Communication Studies

In studying communication, students learn to express themselves, develop critical-thinking skills, and explore ethical issues. Students become articulate and intentional communicators, respecting the power of the spoken and written word. Communication studies is a strong stand-alone major and is also common as a double-major or minor. The skills learned when studying communication are some of those most sought after by employers. Careers available to a communication studies major include diverse professions such as public relations, event planning, graduate school, teaching, sales, or law.

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a major in communication studies will be able to:

  1. Develop content expertise in relevant theories of communication;
  2. Exercise organizational skills;
  3. Exhibit the ability to support arguments and reason clearly;
  4. Illustrate the ability to cite sources, both in text and in the bibliography;
  5. Execute a research paper appropriately.

Major in Communication Studies

A minimum of 33 semester hours is required, including:
COM 101: Interpersonal Communication
COM 102: Public Speaking
COM 490: Seminar in Communication

Choose any three of the following:
COM 240: Rhetoric of Western Thought
COM 250: Small Group Communication
COM 252: Communication and Gender
COM 272: Communication in Politics

Choose any four from the following:
COM 306: Organizational Communication
COM 308: Intercultural Communication
COM 355: Mass Media
COM 319: Environmental Communication
COM 325: Theories of Persuasion
COM 331: Rhetoric of Popular Culture

Choose one of the following:
COM 418: Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
COM 423: Communication, Culture, and Social Identities

Minor in Communication Studies

A minimum of 21 semester hours is required, including:

COM 101: Interpersonal Communication
COM 102 Public Speaking

Choose two:
COM 240: Rhetoric of Western Thought
COM 250: Small Group Communication
COM 252: Communication and Gender
COM 272: Communication in Politics

Choose three:
COM 306: Organizational Communication
COM 308: Intercultural Communication
COM 319: Environmental Communication
COM 325: Theories of Persuasion
COM 331: Rhetoric of Popular Culture
COM 355: Mass Media
COM 418: Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
COM 423: Communication, Culture, and Social Identities

