Schools for Studying Communications in the USA

The USA is home to over 100 (one hundred) schools that teach communications, but only a few of these fall into the category of the “best.” Any overseas student looking for the best place to study communications can make their selection on particular criteria, e.g., a) the quality of the curriculum, b) the student/faculty ratio, c) the diversity of the fields covered, and d) the opportunities for work experience and/or internships. Each individual institution has its own unique and specific characteristics that set it apart from the others.

With over 100 institutions to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which communication school best fits your objectives. A key factor to bear in mind when selecting a school is which area of communications would you like to build a career in? Most overseas students who come to the US to study are likely to be asked to select a particular focus for their communications studies. For example, some options are telecommunications, advertising, public relations, or journalism (which can be further sub-divided into broadcasting, online, or print journalism). Therefore, it makes sense for students to select the school that offers the specialist programs that match their interests. For instance, overseas students may want to consider the following universities for the specializations they are noted for:

  • Boston University (advertising and public relations programs)
  • Ohio University (print version journalism)
  • Illinois and Ohio Centers for Broadcasting (hands-on broadcast journalism training).

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Other important factors to consider are:

  • Is the school/university private or public?
  • What size is the school?
  • What programs and specializations does the school offer?
  • What characteristics set it apart from other highly rated communication schools?

SI Newhouse School of Public Communications: Syracuse University, New York

Several academic publications (e.g., the Princeton Review and the US World and News Report) have described the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University as the USA’s leading school of journalism. It is located in a small city in the northeast of the country.

This is a private university and its four-year program hosts a medium-sized enrolment. Syracuse is worth considering for any overseas student who wants to study at a large institution but is worried they will just be viewed as a number. Essentially, the enrolment size at this school is big enough for it to be classed as a large school while still maintaining a community feeling. This school is quite prestigious and its programs quite diverse. Any undergraduate enrolled here can study for a degree in radio, television, film, public relations, photography, newspaper, magazine, broadcasting, or advertising.

Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications:  Northwestern University, Illinois

The Medill School at Northwestern University is also a private institution that offers four-year programs. However, while Northwestern University is also located in a smallish city, its suburban-style surroundings differentiate it from the urban environs in which Syracuse is set. Therefore, it is worth considering for any student who would prefer to live in a relatively small community. Northwestern boasts as alumni of no fewer than 38 Pulitzer Prize laureates and the chance to work from such prestigious locations as Capitol Hill and some of the storefront newsrooms in Chicago. This university takes great pride in providing students with a superb education in the liberal arts. As well as classes in communication, students here are required to undertake 75% of their studies outside Medill as a means of “deepening” their interests with an additional minor or major on top of journalism.

Overseas students at Medill School will get chance to produce high-level media even in their first year. There is even a program here for up-and-coming senior high school students. Essentially, anyone accepted onto this program will live at the college in campus dormitories and receive instruction from senior journalists in audio, broadcast, digital and print journalism.

Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of North Carolina

This school offers more specialized communications programs. In essence, students at North Carolina’s Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication are prepared for future careers in, for example, business, health, Latino, medical, science, and sports journalism and communication. Chapel Hill College is a relatively large public institution offering four-year programs. While this school is bigger than the two schools mentioned above, the teaching style is direct and personal. Anyone studying here will have the opportunity to work on the newspaper run by the college’s students – The Daily Tar Heel.

Something that is unique at this school is a program aimed at helping professional and academic journalists from abroad, as well as other communication specialists, spend a year or semester at Chapel Hill learning about their specialization in the communications field and about American culture. This program is called the “Visiting International Scholars Program,” and it accepts in the region of twenty (20) to twenty five (25) students during each enrolment. While participants do not receive any credit, Chapel Hill encourages students from abroad to apply for its highly rated communications courses where they will be eligible for credit.

William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication: University of Kansas

According to the Dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, the college prepares it graduates for any challenges they may face in the world of multimedia. Once students are admitted to the college’s communications program, they are immediately introduced to high-level studies, practical experience, and opportunities for networking. This college has been a second-place winner of the “College Pulitzers” contest, a national writing contest sponsored by the Hearst Foundation. The college also operates a Career Center where journalism students can get valuable career advice, e.g., assistance with resume writing, interviews, internships, job applications, networking, and much more.

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The William Allen White School is a public university and one of the largest schools listed in this guide. It is set in the urban environs of a smallish city. Any overseas student looking for a school with a sizeable enrolment should consider this institution.

Each year, communication schools undergo many changes as professors come and go, technology is updated, and program quality is adjusted to match market trends. Therefore, the competition to get places at the different schools is always changing. When attempting to narrow down the top communication schools, overseas students will probably discover that each institution has unique and specific characteristics that set it apart from the others. What elements of a particular school fit with your objectives? Do you want small-size classes where you will get personal attention? Do you want a school with state-of-the-art equipment and one that wins awards for its publications? Is location important to you, e.g., somewhere with good career options? In every case, each institution is likely to offer something special!

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