December 7, 2015
Regardless of your chosen field, solid communication skills are integral to career success—and mastering those vital skills can bring a broader range of opportunities than you might expect. If you’re considering returning to school, and wondering what to do with a communications degree, there are ample reasons to consider this far-reaching program.
Whether you’re interested in pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s of communication, you’ll be well positioned to join a thriving group of professionals in diverse fields.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities in communications continue to grow, with roles in public relations, advertising, promotions and marketing management experiencing a projected 12 percent growth, technical writing expected to grow by 15 percent and market research analysis slated to grow by 32 percent, all through 2022.
In the ever-evolving field of communication, effective communication strategies have never been more important. Every industry values strong communicators, who can leverage technology to shape brand messages—and stay abreast of digital media. According to “The Human Factor,” a 2015 Burning Glass Technologies report, “Clear communication, particularly writing, is at a premium in nearly every occupation.”
If you’re new to a field, and hope to enter into a communications role or advance in your current profession, Southern New Hampshire University’s bachelor’s and master’s of communication programs can help you move forward in your career.
As you think about what to do with a communications degree, it may be helpful to see what others are doing with their degrees—even while working toward their programs’ completion.
Andrea Daube jokes that she’s on the “20-year plan” for college, having started her degree many years prior, fresh out of high school. Life got in the way of her academic goals, but Daube always had completion of her bachelor’s as a serious personal goal.
Working as a marketing communication specialist for a large, global company, she doesn’t have to guess what to do with a communications degree. Daube said, “I knew I would need at least a BA to advance my career.” At SNHU, she’s found “some of the best advisors, faculty and staff to help students succeed – I’m looking forward to the future SNHU is helping me to achieve!"
Like many people, Amy Jasper hadn’t found her true passion until she started working in a new industry. For six years, Jasper had held an entry-level position at a large credit card company, and she hadn’t felt particularly motivated to move beyond this role. When she switched jobs and began working in the cable television and communication field, she experienced a real a-ha moment, surprised by the passion she suddenly felt for her job.
That passion, along with the encouragement of her husband and friends, fueled Jasper to finally pursue a degree. “I chose a BA in Communication because it’s the field I am passionate about and I think it is an amazing opportunity for me to do what I love,” she said. “I’ve started to set goals and make a long-term success timeline.”
Jasper doesn’t have to think about what to do with a communications degree; she already knows that “SNHU is my first step towards success, and it’s been an amazing experience.” She especially loves interacting with fellow students, learning about their personal success stories. She says that her instructors have been great, and she likes knowing that they’re available for questions and always open for discussion.
“I’m so excited to be on the path to becoming more and accomplishing my dreams,” said Jasper.
As a native Nigerian, who migrated to Canada, Oyetunji Ishola has worked in the marketing-communication sector for many years, but has “always had the thirst for something more, intellectually. As a busy family man, I could not afford to spend my time sitting in classrooms, yet I desire some quality in whatever I do.”
When he found SNHU, he felt it provided the right impetus to achieve. He wasn’t sure if he could handle the coursework given the busy nature of his life. “All I needed to convince myself was my first class at SNHU,” said Ishola. “I’ve never looked back. It has been a great experience for me, learning online and keeping on with this journey in my life.”
Andrea Drew started her academic journey directly from high school, pursuing a degree in the medical field at her father’s encouragement. She knew she didn’t want to become an R.N., so she opted for a degree program that would lead to her role as an ultrasound technician. While she was waiting to get into her clinical rotation, she decided to start working toward a communications degree. Once she finished her rotation and began full-time work at a hospital, Drew wasn’t able to finish her bachelor’s in communications.
Three years later, she was ready to return, but realized her schedule wouldn’t accommodate a classroom setting for completion. “I did some research,” Drew said. “SNHU was the perfect fit for my needs.” While working full-time as an ultrasound technologist, she said SNHU worked with her every step of the way, guiding her, checking in to make sure she was doing alright, and seeing if there was anything she needed.
She hadn’t thought this would be possible with the hours she worked, but Drew said “SNHU gave me a second chance to achieve what really mattered to me—and helped me achieve my one and only goal I had since I was 17: to obtain my BA in Communication.”
With her BA, Drew decided to utilize her medical experience and knowledge and stay in the medical field, but work in the business aspect of the industry.
Janay Gordon is earning her BA in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. As the mom of two youngsters, working full-time as a customer contact center representative in the banking industry, Gordon is the oldest of four children. She says that she has to set an education example for her younger siblings, all of whom plan to attend a university when they graduate from high school.
As for her own goals, she plans to graduate summa cum laude from SNHU and work at a public relations firm, “where I know I will succeed.” She says that getting her college degree is not only a step towards her personal goals, but also for building a better future for her family.
