Should I Major in Strategic Communication or Communication Studies? Advice from Someone Who Majors in Both
I came to Texas Christian University knowing I wanted to study communication.
So decisive, right?
Indecision started to creep in when I learned that TCU offered two communication programs: strategic communication and communication studies. I browsed the TCU website to learn more about the programs, but truth be told, I didn’t understand the difference. When I arrived on campus, I learned I was not alone. When I asked students questions, many didn’t know the difference between the two majors.
So, which did I choose?
I began as a communication studies major, but after learning more about strategic communication once on TCU’s campus, I applied to the strategic communication program. However, I didn’t switch my major—I chose to double major and study both communication studies and strategic communication.
I’m now a senior, and my time in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication is sadly coming to a close. Throughout my time at TCU, I’ve learned valuable skills in both of these majors and enjoyed both programs. But before I go, I’d like to clarify some of the differences I have found between these two programs so that prospective students will have a clearer understanding of the differences than I did. That way, students can make an informed decision about which major is right for them. Or better yet, do what I did, and study both.
Communication studies offers so much flexibility in the major. There are only a few required courses, so once those are completed, students are free to pick and choose classes that are of interest. I’ve taken a wide variety of classes in communication studies that I would not have been able to take in other majors. I took a class that taught me about nonverbal behavior, a class that studied the value and development of personal character and ethics, and a class that taught me about communication in group leadership through studying real-world cases and reading leadership books. All of these classes have been interesting and unique, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn about such a variety of topics.
That’s the great thing about communication studies— the major lets students study what they find most interesting, essentially giving students the power to build their own path within the major. I’ve met communication studies students who were passionate about speech and debate, taking Argumentation and Debate and Advanced Public Speaking. I’ve also met students who want to pursue crisis communication, signing up for Issues in Organizational Communication – Risk/Crisis and Conflict Management. Lastly, I’ve met students who are passionate about understanding people, enrolling in courses such as Gender and Communication and Intercultural Communication.
The biggest thing that stands out from my experience in strategic communication is how skill-oriented this major is. Strategic communication courses equip students with practical skills that students can feature on their resume like Photoshop and InDesign, AP Style, research, and the ability to write press releases, media pitches and formal business letters. These are only some of the many skills that strategic communication students learn. This major is writing-heavy, encourages creative ideation, and is a fast-paced, high-energy and fun.
Another quality of the strategic communication major that stands out to me is how creative this major is. Strategic communication students embrace creativity in writing, design, concepts, and campaign ideas. Classes in this major encourage students to brainstorm, collaborate in teams and group projects, and work together to develop creative solutions for brands and clients. Something all students will come out of the major knowing is what a brand is. More than that, students learn how to use research to understand a brand, what makes it unique, and who the brand’s target audience is. This knowledge is the basis for developing strategic social media, advertising, public relations, and branding campaigns.
Both communication studies and strategic communication are incredible majors that have undoubtably prepared me for my career. Through these majors, I joined a communication honors society, met industry professionals, worked as an intern at a local magazine for class credit, and worked at and lead Roxo, a student-run advertising and public relations agency run through the Strategic Communication department. These experiences combined with the classes I have taken in both majors have grown my confidence and strengthened my skills.
Thanks to the Bob Schieffer College of Communication, I feel ready to walk across the stage at graduation.
Side-by-Side Comparison: Communication Studies & Strategic Communication
|Communication Studies||Strategic Communication|
|Application?||No||Yes, you must apply and be accepted|
|Required Courses||Interpersonal Communication, Communicating Effectively, Communication Theory, Organizational Communication
BS – Statistics
BA – 6 foreign language hours
|Advertising, Public Relations, Statistics, Diversity, Writing & Editing, Research, Design, Law or Ethics, Channel Planning or Case Studies, Senior Seminar, Capstone Course|
|Number of Hours Required||BS – 36 hours
BA – 27 hours
|Potential Careers||Corporate Communication, Crisis Communication, Human Resources, Training & Development, Leadership Development||Advertising, Public Relations, Agency or Corporate Setting, Marketing, Crisis Communication, Social Media Management|