Southwest to offer new communication degrees

By Lane Roberts, Communications, Graphic & Fine Arts

Southwest joins community colleges across Tennessee in offering two-year associate degrees in communication this fall.  The Department of Communications, Graphic, and Fine Arts recently launched an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science in communication to provide area students with these popular and in-demand degrees.

Department Chair Patsy Fancher has been working to bring a communication degree to Southwest, along with the help of faculty members Lane Roberts, Bill Turner, Tracy McLaughlin, Holly Green, and Martin Wakefield. The Department formed a committee last year, and began researching other comparable degrees offered throughout the state. “We found 10 other community colleges that already offered a communication degree, and only one was in the West Tennessee area,” Fancher said. “We felt it was time for Southwest to bring these degrees to the Memphis area and provide our students more opportunities.”

Why does this degree matter?

In the age of all-consuming technology that represents an integral part of today’s Generation Z, potential employers are struggling to find new college graduates with strong communication skills. In fact, research conducted in 2018 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found the most sought-after attribute for a potential job applicant was the ability to communicate effectively. In addition, a study conducted by Bloomberg surveyed more than 1,200 job recruiters and found highly effective communication skills as most important, but harder to find among potential employees.

“College students spend the majority of their time texting and talking into this void of nothing we call social media,” said Fancher. “As a result, they struggle with basic communication skills that today’s employers are looking for.”  Fancher hopes the new communication degrees will help students better compete in the job market by providing them with vital skills to help them become effective communicators. “Whether they choose one of our new courses, like business and professional communication, or decide to major in communication, these are essential skills that will help set them apart.”

What can you do with a communication degree?

Students majoring in communication can choose from a variety of career fields including:  corporate communication, public relations, journalism, film and video, broadcasting, advertising, and mass communication.

Fancher says, “The real question is, what can’t you do with a communication degree? Communication majors can be special event coordinators, social media writers, advertising account executives, news anchors, media specialists, public relations coordinators, or even become president of a community college.”

These two-year university parallel degrees (A.A. or A.S.) are designed for students who plan to enter the workforce upon graduation or continue their education to earn a bachelor’s in communication or related degree at a four-year college.  The degree requires 60 hours, including 12 hours of core classes. Five new courses are being offered as a result of these new degrees, including: 

  • Introduction to Mass Communication (COMM 1010)
  • Business and Professional Communication (COMM 2085)
  • Introduction to Media Writing (COMM 1020)
  • Organizational Communication (COMM 2075)
  • Communication Inquiry (COMM 2100)

Click here to see a detailed curriculum map.

For more information about the communication program, contact Lane Roberts at or visit the communication degree website.