Communications Major Training and Careers

Communications Major Courses

man with a megaphone

Communications majors focus on the history of political and religious oratory; write reviews of speeches, TV programs, and films; research the sociology of interpersonal relations, group dynamics, and messages; study the effect of organizations and the media on people and society; analyze ways of thinking about human symbol systems (semiotics); and delve into the ethics of communication.

If your interests lean towards politics, presentations, advertising, television, film, analyzing oral and electronic messages, this could be the course you could easily identify with.

The skills and qualities that could help you breeze through this major are oral and written communication, critical listening, logical analysis, leadership.


Here are some typical Communications major courses:

Interpersonal Communication Public Speaking

Organizational Communication Argumentation

Media Criticism Group Communication

Advertising Mass Media in Society

Radio/TV/Film Production Broadcast Journalism Public Relations

Interviewing Persuasion


The study of communications go back as far as the writings of Plato and Aristotle on rhetoric and politics. Nowadays, social and electronic communications are explored historically, ethically, critically, theoretically, and sociologically by student investigators of interpersonal, organizational, group, public, and mass communication.

The major merges practical training and liberal arts education. To accomplish liberal arts recommendations, majors in communication generally choose history courses (Great Speeches in the Western World); encompassing theory courses on interpersonal, group, and public communication; media criticism courses (analyses of speeches, TV programs, films); social science courses that review breakthroughs about how personal relations start, grow, and decline, how political campaigns work, the logical and psychological facets of arguing, and the influence of television on society; and public policy courses, which test the ethics of persuasion, and First Amendment guarantees of free speech. Other programs focus only interpersonal, group, organizational, and public communication; some also offer courses in radio, television, film, and journalism.

Three types of classes are primary in the communication major. Performance and production courses are generally small; 12 to 15 students introduce oral or media work for evaluation. Large introductory lecture courses are supplemented by small weekly discussion sections; students in the lectures may be evaluated by objective tests. Junior and senior courses are usually in the form of lecture/discussion. Students could read and discuss communication theories, television programs, videotapes of presidential speeches, or First Amendment court cases. In these classes they're graded on their mastery of the readings, their shares on class discussions, and their ability to analyze what they read and see.

Performance and production classes give practical training. Specific communications skills—developing and delivering messages, critically listening to messages of others—are learned in courses in public speaking, interpersonal communication, group communication, interviewing, persuasion, and argumentation. Production programs instruct students to run a radio console, studio television and portable video equipment, and,  cameras. Media production programs coach students in the skills of pre-production (planning and writing), production (shooting), and postproduction (editing). Other institutions have modern studios and some send students to work in the field for their media projects. Occasionally, journalism courses are included in departments of communication.

Internships are a popular feature of several communication programs: students spend a few hours per week or a whole term getting on-the-job training in a radio station, an advertising firm, an insurance agency, a county or regional public service unit, a cable TV company, or a customer relations section. Students who know a foreign language might spend a term abroad studying the politics, mass media, theater, or cinema of another culture.

The communications major can lead to careers as a TV producer or director, political staff member, on-air or on-camera talent, traffic manager or continuity writer in radio, press secretary, speech writer, reporter, communication researcher. The major is a great preparation for jobs in other fields. Many graduates turn into advertising account executives, public relations specialists, office managers, teachers, publishers, government officials, lawyers, insurance representatives, politicians, clergymen, personnel trainers.