Broadcast communications programs are more commonly found as broadcast journalism programs and are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within bachelor's degree programs, students gain the skills needed for entry-level jobs - either on-air or behind-the-scenes - at radio and television stations.
Certificate programs in this field are also available for students who already have a bachelor's degree in another area. Master's programs are designed to teach students the skills needed to advance a career in television, radio or Internet news. Ph.D. programs prepare students for research or teaching careers.
The prerequisites for the bachelor's program include a high school diploma or GED; for the certificate program, a bachelor's degree is required and prior broadcasting and film experience will be helpful. Prospective master's students need to have a bachelor's degree, obtain a minimum GPA, complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and possibly submit letters of recommendation. Other requirements include an internship and a master's thesis at the graduate level. This program is rarely offered fully online.
Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism
Students in a broadcast journalism program begin by taking basic news and information courses that concern writing and editing skills, grammar, reporting tactics, and media and law ethics, while later coursework narrows students' focus to visual and audio coursework, including the operation of video and recording equipment and learning to speak clearly while maintaining a calm, camera-ready presence. Students are encouraged to exercise creative and critical thinking skills. Common courses include:
- Communication writing
- Narrative radio
- Television newsroom
- Radio newsroom
Certificate in Broadcast Communication
Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are supplementary to students' previous studies. Students with any degree may pursue a Broadcast Communications Certificate, and students with previous media experience can gain additional broadcast experience through the program. The courses available in broadcast certificate programs build on the knowledge gained through obtaining an undergraduate broadcast journalism degree. Typical courses include:
- Media management
- Advanced video editing
- Graduate internship
- Television Production
Master's Degree in Journalism
At the graduate level, programs are more focused on theory, critical thinking and a student's individual study. Graduate degrees related to broadcast communication could include journalism, communications, broadcast journalism or television. Required and elective courses give students the opportunity to learn various formats as well as specific subject matters. A broadcast journalism curriculum, for instance, might offer courses in radio, Internet news or television. Journalism degree programs typically teach specific techniques for specific topics, such as sports or public affairs.
Students typically write a master's thesis or create a master's project that's related to journalism. Some programs incorporate an internship as well. Graduate work might also cover:
- Reporting geared to television
- Ethics and law
- Writing for broadcasting
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job titles related to broadcasting include news analysts, reporters, correspondents, announcers, directors, producers and editors (www.bls.gov). Other types of positions graduates can obtain include:
- Television or radio broadcaster
- Program director
- Fact checker
- Online news producer
- Documentary filmmaker
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average annual wage for television report writers and television reporters in May 2015 was $46,560 ('www.bls.gov'). Broadcast news analysts earned a much higher average of $89,240. Radio and television announcers reported an average salary of $46,410 for that same period, although announcers in the highest-paying category of spectator sports reported average earnings of $86,780.
The BLS foresees a 9% decline in employment for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts over the 2014-2024 decade due to declining advertising revenue and the growing popularity of online news content.
Continuing Education Information
While some students pursue careers in television and radio newsrooms after earning a graduate degree, others continue on to earn a Ph.D. and teach at the university level.
Graduates can also expand their knowledge in programs that are important in the modern newsroom, such as Adobe InDesign, Dreamweaver, and Adobe Photoshop. Many of these courses are a part of continuing education programs, which are available at many community college programs.
Broadcast communications programs train students to produce on-air and off-air content for radio and television stations. To be able to join the broadcasting industry as news analysts, reporters, correspondents, directors or editors, students have to hone their skills in writing, editing, reporting, as well as television and radio production.