Columbia College Chicago

Advertising, BA

Learning advertising theory in college is good; creating campaigns for real businesses and clients is better. As a Columbia student, you’ll do both. This marriage of theory and practical application will prepare you for a successful career in advertising before you graduate. And it will distinguish you from other graduates.

Pick the brains of faculty members who have worked with Apple, Nike, Calvin Klein, Samsung, McDonald’s, Motorola, Kraft, Amazon and more. Working closely with industry-leading professors and your talented peers, you’ll learn what it takes to succeed in the ad world, from writing creative copy to analyzing consumer behavior data to mastering the art of a perfectly timed Tweet or Snapchat story. You’ll graduate with a professional portfolio of work to help you land a job as an account manager, copywriter, art director, brand manager, content strategist, content creator, media planner, project manager or general advertising pro.

What to Expect Your First Year

Expect to get your hands dirty. You’ll dive into advertising practice your very first semester with Introduction to Advertising, where you’ll create a hypothetical mini-ad campaign for brands such as the Red Cross or Starbucks. In Consumer Behavior, you’ll explore how people consume products, why we buy what we buy, and learn the practical value of shopper observation, in-home interviewing, creative focus groups and more. Advertising Copywriting will introduce you to the painstaking but rewarding practice of crafting creative ad copy for everything from print ads to social media posts.

Take your learning beyond the classroom and join our award-winning American Advertising Federation Ad Club. Get involved with our Chicago-exclusive One Club Creative Boot Camp partnership, where leading agencies’ experts work side by side with you on a campaign.

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll land (what we hope is) your second internship. You’ll also engage in strategic networking, develop your resume and portfolio, enroll in skill-sharpening electives like Account Executive/Brand Manager, Art Director/Copywriter and Portfolio Development, and contribute as a team member in one of the Advertising capstone courses, such as Agency or our award-winning Campaign Practicum class.

The Advertising capstones are where you’ll learn how to function in an advertising or public relations agency as a specialist—in account management, strategy, creative, media, traffic or production—and as a member of an agency team. You’ll work with real clients on real assignments, which means you’ll participate in client meetings, generate reports, conduct research, develop strategies, write media plans, pitch concepts and produce tactical elements. The marketing campaign elements you develop in these courses are excellent samples for your portfolio.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia prides itself on giving you real-world opportunities while you’re in school. You’ll have the chance to get involved with our American Advertising Federation Ad Club, which participates in industry conferences, visits agencies, leads speaker panels and consults with a variety of clients producing multimedia campaigns. We encourage you to participate in the One Club Creative Boot Camp, where students work side by side with leading industry professionals on a real client brief in a “crash and burn” situation, presenting to senior agency executives in just four days’ time. Ad students also regularly participate in (and win) national competitions taking them from New York City to San Diego, winning top awards in competitions like the National Retail Federation’s Student Challenge, the Collegiate Effies, the Young Globals, the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Ad Competition and more.

What are my internship options?

You’ll have access to internships in Chicago and beyond for companies ranging from globally known ad agencies and media outlets to dynamic startups and smaller creative boutiques. Our students have interned at Leo Burnett, FCB, Energy BBDO, Digitas, Havas Worldwide, Chicago Fire, Ogilvy, Univision, Viacom, CNN, Turner, Chicago Magazine, CBS, NBC, ESPN and more.

Our full-time internship coordinators can help you find opportunities and professional environments that best complement your coursework—you won’t be getting coffee or making copies all day. We don’t require an internship to graduate, but we highly encourage you to complete multiple internships beginning your junior year.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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