Major in Communications
The major in communications focuses on "how people use messages to generate meaning within and across all kinds of contexts, cultures, channels, and media." Meaning generation is central to the work we do in the Department of Communications, convergence is the focus that binds together the concentration areas within the major and the core courses required of all majors. This emphasis on media convergence — that is the intersection and interaction of the multiple media disciplines — is at the center of what is going on in the real world.
The major of communications includes advanced coursework and capstone experiences like internships, independent study, and Studio Five — the department's student-run, professional communications workplace. Each student majoring in communications is required to take 40 semester hours of study in the Department of Communications, broken down in the following steps:
- Step One: Three core courses (12 semester hours)
- Step Two: Three or four developmental courses, depending on concentration (12—16 semester hours)
- Step Three: Two or three required electives, depending on concentration (8—12 semester hours)
- Step Four: Senior Seminar/Storytelling (4 semester hours)
- Step Five: Independent learning options (options offered by the department to fulfill the all-college independent learning requirement of 8 semester hours)
Step One: The Communications Core Requirements
The major requires three core courses that explore the areas of media and society, writing and editing, visual culture and the technology currently driving emerging media. A blend of theory and hands-on, practical projects prepares students for further developmental work in one of the department's areas of concentration.
- COMM 121 Visual Communication
- COMM 122 Media Writing Bootcamp
- COMM 124 Media, Messages, & Society
Students should complete the three core courses by the end of the second year of study in a four-year program. A student should declare a major at the end of the sophomore year. In this recommended sequence, the student would at least complete the core and then choose a concentration to declare at this time.
Step Two: Developmental Coursework
The department's academic program offers three concentrations and three interdisciplinary majors:
The step two developmental coursework has been organized into three or four required courses, depending on concentration, normally taken in sequence. Step two work can begin during the first two years of a student's program and can be taken concurrently with step one, provided the student takes the necessary prerequisite core courses.
Step Three: Required Electives
Students will have a list of courses from which to choose between either two or three electives, depending on concentration. This arrangement allows students optimum flexibility and an opportunity to build competencies across areas of the discipline.
Step Four: Senior Seminar/Storytelling (Capstone experience)
This capstone course extends the theoretical underpinnings offered in the department while engaging students in the telling of a single story across media, from oral history to podcast, from written essay to photo/video essay, ultimately to the intersection of word and image, availing ourselves of the new technologies that combine them in the service of creating story.
Step Five: Independent Learning Options
Students majoring in communications have four options to complete the all-college independent learning requirement. Ideally, the student should choose two of the four to complete the independent learning requirement of eight credits. Students may take up to 24 credits of field-based independent learning credits.
- COMM 350 Independent Study
- COMM 370 Internship
- COMM 380 Field Experience
- COMM 390 Studio Five: A Communications Workplace
The Department of Communications offers the opportunity for majors to receive departmental honors. Students in COMM 344 Senior Seminar, which is the required capstone for the major, who have a superior record in the major and who receive an A on their senior project and an A in the seminar will receive departmental honors. Student projects will be reviewed and graded by both the faculty member teaching the seminar and at least one additional faculty member in the student's concentration area. The designation of departmental honors will appear on the student's transcript.
The Department of Communication does not offer the designation “departmental recognition.” Instead, outstanding students may be named to Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communications Association’s honor society for students in communications.