Today’s Communication Major Has More Career Options Than Ever Before

June 2, 2022

As you get ready to take the next step up the career ladder, or plan a future entry into the professional workforce, you will find that good communication skills are actively sought by almost every employer, regardless of industry, role or level of seniority. But what are good communication skills and how will a communication major help you develop them?

As the former chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Arkansas, director of the Bachelor of Arts in Communication online degree program, and a consultant and instructor who has worked with organizations including the U.S. Marine Corps, Arkansas Department of Health and Walmart, Professor Robert M. Brady has a front and center view into the importance of communication skills and how they are valued across multiple career paths.

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What Does Being a Communication Major Mean

According to Brady, good communication skills aren't necessarily about being a great speaker or presenter. This is one of many misconceptions people have about what an online communication major is all about.

In fact, the field of communication is a broad one, encompassing many different areas of practice. Brady highlights how the online bachelor of communication program differentiates itself from other programs positioned under the communication umbrella. It all comes down to a research-based academic focus.

"We are located within the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas," emphasizes Brady. "That means we live in a world alongside historians, political scientists, psychological sciences, chemistry and about 15 other departments and 30+ programs of study."

Although the major has some applied classes, Brady clarifies that the communication degree is not a program for aspiring journalists or media production professionals – there are other programs within the University of Arkansas to meet these needs. The communication degree program offers a much broader scope by using research to better understand how communication messaging is fundamental to everyday life.

During the four-year program, communication majors are encouraged to explore a curriculum that uniquely blends personal, group, mediated and social communication with modern messaging technology and platforms, says Stephanie Schulte, chair of the Department of Communication.

Some of the lessons included in the online degree program are on dynamics of research-based concepts such as interpersonal persuasion, the effects of media technologies, the nature of gender stereotypes, the communicative function of roles within the family, the symbolic structure of organizational authority and the impact of social movements, says Schulte.

The curriculum is essentially designed to turn students into proven communicators who can understand, evaluate, create and share messages quickly and efficiently across a range of media and situations.

"One of the ways to frame communication studies and our department is that we are focused on the study of messages and their effects," says Brady. "We seek to better understand the many aspects of messages and how those aspects, sometimes very subtly, can be effective or ineffective."

A Prestigious Online Communication Degree

When it comes to program quality, Brady is quick to point out the online communication bachelor's program is the same high-quality degree that is taught in the traditional on-campus program.

"When you get a degree from us, we don't say it's an online degree," says Brady. "It's a University of Arkansas degree."

Brady emphasizes that online students have access to the same resources and faculty members as they would on campus. It's part of a commitment to quality that's built into the program.

"We insisted from the very beginning that the online program had to offer the same standards as the in-person degree," says Brady. "We don't import any courses into our program, and we don't hire any freelance help to teach in the program. The people who teach in our online program are the same people who teach on campus. I think that's unusual with online programs. As a result, when the students enroll in the online program, they are working on the same terms as the more traditional university program."

That traditional experience extends to following the same academic calendar for both the online and on-campus programs.

"It's a four-year program," says Brady. "The online classes I teach start on Monday morning and finish on Sunday night. All of our courses follow a traditional semester model."

While this "traditional" approach to online education might appear a little counterintuitive to potential students who have considered flexible or accelerated programs at other institutions, Brady highlights the program's popularity and results.

"We graduated more people last year than any other undergraduate degree program in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences," says Brady. "So, what we're doing works well for our students."

Jobs in Communication Can Take You Anywhere

Brady explains that, while students in the bachelor's in communication online program don't follow a single path, they are typically interested in pursuing careers where they can exercise their communication skills in characteristically social roles.

"Our students leave here and pursue a wide variety of career paths," says Brady. "They are probably going to be somewhere where they're working directly with other people in fields like sales and marketing. They might start in lower-management positions, but we have an impressive number of people who have risen high in the ranks of organizations."

"Outside of the traditional business world," Brady says, "an increasing number of our graduates go into the nonprofit jobs sector because they want to use their degree to help organizations and community groups to be more effective."

"They'll often go into a public-facing role, encouraging people to support a cause or an organization," Brady says.

A Communication Online Degree That's A Good Fit for Nontraditional Students 

While there is no single career pathway in the communication degree program, the flexibility of an online degree is a particular draw for nontraditional students. Brady explains that they are typically older students looking for an alternative route to getting their bachelor of communication degree.

"Perhaps they are a single parent who already has an associate degree because that was their goal originally," says Brady, "but they've since learned an associate degree is not enough to reach their career goals and they want to finish their bachelor's to get ahead."

The program also has a younger, nontraditional cohort, many of whom are transfer students who find the University of Arkansas program to be an excellent way of finishing a four-year degree at a top-level institution.

These students look to capitalize on the tradition of academic excellence the University of Arkansas is known for to add value to their degrees.

"The University of Arkansas is a land grant university," says Brady. "That carries prestige in academic circles and in the job market."

The university is also widely celebrated for its athletic prowess and sense of community, something that appeals to a wide variety of students.

"Many of our students have a deep connection to Arkansas," Brady says. "They may not live here now, but maybe they were born here or grew up here. The online degree allows them to continue that connection and sense of community regardless of where they are in the world."

Explore the Communication Program

Typical roles available to graduates of the online communication program include marketing communication, corporate communication, media and social media consultation, corporate training, sales and management, and fundraising and development, to name just a few.

A positive outlook for the career field is supported by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that projects employment in communication occupations will grow 14% through 2030. This expected growth is faster than the average for all occupations and will create more than 151,000 new jobs. In addition, the growing demand for communication jobs will be further supported by the need to disseminate information across an ever-increasing range of new and emerging digital technologies.

To learn more about how a Bachelor of Arts in Communication online degree from the University of Arkansas can help you become a more persuasive communicator and a more valuable asset across a range of careers, visit the program page on our website.

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Bachelor of Arts in Communication

The art of communicating effectively and efficiently is at the heart of any organization. Businesses, media outlets, nonprofit agencies, government boards: They all need proven communicators who can share a message clearly and quickly.

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