Business Communications Degrees at a Glance
Students in a business communications degree program receive training in the practical aspects of corporate communications. A bachelor's degree is required for most advertising, promotions and marketing positions, although some employers may prefer a master's degree for management positions. Students who study business communications will generally build a strong foundation in general education courses and then focus their studies on business and communications.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of advertising and promotions managers is expected to grow 13% from 2010 to 2020, while marketing managers can expect 14% growth during the period. Despite a promising employment outlook, an individual with a bachelor's degree and little or no experience may initially qualify for entry-level positions; associate's degree holders may not qualify for these positions without transferable, practicable experience in the field.
|Who is this Degree for?||- Students who want to be considered for some entry-level positions|
- Experienced professionals who want to obtain a relevant degree
|- People who want to begin careers in business communications|
- Students who want to eventually pursue a graduate degree in business communications
|Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary)|| - Communication workers ($53,000* - may vary with experience)|
- Office and administrative support workers ($34,000* - typically entry-level experience)
| - Marketing specialists ($67,000 - may vary with experience)|
- Public relations specialists ($60,000* - may vary with experience)
|Time to Completion||2 years (full-time)||4 years (full-time)|
|Common Graduation Requirements||- Satisfy coursework|
- Maintain GPA standards
|- Satisfy course requirements|
- Complete internship requirement, if applicable
- Maintain GPA standards
|Prerequisites||- High school diploma or equivalent|
- Placement exams
|- High school diploma or undergraduate transcripts|
- GPA requirements
- SAT/ACT test scores
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures).
Business Communications Associate's Degrees
Associate's degree programs in business communications introduce students to coursework in various general education and communications topics. If you have a hard time finding a business communications associate's degree program, consider similar programs in communications, public relations or marketing; these may all lead to entry-level careers in the same industry. Some associate's degree programs are specifically designed for students who want to eventually pursue a bachelor's degree; other programs are 'terminal,' or do not lead to a bachelor's program. Employers may prefer applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree.
Pros and Cons
- Business communications skills are needed in nearly every organization and industry, so there are many possibilities for employment.
- If you want to pursue a higher degree at some point, you may be able to transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program.
- If you are trying to break into a new career path, obtaining an associate's degree can help you get your foot in the door with an entry-level business communications position.
- It may not be practical to pursue an associate's degree if you know you will eventually pursue a bachelor's degree.
- You may be in competition with bachelor's degree holders for entry- and mid-level positions.
- You may need to obtain a higher degree to pursue higher salaries and advancement opportunities.
Common Courses and Requirements
As a student in a business communications associate's degree program, you can expect to study a range of topics, including composition, public speaking, introduction to business, human communications and technical writing. In addition to these core communications and business courses, you will likely need to take a series of general education requirements in math, science and literature.
In a typical associate's degree program, you will spend approximately two years completing academic coursework and studying independently. You may need to take some prerequisite courses if your previous academic history does not meet your school's requirements.
Online Degree Options
Online associate's degree programs in communications are available, but are not particularly common. Online degree programs in business, communications, public relations or digital marketing are more common. If you do find an online associate's degree program in business communications, ensure that it is part of an accredited institution. Online degree programs may require similar prerequisites and graduation requirements as a traditional, on-campus one.
Stand Out with this Degree
Because most associate's degree programs do not include an internship requirement, consider seeking one on your own; this can provide invaluable professional experience and make you more competitive against bachelor's degree holders. If you do not have the time to complete an internship, consider on-campus activities that showcase your communications skills, like writing for your school newspaper or volunteering to do public relations for events. These activities can help you create a portfolio of work that exemplifies your ability to effectively communicate a particular message.
Business Communications Bachelor's Degrees
Some schools offer bachelor's degree programs specifically in business communications, while others offer a communications specialty in their school of business. Many programs require or encourage internship opportunities so that you can gain professional experience. Coursework generally features a combination of language arts, media, business and general education courses. Students who obtain a bachelor's degree in business communications may go on to work in media, communications or marketing positions in a variety of industries. While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for entry-level employment, a master's degree may be necessary for advancement opportunities.
- A bachelor's degree is the baseline academic credential in this field.
- Many bachelor's degree programs recommend or require an internship, which provides practical professional experience.
- Employment growth is expected to remain strong over the next decade*.
- In addition to your degree, you will likely need several years of professional work experience to qualify for management positions.
- Professional experience is very important to employers, and it can be challenging to land your first relevant job even with a bachelor's degree.
- You may be in competition with master's degree holders, particularly for positions in management.
Common Courses and Requirements
Bachelor's degree programs emphasize public speaking, written communication techniques and business strategy. As a student in a business communications degree program, you will need to complete academic courses, including core topics, electives and general education requirements. Additionally, some programs may emphasize or require an internship. In a typical business communications program, you will likely take courses that cover the following topics:
- Public speaking
- Writing for the Web
- Business and professional communication
- New media communication
- Interpersonal communication
- Public relations principles
- Conflict resolution
Online Degree Options
Online bachelor's degree programs in business communications are available. Students who are interested in a distance learning bachelor's degree program should determine whether or not their curriculum includes an internship component. If your program does not include an internship, consider if you will be able to obtain professional experience on your own while in school.
Getting Ahead with this Degree
Consider supplementing your bachelor's degree curriculum with additional courses in project management or sales. If you are unable to take a minor or specialize in a concentration, consider that even single courses can help you learn new skills. For that reason, continuing education courses and project management certifications are popular choices for professionals because of their convenience and broad applications.