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How Can I Learn Communication Law?

Communication law programs combine the study of mass media with legal education. Read on to learn about the requirements for a dual degree program in law and mass communications.

Communication Law Programs

Communication law, also known as media and communications law, is a field of study in which students develop a background in not only legal theory and practice, but mass media, journalism and communications as well. A common path of study for this field is a graduate-level dual degree program that confers both a master's degree in mass communications and a Juris Doctor (J.D.). A variety of schools offer this unique study option.

A mass communications master's program typically takes 2-3 years to complete, while J.D. programs generally require at least three years of study. Fortunately, some combined programs allow you to apply elective credits from the communications program toward the legal program or vice versa. Because of this, you may be able to earn your dual degree in 3-5 years.

Important Facts About Communication Law Programs

Possible Careers Legal counsel for media company; journalism with a law emphasis; strategic communication
Online Availability Fully online options available, but more commonly on campus
Common Courses Media and internet law; mass communication; cyberspace law
Degree Level Master's degree
Median Salary (2021) $49,900 (for media and communication workers, all other)
Job Outlook (2021-2031) 7% growth (for media and communication workers, all other)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Program Prerequisites

Because communication law dual degree programs are generally taught through a university's college of law and its school of journalism, you'll need to meet entrance requirements and prerequisites for both. Most importantly, you'll need a bachelor's degree, ideally in a communications field, such as journalism or mass communications; however, many students interested in a legal education have undergraduate degrees in fields ranging from history to philosophy to English.

In most cases, you'll need to apply to each program separately. This may require taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

Program Requirements

In the first two years of your legal studies, you'll complete a variety of general legal courses, including constitutional law, legal writing, and contract and property law. As you're finishing law school, you'll have the opportunity to take classes in media law, copyright law and intellectual property rights that will benefit your mass communications studies.

On the communications side, you'll take a variety of courses in media analysis and communications. Common course topics include:

  • Modern communication technologies
  • Communications strategies
  • Research methods and analysis
  • Media management
  • Advertising and public relations

Additionally, you might be required to complete a thesis project that shows you've learned to synthesize the information you've learned in both programs. This project must be based on original research. If a thesis is not a requirement for your program, you might complete an internship with a media organization, a legal internship or clerkship, or both. Your program also might include a comprehensive exam.