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Major in Communication Studies

A degree in Communication Studies gives students tremendous flexibility in terms of career choices because effective communication is widely recognized as vital to such fields as advertising, public relations, journalism, international relations, education, arts, entertainment, health and human services, law, and government. In our program, students refine their speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills while investigating communication theories and methodologies. Students can also tailor portions of the major to meet their special needs. For example, some students focus upon interpersonal or organizational communication while others emphasize journalism or public relations. Our highly successful internship program helps our students gain valuable "real world" experience that often provides an entry into their preferred job field. Graduates of our program enjoy successful careers in such areas as publishing, marketing, corporate and non-profit public relations, advertising, education, corporate training and human development, promotions, and event planning and coordination.

Requirements for the Major in Communication Studies

The Communication Studies Major requires completion of 44 credits of course work that are subdivided into two areas: 1) Foundations (12 credits); 2) Methods (8 Credits); and Advanced Area Studies (24 Units).

Foundations courses are recommended for the second semester of the First year (or first semester for transfer students), as they provide an introduction to key processes in human communication and the fundamentals of reading, writing, and doing research in communication. Methods courses are recommended for the Sophomore and Junior Years.

Advanced Area Studies courses are recommended for the Junior and Senior years. By carefully choosing Advanced Area Studies courses with the approval of a faculty advisor, students can fashion a constellation of courses to meet diverse educational and professional goals. Some students may choose to focus on areas of communication (for example - rhetoric, interpersonal, intercultural, public relations, or health). the processes of human communication (interpersonal relationships), while others may emphasize corporate communication, public relations, or advertising. Other students may find that a blend of a variety of courses will best meet their needs. Regardless of their areas of emphasis, we strongly encourage our Majors to develop professional skills in the COMS 496 Internship course.

Students should consult full course descriptions for specific prerequisite requirements. A summary of requirements and courses follows below.

Foundations (12 credits required) 
  • COMS 202 - Rhetoric and the Public Sphere
  • COMS 203 - Communication and Everyday Life
  • COMS 204 - Communication and Culture (CD)
Methods (8 credits required, select 2 courses)
  • COMS 252 - Critical and Rhetorical Methods 
  • COMS 253 - Quantitative Research Methods 
  • COMS 254 - Qualitative Methods
Advanced Area Studies (24 credits required, select 6 courses)
  • COMS 300 - Interpersonal Communication
  • COMS 302 - The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication
  • COMS 306 - Family Communication
  • COMS 314 - Intercultural Communication
  • COMS 315 - Asian American Communication and Culture
  • COMS 320 - Public Relations Principles and Practices*
  • COMS 322 - Public Relations Law and Ethics*
  • COMS 323 - Public Relations Writing*
  • COMS 326 - Public Relations Campaigns*
  • COMS 332 - Rhetorical Criticism
  • COMS 334 - Rhetoric and Citizenship
  • COMS 335 - Rhetoric of Social Movements
  • COMS 336 - Rhetoric of Law
  • COMS 337 - Rhetoric of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
  • COMS 350 - Nonverbal Communication
  • COMS 352 - Health Communication
  • COMS 356 - Organizational Communication
  • COMS 358 - Persuasion and Social Influence
  • COMS 360 - Language and Social Interaction
  • COMS 364 - Communication for Justice and Social Change
  • COMS 365 - Geographies of Communication
  • COMS 366 - Ethnography of Communication
  • COMS 368 - Communication and Aging
  • COMS 370 - Message Design in Health Interaction
  • COMS 372 - Communication, Disability, and Social Justice
  • COMS 373 - Rhetorical History of the U.S.
  • COMS 398 - Directed Study**
  • COMS 344 - Environmental Communication
  • COMS 490 - Topics in Communication
  • COMS 496 - Communication Studies Internship 

* Communication Studies majors may only count a total of three Public Relations courses toward the 24 credits of Advanced Area Studies required for the major. If you are also a Public Relations minor, the four upper-division Public Relations courses may not double count for the Communication Studies major AND the Public Relations minor.

** No more than four units of Directed Study may count towards the Communication Studies major. 

Note: Students majoring or minoring in Communication Studies must maintain a "C" (or 2.0) grade point average or higher in the major/minor to graduate. Moreover, beginning with students entering USF Fall, 2006, students must earn a C- (C minus) or higher in all Communication Studies courses in order to receive credit for that course toward the major/minor.

Learning Outcomes for the Major in Communication Studies

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of how communication shapes patterns of social interaction, the expression of cultural values and norms, political practices and relations of power, and our positions as local and global citizens.
  • Students will be able to use a variety of methodological tools to analyze interpersonal, intercultural, and rhetorical discourse that structures everyday interactions in both our public and private lives.
  • Students will develop and hone the skills of speaking, writing, and critical thinking, and will be able to use these skills in their personal, professional and public lives.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the possibilities, problems, and history of discourse and deliberation in democracy and will be prepared to use their knowledge to work for a just and more humane world.