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Communication Studies

Communication Studies draws from the liberal arts tradition and a variety of pre-professional contexts to explore human communication in messages, relationships, and culture. The Honors Tutorial program builds upon the strengths of the School of Communication Studies (COMS) in three main areas:


  • Public advocacy (including political communication and argumentation).
  • Interpersonal, organizational, and health communication (as well as family, group, and intercultural interactions).
  • Rhetorical criticism (including verbal, audio-visual, digital, and physical environments).


Following graduation, about half of COMS HTC graduates attend law school or enter other graduate programs, another 30% begin careers in political and other non-profit organizations (e.g., Teach for America), and 20% begin careers in business and media organizations.


The HTC program in Communication Studies aims to provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of communication theory along with a specialization in a context or theme and relevant research methods. The first two years of the program include core classes taken with other COMS majors, optional tutorials in other core classes, and customized tutorials developed by the student in consultation with the Director of Studies. 


The third and fourth years focus on development of research methods, advanced topics, the honors thesis, and preparation for a career or graduate school education. Because intercultural communication is increasingly important in today's world, students are encouraged to study abroad and learn a second language during their undergraduate years.


Part of the Scripps College of Communication, the School of Communication Studies is home to Ohio University's award-winning interscholastic forensics program (varsity speech and debate team) and a student chapter of the National Communication Association. COMS HTC students are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the life of the school and college.

Program Overview

Flexibility. Some requirements may be fulfilled through either tutorials or classroom courses. Specialized tutorials will explore topics in communication studies developed by the student in conjunction with the Director of Studies. Students will also develop expertise in a related area of individual intellectual or professional interest during the course of their program.


Teamwork. Required courses will not only integrate honors students into the COMS community, but also develop skills and knowledge for working with and understanding other people.


Performance. An HTC COMS major should be able to put theory into practice. Thus, two of the required courses teach communication performance as well as theory.


Challenge. All tutorials will cover specialized subject matter in depth. Students conduct research throughout their program of study. Student research culminates in a thesis that makes an original contribution to knowldge in the field of communication. COMS honors majors are encouraged to share their research through writing and public presentations for the COMS community and other stakeholders.

Academic Requirements

All COMS honors students are expected to meet Honors Tutorial College requirements for admission, continued enrollment and graduation. In addition, the following requirements must be fulfilled.


COMS classroom courses: Public speaking or Introduction to Forensics, Argumentative Analysis and Advocacy, Cross-Cultural Communication, and an advanced presentations course.


Topics to be covered in a COMS classroom or tutorial: Communication Theory, at least one research methods course


Classroom courses outside of COMS: A coherent sequence of courses leading to the minor in another department or program OR expertise on a theme developed through courses from several departments (21 credit hours minimum, at least 12 at the 3000-level or above, chosen in consultation with the Director of Studies).


Each semester, the student will complete a tutorial of at least 4 credit hours on a topic chosen in consultation with and approved by the Director of Studies and the faculty tutor. In the first semester of the first year, the student will complete an introductory tutorial, which may cover such topics as interpersonal relationships, communication contexts (small groups, health, public advocacy), scholarly writing, and research traditions. 


Every tutorial will cover its theme in depth and will conclude with a significant product appropriate to the topic. Tutorials are geared to each student's specific interest and career plans.


Students who choose to study abroad may have one or more of the above required courses and/or tutorials waived by the Director of Studies.


Every student is required to write a thesis on a topic in communication studies developed in consultation with and approved by the Director of Studies. Each student publicly presents a summary of the completed thesis to the COMS HTC community. Tutorials during the third year prepare the student to develop a topic and appropriate research methods. Tutorials during the fourth year focus on thesis research and writing.

Additional Information

Dr. Devika Chawla

Professor and Director of Studies

School of Communication Studies

Schoonover Center 431

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-4820

Additional information can be found on the School of Communication Studies website.


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