Communication Studies Degree and Career Information

Read about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in communication studies. Discover program coursework requirements and popular career options. Explore the employment outlook and salary statistics for public relations specialists.

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Essential Information

Those who are considering a career in public relations, advertising, broadcasting or publishing might consider enrolling in a communications studies degree program. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in the field are offered by 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities. These programs consist of studies in media, written, oral and interpersonal communications and communication among groups. They require a high school diploma for admission and, at the master's-level, a bachelor's degree.

By learning to give effective presentations, students of associate's degree programs can develop their communication and writing skills as well as their ability to think critically. Potential career outcomes include broadcast assistant and writer. Bachelor's degree programs may feature areas of concentration such as public relations and journalism. 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. Programs may include a thesis requirement, as well as a teaching assistantship.

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.

Associate of Arts in Communications Studies

An associate's degree program in communication 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. Candidates for the program are required to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Program Coursework

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

Popular Career Options

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

Bachelor's Degrees in Communications Studies

There are two bachelor's degrees offered in communications studies, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science. These degree programs offer students the option to choose a concentration area like human relations, journalism, public relations, broadcasting or film and video production.

These 4-year 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. Admissions requirements are the same as those for an associate's degree program.

Program Coursework

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

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 23% between 2010 and 2020 ( As of 2012, public relations specialists earned $54,170 as a median 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.

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 assistantship, as well as an internship. The curriculum focuses on organizational, cultural and international communications, with an emphasis on communication theory, analysis and research. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Program Coursework

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

Graduates 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

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 communication, organizational communications, communication 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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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature

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