People wouldn’t be able to cooperate or work together without communication. Every career, vocation, and social activity depends on it. As part of a quality liberal arts program, the English department at PC offers a concentration in Communication Studies to prepare students for success in graduate school and many career fields. The program is designed to develop strong communicators who skillfully construct and interpret messages, making them valuable to employers and effective in the civic arena of democracy.
What Is a Concentration?
A “concentration” is a focused area of study within a broader discipline. It is like an academic specialty. Students may choose to “concentrate” their undergraduate study in a specialized area.
The English department at PC offers a few concentrations:
- concentration in Creative Writing
- concentration in English Education
- concentration in Communication Studies
At PC, instead of calling it a Communication Studies major, we call it the “English major with a Communication Studies Concentration.” That’s a mouthful, but the idea is simple: If you want to study communication while you’re at PC, and if you want to make that your area of focus — and if you want to have “Communication Studies” on your official college transcript — then you declare as an English major and choose the Communication Studies Concentration.
Why Should a Student Look Into Communication Studies?
Surveys routinely show that employers rank competence in speaking, writing, and presentation among the most desirable qualities in a potential hire. They want people who can adapt to situations, collaborate with colleagues, and inspire confidence in others. All of these practices require competency in communication.
Does the Communication Studies Concentration Focus on Public Speaking?
Many of us hear the word “communicate” and imagine a person speaking clearly so that an audience can understand a message. While important, an emphasis on getting information across clearly is just one aspect of a quality liberal arts communication program. Learning how to be a strong communicator involves more than just polishing your vocal delivery and presenting yourself with confidence. You also have to understand how communication is related to culture.
Students may be surprised to learn that advanced study of communication involves a lot more than just sharpening one’s interpersonal or group communication skills. In fact, since we live in a world full of visual, digital, and nonverbal messaging, communication studies challenges students to explore how different societies and cultures produce, exchange, and revise meaning. Meaning is produced, exchanged, and revised through the use of symbols, physical gesture, clothing, bodily performance, photography, stories, memes, online videos, statues, museums, advertisements, political campaigns, film, slogans, and yes, speech.
What You’ll Study When You Concentrate in Communication Studies
At PC, the credentialed study of communication is folded into an English major. Our emphasis in the communication studies concentration falls first on integrating written and spoken language. Beyond that its aim is to provide students with theoretical and practical training in multiple modes of composition, including visual and audio design. As such it combines course work in literature and composition with other areas of focus such as citizenship, race, sports, health care, persuasion, audio recording, religion, social media, film, and visual communication.
COMM courses fall into four different categories:
- Mass Communication
- Visual Communication
- Digital Communication
- Rhetoric and Public Advocacy
Most COMM courses take a rhetorical approach to communication, which investigates the persuasive effect of written, spoken, visual, and material symbols. You’ll have many opportunities to integrate the written and spoken word with other modes of composition, including visual and audio design. In each course you’ll explore how communication functions in a diverse society and helps citizens be more productive, ethical, and engaged.
Students who declare an English major and Communication Studies concentration will complete 39 to 40 credit hours of coursework in addition to PC’s general education requirements.
During your first two years you’ll take required courses that include COMM 2100 Introduction to Communication Studies and COMM 2200 Communicating Citizenship. You’ll also pick a Foundations course such as SPCH 201 Public Speaking or ENGL 2101 Studies in Linguistics, and a survey course in British, American or world literature. Your final two years include higher-level courses, with studies in visual, digital, and mass communication. As a senior, you’ll demonstrate your skills in research, writing, and presentation through a capstone project. If eligible, you may also conduct an honors project, which earns you marks of distinction on your transcript and diploma.
Experiences Outside the Classroom
No matter your major, at PC you’ll have a number of opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom. PC’s caring professors inspire you to be generous in your thinking and interacting with others in the world. Outside the classroom, experiences like studying abroad and volunteering in the community expand your learning opportunities:
- Studying abroad. PC’s English department organizes “Maymester” trips to a variety of international locations such as Berlin, China, England, Ireland and Prague. Students recently spent their spring break studying literature and creative writing in Paris.
- Summer Fellows Program. You can work together with your professors on a summer project and receive a stipend for participating in the program.
- Independent research. You can conduct independent research during the regular academic year on a topic of your choice.
- Internships. Recent English majors have interned in such varied fields as alumni relations, chambers of commerce, journalism—even the FBI.
In addition to these campuswide opportunities, other extracurricular activities are available to you as a student in the English department.
- Publications. Students may write for The Blue Stocking campus newspaper and Figs & Thistles, the literary magazine.
- Student Media and Broadcasting. PC’s campus radio station, WPCX 97.1 FM (live stream here), has plenty of opportunities for those interested in broadcasting. Blue Tube is a creative media outlet overseen entirely by PC students.
- Film. The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers visits campus each year. Students have the opportunity to watch films and meet the filmmakers.
- Speaker Series. The English department invites published writers onto campus to speak with students, sit in on classes and give public readings.
Your English degree, with its emphasis on communication and critical thinking, prepares you for employment in a variety of sectors. While it is true that people who are equipped with a command of communication make great teachers and writers, they also are well-positioned for careers in business, media research and production, law, journalism, advertising, government, public relations, ministry, design, corporate training, consulting, and many other professions.
According to PayScale’s College Salary Report, a bachelor’s degree in English can earn you a mid-career salary of $69,000 or more. Many English majors find high-paying positions with titles like Content Marketing Manager and Communications Director.
Graduates from PC’s English department now work as legal assistants, grant writers and credit risk analysts. They teach at primary and secondary schools in the US, and internationally in places like Thailand and Hong Kong. Other alumni are pursuing advanced degrees in law, medicine, and public administration. The English major with a Communication Studies concentration exemplifies PC’s liberal arts focus and prepares you with problem-solving, communication, and other valuable skills employers look for.
4 Fast Facts
- Communication Studies includes a wide range of courses, from literature and rhetoric to visual and digital communication.
- Communication skills are routinely listed among the top qualities employers look for in new hires.
- More and more firms are hiring content editors and creators who can create podcasts, websites, and print media, all of which are central to communication studies.
- The proportion of people on LinkedIn who report they work in content/editor roles at non-media companies has grown by 32% in the past decade.
If you want to find out more about the Communication Studies concentration, or if you have any questions you want to discuss, reach out to Dr. Perdue, the Director of Communication Studies, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.