A degree in communications can lead to positions in many fields, including journalism, advertising, teaching, and more. Communications degree requirements vary depending on the focus of the degree and by school or institution. Students majoring in communications with a journalism focus will be required to take several different writing and editing classes, while those focusing on advertising will take more public relations classes. Most communications degrees also require a number of classes that everyone will need to take, regardless of the specialty concentration.
Before enrolling in a communications degree program, most students will be required to take an entrance exam to determine their level of proficiency in writing and grammar. The score on this placement test will determine which classes are required before students can begin taking the core classes that make up the communications degree requirements. Those who score too low may need to take introductory language classes, while those who score exceptionally high may not be required to take certain pre-requisite courses.
During the first two years, most communications degree requirements focus on the basics. Speech communications and writing composition are required of just about every student, regardless of the degree program. With communications degree programs, however, these two classes become more important because they provide the starting point for all other classes in the curriculum. Other basic classes include sociology and psychology.
During the third and fourth years of a four-year program, communications degree requirements start focusing on students’ chosen specialties. Those who are planning to go into a print journalism field will most likely be required to take courses on basic news writing, feature writing, and copy-editing. Students planning to become advertising specialists will focus on marketing and public relations classes. The head of each department can help students determine which classes they will need for their chosen specialty.
In addition to classroom communications degree requirements, students are typically expected to complete an internship related to their specialty. For example, a print journalism concentration student will intern at a local newspaper or magazine, while a radio journalism student may work at a local radio station. Those who plan to go into public relations may work with an advertising firm. Completing the internships typically makes up between four to 12 college credits towards the degree.
Aside from the required internships, many degree programs encourage students to join extracurricular activities that fit in with the communications curriculum. College newspapers, radio stations, or television stations are usually the best choices. Debate teams or film festivals are also good extracurricular activities.