Field of Study: Mass Communication Studies
Programs in mass communication studies teach people how to evaluate the media. Students learn the history and cultural effects on society of newspapers, television, and other media. They study critical thinking and learn to think in visual terms.
If you want to tell someone a secret, you whisper in that person's ear. But how would you tell vast numbers of people some information? Would you shout it at the top of your lungs? Probably not. You probably would turn to one or more forms of mass communication, which include newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. Using these to distribute information is far more efficient than shouting.
In mass communication, your challenge as a writer and speaker is to deliver information to as many people as possible. To do so requires that you rely on words and phrases that have common meanings for many different people. It is necessary to know your audience and choose a style of communication that is compatible for your readers or listeners.
Mass communication on a global scale is a cultural phenomenon with a relatively brief history. Even so, the techniques of speaking to mass audiences are as old as chieftains and kings. Because mass communication has become much more multicultural, the challenge to find a common ground in ideas and language has changed also.
In mass communications programs, you study different communication theories that try to explain how people listen, understand, and think about what others say to them. Depending on the program, you can focus your studies on journalism, advertising, public relations, or even radio and TV broadcasting. Some mass communications programs focus more on the effect of mass media on society, and its role in today's world.
Course work can also include semantics, nonverbal communication, and group dynamics. In addition, you can study how different people, including men and women and people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, communicate differently and similarly. Overall, mass communications programs teach you skills in critical thinking and analysis, writing, and public speaking.
Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in mass communications. Most two-year colleges offer the first two years in journalism or mass communications. Students can often transfer these credits to a four-year school. Master's degrees typically take five or six years of full-time study after high school. Doctoral degree programs typically take three to five years after the master's degree. Most people with graduate degrees become professors.