communications or communication and media studies.
  • Some undergraduate programs are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism & Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
  • A bachelor's degree in communications isn't necessarily a requirement for acceptance into a master's degree program. Undergraduate students may major in other subjects.
  • Some doctoral programs require a master's degree in communications or a related field for admission, while others require only a bachelor's degree.
  • Doctoral candidates must write a dissertation.
  • It can take from four and six years to earn a Ph.D.
  • Some master's degree programs require students to write a thesis.
  • Universities require, or at least encourage, students to get practical experience by doing internships.

Professional Organizations and Other Resources

  • Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC)
  • The American Communication Association (ACA)
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)
  • International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)
  • NCA Doctoral Program Guide