Communications Major Considered

  • What is the Communications Major?
  • Overview of programs
  • Profile of Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern

What is a ‘communications’ major, and what do you do with it? A good starting point is the College Board’s Majors and Career Central There you will discover that Communications encompasses a range of subjects: advertising, digital media (anything from website design, ecommerce, to writing for web-based media), journalism (copyediting, magazine writing, broadcast news...), public relations, and radio and television.

Be careful, however, because communications is called many different things. At USC and Stanford they do call it ‘communications’. At Boston University (BU) it is called communication studies, with journalism completely separate. At a big state university, such as Arizona State University, there are separate majors for each ‘communications’ component: advertising, journalism, public relations. While in Pomona or Kalamazoo College they call communications “Media Studies”. Northwestern, like BU, has both a journalism program in its Medill School of Journalism, and a communications major in the Weinstein School of Arts and Sciences. One of the tour guides at Northwestern when asked about the difference between journalism and communications said,  “…journalism is more about the making of communication, while communication studies, as the program is called, is more about the study of communication.” Obviously that guide is still learning to communicate.    

Currently there are fewer than 70,000 reporters, correspondents, and analysts in the US. Over half are working at newspapers, which are at the end of their life cycle; the big employers, as we progress deeper into the decade, will be web-based media. Employment in the world of communications is projected to decline around 6% between now and the end of 2018. You’d expect the number of students contemplating a career in journalism, or communications, to be declining, yet, just the opposite is true: at UCLA, Stanford, and USC, the competition for spots in the Communications department is highly competitive. At UCLA, if you had wanted to declare a major in communications during the last admissions cycle you would have discovered it was impacted. That shouldn’t block you from pursuing the major; after all, you don’t formally declare until the end of your sophomore year.

Generally, communications majors take courses in a range of subjects: public speaking, media, rhetoric, argumentation and public relations for example.  Journalism, at least in Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, has three tracks to select among: magazine, newspaper, and broadcast. Students then take classes in Reporting and Writing, Web-Based Journalism, and IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) which is the life blood of all media: advertising.  

Medill College at Northwestern University grants a BSJ degree. Journalism is a field that requires a breadth of general knowledge coupled with writing, oral, and presentation skills and a solid familiarity with a variety of media.  Consequently, the fact students in Medill must take a strong set of general education courses distributed over a range of subjects is important.  

Employers of communication majors (publishing houses, website news bureaus for example) value practical experience above virtually all the other aspects of educational training. In many cases it’s extremely difficult to get a job without a solid portfolio of work to share.  Medill truly excels is in mixing real world experience, through extensive internship programs, with the classroom. There is nothing quite like producing a piece of reporting right before deadline, or directly, live, on the web, or TV.  In Medill’s Chicago Storefront program students spend at least a quarter (11 weeks) doing real reporting at Medill locations throughout Chicago. There is also Journalism Residency for 1 quarter in each of the junior and senior years. This would allow a student to work as a full time reporter at a location for a national (or international) media company.

If communications is in your blood the most important aspect of any program is gaining internships and real world experience. Obviously, great professors, solid coursework, and state-of-the-art studios and facilities are nice, but the critical factor is real experience meeting deadlines with aplomb. Do that well and consistently, and the jobs will come. If you don’t like this reality, don’t kill the messenger; I’m just reporting.

컴뮤니케이션 전공

  • 의사소통 전공이란?
  • 프로그램 알아보기
  • Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern소개

‘컴뮤니케이션’전공이 무엇이며, 이 전공으로 무엇을 할 수 있는가?  출발은 우선 College Board의 ‘전공과 직업’(에서 알아 볼 수 있다.  그러면, 이 전공으로 광고, 디지털 미디어(웹디자인, ecommerce, 웹미디어), 언론(카피에디팅, 잡지, 뉴스쓰기..), PR, 라디오, TV 까지 다루는 것을 알 수 있다.

그런데, 컴뮤니케이션은 여러 가지로 불리워진다.  USC와 Stanford에서는 ‘communication’으로 Boston 대학에서는 언론학과와는 따로 컴뮤니케이션 전공이 있다.  Arizona State University 같이 큰 대학에서는 다음과 같은 부전공으로 나뉘어져 있다: 광고, 언론, PR.  Pomona 대학이나 Kalamazoo College에서는 ‘Media Studies’로 부른다.  Northwestern에서는 BU와 같이 언론학은 School of Medill에서, 컴뮤니케이션은 Weinstein School of Arts and Sciences에 속한다.  Northwestern 대학 캠퍼스 투어에서 언론학과 컴뮤니케이션의 차이에 대해서 질문했을 때, 담당자는 “언론학은 의사소통을 만드는 것에 관한 것이며, 컴뮤니케이션은 의사소통 자체 연구이다”라고 답했다 ( communication.html.). 

현재 미국에는 70,000명 정도의 리포터, 특파원, 분석가들이 있다.  반 이상이 현재로서는 전망이 없는 신문사에 종사하고 있고, 그 나머지는 현재 신속히 발전 중인 웹 미디어에 종사한다.  현재 2018년까지 약 6% 정도 일자리가 줄 것으로 예상된다.  그럼에도 불구하고, 대학에서는 정반대 현상이다: UCLA, Stanford, USC에서 이 학과는 매우 경쟁이 심하다.  UCLA에서 입학원서에서 이 전공을 택하려고 한다면 너무 경쟁적이며, 2학년 말에 가서야 하는 것이 용이하다.

일반적으로 이 전공을 택하면, 발표하기, 미디어, 수사학, 논쟁 등을 배운다.  예를 들면, Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern에서는 세 가지 트랙이 있다: 잡지, 신문, 방송.  이수할 과목으로는 Reporting and Writing, Web-Based Journalism, IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) 즉, 모든 미디어분야에서 꼭 필요한 광고 등이다. 

Medill College at Northwestern University 에서는 BSJ 학위를 준다.  언론학은 쓰기, 말하기, 발표하기와 다양한 미디어에 익숙하도록 다양한 지식을 제공한다.  그리하여 이 대학의 언론학과 학생들은 다양한 교양과목들을 택하여 다양한 지식을 습득한다.

컴뮤니케이션 전공을 채용하는 곳(출판사, 웹뉴스 부서)에서는 위와 같은 교육배경에 실제적인 경험을 중시한다.  그래서 우수한 포트폴리오가 없이는 취직하기 어렵다.  Medill 대학은 인턴쉽과정을 통하여 우수한 실습을 제공한다.  마감시간을 맞추고, 웹이나 TV에서 라이브로 진행하는 실력이 필요하다.  Medill’s 시카고 프로그램은 한 학기 (11주)동안 시카고 지역으로 실제로 방송을 한다.  Journalism Residency는 3, 4학년 중 한 학기 동안 미디어 회사 (국내, 국외) 에서 전임 기자로 일하도록 한다.

만약 여러분이 언론에 관심이 있다면, 실제적인 경험이 중요하다.  물론, 우수한 교수, 탄탄한 학과공부, 스튜디오 시설도 중요하지만, 마감시간을 편안히 맞출 수 있는 현실경험이 무엇보다 중요하다.  이런 실력이 쌓인다면, 직장은 걱정할 필요없다.  너무 심한 요구라고 필자를 비난하지는 말라.  단지 현실을 알려주는 것이니까.