COM 101 - Interpersonal Communication
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course examines how intimate, personal, and professional relationships are created and maintained. Students develop an increased awareness of and sensitivity to communication that facilitates interpersonal relationships, as well as communication that creates obstacles to building relationships. Topics discussed include perception, self-concept, listening, and conflict.
COM 102 - Public Speaking
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course examines key aspects of writing and delivering public speeches. Focal topics include audience analysis, speech organization, developing supporting materials, argumentation, and delivery. By the end of the course, students will have written and delivered informative, persuasive, and ceremonial speeches.
COM 240 - Rhetoric of Western Thought
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course investigates the evolution of rhetorical theories from ancient Greece to contemporary models of communication. It focuses on the application of theories to communication events in order to explicate how communication shapes culture.
Prerequisite: COM 102
COM 250 - Small Group Communication
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course explores how and why people come together in groups, how groups develop norms for acceptable behavior, and how individuals can help groups work efficiently and effectively. Because employers seek competent communicators, this course is designed to provide students an opportunity to develop communication skills that can be applied in both personal and professional contexts.
COM 252 - Communication and Gender
Semester: Fall; Even years
Semester hours: 3
This course examines the relationship between gender and communication. We will combine readings, discussions, lectures, and research to define “gender” and to develop an understanding of how gender connects with personal identity, experiences, and our position in society.
COM 257 - Intercollegiate Forensics
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 1
This course is designed for students to prepare and engage in intercollegiate debate competition. A focus on British Parliamentary debate provides national and international opportunities for debate competition. Pass/no pass grading.
COM 272 - Communication in Politics
Semester: Spring; Even years
Semester hours: 3
This course will explore the role of communication in the political sphere. The course will explain how political messages are constructed, strategized and communicated to frame public controversy. The course will examine how political debates are communicated in mass media, from grassroots organizations, social media, and public advocacy groups.
COM 299 - Independent Study
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 1-3
This course allows a superior student to devise and pursue independent study in an area agreed upon in consultation with, and supervised by, a faculty member. Students should be either a major or minor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater.
COM 306 - Organizational Communication
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course examines how communication occurs in large cooperative networks, especially in professional work settings. It focuses on the roles leadership, management, and conflict resolution play in larger organizations. By the end of the course, students will understand how the values and cultures of any organization emerge through communication.
Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor
COM 308 - Intercultural Communication
Semester: Fall; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3
As global communication and transnational movement facilitate increased cross-cultural contact, there is a need to develop an understanding of intercultural communication. To this end, this course examines the ways in which culture influences communication and communication influences culture. Verbal and nonverbal communication will be analyzed as it conveys messages about identity, beliefs, and values. Conflict is discussed as a product of cultural orientations and interpretations. By the end of this course, students will understand communication as a vital aspect of intercultural contact.
Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor
COM 319 - Environmental Communication
Semester: Fall; Even years
Semester hours: 3
This course investigates how symbols are used to construct and reflect nature and its relationship with humans. It examines intersections between the environment and humanity through a variety of communicative lenses, including theories of social-symbolic discourse, mass media, rhetoric, and public advocacy.
Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor
COM 325 - Theories of Persuasion
Semester: Fall; Even years
Semester hours: 3
This course will examine multiple theories of persuasion through examination of artifacts in popular culture including advertising, campaigns, media, the Internet, and organizations. The course will explore how persuasive messages are constructed and delivered to the general public. Major topics in this course will include persuasion theory, argumentation, ethics, and critical approaches of persuasion theory.
COM 331 - Rhetoric of Popular Culture
Semester: Spring; Even years
Semester hours: 3
The purpose of this course is to demonstrate how the rhetorical tradition can be joined with popular culture to provide a critical analytical tool for understanding a variety of mediated messages. By sampling from rhetorical theory, rhetorical criticism, and critical theory, students will be able to examine the messages they encounter every day in a more discerning and ethical manner.
Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor
COM 355 - Mass Media
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course explores the social and cultural roles of media – from local newspapers to the global reach of the Internet. By the end of this course, students will be able to understand and articulate the social, cultural, and economic power of media in order to better manage its influence in their lives.
Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor
COM 418 - Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
Semester: Fall; Even years
Semester hours: 3
This course builds on the historical foundations of rhetoric, focusing on contemporary rhetorical theories. Students will examine rhetorical artifacts through a variety of theoretical lenses, including narrative, metaphoric, and feminist theories, in order to better understand and explain social, political, and cultural conditions.
Prerequisite: COM 102, COM 240, and junior or senior status
COM 423 - Communication, Culture, and Social Identities
Semester: Fall; Odd years
Semester hours: 3
This course will explore (a) how culture and communication are intertwined and (b) how key social identities (race, class, and gender) are made and remade through cultural communication practices. Emphasis will be placed on how cultural backgrounds and social identities affect how we perceive and interpret the world.
Prerequisite: any 200-level communication course
COM 450 - Internship
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 1-12
This course is a guided work experience in an established institution such as a non-profit or for-profit organization or a governmental institution. The student must arrange the internship in agreement with the instructor and with the Office of Career Services, and the internship must be a learning experience that is connected with the communication studies degree. A contract is required. A maximum of three semester hours can be counted toward the major in communication.
Prerequisite: junior or senior standing
COM 457 - Intercollegiate Forensics
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 1
This course is designed for students to prepare and engage in intercollegiate debate competition. A focus on British Parliamentary debate provides national and international opportunities for debate competition. Pass/no pass grading.
COM 490 - Seminar in Communication
Semester: Spring; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3
Through writing and speaking, students in this capstone course explore why and how people create communities and what kind of communities they create. Each seminar will focus upon a special theme, such as the implications of free speech, postmodern organizational ethics, or international political communication.
Prerequisite: senior standing
COM 499 - Independent Study
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 1-3
This course allows a superior student to devise and pursue independent study in an area agreed upon in consultation with, and supervised by, a faculty member. Students should be either a major or minor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater.
Prerequisite: junior or senior standing
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