A Deep Dive Into College Majors: Communications and Media Studies

By Taylor Clark, Press and Written Media Staff

Welcome to the communications and media studies tell all! The communications major offers hands-on experiences in a wide variety of fields. Hopefully, by reading this post you’ll have a better understanding of what the communications and media studies major entails, ranging from the courses offered, what the homework is like and the kinds of internships and wide array of jobs that are available.

First off, every university is going to offer different courses and experiences, but each program will feature similar core/introductory courses. Communications may be regarded as an ‘easy’ major, and while it is true that you won’t be solving chemical equations and memorizing countless formulas, it is just as rewarding and intellectually challenging. The communications and media studies major teaches young adults how to craft messages and understand audiences, with most going into media-related fields such as marketing, journalism and PR.

Homework Load

Communications is very heavy on reading, but the hours and hours of material are assigned to expose you to meaningful lessons and make you an expert word craftsman. As a chef eats to improve, a writer must read.

A lot of work will be done collaboratively. Group work will be the foundation of most of your communication classes and grades in the form of presentations, debates or many other types of creative products.

There will also be a lot of writing. At first, it will seem a bit overwhelming. Personally, I started writing and reading more in an attempt to adjust to the workload. Part of the writing process is making mistakes. I have become a much better writer within the last few years and that is primarily because I kept at it. With writing, you never stop learning.

Classes Offered

At my school, we have skills courses and outlet courses. Skills courses teach you the skills (ha!) you will need to possess in a particular field. For example, there are radio, PR, journalism and video production courses available. Skill courses are followed by outlet courses — after you take a skills course in journalism, you could take an outlet course and write for the on-campus newspaper. If you took a radio skills course, you could have your own radio show through the university.

Communication classes that I have taken in the past include “Media Theory and Research,” “Media Ethics and Law,” “21st Century Television as Art” and “Intro to Film Studies.” These courses are common and depending on your interests, you’d likely take something similar to these.

Communications is equally as creative as it is analytical. You need to possess the skill of being a critical thinker (I know, I know, boring), either when you arrive as a freshman or by the time you graduate. This means, for example, you read a book and disagree with its central argument. It’s okay to disagree, because it means you’re listening to someone else’s ideas, thinking about it and coming up with your own. Creatively speaking, you have a lot of freedom within a communications major. For example, in my senior seminar class, I was supposed to come up with a project that encapsulates everything I’ve learned in the past four years. Many students chose to make blogs, podcasts, children’s books, newspapers, films and YouTube videos. You have complete creative control with projects like these.

Internships & Job Opportunities

Every industry needs a good communicator and each has room for someone who majored in communications. The benefit of communications is that there really are so many different fields one could work in, but that in itself can turn into a challenge when there are too many opportunities available. So how do you decide? Where do you look for these jobs?

If you know you’re interested in a marketing field, narrow down where you’d like to work. Do you see yourself marketing for a makeup brand (L’oréal Paris has a ton of internships), a car company or a non-profit organization? Do you see yourself going into PR and working for wineries, celebrities or a new start-up? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself when deciding what profession you want to go into.

I suggest creating a LinkedIn account and start building your connections early on. It’s a great resource to see what kinds of jobs and internships are available. I’ve listed quite a few websites down below in varying fields that show current job openings to help you get an idea of what’s out there.

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