Communication Studies Advising FAQs

Waitlist Procedures

The class I want to take is full. What do I do?

When a Communication Studies class is full, you should put yourself on the waitlist. The waitlist procedure is outlined in the following question.

As a Communication Studies major please follow the waitlist procedures when registering:

  • You must be signed up for a full load of classes (16 units). This means that if you are waitlisted for one or more classes, you still need to be registered for "back-up" classes. 
  • In case you are waitlisted for a class, you should attend that class on the first day.  If your "back-up" class is scheduled for the same time, you should first contact the professor of the course you are waitlisted for to find out how realistic your chances are in regards to getting into the class.  We don't want you to miss a class that you are registered for if there is no chance of you being added from the waitlist. 
  • Make sure that the professor knows that you are in class, and talk to the professor about your chances of being added to the class.
  • The goal is to keep our classes at their enrollment limits (which differ for each class), while also making sure that all students who need a class to graduate are able to take the class.
  • If a professor decides to overload a class (usually by a max of 2-3 students), students will be added based on seniority, with priority going to graduating seniors who need that particular course to graduate.
  • If you were dropped from the course by the One Stop office, you must clear your holds with One Stop and then you should see Marvella at the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA) at UC 3rd floor.  She will verify that you were previously enrolled in the course, and if there is room, you will be re-admitted to the class.
  • You may be getting an e-mail request from some professors for more information about why you want or need to get into the class you are waitlisted for.  If you do receive one of these messages, be sure you respond to the professor as soon as possible with an explanation.
  • Each professor will inform the Department Chair which students should be added to the class.  You will then receive a message from the Department Chair indicating that you need to drop your "back-up" class. Be sure to check your e-mail address each day for the week prior to and the week when classes begin. 
  • You have 24 hours to drop your back-up class, after which the Department Chair will add you to the class that you waitlisted for.  If you do not drop your back-up class within the 24 hour window, you will not be added. 
  • Please know that while we understand that you want to take certain courses because they sound more interesting, fit into your schedule better, etc., our goal is to keep classes at their designated capacity because that benefits you, as a student.  Students are only added above the course cap in extreme circumstances.  Registering as soon as your registration window opens and carefully keeping track of what courses you need should greatly maximize the chances of getting into your first choice of classes.


    What are the chances of getting into a COMS class from the waitlist and when will I find out if I'm officially in the course?

    Once you add yourself to the waitlist you should contact the instructor immediately and let her/him know why you need or want the class and when you will be graduating. You should also attend class on the first day to gauge your prospects. As per our department guidelines, each faculty member is allowed to overload a class by up to 3 spots in extreme circumstances - e.g. you need this specific class to graduate and this is the only semester left to take it before you graduate. Note: Your waitlist number is not always the actual number you are in terms of priority. Faculty will make their determinations based on student need, rank in seniority, time to graduation, etc.

    Do I really need a backup class?

    Yes! Because you are not guaranteed a spot in the waitlisted class and because waitlists are not finalized until the first week of school, you should not put all your hopes into getting in. You need to register for a backup class OR face the dilemma of falling behind because you are only taking 12 units. It’s much easier to drop a backup class than try to add one in the second week of the semester. Please either attend your backup class during the first week of school AND/OR notify your backup class instructor if it is at the same time as your waitlisted class which you are attending.

    Advisor Information

    Who is my academic or major advisor?

    Academic/major advisors are Communication Studies faculty members who are typically assigned during the Communication Studies major orientation prior to the start of your first semester at USF. Students can also visit the department office in Kalmanovitz Hall, room 313, to be assigned a major advisor or contact the Program Assistant for more information.To find information about assigned your academic advisor, check your USF Connect student account. The following are instructions:

    1. Log into your USF Connect account and click on the "Student" tab.

    2. Click to enter the "Student Self Service" portal on the right hand side of the screen.

    3. Click on the "Registration" link (the first one).

    4. Click on the "Registration Status/Advisor Information" link (the seventh one).

    5. Choose the current term in the drop down menu.

    6. The name of your advisor should appear.

    Can I change my assigned advisor?

    To change your academic advisor, the Program Assistant must be informed by your desired advisor. We encourage students to keep their assigned advisors because each faculty member has many advisees. The number of students assigned to each advisor should be balanced as much as possible.

    What are my advisor's office hours?

    The Communication Studies faculty members’ drop-in office hours are posted outside of the department office in Kalmanovitz Hall, room 313. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a particular professor, their contact information can also be found in the office hours list. The Program Assistant will send an e-mail to students with the faculty’s office hours for the semester within the first two weeks of the semester.

    How often am I supposed to see my advisor?

