Copywriting Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in a copywriting degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a bachelor's and master's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Copywriting: Degrees at a Glance

Copywriting is an academic discipline that teaches the art and craft of writing for commercials, advertisements, websites and marketing campaigns. If you've ever seen or heard a commercial that stuck in your head because it was crafty, witty or catchy, you have a copywriter to thank for that.

In a copywriting degree program you'll study creative and technical writing and explore the visual arts component of advertising. You'll study color theory, typography and graphic art principles. Upon graduating, you'll be eligible to pursue careers such as copywriter, freelance writer or creative director depending on your degree and the concentration of your studies.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this Degree for? Individuals interested in becoming copywriters Individuals interested in pursuing leadership or executive positions within the field of advertising
Common Career Paths (with average median annual salary) - Copywriter ($56,000)*
- Freelance writer ($56,000 does not represent entry-level salary)*
- Creative director ($81,000)*
- Advertising and promotional manager ($88,000)*
Time to Completion Four years full time Two years full time
Common Graduation Requirements Internship and portfolio Internship and portfolio
Prerequisites High school diploma Some programs may require GRE scores
Online Availability Not available Limited availability

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Bachelor's Degree in Copywriting

Bachelor's degree programs in copywriting include the study of both written and visual modes of communication. In addition to honing your creative and technical writing abilities, you'll study how radio and television commercials are created and produced. You'll examine emergent social media tools and how to use these platforms to get your message out. In the latter half of your program, you'll team up with design students to create real advertising campaigns for corporate products or social causes. You'll also spend time in computer labs, using the latest in design and copywriting software.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many programs feature an internship as a degree requirement, providing you with valuable professional experience for course credit
  • Competent writers are able to convey ideas clearly and succinctly, skills that come in handy in nearly all employment situations
  • This degree program features a fair amount of career flexibility, allowing graduates to pursue employment in a number of career paths (writing, editing, publishing, advertising)

Cons

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, copywriters were expected to see job growth somewhere between 3% and 9% from 2010-2020, which was considerably lower than the average for all occupations
  • Copywriters often work under deadline, which can be stressful
  • Many copywriters are freelance employees, which may not provide the same level of stability as having a single employer

Courses and Requirements

In addition to your advertising, marketing and copywriting courses, you'll also enroll in general education electives in math, science and the social sciences. Most of these programs require both an internship and a portfolio. Below are some sample core course titles.

  • Marketing
  • Writing for radio and television
  • Interactive media
  • Advertising ethics

Online Degree and Course Info

Accredited online bachelor's degree programs in copywriting are extremely rare. Some programs may allow you to take certain electives online, but your core required courses are offered only in the traditional campus-based format. You'll generally need to be on campus to take advantage of the institutional resources required by your program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Similar to most occupations, copywriting is becoming more and more reliant on technology. With this in mind, you should try to master as many of the relevant software programs and computer applications as possible. Software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, DreamWeaver and QuarkXpress are examples of popular programs used in creating ad copy. Also, because of the growing popularity of and reliance on the Internet, it could be helpful to have a working knowledge of HTML, the language used in the creation of websites.

Master's Degree in Copywriting

Master's degree programs in copywriting allow you to study all of the communication and marketing concepts covered at the bachelor's degree level, while also allowing you to delve deeper into the actual design and advertising process. This means you will not only study copywriting as it pertains to visual, verbal and written communication, but you'll also learn how to conduct market research, how to position your product and how to use all available forms of media to reach your target audience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Earning a graduate degree may afford you more employment opportunities
  • Employers look for candidates with advanced education
  • You'll learn the advertising process from start to finish

Cons

  • You'll be in college for up to six years
  • Obtaining a graduate degree can be very expensive
  • If your career goal is to be a copywriter, the bachelor's degree may be sufficient

Courses and Requirements

Most programs feature a final project as a degree requirement. This often takes the form of a design portfolio, which displays your marketing work and serves to illustrate your knowledge of all components of the advertising process. You'll also be required to complete an internship, lasting one or more semesters. Common course requirements include:

  • Art and advertising
  • Typographic design and layout
  • Digital graphics
  • Advertising concepts

Online Degree Options

While quite rare, online master's degree programs in copywriting do exist. Those online programs offered by accredited institutions should provide you with the same general level of education and instruction as their brick and mortar counterparts. However, make sure to conduct your program research carefully as these online programs are not for everyone. Some students will directly benefit from the sort of personal interaction only afforded by a traditional campus-based program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Regardless of your specific career goals, if you're entering the world of marketing and advertising, it's all about technology. You may want to consider exploring forms of communication such as podcasting or blogging. Either of these may help you to develop your communication skills, which are essential for this field.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment
      • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA/English
      • BA/English
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
      • BS - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS Human Communications
      • B.S. General Studies - Communication
      • B.S. Communications
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Professional and Technical Writing
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Writing
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
  • Moscow, ID

    University of Idaho

  • Ames, IA

    Iowa State University

  • Harrisonburg, VA

    James Madison University

  • East Lansing, MI

    Michigan State University

  • Online Programs Available
    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Humanities (Communication Studies)

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Creative Writing for Entertainment

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Ashford University

  • BA/English

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • BS Human Communications
  • B.S. General Studies - Communication
  • B.S. Communications

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Professional and Technical Writing
  • Bachelor of Arts in English - Writing
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

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