English Degree vs. Journalism Degree: What’s the Difference?

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In any industry, your ability to communicate effectively serves as one of your strongest assets. 

It doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and those who want to fine-tune their talents and focus them toward a career in words and writing often find themselves drawn to English or journalism degree programs.

But what’s the difference between an English degree and journalism degree? The answer depends largely on what you plan to do with your degree. From broadcasting to academics to corporate communications, both degree programs give you the opportunity to stretch the limits of your reading and writing skills in multiple careers, but there is much more to it.  

What You Learn In An English Degree Program

Developing a love for language goes beyond expanding your vocabulary. An English degree teaches you critical thinking, the power of words, how to analyze their meanings, and how to write persuasive and compelling content. 

Picture yourself in any work environment that requires you to make an argument for something you believe in. Whether you’re making a presentation to your manager or emailing a customer about your newest product, those who are capable of expressing themselves competently face a greater chance of success.

As your English degree program progresses, you’ll learn how to focus the ideas in your head so you can deliver them effectively. At the same time, you’ll work on perfecting your writing abilities for multiple situations – from resume writing to professional correspondence – with a focus on technical writing used heavily in modern business. 

Ashford University’s Bachelor of Arts in English goes beyond creative writing with an additional deep dive into the history and evolution of language, with online courses in British Literature and cultures beyond U.S. borders. These courses provide a perspective that can prove incredibly useful, especially if you are pursuing a teaching career following graduation. 

Successful English majors even use their degrees as a springboard to a higher goal, such as a Master’s program. In the case of Ashford University graduate Isaac McDaniel, an English degree served as the stepping-stone toward his master’s in criminal justice at another institution, and he was able to apply all of his skills into launching his own security firm in Washington, D.C. 

What You Learn In A Journalism Degree Program

Obviously, the word journalism makes one think of “the news” in all of its varied formats–television, Web, newspaper, magazine, etc.–but there is much more to this degree than an exploration of the modern newsroom. 

Like an English degree program, your journalism courses will teach you to write creative and compelling content, but you’ll also learn to write objectively. Journalists must abide by a set of ethical standards and your degree program will cover those responsibilities in depth, with a look at real-life case studies that have shaped the profession throughout its history.

While the media industry is growing and expected to add jobs into the next decade, there has been a tectonic shift in the way newsrooms operate, with an expanded focus on delivering digital content through multiple mediums, such as video, social media, and podcasting.

Your Journalism and Mass Communication degree program will cover this evolution through online courses such as Cyber-Journalism and Specialized Journalism. Understanding these trends is critical to your post-graduation career search and it’s also a reminder of how quickly technology can transform legacy industries, and why professionals must adapt through continuing education.

At the same time, the degree program explores the role of journalism outside of the newsroom in courses such as Journalism Law and Journalism & Politics. These are ideal for anyone broadening their knowledge base in those career fields. 

How Are These Degree Programs Different?

Again, the answer depends on your career path. 

An English degree program is very much focused on the language and a journalism program is very much focused on the industry. Both may make you excellent writers, but writing styles vary from role to role. 

Historical analysis plays an important role in both programs, but English is focused on the evolution of the language and journalism will have you studying the history of the profession. 

How Are These Degree Programs Similar? 

Aside from the aforementioned similarities (critical thinking and creative writing), the English and journalism degree programs are similar in that they are very research-focused–an essential skill for any communications professional. 

Both programs also teach you to write using specifics rather than generalities. This technique will serve you well in any environment that requires you to convey a message to an audience or customer. 

Methods of communication may evolve, but English and journalism degree programs provide you a solid foundation for your career. Most importantly, they teach you to become the best storyteller you can be, in any industry you choose.

 

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Written by Ashford University staff.
 

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