When you pursue a bachelor’s in communication online at SNHU, you’re able, like Gordon, to tailor your degree to your interests with a specific concentration, such as public relations, new media or professional writing.
At SNHU, students learn from real-world experts, accomplished in their fields, and eager to share their knowledge and experience in the virtual classroom. Larry Holden has been an online instructor since 2011 for SNHU, in both bachelor’s and master’s of communication programs. He is currently teaching two graduate courses online. Holden says, “From an early age, I was fascinated by the power and the passion of the written word.”
A lifelong writer, he has served as a public information officer (captain) and editor of an award-winning monthly magazine for the United States Air Force. Upon completion of his military service, he became a full-time celebrity journalist for 26 years and has interviewed more than 1,000 movie and television stars and about 150 country music artists. Holden has been published in hundreds of national and international magazines and other outlets, and had a Writer’s Digest article selected for inclusion as a chapter in a nonfiction writing textbook, “The Hardest Parts.” He’s now writing a series of mystery novels based on the same collection of characters—lawyers and detectives.
“The communication program is the proverbial ‘perfect fit’ for me,” said Holden. “Through the program I am able to infuse my real-world experience with each course curriculum. SNHU’s communication courses are well-designed with content that is current, and most of all, relevant.”
As to what to do with a communications degree, Holden says that SNHU’s communication program provides students with a healthy dose of real-world communication knowledge, while sparking their critical thinking about the realities of today’s communication/media landscape and about tomorrow’s possibilities for them on a career level.
He particularly enjoys his day-to-day interactions with students, which have included Walt Disney Company executives, corporate PR leaders for Fortune 500 companies, professional blog writers and book authors. “Many want their graduate degree to move them up in their existing job, some want the degree to create a totally new career path for them and others are fulfilling education goals on the way to personal growth,” Holden said.
Eileen McLaughlin, Ph.D., has had the distinct opportunity to both teach at SNHU and earn a degree here as well. As a long-time academic in communication in higher education, McLaughlin had previously earned her bachelor’s in communication, a master’s in international studies and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication, before opting to earn her online MBA in Social Media Marketing at SNHU.
With her vast experience in the communication field, she had an interest in building her knowledge and experience in social media and began searching for an online social media-marketing master’s program associated with a bricks-and-mortar school. While the online programs in this area of study were few and far between, those associated with a traditional university were even more rare. McLaughlin was especially interested in the online delivery of the degree, which was not only convenient,but also fit her career. She said“The way higher ed was going, I knew online teaching may be in my future.”
Her own experience with SNHU as a student plays a vital role in how she now teaches her own students online. “I see what I learned as a student, and that’s the way I approach my own teaching,” said McLaughlin. “I want people to know I’m there. I provide answers as quickly as possible. I respond to everyone’s [discussion] threads.”
What she finds most unique about SNHU’s online communication program is what she calls “the practical side of it.” The practical focus and the variety of the classes offered allow students to be well prepared for the next phase of their careers. “This increases their marketability,” said McLaughlin.
She particularly likes the mix of students who take communication courses as part of their overall program of study. “The classes aren’t exclusively communication students,” said McLaughlin. “Communication students can see the strengths from other students, and the ways they can learn from each other.” She notes the differences one might see in students in history, business or English programs, and the key strengths of each that are incorporated and shared in communication courses, all of which help those in the communication programs establish a broad foundation in all topics—and offers a wide view of what’s possible in communication.
As for what fascinates her most about teaching in the communication program, McLaughlin said, “Communication allows for a lot of varying interests—social media, film, advertising, production, public relations.”
For those still wondering what to do with a communications degree, the answer may well be this: this is a degree that allows for a wide variety of interests, and SNHU’s specialized concentrations provide opportunities for a heightened focus in a particular area of interest.
SNHU’s online master’s of communication program offers three concentrations, including public relations, new media and marketing and health communication.
Victoria Rae Funk ’15 says there have always been a few things that she’s been certain about in life, one being what she wanted to do and where she wanted to work. Communication has always been the field of study that captured her heart – and she hopes to employ the skills and education she’s acquired through her MA in Communication with a concentration in New Media and Marketing at the Walt Disney Company eventually.
With an undergraduate degree in communications and sociology, Funk never expected to return to school. While she knew a master’s degree would heighten her knowledge and experience, providing greater marketability, she was reluctant to return until she spoke with the admission team at SNHU. She says that she was “so excited to actually go back to school that I was ready to start immediately.”
Funk credits her instructors with helping her succeed in her program, and while “the work may be a lot to handle at different times…it is 100 percent worth it.” She can’t believe how far she’s come in such a short time, and feels that SNHU has prepared her for her future.