    Your major/COMS advisor helps make sure that you are on the right track to graduate in a timely manner and answers any questions about classes or scheduling.  In your first two years at USF, you will not be able to register for classes until you have seen your advisor because she/he has to lift the registration hold on your account (refer to the Registration section for more information). Even if you don’t have a hold, you are welcome to visit your advisor to discuss your progress, the major, or life after graduation.  Typically, you will meet with your advisor once a semester during the two weeks prior to registration.

    I made an advising appointment. What should I bring to my meeting?

    You should come to your advising appointment with a tentative schedule. To make this schedule, you should review the CORE and major requirements to figure out which CORE and/or major credits you still need to fulfill.

    What is the difference between my University advisor and major/COMS advisor?

    University advisors are members of CASA (Center for Academic and Student Achievement) who can answer general questions about the University’s requirements, provide academic assistance or coaching, and help you fill out necessary forms. Your major/COMS advisor often works closely with your University Advisor to help you succeed. Your University Advisor, while an important resource, cannot lift your hold or give you the most up-to-date information about the major. Please see your major advisor for all questions about completing the major in Communication Studies.

    Academic Advising Appointments Through Advisortrac

    How do I make an academic advising appointment prior to registration?

    To make an academic advising appointment regarding registration for the following semester, we utilize an on-line scheduling system called Advisortrac. The Program Assistant e-mails instructions and reminders to students before academic advising begins, which typically occurs the week before and week of registration for the next semester.

    How to schedule an advising appointment through Advisortrac

    *Appointments must be scheduled 24 hours prior to your desired meeting time. Appointments cannot be booked on the same day. If you have any questions, please contact the Program Assistant.


    Why can't I register? Who can remove my registration hold?

    You may have a registration hold for two main reasons: advising holds or one-stop holds.

    Advising holds: If you are in your first two years at USF, you will automatically have an advising hold. This is because you must see your major/COMS advisor before you are able to register. You need to see your advisor so that you can make sure that you are taking the classes that you need to take, both for the core and the major, and for any other programs of study that you want to accomplish while you are here (for example, study abroad or a minor). When you meet with your advisor for you advising appointment, your advisor will remove this hold. If you have an advising hold, it is important that you see your advisor before your registration window opens.

    One Stop holds: The second main reason why you might have a hold on your account is because of an issue with the One Stop office. One Stop will put a hold on your registration if there is a problem with your financial account with the university. These holds usually happen if you are missing important paperwork (such as immunization records or financial aid forms) or if your tuition bills are past due. These holds cannot be cleared by anyone in the department. They can only be cleared by going to the One Stop office in person.

    Why am I blocked from registering for a specific COMS course (pre-requisites, time conflict, etc.)? What do I do if I am blocked?

    Other than advising holds and registration holds through the One Stop office, you may also be blocked from registering for specific classes because you do not have the appropriate pre-requisites or due to time conflicts. Pre-requisites (pre-reqs) are the classes that must be completed prior to enrolling in a class, and they are designed to help you be successful in the class. The majority of the time, if you are missing a pre-requisite, you are not allowed to enroll in the course. At times, however, a professor may decide that it is okay for you to enroll in a class without the pre-requisite. This happens rarely and is usually done on a case-by-case basis. The only way to find out if a professor will waive the pre-requisite is to talk with the professor of the course. Advisors cannot waive pre-reqs, only the instructor of the course. It is important that you carefully review the pre-reqs prior to designing your schedule to give yourself time to contact the instructor seeking permission to add the course without the pre-req. If the professor does agree to waive the pre-req, you need to take an add/drop form to the professor. The form needs to be signed by the professor of the course, your advisor, and then turned in to CASA. If there is a time conflict with classes that you are registering for, you need to check your schedule and find a class with no time conflict.

    Communication Studies Courses

    Why do I have to complete my writing requirement before I take COMS 202, 203, and 204?

    All three of our foundational major courses (COMS 202, 203, and 204) have demanding reading loads and challenging writing assignments. Students who have completed the Core A2 writing requirement are much better prepared to succeed in our foundational courses. Transfer students may take the foundational major courses with the CORE A2 as a co-requisite but students will need to have instructors sign an add/drop form to waive the pre-requisites. If you are a transfer student who is taking RHET 250 or equivalent transfer writing course, contact the instructor of your foundational course to see if you can take the class.

    How can I test out of the CORE Language requirement or a lower level language class?

    USF offers several online language placement tests (in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Tagalog, and Chinese). For more information, please visit the MCL One Stop website. Latin, Italian, and Russian placement tests must be taken on campus: to make arrangements, please contact the Modern & Classical Languages (MCL) Department at 422-2802 (KA 328). You may test into first, second, or third semester of your language, thus reducing the total number of units you need to take for the Core language requirement. Also, if you are fluent in a language that is not on the list of language placement tests and/or you are an international student from a non-English speaking country contact the MCL Department to determine if you can have your Core language requirement waived.

