Is There a Difference Between a Communications and Communications Studies Degree?
On a curricular level, there is no difference between a Communications and Communications Studies degree. The academic discipline of Communications Studies, whether the degree name includes “studies” or not, explores each of the three processes of human communication: verbal, written, and nonverbal. In that vein, communications studies majors and experts explore a wide variety of topics from mass media, to face-to-face interactions, to television broadcasting. Another path in communication studies examines how messages are interpreted through political, cultural, economic, or social lenses. Crossovers with other fields like Political Economics, Statistics, and Business have also explored more industry specific topics and often lead to industry specific jobs.
So if there is no difference between Communication and Communication Studies, then what’s the point of this article? Because Communications Studies contains such a variety of options to study and explore, degree seekers and holders have a lot of options to consider. Since it isn’t possible for someone to study ALL forms of human communication, most Communications degrees offer focus areas to help students funnel to their desired interests and chosen career paths. But how do you start to grapple with all those options? That’s where this article comes in. We’ll explore some common concentrations in Communication degrees and some common jobs per degree level and per concentration, so that you can get a better idea of this increasingly common and increasingly complex degree.
Associate’s Degrees in Communications
At the associates level, Communications Studies degrees often offer introductions to social networks, technology heavy forms of communication, business communications, and general interpersonal, organizational, and media communication forms. Since the degree serves as an introduction to basic concepts in Communication Studies, students typically take classes in interpersonal communication, business or professional writing, organizational communication, and ethics. Some programs offer one or two more specialized classes, like marketing or social media communication. Associate’s degrees in Communications is a great way for interested students to get a feel for the field, or for the working professional, to take advantage of online degree programs that will help jump start their career.
With its general introduction to Communication Studies, an associate’s degree prepares graduates for entry level positions like sales or customer service representatives. Depending on the type of electives offered through the degree program or any additional experience students gain in their chosen field, graduates also enter jobs as broadcast technicians, proofreaders, and public relations assistants. These jobs can be great starting points for professionals at the start of their career, and to continue to gain additional experience while enrolled in more advanced online degree programs. For more information on what sort of jobs an associate’s in Communication can get you, check out our article, What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with an Associate’s in Communications?.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Communications
Many bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies include the general introduction covered at the associate’s level but with additional concentrations for students to explore. Students still take courses in interpersonal and organizational communication, but with more advanced classes in topics like mass communication and society, strategic communication, and crisis communications. Common specialities at the bachelor’s level include business administration, public relations, media studies, and conflict resolution. Through the introduction of concentration areas, students can better prepare for the desired career field and can often gain additional experience through internships built into the degree program.
The increased understanding of communications concepts, as well as field-specific coursework, means bachelor’s degree holders can enter a wider range of jobs. Some are still entry level but require more education than associate’s level jobs. For instance, bachelor’s degree holders might start their careers as public relations specialists, communications planners, or technical writers. Depending on their concentration, Communication Studies graduates can also enter mid-level and management positions like business analysts, social media managers, or marketing managers. For additional information on the types of jobs and concentrations available for a bachelor’s in Communications, check out our post, What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with a Bachelor’s in Communications?.
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Master’s Degrees in Communications
Most master’s in communications degree programs offer additional forms of specializations, and thus are often field specific. That being said, there are still a lot of options for students to explore, including working professionals who are looking for a career change and can take advantage of one of the many online master’s degree programs. While many master’s in Communications Studies programs will include advanced classes on strategic communication, conflict management, and communications research, most programs require students to choose a specialization. Common master’s level focus areas include: Interpersonal Communication, Health Communication, Public Relations, Social and Digital Media, or Integrated Marketing Communications.
Due to the increased specializations at the Master’s level, Communications graduates often focus on a particular industry and are looking to advance into managerial positions within those industries. Many graduates move into positions like marketing communication managers, communication directors, public relations managers, and brand managers. Outside of business and marketing, many master’s degree holders work as media planners, newscasters, broadcast producers, and market or communication researchers. For a more in-depth look at potential career paths, check out our article, What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with a Master’s in Communications?.