Communication vs. Communications

By: David

I can recall back to my newbie days in the office and having my resume reviewed during Resume Drop-Ins. One time, in particular, was when I had my major listed as “Communications” and how I should remove the “s.” At that time, I thought to myself, “does it really matter?” Two years later, as a veteran peer educator and senior in my COMM major I have come to realize, “YES! It does matter, it matters A LOT actually.” It’s crazy how one single letter can change the entire meaning and context of one word. If you have read this far, I’m assuming I have caught your attention? If so, read on! If not, read on!

To start off with the basics, the word “communication” differentiates from “communications” in terms of the channels that we actually send and receive messages. One of the many ways that communication is defined is “the means of connection between people or places, in particular,” (Source, definition #2) On the other hand, communications is defined as “the means of sending messages, orders, etc., including telephone, telegraph, radio, and television,” (Source, definition #6). Can you tell how the two are different?

Now that we have defined the two, let’s dive in deeper to better analyze how the two are completely worlds apart. To start off, the main difference between the two is how we actually communicate when we talk about these two concepts. When we talk about “communication,” we are talking about human interaction, people to people, and the real world, BUT when we talk about “communications,” we are talking about the media, the internet, and the digital world. Here are some examples as to how the two differ:


  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Rhetorical Communication


  • Comcast Cable Communications
  • Charter Communications
  • Direct Communications (Direct TV)

Why is this an issue? Well, when students say that their major is Communications, some folks will imply that they are studying media, journalism, technology, but in reality they mean to say that they are studying Communication: human interaction, rhetoric, communication methods and inquiries. Now that we have defined and differentiated the two let’s move on to the final piece of the puzzle, the denouement (final result, outcome, you get the picture).

Now that we know the definition and difference between the two, let’s conclude and attempt to find a moral of the blog post here. You see, I didn’t write this blog post just because it grinds my gears every single time when students say their major is “Communications,” nooo, why would I do that? (Insert sarcastic remark here.) On a serious note, I think it is crucial that we know the difference between the two words to maintain some sense of credibility and understand how it affects us. When conversing with professors or professionals, it’s nice to have some sense of credibility in what we say, therefore, by knowing the difference between the two terms it can hopefully bolster our credibility. It’s a blessing and a curse to know the difference between the two terms, and in the long run, it is most beneficial to understand how these two differ to better perceive the field of communication/communications.

“D” End
Before closing, I would like to share how this has affected me in my professional career.

As an undergraduate student aspiring to go to graduate school, I have seen significant changes depending on what I type in the search bar. By typing in “masters programs in communications,” the programs that appear in the Google search are all related to technology, media, and journalism. On the other hand, I find my intended results when typing in “masters programs in communication.” When looking for graduate programs in the field of Communication, I think it’s critical students know the difference between the two terms to better filter graduate programs.

On a closing note, the realm of communication is one that occurs in all life forms. Whether a  teenager is contacting their crush the first time, a lost whale calf calling out to its mother, or even a spirit trying to get its buddies to scare the crap out of people, the art of communication is all around us. Stick around for future posts as I will be writing more about the realm of communication. Enjoy the weather and as always, stay gold my friends!

Read David’s other posts

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