Program Overview

Two tracks lead to a major in professional communication: Public Relations and Organizational Communication.

Students complete prerequisites and initial courses (100-200) before intermediate courses (300) and intermediate courses before advanced courses (400-500). Major electives can be taken alongside either intermediate or advanced courses. Note: Some coursework may have a theory seminar option (see Creative Learning Strategies) for those students with extensive life or work experience.

More information about this program

Declare Your Program

To be eligible for acceptance to the Professional Communication major, students must submit a College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Program Declaration Form. Consult with an advisor before enrolling in courses toward the major.

Declare Your Program

Requirements

Organizational communication specialists understand how internal communication can be improved through building teams, training, coordinating efforts, analyzing information flow, and resolving conflicts.

Courses required for your specific program are listed in the right column on this page. They include prerequisite, foundation, core, and elective courses. Contact your advisor with questions concerning your degree plan.

How Admissions Works

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Course List

Prerequisites

Organizational Communication Prerequisites

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • COMM 103 Public Speaking
      3 credits

      Students learn public speaking principles and techniques well enough to prepare, deliver, and evaluate informative and persuasive speeches. Videotaping and self-assessment are integral components of this class as is writing. Some speeches require students to research and critically analyze information. The six to eight class presentations include topics pertaining to the corporate world, community life, the political arena or human services. Students are expected to write well and will outline each presentation. Overlap: COMM 103P Public Speaking Proficiency Test.

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    • COMM 103P Public Speaking Proficiency Test
      3 credits

      This assessment is designed for students who wish to have prior learning in public speaking evaluated. Students who participate serve as an audience for other students. Assessment covers the student's knowledge and application of the theories and techniques of preparation, presentation and evaluation of public speeches. This assessment is evaluated satisfactory/nonsatisfactory only. No other letter grade is assigned. Overlap: COMM 103 Public Speaking Proficiency Test.

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Requirements ( 36 total credits)

Initial Coursework

  • INFS 315 Searching for Information
    4 credits

    A student completing this course understands the process of finding, synthesizing, evaluating, and documenting sufficient and reliable information appropriate to a variety of purposes including upper division coursework, senior capstone papers or professional writing, and communication tasks. Students also explore a number of the contemporary issues surrounding information in society, have opportunities to use and/or visit primary resource collections and learn a variety of research techniques. Specific sections of the course will structure assignments around a course theme identified in the class schedule. Prior themes have included Civil Rights, Holocaust and Genocide, Crime and Punishment, Food, Immigration, and Health Care. Both themed and non-themed sections are offered every semester as are online and in-class sections.

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Media Coursework

  • MDST 485 Communicating with New Media
    4 credits

    This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to effectively promote and advocate for events, organizations, or issues using a variety of social media and multi-media. Students will combine online writing (or blogging) with other forms of social networking and media (wikis, YouTube, Facebook, and/or Twitter) to build a comprehensive online initiative promoting a timely and relevant issue or event either of their choosing or provided by the instructor. Students will increase their knowledge of online rhetoric, audience research, planning for media events, script or treatment writing, and evaluation of communication programs.

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Intermediate Courses

  • COMM 333 Intermediate Intercultural Communication
    4 credits

    Intercultural Communication has a global perspective and engages students in reflectively thinking about the growing interdependence of nations and peoples. Students develop their ability to apply a comparative perspective to cross-cultural communication episodes in interpersonal interactions. Students research topics of interest that compare two or more cultures in some aspect of their social, economic, or political values and practices. Through field experiences, in class exercises, and readings, students learn the dynamics and skills needed to engage in respectful and sensitive communication with others whose beliefs, values, and attitudes are different than their own. Students are engaged in e-discussions with students from around the globe for 5 weeks. This requires some knowledge of D2L.

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  • COMM 351 Communication in Work Groups
    4 credits

    This course covers theory and practice of communication in small task-oriented groups. Communication topics include team management, models of group problem solving and decision making, leadership, building cohesiveness, resolving conflict, managing diverse views, negotiating roles, and norms. Students learn to interact productively in small task groups as members and leaders. Numerous group activities, group assignments and laboratory work require an extended class time and group meetings outside of class. Overlap: COMM 351T Communication in Work Groups Theory Seminar.

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  • COMM 352 Organizational Communication
    4 credits

    This course examines communication patterns and systems functioning in modern organizations in sectors such as government, nonprofit and corporate. Course simulations and topics include analysis of organizational communication models, formal and informal communication networks, external and internal communication channels, the changing shape of future organizations, mentoring, ethics, diversity, technologies, and the purpose of communication research.

