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Duke University
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How a Communications Major Intersects with Other Concentrations — Real Students’ Stories

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by communications majors Kiya Norman, Drew Bartelstein, and Justin Levine in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered



If you’re interested in communications as a major, you might be wondering exactly what the discipline entails. It can sound quite broad — after all, you’re studying how human beings speak and write to one another and how effective messaging works. However, there are many different things that you can do with a communications degree, and it can also open up doors to interesting related fields.


In this article, you’ll learn how communications intersects with different disciplines, like business and psychology, and how you can determine which path within the major to take.


Finding Your Interests


Sometimes, it feels like there’s no definitive answer to what communications as a field of study is. Students are told that it’s everything that people speak, write, or hear. It can be defined in many different ways, and you can use the degree to go many different routes.


What are you most interested in? Maybe you want to go into business, but you also understand how important it is to be able to get a certain message across, and you want to perfect that skill. You might have thought that you’d major in English because you’ve always loved reading, but now you want to learn how to write things that reach a wide audience.


As a major, communications intersects with various concentrations, from liberal arts to business and even engineering. Knowing how to write and speak well is always going to be important. If you want to study communications, you can figure out what specifically you’re most interested in communicating and then go from there.


Business Skills


Good writing skills are going to serve you well, no matter what career you pursue. In professional writing, on your resume, your cover letter, or even just your emails, you want to present yourself well. If you’re an effective writer and can communicate a message concisely, it will help you succeed in business.


Some communications classes can also help you gain more skills in Microsoft Excel. This is crucial in the business world; if you’re interested in pursuing a job or an internship in the communications field, you might think that your work will be primarily based on writing, but you’re probably also going to work in Excel.


The foundational skills of a communications degree will help you make and keep connections, interact effectively in meetings, and get your message across to different audiences and markets. Marketing and advertising are two popular pursuits of communications students, and both require business savvy. If you end up taking business school classes for your communications degree, you’ll probably get great value out of them.


Psychology and Communications


A concentration in psychology can be valuable for your studies. Many of the topics discussed in those courses are related to communications; after all, you’re studying human beings and how they interact.


Psychology courses can help you understand why people behave the way that they do. If you’re interested in the human mind and what shapes human behavior, you should consider psychology as an additional concentration in your studies. The field can also help you understand how to best communicate with certain people. Knowing what tools work to persuade others will help you in your communications work. 


It’s always good to explore new areas and different disciplines. You’ll end up enriching your studies and probably your understanding of the world at large. Taking classes outside of your major might help you find a new passion, or you might learn a different way of looking at your main interests.