Table of Contents
What is a communication degree?
Degree programs in communication explore the many facets of the field, from the way individuals communicate with one another to all forms of mass media: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.
The typical communication curriculum includes courses like the following:
- Communication Theory – the technology of the transmission of information
- Interpersonal Communication – the process by which people exchange information, ideas, feelings, and meaning through verbal and nonverbal messages
- Cross-cultural / Intercultural Communication – the sharing of information and ideas between cultures and social groups
- Rhetoric / Persuasion – creating messages aimed at getting the listener to support the ideas and perspectives of the presenter
- Organizational Communication – communication that takes place in business environments
- Mass Communication – the process of creating, sending, receiving, and analyzing messages to large audiences
- Public Speaking – the process of delivering a speech to a live audiences
- Rhetorical Criticism – the study of the art of rhetoric or persuasion
- Psychology of Communication – study of the four principles of communication: the message sent is not necessarily the message received; it is impossible to not communicate; every message has both content and feeling; nonverbal cues are more believable than verbal cues
- Argumentation and Debate – the process of communicating claims based on supporting information (argumentation) and the exchange of arguments on a topic (debate)
- Freedom of Speech – examination of the right to express opinions and beliefs without censorship
Associate Degree in Communication
Two-year associate degree programs in communication familiarize students with the importance and impacts of communications in personal relations, business, politics, and media. With this entry-level degree graduates may enter the workforce in junior or assistant roles, or they may pursue further undergraduate education in the field at the bachelor’s level.
The associate curriculum in communication covers the basics of verbal and nonverbal communication in courses like the following:
- Fundamentals of Communication – how to create outlines and keyword lists; audience awareness and how to select appropriate topics and methods of communication
- Interpersonal Communication – different styles of communication; the impact of age, gender, and culture on how people interact
- Business/Organizational Communication – vocabulary and communication/presentation styles for business environments
Bachelor’s Degree in Communication
Holders of a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication commonly qualify for positions such as public information officers and market researchers.
The core curriculum of this four-year degree program expands on the subjects covered at the associate level and typically includes:
- Group Communication – facilitating group communication; developing communication strategies for different groups, such as staff teams, clients, and stakeholders
- Digital Communication – how to create appropriate content for different forms of digital media
- Rhetoric – how to create oral and written communications to persuade and negotiate with audiences
- Media Industry Studies – examination of the history, structure, production processes, and economics of media industries and their relationships with government, business, and the public
Master’s Degree in Communication
At this degree level, programs tend to focus on communication theory, analysis, and research. Graduates with a Master’s Degree in Communication often work in senior positions with corporations and government agencies.
Topics covered in the master’s curriculum generally include:
- International Communication Strategies – how to tailor messaging to international audiences, based on diverse culture perceptions
- Communication Research – how to use interviews, market research, and data analysis
- Social Media – creating the right messages for different social media platforms and audiences; studying various social media to gain user insight
- Political Communication – examination of the creation and exchange of ideas and opinions between politicians, the media, and the public
- Crisis Response and Intervention – how to effectively distribute information to relevant parties in a crisis situation
Doctoral Degree in Communication
Communication doctorate graduates often go on to conduct advanced research in the field and/or teach at universities. Studies at this level include:
- Ethics in Public Communication – study of the ethical principles of communicating with the public
- Research Methods in Communication – how to gather and analyze data
- Teaching Communication – how to teach the theory and practice of communication
Degrees similar to communication
Some schools offer specific degrees in mass communication. These programs examine the history, laws, institutions, and cultural impacts of mass media.
Sports Communication / Sports Media / Sports Journalism
This communication degree program focuses on sports journalism and sports public relations. Coursework may include sports reporting and broadcasting, video editing, and sports marketing.
Communication is the ultimate objective of advertising. Therefore, the two fields cannot be completely separated. Advertising is focused on creating the campaigns that achieve the goal of brand communication.
In English degree programs, students read, study, and write about the literature and culture of the English-speaking world. Coursework also includes the history, linguistic structure, and use of the English language.
Communication and journalism are clearly linked. The purpose of journalism is to communicate to readers, listeners, and viewers the information they need to make decisions about their personal, professional, and social lives.
This degree field is focused on activities undertaken by businesses to promote the buying or selling of products and services. Students study advertising and promotion, marketing communications, international marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy.
Photography is communication via images. Photos enhance articles and stories and articles and stories expand on photos. The connection between the two fields is clear.
Psychology and communication are intricately linked. The essence of communicating is sending and receiving messages. And psychology is an integral part of these processes, because the way that each individual sends and receives messages is influenced by that individual’s cultural and psychological experiences.
This is another field that is closely aligned with marketing. Public relations degree programs teach students how to manage corporate reputations by communicating with stakeholders and generating positive media coverage. The success or failure of a company’s marketing activities, of course, have huge impact on both consumer perception and company reputation.
Skills you'll learn
Communication is at the heart of human existence. Therefore, it is not exaggeration to say that the knowledge gained by students who earn a degree in communication is transferrable to – and welcome in – most every industry. Consider these useful skills that the course of study in a communication program leaves graduates with:
- Research and Data Analysis
- Public Speaking
- Clear, Concise, and Creative Writing
- Media Knowledge
- Social Awareness
- Conflict Resolution
What can you do with a communication degree?
Every business needs to communicate with its employees, stakeholders, partners, and clients. It follows, then, that the number of occupational categories that communication graduates can explore is extremely wide, if not almost endless. Here is a list of some of them:
- Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
- Banking and Finance
- Charity, Not-for-Profit, and NGOs
- Culture, Music, and the Performing Arts
- Energy and Utilities
- Environment, Agriculture, and Conservation
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Management Consulting and Business
- Manufacturing and Production
- Public Sector and Defense
- Recruitment and Human Resources
- Retails and Sales
- Social Services
In each of the above sectors, members of the corporate communication team have opportunities to work in these areas:
- Website and social media management
- Blog and editorial calendar management
- Promotions management and operations / Working with advertising companies
- Events management
- Media relations
- Executive speech writing
- Management of marketing materials like brochures, newsletters, and mailers
- Internal communications and training
- Crisis management
The career trajectory of people with a Communication degree appears to be focused around a few careers. The most common career that users with Communication degrees have experience in is Public Relations Specialist, followed by Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Specialist, Marketing Manager, Journalist, Copywriter, Event Planner, Producer, Publicist, and Advertising Manager.
|Career||% of graduates||% of population||Multiple|
|Public Relations Specialist||9.1%||0.3%||27.5×|
|Social Media Manager||7.1%||0.4%||17.4×|
|Digital Marketing Specialist||6.9%||0.6%||12.2×|
Communication graduates earn on average $k, putting them in the bottom percentile of earners with a degree.
|Percentile||Earnings after graduation ($1000s USD)|
|25th (bottom earners)||-|
|Median (average earners)||-|
|75th (top earners)||-|
Communication graduates are highly employed compared to other graduates. We have collected data on three types of underemployment. Part-time refers to work that is less than 30 hours per week. Non-college refers to work that does not require a college degree. Low-paying includes a list of low-wage service jobs such as janitorial work, serving, or dishwashing.
|Employment Type||Proportion of graduates|
|We are still collecting information for this degree|