Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    Jul 07, 2022  
Courses of Study 2020-2021 [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 tackle the conceptual questions they encounter here to the particular professions they will pursue.

Communication majors learn how

  • Develop familiarity with ideas fundamental to scholarship in the social sciences, with mastery of principles of key communication theories.
  • Demonstrate understanding of how processes of social influence operate in communication contexts including science, media and technology.
  • Apply systematic analytic skills to pressing social and policy issues.
  • Develop communication knowledge and skills to enter into and succeed in complex social organizations.
  • Recognize the foundations, assumptions, and methods of communication research, and be able to apply a wide range of empirical research methods to diverse intellectual questions.
  • Write and speak lucidly, logically, and intelligently.

The communication major is a program with a strong emphasis on contemporary communication knowledge, theory, and practice.


P. L. McLeod, chair; D. Bailey, N. N. Bazarova, C. P. Byrne, S. E. Byrne, E. L. Chambliss, J. Cohen, B. E. Duffy, S. R. Fussell, L. M. Humphreys, B. V. Lewenstein, N. Lewis, Jr., D. Margolin, J. N. Matias, K. A. McComas, J. D. Niederdeppe, D. E. Schrader, J. P. Schuldt, K. Sender, M. A. Shapiro, A. S. Won, Y. C. Yuan


In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet the college graduation requirements.

The Communication major consists of a minimum of 41 credits within the Communication Department:

  1. Core Courses (17 Credits)
  2. Focus Area Introductory Courses (6 Credits)
  3. Focus Area Upper Level Courses (6 Credits)
  4. Upper-Level Electives (9 Credits)
  5. Communication Practica (3 Credits)

Required courses:

Communication core courses (should be completed by the end of 2nd year):

Research and data literacy required courses:


(students must take at least two concentration overview courses and two electives in their concentration area):

Additional Requirements:

After completing the courses in the core curriculum, all majors take an additional 15 credits in communication distributed among advanced electives and focus area requirements. Students are also required to take 3 credits of communication practica to strengthen their writing and presentation skills. Students must also complete 3 credits of college-level writing (first-year writing workshop or equivalent), 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 declare one of four defined focus areas within Communication appropriate to specific educational and career goals.

1. 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.

2. Communication and technology (CAT):

Students focusing in CAT 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 online, 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 social media coordinator, research analyst, user interface designer, software designer, usability specialist, technology writer, and business, legal, and other graduate study.

3. 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.

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

Students focusing in CESH will investigate how communication shapes public understanding of science, health, environmental, and risk-related issues - and science itself. While exploring conceptual and theoretical issues, students will learn specific skills for communicating science, health, environmental, and risk information with a variety of audiences. Possible career paths include public information officer, science writer, environmental educator/outreach specialist, museum educator, environmental or health-risk communicator, 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 3020 , COMM 3030 COMM 3040 COMM 3060 , COMM 3070 , COMM 3080 , or COMM 3090 . 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 . Three credits from an additional focus area introduction course (COMM 2200 , COMM 2450 , COMM 2760 , or COMM 2850 ), 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.