Students majoring in Communication Studies examine the human, social, political, institutional, and mediated dimensions of human communication practices and processes. In every course in the program, students learn how these communication practices and processes construct and reconstruct meanings, enable and constrain social interaction, and interact with institutional structures and cultural, historical, and political forces. Students choosing a major in Communication Studies develop analytic and interpretive skills that enhance their capacity for critical thinking, intellectual curiosity about human communication, and proficiency in basic critical/interpretive and social science methods of communication research. Students demonstrate their command of this material by the capacity to (1) conduct critical inquiry and social scientific research, (2) locate and interpret primary materials when formulating original conclusions, and (3) communicate the results of their research to diverse audiences, both orally and in writing. The competencies emphasized within the Communication Studies program are integral to postgraduate study, a wide range of occupations, and the full and open discourse essential for democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century.
In consultation with their advisor, students typically concentrate their major course work in one of four emphasis areas: Relational Studies (interpersonal, persuasion, health, technology), Rhetorical Studies (political communication, argumentation, rhetorical theory and criticism, rhetoric and the law), Media Studies (television studies, film criticism, visual communication), and Organizational Communication. The department encourages students to complement their Communication Studies major with either a minor in a related discipline or a minimum of five courses in a supporting field, selected in consultation with their department advisor.
The Department of Communication Studies sponsors activities that include a competitive forensics program, including participation in policy and parliamentary debate within the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), National Debate Tournament (NDT), National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) and the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA). The department also sponsors the Washington Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Delta, a national forensic honorary. Participation in these projects is open to all university students. Activity credit may be granted with prior approval of the department. The department sponsors a chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national undergraduate honor society.