Dear reader,

One of the first challenges that current and prospective students inevitably face is determining what major/emphasis/degree to pursue. It is one of the most important decisions that one will ever have to make. Certainly, the choice you make will have a direct impact on your academic experience, but it also plays a central role in shaping your personal and professional growth. There are potential benefits and drawbacks to every option, and it is important to make an informed choice. I will highlight some of the benefits of earning a degree in communication at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but I urge you to explore this website to learn more about the many benefits of our program.

Whether seeking a baccalaureate or a graduate degree, students are consistently exposed to an exceptional faculty. The faculty members of the Department of Communication at UMSL were recently ranked 5th nationally for scholarly productivity (Bunz, 2005), a record that eclipsed many better known universities. This ranking is especially notable because it was earned in spite of the fact that the department has half as many faculty as their counterparts at many universities and does not offer a Ph.D. in Communication. Scholarly productivity is beneficial for two reasons: First, it insures that faculty members participate in the professional associations and maintain a contemporary knowledge of their discipline. An active scholar can dispute or correct inaccuracies that sometimes appear in textbooks (e.g., when previously accepted ideas are challenged by new research). Second, productive faculty members allow students to have access to knowledge that may not be available to the general public for many years. Peer-reviewed journal articles are often published 1-2 years after a research study is originally conducted, and it may take 5 or more years before mainstream textbooks begin to integrate the findings. As a result, students have access to cutting-edge research. Of course, our faculty members are not simply productive researchers, they are also exceptional teachers. They are among the most highly rated instructors at the university, and many have earned awards for excellence in teaching, innovative practices, and use of technology. Our commitment to teaching is no less essential than our commitment to research. We are dedicated to helping students achieve their full potential, and many opportunities exist to participate in faculty research.

One of the questions that faculty members are frequently asked is, "If someone majors in Communication and earns a degree at UMSL, what are the opportunities for employment?" Ultimately, the answer to that question is, "It depends. " A number of factors play a role in how successful a student is after graduation. There is a substantial amount of flexibility in both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, so the electives you choose will have an impact. A degree will often get a person in the door for an interview, but ultimately, it is the knowledge that was gained and the personality of the individual that has the greatest impact on whether a person is offered employment in a particular industry. The nature and level of competition associated with the occupation to which the person aspires as well as his or her ability to adapt to requirements of that environment also play a role. Students who have earned a baccalaureate in communication have gone on to work in a variety of positions including human resources, public relations, training and development, event planning, marketing, consulting, research, politics, non-profit organizations, media relations, and mass communication outlets (among others). Many have also elected to pursue a graduate degree at UMSL or at other institutions. Our graduate students have made both vertical and lateral moves within existing organizations, used their degrees to facilitate career moves, and several of our graduates are applying or completing PhDs at some of the most prestigious doctoral programs in Communication (e.g., Michigan State University, University of Texas, University of California-Santa Barbara, and Temple University).

The degree programs offered by the Department of Communication can help students succeed in a variety of different professional and academic pursuits, and because effective communication is essential in any organizational environment, students can be confident that what is learned in the classroom will be applicable in the "real world. " When intrinsic interest in the subject matter is combined with a goal-oriented approach, students can build a background that will make them extremely competitive.

History tends to give centuries an overall title or purpose: the 18th Century is often referred to as the Century of Enlightenment; the 19th Century is associated with the Industrial Revolution; and the 20th Century has been related to information and technology. From all indications, the 21st century in America will emphasize the communication potential derivative of the last century. With the rapid advances, it is an exciting time to be a student of communication.

If you wish further information or a tour, please call us at 314-516-5486. Our staff will be happy to accommodate you, or direct you to the appropriate faculty or personnel.

Best wishes,

Alan D. Heisel,
Associate Professor and Chairperson



COMMUNICATING IN ALL CAREERS

In every career, communication becomes an essential skill necessary for success in that endeavor. Whether it s communicating orally or in a written form, whether it s interpersonal or mass communication, a knowledge of the theories and methodology of communication should help to equip you for an upper level job, a higher income, and great satisfaction.

COMMUNICATION IN BUSINESS

A university degree with a communication major could meet the educational requirements of such careers as:

1. Sales representative or manager
2. A middle-level executive manager
3. Personnel manager
4. Public information officer
5. Industrial or labor relations representative
6. A director of corporate communication
7. A customer service representative
8. An employee trainer
9. Internal newsletter editor
10. A buyer or purchasing agent

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING

After journalism and English, communication is the most frequent major of professional public relations practitioners. In a 1988 survey of large, medium and small advertising firms, majors emphasizing communication skills were more apt to be recruited than any other college graduates. The latest surveys also show, in the next decade, a 35% increase in the number of public relations and advertising positions in the United States. Some job opportunities in these fields are:

1. Copywriters, copy chiefs and creative directors
2. Design Artist and production artists
3. Media buyers, planners and media supervisors
4. Account executives and account supervisors
5. Publicity managers
6. Marketing Specialists
7. Corporate public affairs specialists
8. Issues managers
9. Audience analysts
10. Press agents
11. Lobbyists
12. Public opinion researchers

LAW

Law has been identified as the skill of persuasive communication. Training in argumentation and debate can be critical to lawyers and to the development of the legal system itself. Most law schools feel that an emphasis on communication theory, research, and skills has been an important factor in choosing law candidates. A general degree in communication is an excellent undergraduate preparation for law school and also provides useful skills after completing law school.

MEDICINE

Communication affects all stages of the health care provider/patient relationship. Hospitals, nursing homes, even large medical providers are finding more need for effective communication skills and better patient relations. Today, health institutions offer job opportunities for people with communication backgrounds and skills:

1. Administrators in hospitals and medical schools
2. Communication managers for various health providers, including HMO's, hospitals, nursing homes, etc
3. Public relations directors for these institutions
4. Training personnel and training supervisors
5. Health personnel educators
6. Medical database supervisor
7. Hospice manager
8. Drug rehabilitationist


EDUCATION

The need for communication teachers continues to increase at all levels of the education process: elementary, secondary, community college, four year colleges and graduate schools. In general, the shortage of qualified teachers is being felt throughout the entire educational system. Graduates with a Communication degree and perhaps some extra training can find job opportunities as:

1. Teachers (From elementary through university levels)
2. Counselors
3. Researchers
4. University information specialists
5. Development officers (fund raiser or membership drives)
6. Alumni officers
7. Forensic coaches
8. Librarians


GOVERNMENT

The 86,000 separate units of government now constitute a bureaucracy which makes effective communication between public officials and citizens and even among government officials themselves a more pressing need than ever. More and more, government is turning to communication specialists to sell their concepts and process feedback. With the high cost of political campaigning, many high paying job opportunities for people with communication skills have been created by campaign consultants. Some of these job opportunities are:

1. Public information officers for government agencies
2. Legislative assistants
3. Research specialists
4. Program coordinators
5. Lobbyists
6. Press secretaries
7. Advance people
8. Speech writers
9. Negotiators


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND NEGOTIATIONS

In a recent survey, the five skills ranked as the most important in international relations and negotiations were the ability to analyze information, problem-solving skills, emphatic and critical listening skills, verbal skills, and writing skills. Many job opportunities have developed and will arise in this growing field in the next decade. These jobs will be with government agencies as well as the private sector of our economy. They include:

1. International corporate representatives
2. Foreign relations officers
3. Foreign correspondents
4. International tour coordinators
5. Executives for international media
6. Line officers for international associations
7. Diplomats