Communication Studies

It’s #2 on Princeton Review’s List of the Top Ten Most Popular College Majors – Communication Studies. Sounds interesting and marketable, but what is it, and more importantly, can it help you get a job? 


Communication Studies is an academic field that examines how people share meaningful symbols. The symbols themselves, the ways in which they are transmitted, and the interpretation of the symbols are all within the scope of this field. This interdisciplinary major encompasses the entire range of communication from face-to-face conversation to mass media and interpersonal understanding.

Communication Studies is a generalist path with a curriculum that can be tailored to work in a variety of industries. Most colleges require students to have some familiarity with the broad spectrum of communication issues. Students are then allowed to concentrate in an area of particular interest. Advertising, Broadcasting, Communication Technology and Production, Journalism, and Public Relations are a few of the concentrations that might be available. Typical courses are likely to include Interpersonal Communication, Group Communication, Persuasion, Mass Media and Society, Cross-Cultural Communication, TV & Film Production, and Ethical and Legal Issues in Media. Courses in economics, finance, management, marketing, political science, psychology and sociology can also help.

Practical experience is critical for Communications students. Whether you host a campus radio program, work as a producer for the university TV station, or write for the campus newspaper, hands-on involvement that you can list on a resume is key. Participating in internships, co-op programs and study abroad will also help you bridge the transition from college to workplace.

There are thousands of undergraduate Communication Studies programs. The challenge is to identify colleges and programs that most closely fit who you are and what you want to do. Because all types of colleges offer Communications majors, institutional, not just departmental, fit should be your top priority. Some departments include the study of communication disorders, while others do not. Some programs are grounded in the liberal arts, concentrating on analytical, speaking and writing skills, all of which are highly transferable to a wide range of careers. Other departments are more professionally focused, offering curricula that are more workplace driven. You can study communications either through identified majors, or by designing your own course of study, tailored to your specific interests.

Communications Studies is a modern marriage of theory and application, combining liberal arts education with practical, professional training. In our global information age, enterprises from businesses and educational institutions to engineering firms and medical providers all must communicate effectively with their constituents, their customers, and the public. Over $1 billion is spent annually on employee and membership communications, and even more goes toward external communications. Job competition is strong, with preference given to candidates with industry-specific knowledge, communications training, and appropriate internship or volunteer experience. The career choices for communications professionals are incredibly diverse. Degrees in Communications lead to a wide range of career paths including advertising, broadcasting & film, marketing, media relations, personnel, and sales. Less obvious career options include community relations, customer service, corporate training, international relations, and publishing. Communications graduates also work in fundraising, social media management, tourism, website management, and risk management.

Career Paths for Communications Studies Majors


  • Broadcaster
  • Community Relations Representative
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Editor
  • Event Planner
  • Fundraiser
  • Human Resources Professional
  • Journalist
  • Marketing & Advertising Professional
  • Media Specialist
  • Political Professional
  • Sales Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Writer

For more information visit the National Communication Association at www.natcom.org.