A degree in media communications will teach you how to critically analyze the ways that the media represents, reflects and influences our world. Students who study media communications hone their writing, speaking and general communication skills for work in journalism, creative writing, marketing and public relations.
What Is Media Communications?
In media communications, you will use many mediums, including print and video, to market and promote goods and services for a variety of public and private institutions. Media communications involves working with organizations to influence, educate inform and motivate people about practices, products and services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment for media and communication occupations will grow by 6% from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as average when compared to other occupations. There will be approximately 43,200 new jobs in these areas during this time period. Demand for all media and communication occupations is expected to go up due to the need to create, edit, translate and disseminate information through a variety of platforms, especially online ones.
An advantage of a media communications degree is that you can work in many types of communication careers. For example, one of the most common occupations for a person with this degree is public relations specialist. These professionals are responsible for creating and maintaining a strong public image for the company or organization they represent. Public relations specialists write media releases and develop innovative social media programs to shape the perception of the public and to increase awareness of organizational goals and work.
Job demand for public relations specialists is on the rise, with 9% growth expected through 2026, which is about as fast as average. It is expected that organizations will continue to stress community outreach and customer relations as a means to enhance and maintain visibility and reputation. With the importance of the Internet today, public opinion can change very quickly as good and bad news can spread online so fast. So, more public relations specialists will be in need to respond faster to news developments and keep the reputation of their organization.
It is estimated that public relations specialists held approximately 259,600 jobs in 2016, with the biggest employers being:
- Advertising, public relations and related services: 15%
- Educational services: 11%
- Business, professional, labor and political organizations; 9%
- Government: 9%
The median salary for public relations specialists in 2017 was $59,300, with the bottom 10% earning less than $32,800 and the top 10% earning more than $112,000. BLS also noted that wages for public relations specialists varied according to these industries:
- Government: $63,500
- Advertising, public relations and related services: $62,600
- Business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations: $61,700
- Educational services: $54,600
Online Degree Programs
Today you have more opportunities to earn a degree in media communications than ever before. There are many high quality, online options available in this major so that you can earn your degree with a minimum of time and hassle. Students can earn their degree at home without ever visiting a campus.
A solid option for an undergraduate degree is the online Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Arizona State University. This four year bachelor’s degree explores many types of mass communication concerns from many angles, including cultural, social, historical, political, economic, legal and technological. This degree program will give you a very good understanding of mass communication, which is such a critical asset for a good career in government, media, communications, business and nonprofit organizations.
Courses are taught by renowned faculty at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and will help you to develop a nuanced and deep understanding of the importance, power and influence of the media and how it is changing so quickly.
Some of your required courses will include:
- Digital Media Literacy
- Media Research Methods
- War and Mass Media
- Visual Communication
- Media Issues in American Pop Culture
- Global Awareness
- Media and Society
- International Mass Communication
- Race, Gender and Media
Students who want to get a good start in a media communications degree often earn their bachelor’s degree in media communications or a related field. For example, Southern New Hampshire University has an online Bachelor of Arts in Communications and the New Media. Students in this four year degree program learn how to use new media in the context of a media campaign in many industries and fields. This degree program focuses on many media related subject areas, such as new media technology, social media research and marketing, and how interpersonal development is important in mediated environments. Content production for new media platforms is also covered in detail.
This online bachelor’s degree in new media and communication will give you exposure to many areas in the field, including graphic design, business communication and PR. Students become an expert generator of online buzz, which is of great value to any organization.
Required classes include:
- Business Communication
- Introduction to Mass Communication
- Public Speaking
- Public Relations
- Graphics and Layout
- Multimedia Journalism
- Social Media
- Organizational Communications
If you want to move into a management or director position in communications, media relations or public relations, you may consider earning a Master of Mass Communication from Arizona State University. This is a 12 month master’s program that uses the method of hospital teaching to immerse you in the proper practice of journalism and ready you for a career in the media industry.
This is a full time journalism graduate program that is unique because of its focus, intensity and scope. The beginning of the program is a boot camp where students learn the values, principles and reporting skills that were so important to Walter Cronkite, who was the mentor and and guiding light of this program for more than 30 years. Students also will learn how to navigate in the 21st century media environment that is so different than decades ago. Students will apply this knowledge through a practical and extensive experience in one of the university’s professional programs in digital journalism, broadcast journalism and audience engagement.
Some typical requirements to be admitted into a master’s program in mass communications are:
- GRE scores may or may not be required
- Bachelor’s degree
- Writing samples
Some of the required courses in the Arizona State University master’s program are:
- Journalism Skills
- Media Law
- Data Journalism
- 21st Century Media Organization and Entrepreneurship
- History, Philosophy and Ethics of Journalism
- Master of Mass Communication Capstone
- Lab Observation
Here are some scholarships and grants, as well as organizations that can help you to pay for your media communications degree:
- Association for Women in Sports Media: $1000
- National Association of Black Journalists: $1500
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists: $1000 to $2000
- Overseas Press Club Foundation: $2000 to $3000
- National Press Club: $2000 to $5000
- American Copy Editors Society: $6500
Students who want a strong and progressive career in media communications may consider belonging to these associations for their networking and educational opportunities:
- American Communication Association
- American Marketing Association
- Association for Women in Communication
- Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management
- International Association of Business Communicators
With a media communications degree, you will qualify for many good career opportunities in public relations, communications and the media.
- Public Relations Specialists. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-3
- 10 Communication Associations to Build Your Professional Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://programs.online.american.edu/msc/resource/10-communication-associations-to-build-your-professional-network