What is the Difference Between an English Degree and a Communications Degree?

BS in CommunicationsOften, two degree programs can seem so similar that is difficult to make a determination on which degree path would be best suited for individual goals and needs, and this is often the case when prospective students begin to look at the difference between English degree and communications degree programs. While many of the requirements are the same to complete each respective program, there are some differences that can more aptly prepare a graduate for some job positions or careers.

Completing a Degree in English

Much of the course work in an English degree program is focused on writing and the history of language or literature. Some common courses in English degree programs focused on writing include rhetoric and composition, grammar and usage, creative writing, history of linguistics, professional writing, and project management in written communication. Programs more focused on literary studies might include courses such as British literature, American literature, literary research, analytical writing, and multicultural narratives.

Different colleges and universities are also likely to offer various concentrations within the English department to attach to a degree in the discipline. Common concentrations for English majors to specialize in include creative writing, English for secondary teaching, journalism and media, literature, professional writing, and technical writing. These specializations typically include completion of between 12 and 20 credits in a specific area of English to best prepare for a specific career path.

Completing a Degree in Communications

While the areas of this degree include a focus on writing, the communications degree concentrations are more likely to focus on the face-to-face and mediated communications in more detail. Common courses in a communications degree program curriculum include public speaking, managerial communication, publicity techniques, screenwriting, communication theory, principles of public relations, multimedia production, and public relations.

Many communications degree programs also offer options for concentrations within the degree program as well. Examples of common concentrations in communications include media and digital production, multimedia and web communications, corporate communications, and creative advertising and marketing. Additional ideas can be found at the American Communication Association website.

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After Graduation

One of the main differences between a communications and an English degree after graduation is the type of position a graduate might pursue in higher education or secondary education. For English graduates, positions as composition or literature teachers is more likely, while communications instructors are more likely to be hired to teach courses in speech and interpersonal communications.

Teaching, however, is not the only option available to graduates with an English or a communications degree. Many career possibilities are likely to consider both a communications and an English degree to be similar or equal when considering candidates to hire; however, communications graduates are more likely to hold positions that involve public relations, customer service, and production. English graduates might be more likely to hold positions as writers, editors and proofreaders, and linguists.

With many of the opportunities available in writing, editing, customer service, teaching, and so on, English and communications graduates are able to find the same or similar jobs to begin a career. Although the difference between English degree and communications degree requirements are typically slight, the nuances of each degree can be the best preparation for entering the career path the is most suited to goals and future plans.