The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations

George SmithAlumnus George Smith Jr., Director of Digital Marketing, Global Beverages at PepsiCo

"The job you'll have in 10 years hasn't been invented yet... My four years at UMass were about exploring the various sides of me. And the communication major is very multifaceted, very diverse. And you can take a very much behavioral science class and then you can do video production. And I did that." 


Watch George's video profile to learn more about how he applied his education to his career.

About the Industry

Marketing/PR is an attractive field for creative and analytical thinkers who thrive in a fast paced, dynamic environment. People in this field have a way with words, images, people and strategy. The possibilities for a career in marketing are also vast. You could be doing anything from planning advertising campaigns, overseeing creative layouts, working with clients to help build a marketing strategy, or providing in-depth market research and analysis to a team of creatives.

Sample Classes

Below are a few examples, but we urge you to talk to your major/departmental advisor and explore available courses in SPIRE. Remember not to constrain yourself to classes within your major.*

COMM 287 - Advertising as Social Communication: This course looks at advertising from the viewpoint of social theory (that is, of how we can understand advertising's broad political, economic, social, and cultural role in modern society).  

COMM 387 - Media, PR, and Propaganda: The historical roots of the PR industry in government propaganda efforts; the contemporary influence of the public relations industry on public debate of social issues; the effects of structuring media systems around the needs of advertisers; the role of media and PR in how the public understands both domestic and international issues.

JOURNAL 392 - Writing for Public Relations: Learn how to translate an institutional mission statement in to various narratives, how to gather information in a a complex environment, and how to evaluate that information according to constituency needs.  

SOCIOL 220 - Sociology of American Culture: The elements and dynamics of culture everywhere; special reference to Americana. Topics include culture as a set of historically grounded values and beliefs; culture's role in both expressing and subverting ideals; the frequent gap between ideals and reality.

ANTHRO 106 - Culture Through Film: Exploration of different societies and cultures, and of the field of cultural anthropology through the medium of film. Ethnographic and documentary films; focus on gender roles, ethnicity, race, class, religion, politics, and social change.

STPEC 296D IS - Propaganda in Film, Print, Art & Music: Understand and appreciate the art and science of propaganda by examining the techniques of crafting propaganda as well as its application to small and large scale populations. Analyze theoretical approaches to propaganda as well as its practical implications.  

Depending on your main area of interest, your academic pathway will shift. To explore this field, you can take courses that will provide you with knowledge and skills in:

  • Communications in the media and culture
  • Visual storytelling
  • Data collection and data analysis
  • Design & design concepts
  • Research methodologies
  • Creative and technical writing

*Check SPIRE for full course descriptions and availability. These are abbreviated descriptions, and details may change at the discretion of the instructor.

Co-Curricular Activities

Being involved in on and off campus activities and organizations will give you experience and help you hone in on what you really love doing. Consider joining organizations that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the professional areas you’re considering. You’ll learn more about the field, meet people who share your interests, and have something to include on your resume to show your dedication. Go to the RSO webpage and start searching!

Examples include:

  • Amherst Wire
  • American Marketing Association
  • StudentX
  • The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
  • University Programming Council
  • UVC-TV19 (Union Video Center)
Internships and Experience

Explore the different aspects of marketing through internships, co-ops, job shadowing, and other experiential opportunities. This will help you hone in on your interests while building an impressive knowledge base and resume for when you enter the job market. Most companies, both public and private, engage in marketing, so you will find work in a vast variety of places. SBS students and alumni have completed marketing-oriented internships at places like:

  • The Eric Carle Museum
  • 451Marketing
  • IBM
  • Disneyland
  • New England Sports Network (NESN)
  • Michael Kors
  • Boston Corporate Housing

Find an internship or co-op that suits you by using these search and application tips and by searching the Career Connect database.

Sample Job Titles
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Media Relations Coordinator
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Creative Director
  • Copywriter
  • Brand Strategist
  • Account Coordinator
Additional Alumni in the Field

click to go to a video of Nick LoweNick Lowe '97, Founding Partner, 451 Marketing

"I majored in German literature and also political science. Political science was a little bit more in line with what I was intending to do for a career track. German literature was just because I thought it was interesting. UMass is a place where you can learn to take initiative and to find opportunities and really make the most out of those opportunities. I studied at Oxford University, arguably one of the best universities in the world, through UMass. I studied in Germany for a year through UMass. I fenced nationally through UMass."

Watch Nick's video profile to learn more about how his co-curricular passions and career path.