Political Communication Studies
Studies in political communication examine the relationship between media and politics. Learn more about this field of study, undergraduate and graduate degree options, employment outlook and salaries for related occupations.
Are Studies in Political Communication for Me?
The field of political communication analyzes the influences of advertising, opinion polling, mass media and other forms of communication on political actions and processes. Political communication professionals influence and manage political campaigns, policymaking and other political processes through a variety of media platforms, such as television and social media. Their work may involve creating, disseminating and processing political information; writing news articles; fundraising; and organizing advocacy groups. As an aspiring political communication expert, you'll need to develop excellent research skills, be well organized and gain proficiency in media and political operations.
Studies in political communication can prepare you for a career in public relations, campaign writing, political diplomacy or political journalism. You could qualify to work as a policymaker, media consultant, political communication strategist, speechwriter or campaign executive, for example. You could also apply your studies in political communication towards a career as a lawyer, perhaps focusing in government law. With an advanced degree, you could build a career in research, teaching or political consulting for an academic or governmental institute.
Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects above-average job growth for political scientists of 21% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). However, jobs for news analysts, reporters and correspondents are expected to decline by 13% over this same period. Jobs for political scientists are expected to grow due to an increasing interest in politics and public policy, while the decline in news reporting is largely due to the expansion of online news outlets, according to the BLS. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for political scientists was $100,920, and that for reporters and correspondents was $35,600, per the BLS.
How Can I Work in Political Communication?
Political communication is most often offered through communication or public affairs departments. Many political communication programs lead to master's degrees, which may be offered with thesis and non-thesis options. However, concentrations in political communication are available in many bachelor's, master's and doctoral communication degree programs. For instance, you can find bachelor's degrees in communication studies and graduate degrees in communication studies. A few schools offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs in political communication and public affairs that can be completed in five years.
You can earn an associate's degree in communication before transferring to a 4-year school. Alternatively, you may consider pursuing a degree in political science, while also taking communication courses. Undergraduate studies in political communication or political science can also be good preparation for entry into law school.
Topics of Study
Political communication coursework examines the effects of media trends on public officials and the general public, in addition to covering mass communication theory and research methods. Specific courses often include public policy, political writing, media law, communication theory and campaign management. Additionally, you may study social advocacy, rhetorical theory and political advertising. Such courses are often taken in several departments, such as those of mass communication, public affairs and political science.
Ongoing professional development opportunities are available through such organizations as the American Political Science Association, which hosts a political communication division for networking, meeting announcements and teaching resources (www.apsanet.org).