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Question: What Can You Do with a Communication Degree?

Answer: Graduates from communication degree programs have a broad range of career options in the private and public sectors, including jobs in business, government, media, and academia. Depending on the focus of the degree program, a graduate from a communication program might work for a federal agency, a broadcast corporation, an advertising firm, a media company, or a number of other organizations in which communicating internally and/or to outside parties is a relevant concern.

What is a Communication Degree?

A degree in communication at the undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral level provides multi-disciplinary instruction and training in the theories and processes by which information is conveyed, processed, and interpreted between individuals and groups, within organizations, and to mass audiences. Students in communication degree programs develop a theoretical understanding of communication processes and learn how to apply this knowledge to crafting and conveying ideas, messages, narratives, arguments, and other rhetoric formulations. They study media technologies and the production techniques used in the media industry to frame and deliver information, and they learn and practice professional written and oral communication skills. Many communication degree programs also provide specialized coursework in the application of communication theories to fields like advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, broadcasting, healthcare, and politics.

Communication Specializations

Communication is a broad field that encompasses many different roles and functions integral to business operations, organizational effectiveness, commercial enterprises, media products, and governmental responsibilities. Politicians use rhetorical skills to deliver speeches often written by speechwriters who have training in communication. Corporate executives rely on their ability to inspire and persuade others, and on communication specialists who are adept at crafting and conveying messages within an organization and to others outside of the organization. Media companies are built on communication technologies and employ professionals with varied and distinct communication proficiencies in areas like video production, digital marketing, on-air broadcasting, branding, and media research. Because all of these jobs fall under the large umbrella of communication, it is useful to break the field into several areas of concentration. These include:

  • Strategic Communication: The coordinated deployment of communication tools and technologies to achieve long-term strategic objectives.
  • Interpersonal Communication: The study of communication theory in the context of how individuals and groups from different cultural and societal background share ideas and information and development a shared understanding of a concept or an issue.
  • Organizational Communication: The application of communication theories to the processes by which information is conveyed and utilized within companies, businesses, government agencies, and other types of organizations.
  • Electronic & Digital Production: The technological side of communication studies, including the production and broadcasting of news, entertainment, and other media products through video, television, and the Internet.
  • Advertising & Marketing: The application of communication theories to branding and selling products, services, and ideas to individuals, groups, and targeted demographics.
  • Politics & Public Relations: The use of the communication tools to craft and deliver convincing messages and narratives to the public and others outside of an organization through personal interactions and media technologies.
  • Journalism & Broadcast Media: The use of communication theories and practices in the context of mass media to create, process, and deliver news, entertainment, and other information through print, broadcast, and online platforms.

Communication Careers

The ability to communicate effectively has value in such a broad range of careers that it would be difficult to list them all. However, there are certain types of jobs that require specialized communication skills. For example, successful journalists and speechwriters require a certain command of language and writing; a public relations professional should be able to communicate comfortably and convincingly in both speech and in writing; and an effective business communication consultant would have a firm grasp of the interplay between organizational psychology and communications within different types of businesses. The list below includes some of the more common jobs pursued by graduates from communication degree programs:

  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Public Information Officer
  • Speechwriter
  • Communications Consultant
  • Community Relations Director
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • Corporate Communications Manager
  • Broadcast Advertising Producer
  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Journalist/Editor
  • Online Content Coordinator
  • Publicist
  • Promotions Coordinator
  • Lobbyist
  • Social Media Strategist
  • Newspaper or Website Editor

In addition to careers in the private and public sectors, graduates from undergraduate programs in communication and from master’s in communication programs may go on to pursue doctoral degrees in communication. A PhD in communication studies is typically reserved for those who want to teach or conduct research in the field of communication.

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