    Which order should I take the foundation courses for Communication Studies (COMS 202, 203, and 204)?

    You may take the three foundational classes in any order, and you may take two of them in one semester as well. In general, we recommend against taking all three foundational courses in the same semester. However, you should speak to your COMS advisor about this if this is your only option for on-time graduation.

    Which methods classes should I take?

    Communication Studies majors will select TWO of the three methods courses offered: 252, 253, and 254. After you complete the three foundational courses, you will probably have a sense of which approaches to studying communication interest you most: therefore, you should take the two methods courses that most closely align with your interest (Notice that the course numbers correspond. If you liked Rhetoric and the Public Sphere, 202, then take Critical/Rhetorical Methods, 252. If Communication and Everyday Life was your favorite foundational course, be sure to take Quantitative Methods, 253. And if you are most interested in Communication and Culture, then you’ll want to take Qualitative and Interpretive Methods, 254.). Another wise exercise would be to explore our upper division course offerings. Take note of prerequisites for some of the courses you plan to take: for instance, 253 OR 254 are prerequisites for Interpersonal Communication (300), The Dark Side of Interpersonal/Family Communication (302), Family Communication (306), and Nonverbal Communication (350).

    How do I decide which COMS Upper Division (Advanced Area Studies) courses to take?

    Our Upper Division offerings encompass a wide range of courses that expand on the ideas and theories to which you were introduced in the foundational courses. In consultation with your major/COMS advisor, you should choose courses that will best prepare you for the job or graduate school you wish to pursue after graduation from USF. To determine which courses are relevant for your chosen career, you should consult our Careers in Communication brochure. You should also consider which of the foundational courses you liked best! They will be great indicators of which Advanced Area Studies courses you should take.

    What classes will be offered next semester or summer/intercession?

    Every semester we offer multiple sections of our foundation-level classes COMS 202-204. We also will always offer at least one section of each of the methods-level classes COMS 252-254. At the upper division level we will always offer COMS 496-Internship, 1-2 sections of a COMS service-learning course, and a variety of other COMS upper level courses usually one-time per year or one time per two year rotation. In Intersession and Summer we try to offer a minimum of 1 upper division class (Intersession) and sometimes up to 3-4 at a variety of levels (Summer). While not guaranteed, these are the proposed upper division offerings for the next year:

    Fall 2013

    COMS 306: Family Communication

    COMS 320: PR Principles & Practice

    COMS 323: PR Writing

    COMS 335: Rhetoric of Social Movements

    COMS 336: Rhetoric of Law

    COMS 350: Nonverbal Communication

    COMS 358: Persuasion and Social Influence

    COMS 365: Geographies of Communication

    COMS 366: Ethnography of Communication

    COMS 368: Communication & Aging

    COMS 496: Internship

    Intercession 2014

    COMS 368: Communication & Aging

    Spring 2014

    COMS 300: Interpersonal Communication

    COMS 302: Dark Side of Interpersonal/Family Communication

    COMS 306: Family Communication

    COMS 322: PR/ADVT Law & Ethics

    COMS 326: PR Campaigns

    COMS 337: Rhetoric of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

    COMS 344: Environmental Communication

    COMS 356: Organizational Communication

    COMS 358: Persuasion and Social Influence

    COMS 364: Communication for Justice and Social Change (SL)

    COMS 490: Rhetoric and Medicine

    COMS 496: Internship

    INTD 350: Davies Forum: Pondering Paradise: Contemporary Social Issues Through a Pacific Lens

    Graduation Information

    I am graduating soon. What do I need to do?

    By the summer before your senior year, you need to complete the application for graduation/graduation check, which you can find on your USFConnect Student tab. About a month or two after you complete this, you will receive a letter from the Graduation Center that will explain what requirements you still need to fulfill in order to graduate. You need to meet with your Communication Studies advisor during the first semester of your senior year so that you can make sure you are on track for graduation and so that you can complete your major contract and core contract forms. These forms need to be completed with your advisor and signed by both you and your advisor. Your advisor will then forward these forms to the Department Chair for review, who will then forward the forms to CASA for processing.

    I'm 8 units short of graduating. Can I still walk with my graduating class and finish up the extra units in the summer or intersession?

    Yes, you can walk with your class if you are 8 or fewer units short and take your remaining courses in the summer of intersession. Your official graduation date will be the semester you complete your final units.

    Study Abroad Information

    I want to study abroad my junior year, what should I do?

    If you are planning to study abroad, be sure to let your major/COMS advisor know as early as possible. Follow the 15 steps that the Study Abroad Office suggests at Because many study abroad programs do not offer Communication Studies major classes, we typically advise students to try to “save” their CORE Literature, History, and/or Visual/Performing Arts classes to take while they are abroad since these are often easier to transfer.

