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Career Exploration

For further information on career planning,
working with a career counselor, or what
you can do with a major in communication 
studies
, please visit CLA Career Services.

Students in communication studies develop a broad range of analytical and communication skills which help prepare them for careers in business, journalism, law, and politics. A communication studies degree also prepares students for work in new and developing information sector careers, including public information specialism, electronic media writing and production, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Upon graduation, our graduates are marked by their critical thinking, versatile skill set, and of course, communication skills. They thrive in fields like management, human resources, and education.

You might find this article interesting while planning your career path with the communication studies major. Many students also choose to supplement their communication studies major with a minor.

Some popular career paths include:

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  • Television
  • Marketing
  • Human rights advocacy
  • Campaign management
  • Speech writing
  • Grant writing
  • Business leadership
  • Teaching
  • Data analysis
  • Media analysis

Local business and social service organizations offer a variety of internship opportunities for students to apply course concepts to issues in actual communication situations.

Below are course suggestions for some of the popular career areas that you may decide to pursue. Please note that these are just suggestions, and these courses are in addition to COMM 1101/H Public Speaking, COMM 1313W Analysis of Argument, COMM 3995 Senior Paper Project.

Communication Management

If you're interested in fields like human resources, customer service, or hospitality, this communications track will help you develop the necessary interpersonal skills to excel in those fields. Communication across cultures, in small groups, and nonverbally are the foundation of this field of study. This track also serves as a complement to a degree in management, psychology, human resouces, or public affairs.

If you are interested in communication management, you might select some of the following:

Core Course

  • COMM 3401 Introduction to Communication Theory

Process Skills Course 

  • COMM 3411 Small Group Communication AND/OR
  • COMM 3422 Interviewing and Communication

Electives
(Those with a * can be taken in conjunction with COMM 3995W Senior Paper Project.)

  • COMM 3431 Persuasion Theories
  • COMM 3441 Organizational Communication
  • COMM 3451W Intercultural Communication
  • COMM 4407 Communication and Conflict* (prereq-3401)
  • COMM 4471 Communication in Marriage and Family* (prereq-3401 or 3402)
  • COMM 5401 Advanced Theories of Communication* (prereq-3401)
  • COMM 5402 Advanced Interpersonal Communication* (prereq-3401 or 3402)
  • COMM 5411 Small Group Communication Research* (prereq-3411)
  • COMM 5431 The Process of Persuasion* (prereq-3431)
  • COMM 5441 Communication in Human Organizations* (only in-person can be taken in conjunction w/the senior paper)
  • COMM 5451W Intercultural Communication* (prereq-3451W)​

Creative Industries/Media Production

In the 21st century, Hollywood, network television, Netflix, and YouTube rule the roost. What do they have in common? Well-produced visual media. From vlogs to blockbusters, TV episodes to video essays, familiarity with film technology and editing programs are an invaluable asset in today’s world. This track complements a degree in cinema and media, management, or fine arts.

If you are interested in creative industries and media production, you might select some of the following:

Core Course 

  • COMM 3211 Introduction to Media Studies

Process Skills Course

  • COMM 3201 Introduction to Media Production AND/OR
  • COMM 3204 Advanced Media Production

Electives
(those with a * can be taken in conjunction with COMM 3995W Senior Paper Project)

  • COMM 3263 Media Literacy (highly recommended; foundational context course) 
  • COMM 4204 Producing for Television: Theory and Practice* (prereq-3201 and 3204)
  • COMM 4221 Communication and Popular Music* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 4235 Electronic Media and Ethnic Minorities-A Worldview*
  • COMM 4245 Critical Television Studies*
  • COMM 4263 Feminist Media Studies*
  • COMM 4291 New Telecommunication Media*
  • COMM 5220 Television Genres*
  • COMM 5221 Media, Race, and Identity* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 5231 Media Outlaws*
  • COMM 5261 Political Economy of Media (prereq-3211)

Public Advocacy

We’ve all heard it—the dreaded, vague, mystifying phrase, "sell it." Convincing an unsuspecting audience that one’s work is not only important but also engaging and ground-breaking requires an adept communicator with excellent knowledge of the culture around them. Students interested in lobbying, campaign management, or politics would be well-served by this track. Students will develop their critical thinking and speechmaking skills and will graduate with a deeper understanding of the role communication plays in the political and social realm. This track complements a degree in political science, advertising, management, or public affairs.

If you are interested in public advocacy, you might select some of the following:

Core Course

  • COMM 3601 Introduction to Rhetorical Theory

Process Skills Course

  • COMM 3605W Persuasive Speaking and Speech Writing

Electives
(those with a * can be taken in conjunction with COMM 3995W Senior Paper Project)

  • COMM 3615 Argumentation
  • COMM 3625 Communication Ethics
  • COMM 3631 Freedom of Speech
  • COMM 3635W Famous Speeches
  • COMM 3676W Communicating Terrorism
  • COMM 3682W Communicating War
  • COMM 4250/5250 Environmental Communication*(note: can only do senior project when taking in-person class format)
  • COMM 4602W Contemporary Political Persuasion* (prereq-1101 and 3431)
  • COMM 4616W African American Civil Rights Rhetroic* (prereq-Junior)
  • COMM 4621W Rhetoric of Feminism*
  • COMM 5431 The Process of Persuasion* (prereq-3431)
  • COMM 5611 Survey of Rhetorical Theory*
  • COMM 5615W Introduction to Rhetorical Criticism* (prereq-1101; 3601 recommended)
  • COMM 5617 History and Criticism of U.S. Public Discourse*

Media and Social Change

Students looking to do human rights work or non-profit work after graduation are encouraged to focus on this track. Given the power of media in today’s culture, the skills to understand and decode images, messages, and patterns in the media are invaluable life skills. Critical thinking and fluency in the language of the media come together in this track to prepare students to work with marginalized groups or advocate for social change through the media. This tracks complements a degree in mass media, journalism, social work, psychology or cinema and media studies.

If you are interested in media and social change, you might select some of the following:

Core Course

  • COMM 3211 - Introduction to Media Studies

Process Skills Course

  • COMM 3201 - Introduction to Media Production AND/OR
  • COMM 3204 - Advanced Media Production

Electives
(those with a * can be taken in conjunction with COMM 3995W Senior Paper Project)

  • COMM 3263W Media Literacy (highly recommended; foundational context course)
  • COMM 3231 Reality TV: History, Culture, and Economics
  • COMM 4221 Communication & Popular Music* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 4235 Electronic Media & Ethnic Minorities: A Worldview* 
  • COMM 4245 Critical Television Studies* (prereq: 3211)
  • COMM 4250/5250 Environmental Communication*(note: can only do senior project when taking in-person class format)
  • COMM 4263W Feminist Media Studies* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 4291 New Telecommunication Media* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 5220 Television Genres*
  • COMM 5221 Media, Race, Identity* (prereq-3211)
  • COMM 5231 Media Outlaws*
  • COMM 5261 Political Economy of Media Culture* (prereq-3211)

The following are minors that students commonly pair with a communication studies major:

A list of all CLA minors to include second language minors can be found here.

A list of all UMN freestanding minors (minors without a corresponding major) can be found here.