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Professional communication degree opens doors for graduates in a variety of fields

Communications ranks No. 2 on Princeton Review’s top 10 college majors. And there’s a good reason.

Tidewater Community College’s Associate of Science in General Studies with a Specialization in Professional Communication opens doors in a variety of fields from public relations to digital media to leadership to human resources and law.

“Great communication skills are one of the top traits employers look for in new hires and one of the most significant aspects of professional relationships,” said Elizabeth Briggs, communication studies professor at Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake Campus.

TCC’s program, introduced in Fall 2016, is the only associate-level professional communication specialization offered by a public college in Hampton Roads. Graduates may transfer into Old Dominion University’s bachelor’s program in communication.

It was also designed with military students in mind.

Students in the program gain strong written, oral and presentation skills, and learn how to listen actively and with an open mind. 

“This degree is practical,” said TCC student Charlie Sanford, among the first to select the major. “A lot of classes you take in high school don’t seem to fit anywhere. The majority of your adult life you’re going to have to use effective communication to be successful. This degree just makes sense.”

This 61-credit transfer program includes course work in intercultural communication; interpersonal communication; business and professional communication and, of course, writing. Students will receive on-the-job training as part of a required internship in the field.

Inside the classroom, students practice what they learn with group projects and by answering discussion questions. “By working in groups with a task, students have freedom in the way they process information and can look at things from multiple perspectives, gaining new insights,” said Briggs.

Expressing ideas effectively has become increasingly important in the job market, particularly in this digital age where we’re connected 24/7.

According to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, verbal communication is the most important candidate skill in new college graduates.

“Communication studies enable students to learn to adapt to diverse situations and cultures, and maintain productive working relationships,” said Diane Ryan, dean of humanities and social sciences at the Chesapeake Campus. “It’s all about communication and leadership, no matter what job you do.”

In addition to providing entry-level training for those wishing to go into public relations or technical writing, the program will allow Navy ombudsmen the opportunity to earn an academic credential.

TCC designed its curriculum after conferring with the Commander of the Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Ombudsman Program. Military ombudsmen interested in this path will work with TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education to coordinate their internships.