    As a general rule, we accept up to 12 transfer units (of any kind including study abroad and classes taken before arriving at USF) toward the COMS degree. Please see the department chair for special cases. In the semester before you leave, you will fill out a PEAI (Petition to Enroll in Another Institution) Form (step 9 of the study abroad procedure) that needs to be approved by the department chair. You will need to bring the PEAI form AND a printed copy of detailed course descriptions for any COMS Major/Minor course you hope will transfer as COMS Major/Minor credit. Drop off the forms and descriptions in the deaprtment office, Kalmanovitz Hall, room 313, for the department chair and/or make an appointment to see the chair during office hours. The most commonly transferred COMS course is COMS 496: Internship.

    What paperwork do I need to have to ensure that I get credit after studying abroad?

    Be sure to keep a copy of your syllabi, especially for Communication Studies classes taken abroad. The syllabi will be evaluated for credit towards the Major/Minor.

    Internship Information

    I've heard that I should do an internship. How do I do that?

    COMS 496: Communication Studies Internship is an upper-division course in our major and can count as one of your upper-division course options. It is offered both Fall and Spring semesters, as well as during the Summer. Many organizations require that you receive college credit in order to work as an intern, and if this is the case, you should register for the internship class. You can register for the class as you would any other course, as long as you have junior or senior standing. You need to have junior or senior standing because you need to have completed courses within the major that you can apply to your internship experience. You are responsible for finding your own internship, although there are many on campus resources that are available to help you find an internship, such as the Career Services Center and the professor of the internship course. 

    COMS 399: If you have already taken COMS 496 and want to get a second internship OR if you are not yet a junior or senior, you can still get credit for an internship. You can receive up to 8 units of University ELECTIVE units that WILL NOT count toward the COMS major but will count toward the 128 you need to graduate. 1 unit = 48 hours of internship work; 2 units = 96 hours of internship work; 3 units = 144 hours of internship work and 4 units = 196 hours of internship work. To enroll in COMS 398, contact the Program Assistant or visit the department office in KA 313 for the semester you are considering getting credit. You will fill out a directed study form for this.

    Are there resources available to find an internship?

    The Priscilla A. Scotlan Career Services Center at USF can help you with your internship search. In addition, the Program Assistant periodically sends e-mails to COMS students with new internship opportunities. There is also an internship binder in the department office.

    Lambda Pi Eta

    What is Lambda Pi Eta?

    Lambda Pi Eta is the official honor society of the National Communication Association. Our chapter, Kappa Iota, recruits new members every spring and inducts the accepted new members every fall.

    What are the requirements for membership?

    Requirements for membership include the completion of 60 units, at least 12 of which are Communication Studies courses, a 3.0 overall GPA, a 3.25 major GPA, and no grades lower than a B- in any of your Communication Studies courses. Our chapter hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including academic, social, and community service activities. Members are required to participate in at least two events per semester in order to maintain active membership. Members of Lambda Pi Eta are listed in the commencement program as members of the honor society and wear honor cords at graduation.

    New Student Information

    I am a new student to USF and I have questions about registration for my first semester. Who should I contact?

    If you are a new student to USF and have questions about advising, registration, or general questions about the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA). They will be able to immediately assist you in the summer. Their phone number is 415-422-5050; their e-mail address is CASA is located at the University Center, 3rd floor.

    Will I receive advising prior to my first semester at USF?

    Webtrack, USF's online advising and registration tutorial, will assist you with registration in the summer. After completing the Webtrack advising, a COMS faculty advisor will work with you in the summer (for 2014, between June 9th - June 19th) on your first semester class schedule. All questions will also be answered at the Fall Orientation to Your Major, which occurs during the New Student Orientation Weekend (so don't fret!). At the Fall Orientation to Your Major, students will be able to meet the faculty, the Program Assistant, and learn more about the COMS major and its requirements for graduation. Students will also sign up for a COMS academic advisor at the Fall Orientation to Your Major.

    Transfer Information

    How do I receive credit for the courses I've taken at my previous institution?

    The courses you have taken at your previous institution will be evaluated by the Transfer Admissions Office. Information regarding transfer credit and articulation agreements can be found on this website: If you have additional questions, please contact the Transfer Admissions Office at or 415-422-4505.

    How do I receive credit for Communication Studies courses I've taken at my previous institution?

    To receive major credit for the Communication Studies program at USF, your previous Communication Studies classes will need to be evaluated by the department. The process is the following:
    1. Get the syllabus for each Communication Studies class you have taken at your previous institution. If you do not have the syllabus, contact your previous professor or institution to help you get a copy of the syllabus.
    2. Bring your syllabus/syllabi to your Communication Studies advisor. You can also give it to the Program Assistant.
    3. The department will evaluate your syllabus/syllabi and will determine if you will receive major credit or not.