Communication Major

The study of communication is at least as old as written language itself. The first "scholar" of communication is also the first named historical author, the ancient Mesopotamian priestess, princess, and poet Enheduanna. As a vibrant component of a liberal arts education—since "rhetoric" was established as a key component of the trivium of subjects that made up a classical Greek education—the study of communication has changed over the centuries. Today, students engage communicative inquiry as a method of developing the portable skills that will serve them in their collegiate studies and beyond. Through examining the collaborative construction and negotiation of meaning, between self and others, as it occurs within cultural contexts--students who earn a major in Communication will be able to construct effective messages in oral and written forms, as well as engage in collaborative work as important members of groups, while adjusting their communicative strategies to account for the various audiences, contexts, and diverse organizations and cultures they will experience over their lives. 

Major Requirements

33 credits

Communication Foundations (9 credits)


COM-100Communication & Culture

3 credits

COM-101Foundations of Public Advocacy

3 credits


COM-250Criticism as Praxis

3 credits

Communication Topics (21 credits)

The Penumbra

The Penumbra courses together provide an overview of communication inquiry. Students will need to complete at least one section from each communication topics course. Additional sections, with different titles, can count towards the elective requirement. 

COM-350Topics in Public Controversy

3 credits

COM-360Topics in the Philosophy of Communication

3 credits

COM-370Topics in Identity and Power

3 credits


Students need to complete a minimum of 12 credits of COM classes that are not previously counted toward their degree. Students may count additional sections of Topics courses in this category. COM-290 Competitive Forensics and COM-490 Advanced Forensic Competition can count for up to 4 credits each.

Capstone (3 credits)


3 credits


Upon successful completion of this major, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate engagement with humanistic inquiry through the application of theory and methodology (appropriate to discipline) to cultures, texts, or artifacts.
    • Describe the communication discipline and its central questions. (100)
    • Employ communication theories, perspectives, principals, and concepts. (100; 250)
    • Engage in communication inquiry. (100; 101; 250)
    • Critically analyze messages. (100; 250)
  • Provide evidence of their own artistic work and active engagement with the creative process.
    • Create messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context. (101; 250)
    • Understand the importance of audience, purpose, and context in their cognitive, affective, and aesthetic dimensions. (101)
    • Demonstrate the ability to accomplish communicative goals. (101; 250)
  • Demonstrate engagement with non-dominant cultures and cultural products.
    • Apply ethical communication principles and practices. (100; 101; 250)
    • Utilize communication to embrace difference. (100; 101; 250)
  • Influence public discourse. (100; 101; 250)

The expectation is that students in the major will be able to accomplish the same global level outcomes as students at the minor level, but that majors should achieve a higher level of proficiency.