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

Public relations practitioners use their sophisticated communication skills, theoretical knowledge and analytical abilities to conduct advocacy campaigns, lobby, and develop strategic relationships.

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.

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Course List

Prerequisites

Public Relations Prerequisites (3 credits)

  • 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 ( 120 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 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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Intermediate Courses

  • 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 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 380 Public Relations Writing
    4 credits

    This class provides practical experiences in public relations writing. Focusing on written communications in major Public Relation genres. This class will incorporate a workshop approach, with emphasis on weekly assignments that are critiqued and discussed as a class. We will focus on producing clear, concise writing that is accurate, organized and targeted to specific audiences.

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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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Advanced Coursework

  • COMM 385 Media Relations
    4 credits

    One strategic approach for public relations practitioners is to establish relationships with key stakeholders using mass communication media. Through course projects, students explore, as well as, building partnerships with members of these media organizations with the range of media outlets available. Students also explore preparing members of these organizations to serve as media spokespersons.

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  • COMM 481 Advanced Public Relations
    4 credits

    This course explores research methods used in effective program planning and assessment, persuasive theories and techniques used to develop campaign strategy and tactics and the legal and the ethical issues that accompany public relations both historically and in emerging issues in the field.

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Electives (4 credits from the following)

  • 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 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 383 Employee Communication
    2 credits

    This course introduces students to the many forms of employee communication created by public relations practitioners. Through the use of case studies students gain practical experience creating employee communications and come to appreciate its vital role in attaining the strategic goals of public relations programming.

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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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  • MGMT 310 Management Principles and Practices
    4 credits

    This course examines the historical and philosophical roots of management as well as current management theory and practices. The critical success factors leading to effective performance in the roles of planner, decision maker, organizer, leader, motivator, controller and manager of a diverse workforce in a changing environment are identified and evaluated.

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  • SCRW 315 Film Production and Editing I
    4 credits

    The course introduces the principles and practices of electronic filmmaking as a personal and creative art form. Students will engage in exercises and projects to explore and understand editing, camera work, light, composition, and sound. A variety of cinematic forms will be examined. Student screenplays may be produced. Students will film and edit individual creative projects.

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  • WRIT 371 Editing
    4 credits

    This course covers editing principles and techniques. Topics include how readers use and comprehend texts, the editor's role in the publication process, the writer/editor relationship, and editing for organization, format, style, grammar, punctuation, usage, consistency and accuracy. Students edit a variety of texts, including technical documents and newsletter articles in print and online.

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