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What Are Common Courses for an Advertising Major?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

For a current or aspiring advertising major, there are a great deal of requirements to complete before obtaining a coveted advertising degree. Many people see a commercial or read an advertisement without actually realizing the specialized knowledge and overwhelming amount of work that goes into an ad. The professionals behind each ad must put many skills to use for an idea to come to fruition regarding product advertisement. This knowledge is acquired through a plethora of course work, including strategy, planning, and law courses pertaining to the advertising industry.

Many factors affect advertisement development. An ad must encompass a particular product geared toward a target demographic in order to be successful. It also needs to abide by all laws and be affordable related to a set budget. An advertisement is not simply an arbitrary commercial or whimsical picture in the newspaper. Much thought needs to be put into every single ad for it to succeed, and there are many bright and hardworking minds making these dreams a reality.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Many people involved may have been an advertising major in college. They probably chose to become an advertising major because it would provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the field. The way they obtain this knowledge is through course work. The many courses in advertising are designed to give each student a well-rounded understanding of the industry.

Legal courses are designed to give a student an overview of the many laws dictating and affecting the industry. These courses are intense and may sometimes seem irrelevant. Down the road, however, they may be important as they are very influential in the development of new material.

Strategy courses surrounding advertising are important because they are somewhat at the heart of the industry. If there is no plan, it cannot be executed. Strategy includes obtaining demographic info, doing research on a product, and putting many pieces of the puzzle together to successfully create an ad campaign. Becoming a master of this art takes a lot of practice, and related courses are designed to help students and professionals practice and learn simultaneously.

Another set of courses may be of an ethical nature. Advertising is a very dynamic industry, swaying with the unspoken and spoken laws of society. A great ad in the 1950s would be scoffed at today or could be offensive. Understanding the ethical constraints ads must abide by is essential for this reason. There are, of course, other classes an advertising major could find themselves taking in an ever-changing environment, perhaps related to creative or other aspects of the advertising field.

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Discussion Comments


@cloudel - I am going to start college next year, and I will be majoring in art. I am a little bummed out about having to take advertising law courses, but that will just be one small part of the whole thing.

I am really looking forward to strategy courses. Doing research on a company and its products in order to craft a good ad sounds like so much fun. It almost sounds like you have to be an investigator of sorts, and I love that.

I can’t wait to really delve into learning all about this field. I will take the law courses like a bad-tasting medicine, downing them and getting them out of the way, but I will really relish the other courses.


I was a graphic design major in college, and the design students had to choose between a degree with an emphasis in advertising or in journalism. I chose advertising, and I think it has helped me better understand my field.

My goal was to one day work for a major advertising agency, so I knew I would need a good understanding of how advertising works. I took one course that showed me how to successfully put together an ad from start to finish. I had to come up with a successful concept and actually design it, as well.

When I did land a job, I had a better understanding of how the entire process worked. I think it would be great if advertising majors had to take just one design course, so they could see how our end of things works. This would make for better teamwork.


I had no idea that advertising majors had to take law courses. That does seem a bit of a reach at first thought, but with so many people and businesses just waiting for a chance to sue someone for offending them or doing something just a little unlawful, I can see why it would be necessary.

I wonder if advertising majors have trouble comprehending law course material. I know that I have always been dumbfounded by all the complexity of the terms, and since advertising focuses more on creativity, I would think it would be uninteresting at best to an advertising student.

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