5 Remarkable Skills Students Learn as Media & Communication Studies Majors

Calling all aspiring music producers, podcasters, filmmakers, photographers, writers, marketers, journalists and content creators! JWU’s Media & Communication program is one of the most flexible programs we offer in that the wide variety of electives let you customize your degree to suit the wide variety of paths you can take in the media and communication industries. Whatever direction you go in, you can learn a lot of unique and amazing skills that will take you places in your chosen field. Here are five examples of remarkable skills our Media & Communication students are learning. 

1. How to make a movie with little to no budget 

When you don’t have a multi-million-dollar budget like a Marvel movie, it can be tough to achieve cinematic greatness — or so you think. The truth is, independent filmmakers around the world find ways to get their films made with little to no money, and the Media & Communication program can teach you how to do the same. (And who knows, you might have a mega budget one day.) With plenty of high-quality cameras, lighting and sound equipment, and a state-of the-art production space already at their disposal, students can learn how to achieve the shots they’re after, how to write a script for what they have available to them, how to manage a production set effectively and more. 

Whether they’re in a filmmaking class or competing in the Providence Campus’ 48 Hour Film Challenge, our students are using what they’ve learned to bring their movie ideas to life. Check out this year’s 48-Hour Film Challenge winner from Erin “El J” Reyes '22 entitled “Kaigan.” 

2. How to analyze the cultural and economic impact of popular music 

We all love music, but we don’t often think about the economics behind it or how it continues to shape various cultures. Media & Communication students can take elective courses such as Hip-Hop Culture, Latinx Music Culture, or Radio, Records and Popular Music to dive into the economics, technology and social impact of music.  

Professor Christopher Westgate, Ph.D. teaches these courses at the Providence Campus, and with the Radio, Records and Popular Music course, he enjoys teaching his students how important their role as a consumer can be in the ever-changing music industry. “As we navigate the uncertainties and risks related to future revenue models and the overwhelming dependence of so many artists on live performance for their livelihoods, it is incumbent on all of us to come up with public-private partnerships that offer additional revenue streams so that artists can continue making the music that we all love to consume, critique, and celebrate,” he says. (Taylor Swift would probably agree.) 

3. How to make it as a journalist in the 21st century 

As printed newspapers give way to digital news sources, journalism has had to find a way to adapt. The role of a journalist has evolved to include a lot of responsibilities beyond just reporting — they’re expected to be their own producer and create content on multiple platforms. In the Digital Journalism elective course, Media & Communication students learn the best practices for making it as a journalist today, including copywriting and recording voice tracks, as well as video recording, editing and distribution — all with the end goal of producing multimedia news packages. 

Microphones and other equipment

4. How to do research like a boss 

For some, the word “research” might conjure up the smell of old library books or the leftover, stale coffee that helped you pull an all-nighter to finish a term paper. However, research is often a lot more exciting than that, and doing it well is an important skill to have for any job (and for life in general). Media Research Methods is one of the core courses in the Media & Communications program, and it teaches students how to think critically and analyze all kinds of sources including interviews, participant observations, historical events, texts and other forms of media content.   

“The course does more than prepare students for their senior-level projects: it offers tools for their professional research kits,” says Professor Westgate. “Countless employers require their employees to be well-versed in the art of research, which includes gathering evidence and analyzing what they find in a clear and cogent manner. There will always be a need to help an audience understand the larger meaning of an event, the effects of a decision, or the implications of a phenomenon. After taking this class, our students can do all of these things and more.” 

A closeup of a movie script
5. How to be an effective storyteller 

At their core, both media and communications are really all about telling a story. Books, television, movies, music, social media, cell phones, emails, texts — they’re all vehicles for storytelling. To be an effective storyteller, it’s important to identify and understand your audience. Core courses such as Media Audiences and Media Texts teach students how themselves and others interpret and respond to messages in media and how it can impact our society. How we communicate and the stories we tell through media are powerful stuff, and this program teaches you how to harness that power. 

There are plenty of other cool skills you’ll pick up in this program, too.  


Not all courses are offered at both campuses. For more information, visit jwu.edu.