What is a Communication Major?

Communication underpins our entire society. New media, digital platforms, and other technologies connect the modern world like never before. Given that the field of communications is growing and diversifying, what skills are needed to succeed? And what is a communication major, exactly?

A female business leader presents to colleagues in a conference room

Through their studies, students who major in communication aim to become leaders in their field, gaining competencies that are high in demand by such dynamic industries as marketing, social media, public relations, and broadcasting. Majoring in communication presents an opportunity for students to develop a keen awareness of the many ways and settings in which communication impacts personal relationships, business interactions, and mass communication.

What Does a Communication Major Cover?

By majoring in communication, students learn how to become effective critical thinkers, proficient in writing, speaking, and strategic interpretation. These skill sets are then applied to many different fields, including media, law, and business. Communication majors often take a range of classes that intersect with sociology, business, journalism, and other disciplines.

What makes a good communication major? A broad understanding of how the field can positively impact an organization’s operations is vital, as is a willingness to think critically about the evolving landscape of communication. Communication professionals must stay up-to-date on the impact of new technologies and emergent platforms. Students who seek to develop written and verbal skills, who appreciate multidisciplinary work, and who enjoy listening to others and cultivating relationships with them are great candidates for a communication degree. Additionally, a master’s degree in communication offers the opportunity to delve deeper into high-level topics such as strategic communication.

Strategic communication is a growing field within the broader communication landscape: it is highly goal-oriented and features intentional benchmarks and outcomes. Each communication campaign has its own contexts and markers for success, but broadly speaking, strategic communication specialists design, manage and launch campaigns with the goal of informing and influencing a target audience. The specifics of the work are diverse and might involve persuasion to change health behaviors, market a product, or improve people’s attitude toward a public figure.

At an advanced level, communication majors seek to expand their understanding of the many ways communication intersects with effective leadership. Having a high degree of cultural awareness and deep knowledge of audience analysis, data interpretation, and presentation skills allow communication majors to create and disseminate impactful messages.

The Marketable Competencies of a Communication Major

The versatility of a master’s degree in strategic communication and leadership allows the degree to be applied to careers in many industries. Communication specialists must possess many different skills to become leaders in their organizations.

  • Understanding body language. People are constantly using body language to express intentions, show interest, and much more. Gestures, posture, and expressions all send subtle messages that many people innately understand. A comprehension of body language is vital to effective listening and communicating. Business Insider estimates that somewhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. For communication specialists, understanding body language is not just an added skill: it is a core part of their day-to-day work.
  • Negotiation skills. In the many leadership roles that communication majors might assume after graduation, some manner of negotiation will likely fall to them. Effective strategic communication involves working with others by compromising at times and drawing hard lines at others. Knowing how to navigate the difficult situations that often arise out of these scenarios helps communication experts strengthen their problem-solving and listening skills. This promotes better outcomes for all.
  • Written and verbal persuasion skills. Changing the minds of others is often an objective of communication, so the ability to be persuasive with language is important for a communication professional’s success in the workplace. From presenting a project to the board of directors to the act of submitting a resumé and cover letter to a company, nearly all the activities of a professional in this field require some persuasive communication. The elements of convincing communication include authority, consistency, and likability.
  • Cross-cultural communication. Businesses and nonprofits operate in a global economy, which is just one of the reasons why it is so exciting to be a communication professional today. In an increasingly connected world, to be able to communicate across cultures is vital for professionals to grow and thrive. As the field of communication increasingly emphasizes everything international, it is necessary that communication majors hone cross-cultural communication skills to prevent miscommunication or misinterpretation.

Understanding what a communication major is and the skills necessary to thrive in this dynamic field is the first step to entering the world of communication. Cultivating the skills of a top-flight communicator puts students on the path to becoming a leader in an area whose importance to industries of all types increases daily.

Earn Your Advanced Degree in Communications

The path to becoming a capable communicator begins with a commitment to the study of strategic communication. Through Maryville University’s online master’s degree program in strategic communication and leadership, you’ll engage in a dynamic curriculum designed to support students as they prepare for success in this rewarding career.

Sources:

Business Insider: Body Language is Half of Business Communication

Maryville University: Master’s in Strategic Communication and Leadership, Online Master’s Degrees

Maryville University Course Catalog: Strategic Communications and Leadership M.A.

The Princeton Review: Three Skills All Communications Majors Must Have

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Media and Communication Occupations