Is a Communications Degree Worth It?

Considering getting a communications degree? Wondering if it’s worthwhile? You’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll explore this field of communications—sharing sample curricula, potential career paths and more to help you figure out if a communications degree program is a good fit for you.

Let’s get started!

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What Do You Learn in a Communication Degree Program?

There are multiple pathways to pursuing an education in communications. Here are three common options:

Bachelor’s in CommunicationsServing as an introduction to the communications industry, this degree typically teaches students how to develop and deliver messages across different formats and audiences. Sample courses might include Introduction to Journalism, Introduction to Linguistics, Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Strategic Storytelling, Mass Media and Society, Public Relations Writing, Social Media Strategy and Ethics and the Media.

Master’s in CommunicationsAs a more advanced degree, this graduate path may help to equip you with the knowledge and skills  to address messaging on a local, national and international level. Sample courses include Strategic Communication, Communication Research Methods, Communication and Ethics, Crisis Communication, Persuasive Communication, Strategic Corporate Branding and Advertising.

Master of Communication Management. As another advanced option, this degree is designed to teach you how to understand, create and implement effective communication strategies that bring real business value. Sample courses might include Media and Culture, Strategic Corporate Communication, Audience Analysis, Global Marketing Communication or Foundations of Effective PR Writing.

Things to Consider When Deciding if a Communications Degree Is Right for You

In deciding whether a communications degree is right for you, consider all your options—from undergraduate programs to postgraduate study. While bachelor’s degrees tend to be more introductory and exploratory, master’s degrees are generally geared toward students with a concrete career vision or those looking to advance in a particular field. At the end of the day, the best communications degree for you will depend on your unique professional goals—and only you can decide your path forward.

Your Interests

In addition to your career goals, thinking through what inspires you could help when deciding on a degree program.  Is communications a good major for me? To answer this all-important question, you can start by asking yourself another one: “Do I enjoy working with words?” 

As a communications professional, the alphabet will be your playground. If you love reading and writing, an undergraduate or graduate degree in communications may be a fit for you. But if the thought of working with words each and every day inspires dread rather than excitement, a different path might probably be better for you.

Soft Skills

Depending on their area of specialization, communications professionals may possess certain skills that help them to carry out their daily duties successfully. Here are three skills and traits that may come in handy when pursuing a course or career in communications:

  • Curiosity. You can’t count the number of times you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole while researching an obscure topic. Often found scribbling down story ideas, you love learning about the world and sharing that knowledge with others.
  • Creativity. A well-written headline or snappy marketing slogan gets your neurons firing (and chances are, you can even rattle off a few all-time favorite ad campaigns).
  • Empathy. You care about hearing people’s stories and helping communities by way of the written word.

Did you check off any (or all) of the above? Great! Keep reading to discover the various positions and work settings available within the field.

What Can You Do with a Communications Degree?

Communications is a discipline with a number of specialty areas, so it’s no surprise that a degree in communications may help to prepare you for roles in a variety of industries: marketing, public relations, journalism, politics, media production and more. Here, we’ll break down some common career paths students take after obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s in communications.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get with Different Communications Degrees?

Upon completing their chosen program, students can pursue a number of jobs with a communication degree.

A Bachelor of Communications may qualify you for an entry-level position in mass communications, journalism, marketing, public relations and more. These roles may include social media coordinator, journalist, copywriter, associate brand manager, media planner, digital marketer or public relations assistant.  You can even work with a local nonprofit as a community manager.

More advanced degrees, like a Master of Communications or Master of Communication Management, may prepare you for roles like business executive, human relations manager, public relations manager, marketing executive, advertising executive, web content manager, communications director, or communications consultant.

Finally, a Doctor of Communications may equip students with advanced qualifications for professional work in public policy, research, marketing and production at media, nonprofit, advocacy, government and industry organizations.

How Much Can You Make With a Communication Degree?

At this point, you might be wondering: What is the average salary for a communications major? 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for media and communication professionals was $59,230 in May 2019 —higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

However, salaries in the communications industry aren’t one-size-fits-all—and entry-level candidates with a bachelor’s in communications will generally earn lower salaries than more experienced master’s graduates. Pay will also vary based on job title, employer and other factors. For instance, the BLS shows that the median salary for reporters was $46,270 in 2019, while the median pay for marketing managers was $136,850 that same year.

Benefits of Obtaining a Degree in Communication

From gaining transferable skills to learning how to drive business outcomes through creative and innovative communications strategies, earning a degree in communications can have its advantages. Whether or not the degree is a good fit for you depends on your personal goals, so be sure to consider each one of them when you’re making your mind up.

The art of communication is the language of leadership,” said James Humes, author and former presidential speechwriter. Applicable to a wide range of careers, a communications degree may help you convey messages with confidence and clarity—whether you’re crafting a catchy tagline at a copywriting agency, preparing a presidential speech on Pennsylvania Avenue or even negotiating chores with a family member at home.

A degree in the field may also help you to build up quantitative and qualitative research skills. At a marketing firm, these skills can be used to identify target audiences. And at a news agency, a reporter might use these skills to rule out hearsay or interpret a dataset for a story they’re writing. In other settings, these skills prove useful in different ways.

Alternatives to a Communications Degree Career

Perhaps a communications degree isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Not to worry! Here, we’ll explore a few alternative careers for communications-minded individuals—each of which comes with its own perks.

Business Degree or Courses

If you’re particularly passionate about entrepreneurship, accounting, financial management or business analytics, you may consider pursuing a Bachelor of Business AdministrationMaster of AccountingMaster of Business Administration, or online business courses. As part of these degree programs, students typically take business courses in finance, marketing, corporate strategy, entrepreneurship and project management.

Marketing Degree or Courses

While an education in communications may prepare candidates for careers in marketing, you might opt for a marketing degree if this area is your primary passion. In pursuing a bachelor’s or Master of Marketing, you can expect to take marketing courses in statistics, consumer behavior, digital marketing, product development, pricing strategy, advertising, brand management and more.

Public Relations Degree or Courses

A communications degree can also prepare you for a career in public relations—but people with a distinct passion for PR may choose to pursue a more tailored program from the outset, like a Master of Public Relations. Through this program, students take public relations courses in ethics, reputation management, crisis communication and more. It’s important to note that some colleges and universities may offer communications degree programs that focus mostly on public relations.

Journalism Degree or Courses

Similarly, students who have their sights set on a career in journalism may opt for a more specialized degree like a Master of Journalism. In taking this path, you’ll focus specifically on storytelling—rather than marketing or PR—through a wide range of journalism courses like news reporting, magazine writing, sports media, video journalism, ethics and law, data analysis and photojournalism.

Last Updated December 2020