Is a communication degree a good fit for me?
A degree in communication can prepare you for a variety of careers. In addition to providing you with the skills necessary for entering fields such as marketing or journalism, this degree helps you develop soft skills that are applicable for almost any role. In a way, a communication degree bridges the gap between career-specific education and a liberal arts degree.
To learn more about what a communication degree is and what type of students are a good fit for this kind of program, we spoke with Valeria Fabj, Ph.D., communication and emerging media professor and evening program coordinator of Lynn University’s B.A. in Communication and Media.
Why are communication degrees valuable?
According to Fabj, one of the main benefits of a communication degree is that it provides an excellent foundation for many career paths.
“It’s a degree that opens a lot of doors,” says Fabj. “Once you enter the workforce, you’ll probably end up switching jobs several times throughout your career. This is the kind of degree that gives you skills that are transferable from one job to another.” Some of the transferable skills that students develop in a communication degree program include written and oral communication, critical thinking, research skills and media literacy.
Fabj explains that the focus on media literacy is something that sets a communication degree apart from other liberal arts degrees. “No matter what job you’re in, it’s important to understand how information is presented in the media,” she says. Media literacy gives you the ability to understand the credibility of sources and determine whether or not arguments have validity. This, in turn, can help you strengthen your own arguments and better communicate with customers, clients and internal teams.
What types of classes do you take as a communication major?
While specific coursework varies from school to school, there are a few subjects that most communication degree programs cover. These include:
- Persuasive writing: How can writing shape public opinion? In a communication degree program, students identify persuasion techniques and rhetorical strategies by studying advertisements, political speeches, public relations statements and more.
- Social media: A communication degree curriculum will typically offer some classes focused on social media, both from a content writing and image creation perspective. “You can't have an organization without a strong social media presence nowadays,” says Fabj.
- Video production and editing: Since visual mediums are becoming increasingly pervasive, it’s important for communication students to know basic video production and editing techniques. Coursework may include narrative film-style editing as well as montage-style editing.
- Intercultural communication: Your culture can have a profound effect on how you communicate. Students often study techniques that facilitate communication between different cultures. “This type of education can help employees in any industry embrace diversity in the workplace,” says Fabj.
- Ethics: There are several ethical considerations involved in how you communicate with others. Coursework in communication ethics may cover topics such as media bias, copyright law, plagiarism and invasion of privacy.
For a deeper look at the types of courses included in an undergraduate communication degree, visit our Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media course catalog.
What can you do with a communication degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), media and communication occupations are expected to grow 14% from 2020 to 2030. This is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS attributes this career growth to the increased demand for creating, editing and translating information across multiple digital platforms.
Graduates with a communication degree may go on to pursue careers in the following fields:
- Social media management
- Public relations/strategic communications
- Marketing and communications
- Media planning
- Communications and consulting
- Politics and special issues lobbying
Fabj explains that some of these careers involve stronger communication skills than you might assume. For example, a large part of a journalist’s job is sifting through information and presenting it in a narrative format. “A lot of what you learn in our undergraduate communication and media program—even though it’s not a program specifically for journalists—teaches you how to take information from multiple sources and craft it into a compelling story.”
Communication degree jobs also include more technical roles, such as videographers. “When you’re a videographer, it’s not just about how you shoot, but what you shoot,” says Fabj. “Much of it comes down to critical thinking. What type of images do you want to show? What’s going to be the most impactful for your viewers? A communication degree teaches you much more than just how to use the camera.”
Communication degree vs. communications degree: is there a difference?
The short answer is yes. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between them.
The study of communication underscores the importance of how we connect with each other and the ways in which we ascribe meaning to language. A degree in communication empowers students to reach diverse audiences in the most impactful ways.
Communications (with the “s”), on the other hand, emphasizes the study of media, journalism, advertising, public relations and new technologies.
So, is it a communication degree or communications degree? The degree at Lynn University covers both communication and communications. Students learn extensively about various media fields and effective ways to use them.
Who is a good fit for a communication degree?
Since communication degree jobs are so varied, students who enroll in this type of program have diverse interests and goals. However, there are a few traits that many communication degree students share.
According to Fabj, communication students often enjoy talking, debating and writing. In addition to students who are interested in discourse and verbal communication, there are some students who are more visual.
“In this particular degree program, we put an emphasis on hands-on instruction, especially in areas such as social media, videography and photojournalism,” says Fabj. “So, it works very well for students who have a visual way of looking at the world.”
A communication degree may also be a good fit if you are not quite sure what you want to do after you graduate. “I’ve had students who have never done anything visual, then they end up taking our class in photojournalism, and they love it,” says Fabj. “What I really like about this major is that it allows you to find your strengths.”
Earn your communication degree with Lynn University
Because the career outcomes are so flexible, earning a communication degree can open up doors in a way that few majors can. “The kind of skills we teach can be used in so many sectors. It can help you explore different career paths and prepare you for graduate education,” says Fabj. “In today’s world, where things change so quickly, it really gives you invaluable skills.”
Lynn University’s online bachelor’s degree in communication and media is designed to help you gain the skills you need to connect with diverse, global audiences. For more information, reach out to us today.