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Communication & Media Studies Major

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Communication & Media Studies

4,417 Master's Degrees Annually
489 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#43 in Popularity (Master's)
$68,440 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Communication & Media Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many communication and media studies graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 4,417
Doctor’s Degree 489
Graduate Certificate 278

What Communication & Media Studies Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to communications and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Communications Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in communications should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

Skills for Communications Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to communications:

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for Communications Majors

Communications majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Communication & Media Studies Major?

People with a communications degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Communications Professors 10.0% $68,910
Copy Writers 7.6% $62,170
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170
Public Address System and Other Announcers 2.6% $27,720
Public Relations Specialists 8.9% $60,000

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Communication & Media Studies?

4,417 Master's Degrees Annually
71% Percent Women
29% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
Communication and Media Studies runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #43 out of all the graduate majors we track. In 2019, about 4,417 graduates completed their master’s degree in this field. The major attracts more women than men. About 71% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of communications majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Communications Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 133
Black or African American 541
Hispanic or Latino 486
White 2,159
International Students 679
Other Races/Ethnicities 419

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Communications. About 15.4% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada
  • Japan

How Much Do Communication & Media Studies Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that communication and media studies students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree made a median starting salary of $46,450 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $40,225 (25th percentile) and $54,750 (75th percentile).


We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to communications so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $51,630 to $73,090 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to communications. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Communication & Media Studies Major  ( 51630 to 73090 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with communications require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for communications careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 6.8%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 6.5%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.5%
Some College Courses 6.8%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 56.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 0.8%
Master’s Degree 13.5%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.5%
Doctoral Degree 2.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 1.2%

Online Communication & Media Studies Programs

In 2018-2019, 1,408 schools offered a communications program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 96 14
Certificate (1-2 years) 28 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 2 0
Associate’s Degree 314 33
Bachelor’s Degree 41 10
Post-Baccalaureate 96 14
Master’s Degree 342 64
Post-Master’s 6 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 92 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Communication & Media Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a communications grad is $68,440 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 72% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $570,800 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to communications.

Major Number of Grads
Public Relations & Advertising 2,370
Radio, Television & Digital Communication 1,666
Journalism 1,618
Communication & Journalism (Other) 636
Publishing 233


*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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