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What you will learn

As a liberal art, communication studies offers a broad understanding of the world beyond specific skills. You will become a more conscientious consumer of the information that confronts us daily. Courses in the major approach a variety of communication environments and how they function, from public to personal. You may learn about the workings of political campaigns or patterns of talk between doctors and patients. You may learn to dissect Malcolm X's speech on "The Ballot or the Bullet" or dig deep into why women and men sometimes talk past one another. You may gain insight into the dynamics that drive communication patterns in dysfunctional families, or you may learn how the system of advertising shapes our daily lives. 

In survey after survey, personnel officers and business leaders identify communication skills as the most important attributes they seek when they hire new employees. This may explain why graduates of the Communication Studies department have a consistently higher job placement rate than the university average. These facts point to a much broader principle: communication is central to the activities that most define our humanity. Communication competency plays the central role in our family lives, in establishing and maintaining friendships, in our religious activities, in our mediated understanding of the world, in our participation as citizens, and in all life pursuits. A major in Communication Studies means gaining these skills as well as a broader understanding of how communication drives our world.

An education in communication studies offers powerful skill sets that go far beyond polishing one's presentation style. These include negotiating conflict, crafting effective arguments and persuasive messages, working constructively within the groups, navigating cultural divides, creating effective publicity campaigns, building satisfying personal relationships, and recognizing the channels of communication available to resolve problems. How do roommates or diplomats resolve disagreements? What communication strategies do people use when testifying before a government subcommittee or interviewing for a job? Communication Studies builds these and related, high-demand skills.


Communication Studies majors receive instruction in both interpersonal communication and public communication. They acquire an understanding of both theory and application in these areas. They also become familiar with the methods of inquiry and research used by scholars in communication and rhetorical studies. Majors take one introductory class in public speaking and another in interpersonal communication. They are required to take a course in Empirical Research Methods (COMM 3700) and also a methods course in Rhetorical Criticism (COMM 3300). Majors complete their programs of study with five to seven upper-division courses in such topics as Nonverbal Communication, Persuasion, Health Communication, or Women and U.S. Public Discourse.

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