The School of Communication Studies (COMS) embraces a liberal arts orientation whereby students learn to pose questions and pursue answers by critically thinking, describing, synthesizing, critiquing, and imagining. Across courses, students explore how messages and relational interactions shape and in turn are shaped by institutions, emerging technologies, and globalization. Our goal is to cultivate the lifelong development of communication competencies that individuals need to coordinate action, solve problems, foster well-being, engage in creative activity, and participate in civic life.
All of our students are Communication Studies majors but they are encouraged to personalize curricular choices as guided by their professional goals. Students may pursue a concentration in one of three overlapping areas: Organizational Communication, Health Communication, and Communication and Public Advocacy. Listen to what some of our students say about being a COMS Major and visit our Undergraduate Page.
The School of Communication Studies expects its graduates to develop a specialist’s depth in the study of human communication as well as a generalist’s perspective. All students complete a common set of core courses and then proceed to take specialized courses relevant to their professional objectives.
The School offers the Ph.D. degree with primary areas of study in rhetoric and public culture, health communication, and relating and organizing. Students select their primary and related areas of study in consultation with their program of study committee and with permission of the School’s graduate committee. Admission to graduate study is granted on the basis of a match between the student’s academic goals and the School’s primary areas of study, recommendations of those familiar with the student’s academic and other work, undergraduate and graduate grade-point average and class standing, scores on the Graduate Record Examination, submitted writing sample, and experiential and other informal learning experiences. International students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit a TOEFL score.
To be admitted unconditionally, you must have received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree or completed equivalent work (as approved by the University) at an accredited institution.
Students holding a BA degree from an accredited institution and who show extraordinary potential as a graduate student can apply for direct admission to our doctoral program following normal admission procedures. Those admitted will receive the MA degree while progressing through the doctoral program requirements. The MA is automatically awarded upon successful completion of the preliminary examination and two years of coursework. Direct to Doctorate students may be required to take additional coursework if the student’s program of study committee determines that such coursework is necessary to prepare for the Ph.D.
The Master of Arts in Organizational Communication is intended for working students who are seeking an advanced academic degree that focuses on the critical examination and understanding of the role of communication within the processes of organizing, decision making, and problem solving.
The faculty and staff of the School of Communication Studies are committed to scholarship, teaching, and service in ways that improve the community and offer directions for change in the world. Accordingly, we seek students who want to challenge themselves to develop their potential in and out of the classroom. For a detailed history of COMS (formerly INCO) please visit COMS History from the Beginning to 1998.