Communication Studies Degree and Career Information

Those who are considering a career in public relations, advertising, broadcasting or publishing might choose to enroll in a communications studies degree program. These programs consist of studies in media, written, oral and interpersonal communications and communication among groups.

Essential Information

By learning to give effective presentations, students of associate's degree programs in communications studies can develop their communications and writing skills as well as their ability to think critically. Potential career outcomes include broadcast assistant and writer. In bachelor's degree programs in communications studies, students learn to use telecommunications software, and they discover various aspects of live-broadcast production. Master's-level programs allow students to conduct communication studies research.

Rather than certification, graduates can consider pursuing accreditation in the PR and communications fields. The Universal Accreditation Board grants professional credentials to candidates who pass its qualifying tests.

  • Program Levels in Communications Studies: Associate's; bachelor's; master's
  • Program Fields in Communications Studies: Associate of Arts in Communications Studies; Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies; Bachelor of Science in Communications Studies; Master of Science in Communications Studies.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED for associate's and bachelor's degree programs; bachelor's degree and satisfactory GRE scores for entry into master's degree programs.
  • Program Specializations: In bachelor's degree programs, specializations include public relations; journalism; human relations; broadcasting and film or video productions.
  • Other Requirements: Master's programs may include a thesis requirement, as well as a teaching assistantship.

Associate of Arts in Communications Studies

An associate's degree program in communications studies explores the role of communications in the workplace and society. The program focuses on the importance of oral, written and interpersonal communications in business, politics, media and personal relations. Students in the program work to develop critical thinking and writing skills, confidence with public speaking, and solutions for mediating conflicts and arguments.

Students learn to be effective communicators through coursework that teaches communication theory, methods for solving communications problems and techniques for directing communications in groups. Other study areas may include:

  • Oral presentations
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Decision-making
  • Organizational communication
  • Pronunciation

Bachelors' Degrees in Communications Studies

These programs prepare students to defend arguments orally and in writing, to use communications technologies like e-mail and telecommunications software, and to apply interpersonal communications skills in culturally diverse groups.

Communications studies courses comprise a wide array of subjects, from production in live broadcasting to marketing techniques in advertising. The core curriculum includes studies of such topics such as:

  • Interpretation
  • Articulation
  • Socialization
  • Rhetoric
  • Media industry studies

Master of Science in Communications Studies

This degree program is offered with both thesis and non-thesis options. Students in the program may also participate in graduate teaching assistantships, as well as an internship. The curriculum focuses on organizational, cultural and international communications, with an emphasis on communications theory, analysis and research.

Graduate courses require students to conduct quantitative and qualitative research, specifically in the areas of research methodologies and techniques. Communications studies courses cover topics like:

  • Crisis response
  • Political communication
  • Social movements
  • Public discourse
  • Photojournalism

Popular Career Options

Career options for associate's in communication studies graduates include jobs in journalism, broadcast media and marketing. Some careers that graduates might want to consider include:

Graduates of bachelor's and master's degree programs are prepared for careers in business, electronic media and international relations. Graduates are also qualified to pursue jobs such as:

  • Public information officer
  • Market researcher
  • Media analyst

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A bachelor's degree program in communications studies offers excellent preparation for careers in marketing, advertising and public relations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that job opportunities for public relations specialists will grow 12% between 2012 and 2022 ( As of May 2014, public relations specialists earned $64,050 as an average yearly salary.

Accreditation Information

Graduates who are seeking professional accreditation to add to their resumes have two options. The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) offers the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation to candidates who pass an examination and a readiness review presentation. Accreditation from the UAB is good for life. The International Association of Business Communicator's (IABC) Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation is another option for public relations or communications professionals. Candidates need five years of work experience in addition to a bachelor's degree. They must also pass an examination and portfolio review to obtain accreditation.

Continuing Education Information

Those who are interested in teaching at the college level can enroll in a doctoral (Ph.D.) program in a related area of communications. Degree options include a Ph.D. in communications, organizational communications, communications theory and research and mass communications. Earning a Ph.D. can also lead to a career in advanced research or academia.

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