Communication Studies

Course Catalog: 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. Discuss and apply communication theories;
  2. Articulate important features of key communication theories;
  3. Demonstrate the ability to support arguments and reason soundly;
  4. Conduct original research and present cogent results.

Major in Communication Studies

A minimum of 36 semester hours is required, including:
COM 102: Public Speaking
COM 105: Introduction to Communication Studies
COM 201: Interpersonal Communication
COM 490: Seminar in Communication

Choose any three 200-level COM electives, for a total of 9 credit hours (excluding COM 210).

Choose any four 300-level COM electives, for a total of 12 credit hours.

Choose any 400-level COM elective, for a total of 3 credit hours (excluding COM 450 and COM 490).

Minor in Communication Studies

A minimum of 24 semester hours is required, including:

COM 102: Public Speaking
COM 105: Introduction to Communication Studies
COM 201: Interpersonal Communication

Choose any two 200-level COM electives, for a total of 6 credit hours (excluding COM 210).

Choose any three COM electives at the 300 or 400 level, for a total of 9 credit hours (excluding COM 450 and COM 490).

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 105 - Introduction to Communication Studies

Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3

This course is a comprehensive examination of the field and practice of Communication Studies. It includes models of communication (linear, interactive, transactional), careers in communication, communication processes and skills (perception, verbal, nonverbal, listening, climates, culture), and communication contexts (self, relationships, groups, teams, organizations, public communication, mass communication, the digital world).


COM 201 - Interpersonal Communication

Semester: Spring
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 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 275 - Workplace Communication

Semester: Spring; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3

This course will explore communication skills that are required in business processes
and professional settings. Students will be exposed to theoretical foundations of interpersonal communication, group communication, nonverbal communication, written communication,
presentation and interviewing skills in the context of a professional setting. Theory will be
applied in many professional contexts including superior/subordinate communication, technical communication, workplace diversity and customer communication.


COM 299 - Independent Study

Semester: Offered at discretion of department
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 301 - Advanced Interpersonal Communication

Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3

This class will explore in more depth foundational concepts introduced in COM 201 Interpersonal Communication. Focus will be on the evolution of close personal relationships—from initiation, to establishing and maintaining the relationship, to conflict, and dissolution—from a communication perspective but psychological theories will also be discussed.

Prerequisite: COM 201


COM 306 - Organizational Communication

Semester: Fall; Odd years
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; Odd 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 342 - Communication and Sport

Semester: Spring; Even years
Semester hours: 3

This course examines communication and sport from both a speech communication and mass communication perspective, with the goal of exploring how sport operates within society and affects social and cultural values. It follows a two­-pronged approach, exploring both specific fields of communication studies (organizational communication, small group communication, interpersonal communication, mediated communication, performance studies, crisis communication, etc.) and how these then affect larger social and cultural values (gender, class, race, ethnicity, nationalism, etc.).

Prerequisite: COM 102 or permission of instructor


COM 355 - Mass Media

Semester: Spring; Odd years
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 375 -  Advanced Communication in the Professional World

Semester: Spring; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3

This course builds on the foundational principles of communication from public speaking, small group communication, and interpersonal communication and allows a space to practice professional communication that is found in any career environment. The course focuses on audience analysis, professional presentation techniques, inclusion strategies for small group work, and interpersonal dynamics in the workplace.

Prerequisite: COM 102, COM 201, COM 250


COM 418 - Rhetorical Theory and Criticism

Semester: Fall; Odd 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, one 300-level COM course


COM 423 - Communication, Culture, and Social Identities

Semester: Fall; Even 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 COM course


COM 450 - Internship

Semester: Offered at discretion of department
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.

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
Semester hours: 3

This course is a senior-level capstone, variable topic seminar for communication studies majors. Past topics have included gender, international political communication, and freedom of speech. Whatever the topic, students will engage in a substantial amount of academic reading and writing that reflects theoretical expertise, research acumen, and heightened critical-thinking skills.

Prerequisite: senior standing, two 300-level COM courses


COM 499 - Independent Study

Semester: Offered at discretion of department
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


  • Shelby Jo Long-Hammond, Professor
  • Erin Reser, Professor
  • Jolane Flanigan, Assistant Professor