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  • COMM 372 Health Communication
    4 credits

    This course is designed to provide an understanding of the health care industry and the theory and practice of face to face and mediated forms of communication by health care administrators, managers, providers, and patients. Students will analyze both common and best practices in health care campaigns, training, public relations, patient satisfaction, patient advocacy, administration, media covering health issues, and public education. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism, and how social constructions of race and racism affect perspectives and create disparities in health care access, communication, and outcomes experienced by different populations.

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Advanced Coursework

  • COMM 452 Advanced Organizational Communication
    4 credits

    The advanced study of organizational communication concentrates on current communication topics within organizations such as interaction within a diverse workforce, changing an organizational culture, initiating technology change, ethics and research. Students craft communication solutions and recommendations for specific organizational improvements. Students complete case studies, community-based projects, and final major research projects.

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  • COMM 472 Advanced Health Communication: Campaigns
    4 credits

    This course focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating communication campaigns designed to impact the beliefs and behaviors of people with the goal of improving health outcomes. In order to prepare Health Communication professions for work on health campaigns, the course will address identifying critical health concerns, exploring the populations and sub-populations affected, determining beliefs and/or behaviors to strategically target, developing persuasive messages, selecting specific media, and evaluating the effectiveness of the health communication campaign. Different persuasion theories and approaches will be explored, and logic models will be developed for campaigns.

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Electives (4 credits from the following)

  • COMM 320 Individual Rights and Public Discourse
    4 credits

    This course is designed to introduce students to their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition. It will also explore citizens' corresponding responsibilities and our frequent disagreements over these rights and responsibilities. Through course assignments students will develop a greater capacity to engage in civic activities by understanding the First Amendment, being able to more fully articulate their personal view of their First Amendment rights and responsibilities, refining their research and analysis skills, and developing their expertise in oral argumentation. Note: Communication 320 is required for all public relations majors.

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  • COMM 350I Communication Individual Internship
    0 credits

    Students obtain internships in selected areas of study to gain deeper understand of knowledge, skills and the context of a given field. Faculty members serve as liaisons and evaluator between the internship sites and the university, providing information to students and potential supervisors and supervising the learning experience. Internships normally earn between one and four credits, required 40 work hours per credit, and may be served through a standard hours/work schedule or with flexible work hours scheduling, depending on the nature of the internship and site preferences.

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  • COMM 381 Public Relations Principles
    4 credits

    This course is for people who want to understand how public relations establishes relationships with various stakeholders through communication. It outlines elements of the public relations process: research and planning, setting objectives, developing strategies, implementing programs and evaluating results. Overlap: COMM 381T Public Relations Theory Seminar.

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  • COMM 482 Applied Communication Research
    4 credits

    This course studies the ways research is carried out: its purpose and design, justification and links to preceding work; data identification, collection and analysis; basic statistical concepts; and the interpretation, application and implications of findings. Students will work directly with data, reports, journal articles, and/or community-based research to develop their skills in interpreting, writing, and presenting quantitative and qualitative findings to a variety of audiences they may encounter in their professional careers.

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  • COMM 499 Topics in Communication
    0 credits

    This course rotates topics and may include such things as: presentational communication topics; storytelling as performance and persuasion; relational communication, for example nonverbal communication; and organizational communication such as organizational public relations.

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  • MDST 361 Visual Communication
    4 credits

    Designed as an introduction to visual literacy, this course surveys many of the media formats that define today's image-dominant culture. Various examples of print advertising, photography, film, television and multimedia are explored; the focus is equally on principles and concepts from both the fine and applied arts, and draws from history as well as the present day.

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  • MDST 490 Big Data and the Connected Citizen
    4 credits

    As consumers of media, citizens should be prepared to assess the messages they receive from sources such as social networks, broadcast, and other media. However, in contemporary society, consumers are also communicating information about themselves, most of which is harvested without their knowledge or understanding. This course prepares students to consider their position as communicators in an interconnected world, where the information they provide about themselves is stored, retrieved, analyzed and used to sell, promote, control, or otherwise influence citizen and consumer behavior.

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  • MDST 583 Online Education and Training
    4 credits

    This course is designed to provide information and experience integrating media into training and education with an emphasis on instructional design, online communities, and online collaboration. Students learn concepts and techniques to enable them to analyze various online learners and learning situations and to choose appropriate approaches.

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