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Undergraduate Program

The School of Communication Studies (COMS) embraces a liberal arts orientation where students learn to pose questions and pursue answers by critically thinking, describing, synthesizing, critiquing, and imagining. Across courses, students explore how messages and relational interactions shape and in turn are shaped by institutions, emerging technologies, and globalization. Our goal is to cultivate the lifelong development of communication competencies that individuals need to coordinate action, solve problems, foster well-being, engage in creative activity, and participate in civic life.

All of our students are Communication Studies majors but they are encouraged to personalize curricular choices as guided by their professional goals. Students may pursue an emphasis in one of three overlapping areas: Organizational Communication, Health Communication, and Communication and Public Advocacy. Listen to what some of our students say about being a COMS Major (opens in a new window) and visit our Undergraduate Page (opens in a new window).

Graduate Program

The School of Communication Studies expects its graduates to develop a specialist’s depth in the study of human communication as well as a generalist’s perspective. All students complete a common set of core courses and then proceed to take specialized courses relevant to their professional objectives.

The School offers the Ph.D. degree with primary areas of study in health communication, interpersonal and organizational communication, and rhetoric and culture. Students select their primary and related areas of study in consultation with their program of study committee and with permission of the School’s graduate committee. Admission to graduate study is granted on the basis of a match between the student’s academic goals and the School’s primary areas of study, recommendations of those familiar with the student’s academic and other work, undergraduate and graduate grade-point average and class standing, scores on the Graduate Record Examination, submitted writing sample, and experiential and other informal learning experiences. International students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit a TOEFL score.

To be admitted unconditionally, you must have received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree or completed equivalent work (as approved by the University) at an accredited institution.

Students holding a BA degree from an accredited institution and who show extraordinary potential as a graduate student can apply for direct admission to our doctoral program following normal admission procedures. Those admitted will receive the MA degree while progressing through the doctoral program requirements. The MA is automatically awarded upon successful completion of the preliminary examination and two years of coursework. Direct to Doctorate students may be required to take additional coursework if the student’s program of study committee determines that such coursework is necessary to prepare for the Ph.D.

The Master of Arts in Organizational Communication is intended for working students who are seeking an advanced academic degree that focuses on the critical examination and understanding of the role of communication within the processes of organizing, decision making, and problem solving.

Mission and Values

As a school grounded in the Liberal Arts, we seek to equip learners with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to think critically, to make decisions independently, and to adapt to an increasingly diverse world. Our mission is to observe, interpret, and evaluate communication behaviors and processes, with particular interests in the construction of messages and meanings. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and across various contexts—interpersonal, organizational, and public—we strive to understand how communication affects identitiescommunities, and cultures, and to develop communicators who are effective and ethical.

As a community of scholars, the School of Communication Studies values inclusivity, mutual respect, curiosity, and responsibility. We are committed to breadth and inclusiveness in the courageous pursuit of ideas. We honor diverse knowers and ways of knowing. We enact these values as we engage with each other in the development, examination, dissemination, and application of ideas about communication theory, research, and practice.