If you are interested in pursuing a degree or finding a job in the field of communications, everything you need is here. Find the best schools, career information, history of the discipline, influential people in the field, great books, and more.

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What Is Communications?

Communications is the study of how human beings exchange information, as well as the study of the media that make this exchange possible . As a communication major, you’ll learn how we use communication to create meaning, how we share and receive messages, and how these messages are shaped by an array of media, including broadcast media, printed or spoken work, social media, and interpersonal relationships.

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The Best Colleges and Universities for Communications Degrees

Best Communications Major Research Universities

  1. Stanford University
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. University of California, Berkeley
  4. Northwestern University
  5. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Best Communications Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Pomona College
  2. Vassar College
  3. Claremont McKenna College
  4. Washington and Lee University
  5. San Francisco State University

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Best Communications Major Online Colleges

  1. University of Missouri
  2. University of Iowa
  3. University of Arizona
  4. Arizona State University
  5. Texas Tech University

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To view the entire list of top communications schools, including schools offering online degrees and a breakdown of the best communications colleges and universities in your state, visit our look at the Best Colleges and Universities for Communications Degrees.

If you are interested in exploring even more great college majors, check out our guide to college majors.

For a dynamic, real-time listing of the most influential communications schools in the world, use our Custom College Ranking.

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The Best Online Communications Degrees

Communications is an extremely varied field. Students will cultivate written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills that carry value in every professional sector. As such, many highly reputable, regionally accredited schools offer online degree options at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels:

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Communications Degrees

What Will I Study as a Communications Major?

As a communications major, you will study foundational topics such as Interpersonal Communication and Communication in Mass Media. However, you will also have the chance to dive into the area that interests you most, whether you see yourself doing behind the scenes production work, reporting news to the public, crafting messages on behalf of an organization, or writing speeches for a public figure. This means you may take courses in areas such as communication in digital media, public relations, technical writing, journalism, and more.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Communications

Majoring in communication can provide inroads to a wide range of careers in mass media, journalism, writing, public relations, publishing and much more. Your communication skills and personal interests could qualify you to work as an editor, public relations specialist, journalist, reporter, technical writer, or author.

Did you know that a degree in communications can help to future-proof your career? A communications degree can prepare you to compete for jobs in tomorrow’s workplace. This versatile degree prepares you for a wide range of career opportunities, and even better, there is a projected job growth rate of at least 14% between 2020 and 2030. A career in communications is also complimentary to the rise of automation, and many job functions can only be performed by human beings.

How To Get a Degree in Communications

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Who are the top communications influencers in history?

Communication plays an essential role in how civilizations develop, how knowledge is passed between generations, and how different peoples have interacted over time. As such, communications is a discipline deeply rooted in the overlapping academic traditions of philosophy, history, literature, and more. That’s why, for this subject, our rankings are based on the extremely broad time parameters–4000 BC and 2022. Over that duration, these figures have ranked as the most influential communicators in history:

  1. Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist, semiotician and philosopher who is widely considered one of the founders of 20th-century linguistics and one of two major founders of semiotics.
  2. Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic Skeptic, whose extensive writings on rhetoric, philosophy and politics have ranked him as one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.
  3. Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor, and is among the most important linguists and political thinkers in modern times.
  4. Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary who is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital, as well as the the enormous influence his political and philosophical ideas have had on subsequent intellectual, economic and political history.
  5. Tom Wolfe was an American author and journalist widely known for his association with New Journalism, a style of news writing and journalism developed in the 1960s and 1970s that incorporated literary techniques.
  6. Roman Jakobson was a Russian-American linguist and literary theorist who pioneered the field of structural linguistics with an array of novel methods for the investigation of poetry, music, the visual arts, and cinema.
  7. Quintilian was a Roman educator and rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing..
  8. Hunter S. Thompson was an American journalist and author who founded the gonzo journalism movement, first rising to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels, a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the notorious motorcycle club..
  9. George Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher, best known for his thesis that people’s lives are significantly influenced by the conceptual metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena.
  10. Michael Halliday was an English-born linguist who developed the internationally influential systemic functional linguistics model of language.

For more of history’s great communicators, check out the full list.

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Who are the top Communications influencers today?

The following are the top Communications influencers in the field today (2010-2022) according to our machine-powered Influence Rankings, which are drawn from a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia/data, Crossref, and an ever-growing body of data.

  1. Glenn Greenwald is an American journalist, author, and lawyer who began blogging on national security issues in October 2005, becoming a prominent critic of George W. Bush’s presidential administration for both its foreign and domestic policies in the aftermath of the September 11th terror attacks.
  2. Julian Assange is an Australian editor, publisher and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006, and came to international attention in 2010, when WikiLeaks published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
  3. Rush Limbaugh was an American radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and television show host, best known as the host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, which was nationally syndicated on AM and FM radio stations.
  4. Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor, and is among the most important linguists and political thinkers in modern times.
  5. Ezra Klein is an American journalist, political analyst, New York Times columnist, and the host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast, as well as a co-founder of Vox, a former editor for The Washington Post and The American Prospect, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg News and MSNBC.
  6. Paul Sidwell is an Australian linguist, the current President of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, and a former researcher and lecturer at Australian National University who is most notable for his work on the historical linguistics of the Austroasiatic language family.
  7. Charlie Rose is an American retired television journalist who served, from 1991 to 2017, as the host and executive producer of the talk show Charlie Rose on PBS and Bloomberg LP.
  8. Bob Woodward is an American investigative journalist, and associate editor for The Washington Post, where be began working as a reporter in 1971, just a year before teaming up with Carl Bernstein for their groundbreaking and history-shaping reportage on Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.
  9. Alan Rusbridger is a British journalist, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and the former editor-in-chief of The Guardian, where he presided for two decades between 1995 and 2015.
  10. Tucker Carlson is an American paleoconservative television host and political commentator who has hosted the nightly political talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News since 2016.

Learn about other top communications influencers.

Interviews with Top Thinkers in Communications

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Communications Controversial Topics

The communications discipline invokes a wide range of human interactions and, as a result, overlaps with an array of disciplines including political science, history, philosophy, linguistics, and much more. This also means that the communications discipline is implicated by a number of highly consequential public debates. Read on for a look at some of the top controversies connected to the communications discipline.

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Feature Topics in Communications

Communications is a dynamic field where new findings, achievements and innovations continue to have a profound impact on the real world. Our features emphasize the individuals and innovations driving the Communications discipline forward today, including interviews with top thinkers and advice on how you can apply sound communication strategies to improve your college admissions outlook.

Get valuable tips and expert advice with a look at our Career Guidance homepage.

See our Resources Guide for much more on studying, starting your job search, and more.

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