With an undergraduate degree in journalism, Gabbi Hall ’15 wanted to pursue a master’s degree that would give her a broader knowledge of advertising and marketing to advance her career aspirations. Her experience in the online master’s in communication program allowed her take a mix of classes, including one in health communications, which was an interesting deviation from anything she had ever taken before.
Hall says her master’s degree equipped her to articulate large creative ideas in a way that clients can appreciate and understand. “It also gave me better insight on how to dive deep into an idea using concepts like SWOT analysis to understand weaknesses and potential in a communication plan,” she said. While the concept is fairly specific, she feels it’s something that she carries with her as she makes all strategic decisions.
One instructor in particular made quite an impression on Hall. “I had a really amazing professor, Karen Wilkinson, for two courses, and she was incredibly invested in her students,” she said. “You could say my experience was flexible and still very involved. I did homework while traveling for work. I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms and on airplanes. Professors like Karen made me feel connected.”
Hall highly recommends the master’s of communication program. She said, “If you’re looking for a program that gives you the foundation for strong communication skills, marketing plans and public relations with the flexibility to pursue your industry interests throughout, this is a great option.”
For Hall, the flexibility to also research and do projects on things that were interesting to her within the confines of learning graduate-level skills was particularly appealing—and extremely beneficial to her work in digital marketing for a nonprofit organization.
As an academic advisor and adjunct professor for a community college, Bryan Womack ’15 has big plans for the future: “One day I want to tour the world and become a motivational speaker for bullying prevention.” He always wants to continue teaching communications while working on his doctoral degree.
Womack knows his master’s in communication will help him get there, and as for his SNHU experience, he said, “I absolutely love this college and what it does for professionals like me. The classes online, forums and professors are amazing.”
In the dozen years since Miki Hickel earned her undergraduate degree, she’s worked as a graphic designer and always thought about returning to school. She wasn’t sure what to study, however.
“The longer I worked as a designer for marketing departments, the more I felt like this was what I was meant to do,” said Hickel. “I’m a designer and a storyteller.”
When she learned about the online MA in Communication with a concentration in New Media and Marketing, it sounded like the perfect program to get her to where she wanted to be in her career.
“I’m currently working full-time as the creative director at a marketing company, and I can immediately apply what I learn in the program to my day job,” said Hickel. “The ability to pursue this degree anywhere is an added bonus because my partner is in the military, and we move around every couple of years. It’s nice to know that when he gets assigned a new duty station, I won’t lose the progress I’ve made toward my MA.”
She’s grateful that SNHU’s program exists, and is looking forward to a future with more potential.
Dion Johnson earned his bachelor’s in communication directly from high school, but spent his early post-college life chasing the dream of playing professional basketball throughout Europe.
“Unfortunately, that did not pan out,” Johnson said, and he took a job in the medical field in environmental service. Not content with his role, he decided to return to school for a master’s of communication. He chose to pursue his master’s at SNHU, with a concentration in health communication.
“Luckily, I made the right decision by coming to Southern New Hampshire University,” he said. “Everyone that I have dealt with so far has been extremely helpful and kind. This especially applies to my advisors and professors.”
Johnson says he is now on the path to bettering his life, and he’s confident, “with the support from the staff at SNHU, my objectives should definitely be attainable.”
When Linda Shea ‘15, an animal control professional, made the decision to return to school after years of working and raising a family, she knew she needed convenient, online education after two decades away.
“SNHU provided everything I’ve needed in the way of course suggestions and ‘touching base’ regularly to make sure things were going well,” said Shea. She was concerned at first that a virtual classroom would be a difficult environment in which to engage classmates, but soon learned that her concerns were unfounded.
“Discussion boards allow for ongoing dialogue with my peers. My instructors have been more than supportive,” she said. Making the decision to return to school to pursue an MA in Communication with a concentration in New Media & Marketing was the hard part, but she’s glad she did. She said SNHU made everything from that point easy.
SNHU’s bachelor’s and master’s of communication provide affordable, flexible access to online programs geared to best meet the practicalities and most desired skills and knowledge in today’s marketplace—and the versatility to enter into diverse fields and industries or focus on a specific area of communication studies.
Why not further your career aspirations and connect with SNHU Admission today?
Once you’ve explored our programs and outcomes, you won’t have any questions about what to do with a communications degree—you’ll be considering the wide range of opportunities you’ll be ready to pursue.
If you want to do work that makes an impact, there are the obvious career paths. Then there are the not-so-obvious roles. Like data analysts. Geospatial technologists. Environmental scientists.
If you've dreamed of being an entrepreneur and starting your first business, these entrepreneur tips will help you on the path to launching a successful company.
Scholarships are gift money that does not require repayment, and scoring the funds may be more attainable than you think.