Department of Mass Communication, Advertising & Public Relations

Undergraduate

The Department of Mass Communication, Advertising & Public Relations offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. Within that degree program, students can select a specialization in advertising, public relations, or communication studies. The curricula in advertising and in public relations prepare students for careers in those fields, and the communication studies option provides a foundation for roles as professional communicators in other fields or for further education at a more advanced level.

Graduates have gone on to careers in a variety of occupational fields, including advertising, public relations, marketing, health communication, employee relations, media research, and sales promotion. Typically, graduates work in such settings as corporations, nonprofit agencies, government, educational institutions, or other organizations within the labor force. Many have started their own businesses or agencies.

The department’s required and elective courses include a foundation in communication theory and research plus practical skills that are relevant not only for entry-level jobs but, more importantly, for continuing professional development. They prepare students to write clearly, speak effectively, and think critically—all of which are essential for continuing career success.

The combination of required and elective courses in the curriculum is designed to produce generalists who can design effective communication content and apply a variety of problem-solving techniques to achieve a broad range of real-world goals. By understanding basic communication concepts, principles, and theories, students learn to design, implement, and evaluate message content needed in various professional settings. They also learn to select and use all contemporary media channels effectively to convey information to designated target audiences for a variety of practical purposes.

Classroom work is supplemented by both internships and participation in AdLab or PRLab, which are student-run communication agencies. These activities provide on-the-job experience for academic credit. Internships place students in for-profit or nonprofit agencies and other settings where they gain practical experience in handling professional communication problems and develop important personal contacts.

Graduate

The department offers three Master of Science degree programs:

MS in Mass Communication

The Master of Science degree in Mass Communication is designed for­ students who want to obtain a background in general communication skills while concentrating in one of two areas: applied communication research or communication studies. These concentrations prepare students for either a variety of positions in media-related professions or further advanced study. Professionally oriented courses help students develop specific marketable skills, while academic courses help them understand communication theory, research, and law. Each of these areas provides an important managerial background in a media-related profession.

Concentrations allow students to become familiar with the nature and functions of specific communication industries. Students also develop a broad knowledge of the history and structure of media as well as the ability to assess and think critically about future trends that may influence their careers. Students attending full time can expect to complete the program in three semesters.

MS in Public Relations

This degree recognizes that in today’s society, public relations professionals are employed in a wide variety of settings in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. The goal of the curriculum is to educate students for careers in ­communication-based activities in such organizations. Students are prepared not just for entry-level positions, but for advancement in their selected fields.

Initial courses provide an overview of contemporary public relations, the nature of human communication, and the role of the media. Students must develop the ability to write clearly and concisely in the formats of contemporary media, addressing specific audience segments. In addition, because public relations is a management function, the curriculum includes courses that provide a professional focus as well as those in theory and research.

Students may elect to do a 4-credit internship, simultaneously spending 15 hours a week in part-time employment and attending regularly scheduled classes. Students who attend the program full time can expect to complete the program in three semesters.

MS in Advertising

The MS in Advertising at Boston University is designed to prepare students to work in advertising at agencies, media companies, and other organizations. Some will be prepared for doctoral-level studies. All students must take courses that provide a broad understanding of the advertising industry and of the role of communication in contemporary society. Additionally, they will focus on developing advertising management, creative, or research skills.

This program is appropriate for students who have earned their undergraduate degrees in fields other than communication. Students who do have undergraduate degrees in communication will also benefit from the opportunity to further master advertising skills. Students who attend the program full time can expect to complete the program in three semesters.

Minor in Communication

The Minor in Communication is open to all BU undergraduate students, including COM students. Current COM students may minor in a department other than their declared department within COM.

Students wishing to enroll in the COM minors must first complete COM CO 201, Introduction to Communication Writing, with a grade of C or better. The participating COM department must sign off on the COM Minor Form. The student would then take that form to their home school (Student Services, Room 123 for COM students). Please go to the COM Student Services website for more information and required courses.