Communications Graduation 2019As a nationally accredited program, the School of Communications monitors four indicators of student success: enrollment, retention, graduation and employment.


The School of Communications is home to about 20 percent of Elon’s student body. The school offers six undergraduate majors: Journalism, Strategic Communications, Cinema & Television Arts, Communication Design, Media Analytics, and Sport Management.

Program Fall 2019 Fall 2018 Fall 2017
Undergraduate Programs
Journalism 160 157 156
Strategic Communications 518 524 523
Cinema & Television Arts 237 199 190
Communication Design 187 147 133
Media Analytics 97 79 73
Sport Management 175 161 164
Undergraduate Total
1,374 1,267 1,239
Graduate Program
M.A. in Interactive Media 30 28 26


Retention refers to the number of students who return to school the following year. One method of determining retention in a major is based on the entering first-year class. Another method is based on the last declared major of all students at the university. This section provides data for both methods of calculation. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications specifies that retention, graduation and employment data be provided for an accredited Communications program.

Retention and Growth Based on Entering First-Year Class

When students are admitted to Elon, they are free to enter the major of their choice, unlike some journalism and communications programs that have their own admission process or restrict students from declaring a major until the junior year. As a result, high school students who express an interest in Communications in their application process to Elon become the entering first-year cohort in Communications.

The chart below shows that 197 students expressed an interest in Communications when they applied and were admitted to Elon in fall 2015. Three years later, 170 of them (86%) had become seniors at Elon, with 147 (77%) as Communications majors. This means 23 seniors remained at Elon but had switched to other majors since their first year. Meanwhile, an additional 130 students from that first-year class became Communications majors after they began at Elon, resulting in 80 more students being Communications majors in the senior year (277) than in the entering first-year cohort.

Senior Class of 2016-17 Retention and Growth Chart

Senior Class of 2015-16 Retention and Growth Chart

Source: Elon’s Office of Institutional Research

These tables reflect full-time first-year students entering Elon. They do not include transfer students and count a student (for instance, those who double major) only once. The technical description is “unduplicated, first-time, full-time and first-year students enrolling at the university.” These tables and later ones do not include Sport Management, which is a separate department in the school and not part of the accreditation process.

Retention Based on Last Declared Major

A second method of determining retention in a major is based on the last declared major of all students at the university – both those who eventually graduate from Elon as well as those who leave the university with Communications as their last declared major. This method is used to describe enrollment and retention of Communications majors within the university over time and to calculate graduation rates, as shown in the next section.

The chart below shows retention of students in this cohort in comparison with students in the university overall. Of all first-time, full-time students who entered Elon in 2015, 285 students ultimately declared Communications as their last major in the university. Some entered Elon as first-year students having expressed an interest in Communications, some became Communications majors after starting at Elon, and others were Communications majors when they left the university.

Of the 285 first-year students in this cumulative cohort of last-declared-majors, 268 (94%) returned to Elon the following year, 258 (91%) returned to the university by their junior year, and 253 (89%) remained and declared a major in Communications by the end of their senior year.

Unlike the first retention method which shows the number of Communications majors at the start of fall semester of their senior year (277), this second retention method shows the number of last declared students who were seniors at the time of graduation (253).

Class of 2019 Cohort Sophomore Year Junior Year Senior Year
Communications Majors 285 268 (94%) 258 (91%) 253 (89%)
All Elon Students 1,524 1,387 (91%) 1,325 (87%) 1,280 (84%)
Class of 2018 Cohort Sophomore Year Junior Year Senior Year
Communications Majors 297 280 (94.3%) 269 (90.6%) 267 (89.9%)
All Elon Students 1,497 1,347 (90%) 1,277 (85.3%) 1,247 (83.3%)
Class of 2017 Cohort Sophomore Year Junior Year Senior Year
Communications Majors 288 269 (93%) 262 (91%) 261 (90%)
All Elon Students 1,425 1,280 (90%) 1,213 (85%) 1,177 (83%)

Source: Elon’s Office of Institutional Research

University retention rates reflect full-time, first-year students in all majors who remain at Elon at the time of fall enrollment each year. Because students may change majors at any time, retention data for Communications majors are based on their declared major at the time of fall enrollment each year.


A four-year graduation is the norm for Communications students at Elon.

In the graduating Class of 2019, 258 students graduated as Communications majors in four years. This is 87% of all Elon students whose last declared major was Communications.

Each year, a few more students in the cohort graduate in five years.

Graduating Class of 2019 Cohort 4-Year Graduation 5-Year Graduation
Communications Majors 285 242 (85%) +3 = 245 (86%)
All Elon Students 1,524 1,206 (79.1%) N/A
Graduating Class of 2018 Cohort 4-Year Graduation 5-Year Graduation
Communications Majors 297 258 (87%) +4 = 262 (88%)
All Elon Students 1,497 1,187 (79.3%) +39 = 1,226 (81.9%)
Graduating Class of 2017 Cohort 4-Year Graduation 5-Year Graduation
Communications Majors 288 249 (87%) +6 = 255 (89%)
All Elon Students 1,474 1,202 (81.5%) +44 = 1,245 (84.5%)


Each year the university conducts a survey of the most recent graduating class, nine months following graduation, to ascertain employment or graduate school status, type of employer, and salary. The report on the Class of 2018 was released by the Student Professional Development Center in spring 2019.

Employment and Graduate School Status, Nine Months After Graduation

Graduating Class 2019 2018 2017
Communications Graduates Employed 86.9% 81.7% 88%
Entering Graduate School 4.2% 8.9% 8%

A few graduates each year indicate they fit in both categories.

Employment by Organization Type

Communications graduates who are employed are asked each year to indicate the type of organization where they work.

Organization Type 2019 2018 2017
Corporate For Profit 78.7% 76.6% 85%
Not For Profit 10.9% 7.8% 4%
Educational 4.6% 4.5% 5%
Government 2.3% 2.6% 1%
Entrepreneurial/Self-employed/Start-up 3.4% 8.4% 5%

2018 percentages were based on 244 employed graduates who reported their organization type; 2017 percentages were based on 222 responses; 2016 percentages were based on 149 responses.

Employment Related to Career Goals

In 2018, 93.1% of the employed Communications graduates who responded to this survey said their work was related to their career goals.

Average Salaries

2019 Elon Communications graduates reported an average starting salary of $48,340. Salaries were reported by 37 employed Communications graduates who responded to this survey question.

— Last updated Aug. 6, 2020