Courses of Study 2017-2018 
    May 27, 2022  
Courses of Study 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

Course Offerings  

The Department of Communication begins from the premise that, to understand communication in its many forms and contexts, it should be understood as a fundamentally social phenomenon. Communication is a process engaged in by people, between people, and with the aim of influencing people. It happens inside of real social contexts, whether that be communities, organizations, teams, or cultures. It happens with the aid of technologies that are themselves a product of the social world. For us, this means the study of communication draws its theoretical strength and methodological rigor from the social sciences. We are therefore committed to engaging in grounded, empirical research, drawn from an array of social science traditions and a variety of research methodologies, and both developing and applying novel theoretical perspectives to the most pressing social and policy issues of the day. This includes a focus on the social dynamics and effects of media, the psychological workings and sociological implications of information technologies, the workings of persuasion and social influence, and the particular communication challenges around science, environment, and health. We are also convinced that students should have a fluency in statistics, have a chance to engage in research if they choose, and develop the professional acuity, particularly around writing and presentation, they will need to the conceptual questions they encounter here to the particular professions they will pursue.

Communication majors learn how

  • communication influences attitudes, opinions, and behaviors
  • mass media work in our society
  • to design communication technologies and understand their effects
  • to apply their understanding of communication to solving problems in science, the environment, government, industry, health, and education

The communication major is a program with a strong core of contemporary communication knowledge, theory, and practice.


K. A. McComas, chair; N. N. Bazarova, S. E. Byrne, J. Cohen, S. R. Fussell, G. K. Gay, D. A. Grossman, J. T. Hancock, L. M. Humphreys, L. C. Levitan, B. V. Lewenstein, D. Margolin, P. L. McLeod, J. D. Niederdeppe, C. W. Scherer, D. E. Schrader, J. P. Schuldt, M. A. Shapiro, L. P. Van Buskirk, Y. C. Yuan

Required freshman courses:


This set of courses provides students with a basic understanding of communication and communication processes.

Additional Requirements:

After completing the courses in the core curriculum, all majors take an additional 18 credits in communication distributed among advanced writing and presentation courses, electives, and focus area requirements. Students must also complete 3 credits of college-level statistics and 12 credits of concentration in a subject area outside of the Communication Department. In consultation with their advisers, students concentrate in one of four defined focus areas within Communication appropriate to specific educational and career goals.

1. Communication, environment, science, and health (CESH):

Students focusing in CESH will investigate how communication influences public understanding of science, health, environmental, and risk-related issues. While exploring conceptual and theoretical issues, students will learn specific skills for communicating science, health, environmental, and risk information to a variety of audiences. Possible career paths include public information officer, science writer, environmental educator/outreach specialist, environmental or health-risk communicator, and business, legal, and other graduate study.

2. Communication media studies (CMS):

Students focusing in CMS will investigate the forces that shape media in contemporary society, investigating how what we see and hear comes to be. They will also analyze and understand the psychological, social, and cultural processes that are in turn affected by media, from politics to entertainment to news to the very question of what we understand as real about ourselves and true about the world around us. Students may pursue careers in the media industries, in designing the laws and policies regarding media, in business, legal, or other graduate study, or in the service of making media better; most of all, they will be more informed and astute citizens in a highly mediated world.

3. Communication and information technologies (CIT):

Students focusing in CIT will explore the social and psychological dimensions of the design, use, and evaluation of communication and information technologies, how people form and manage impressions and relate to each other in cyberspace, the uses of language in online interaction, and how people coordinate work in virtual teams, as well as people’s interface and information needs. Possible career paths include information systems designer, research analyst, user interface designer, software designer, usability specialist, technology writer, and business, legal, and other graduate study.

4. Communication and social influence (CSI):

Students focusing in CSI will use communication principles to analyze issues and situations involving groups, organizations, and selected audiences to design, implement, and evaluate appropriate communication programs. Courses stress the positive, ethical, and effective uses of communication in human affairs. This focus area would be appropriate for students interested in using communication to bring about change at the individual and societal level. Possible career paths include public relations, marketing communications, polling, human resources, governmental affairs, and business, legal, and other graduate study.

Additional Information:

Detailed information on the distribution of courses is available from the department.

In designing the communication major, the faculty of the department has considered students’ need to understand contemporary research-based knowledge about communication as well as their need to be competent communicators in the workplace and in society at large.

Through the Department of Communication, CALS students may complete a minor program of study in communication or a minor program of study in information science or both.


The minor in communication consists of 21 credits. Students must complete COMM 1101  and one of the following focus area introduction courses: COMM 2200 , COMM 2450 , COMM 2760 , or COMM 2850 . Students must also choose two courses from the following list, only one of which can be a writing course: COMM 1300 , COMM 2010 , COMM 2310 , COMM 2820 , COMM 3010 ,  COMM 3030 COMM 3040  or COMM 3060 . Students also complete three elective courses, at least two of which must be at the 3100–4000 level, totaling 9 credit hours, excluding COMM 4960  and COMM 4980 . One COMM 4970  or COMM 4990  can be used as an upper level course.

Students should contact the Department of Communication to enroll in the Communication minor.