Value of a communications degree

<p>First off, a little about myself:</p>

<p>Im heading over to UC Davis this fall as an international relations major and my long term goals are careers at the State Dept, UN, CIA etc.. but I realize that I need some sort of practical option while I earn my masters degree. I thought of going into journalism (I like to write and it might allow me to do some travel). </p>

<p>Since Davis does not have a journalism major, a double major in communications plus some related jobs seemed to be a viable option for me.</p>

<p>So to whom it may concern:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>I know that alot of the stuff you need for journalism comes from experience, so what value is there in majoring in that area at all?</p></li>
<li><p>How does having a BA in communications instead of journalism affect that?</p></li>
</ol>

<p>1). I asked myself that same question, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I think whether journalism is worth it as a major or not really depends upon your experience with journalism--if you already understand the inverted pyramid, can use AP style, and can whip together an article, then a journalism degree might be redundant for you. A lot of grads from my high school's journalism program have come back from college, saying that their first few years of college journalism basically repeated what we learned in high school. I think most journalism programs have the assumption that the student has no knowledge of the discipline. If you have substantial prior journalistic experience a few journalism courses might be valuable for you, but you might find it more enriching to major in something else. However if you've never written a journalistic article, then a journalism major could provide you with a good basis for the workforce. I find that at my high school's paper, it typically takes students only 2-3 months to master the art of the journalistic article. While I'm sure that studying journalism for in college would leave you with a lot of knowledge, I'm hesitant to major in journalism myself because I would like to learn something new, not spend four years refining one skill. Regardless of whether I major in journalism/communications or not, I will work on my college paper--I've heard this can be just as valuable as receiving a journalism degree. Maybe you could work on Davis' newspaper for a few months, and then see if you think if your skills need a lot of refining or if you'd be interested in studying communications extensively. </p>

<p>2). That's a very good question, something I've been wondering about myself. I think it really depends on the communications program. There seem to be two varieties of communications degrees. The first type is basically akin to a journalism degree--you can take courses in print and broadcast journalism, as well as experience a bit of digital media and film. Some programs like this enable you to focus on one particular track of journalism that piques your interest. But then there is the more liberal-artsy type of a communications program that may be called communications but also might go by "communication" (sans the s), "communication studies," or "media studies." This sort of program is not really a substitution for a journalism degree, because it doesn't take a pragmatic approach to communication that involves writing, filmmaking and broadcasting. Its emphasis is on studying how people communicate--non-verbal communication, speech, communication in society, etc. It takes a more psychological/sociological approach. With an internship or a decent portfolio, you could probably wind up in the journalism field with this more liberal-artsy brand of a communications degree, but the major itself will do little to prepare you for a career writing for a paper. However, the idea of analyzing in communication in society may be appealing to you. I would definitely go on UC Davis' website and read their course catalogue to get an idea of the program's emphasis. The type of communications program my school offers will dictate whether I major in communications or not. If the program is hands-on, primarily journalism, communications degree then I would consider majoring in it, but if the school does the more sociological look at communications then I think it would be more worth my while to major in something relevant to my career, such as IR. I am very interested in IR as well, am considering it as a major should my school not offer the sort of communications program I'm looking for.</p>

<p>i thought this thread was long gone =) thanks sven it really helps to hear from someone experienced</p>