University of Minnesota
Communication Studies

Communications Studies' Home Page

Undergraduate Program

Communication Studies refers to both a practice and an intellectual inquiry. As a student of communication, students learn to describe, explain, analyze, interpret, and criticize communication. A degree in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota is designed to create what we call Communication Competence & Critical Literacy in the Digital Age:


Communication competence, or "critical literacy," in the digital age requires the ability to formulate ethical and theory-informed messages to inform, persuade, or entertain, the ability to create and perform with appropriate technology, and the critical ability to understand and evaluate messages and performances in a variety of media and multicultural contexts. (2006 Strategic Planning Document)

Communication, both as practice and as inquiry, permeates every element of our lives. It shapes how we see, engage, and describe the world. Communication Studies is a window through which we understand ourselves, our interactions with others, and our life experiences. As a mode of intellectual inquiry, students come to know how political, cultural, and social processes work communicatively to create meaning, distribute resources, and organize behavior.

We see Communication Competence and Critical Literacy to be central to the goals of a Liberal Arts education: The cultivation of critical thinking and speaking/writing skills and an understanding of theory and history to comprehend and adapt to changing communicative contexts. Such knowledge is essential for students to be effective citizens and, as study after study documents, to be successful in whatever career they pursue. Beyond its practical value, the study of communication provides a unique perspective toward understanding the myriad manifestations of social interaction.

Careers and Internship Opportunities in Communication

The study of human communication has been valuable to our students, and they have gone on to a variety of career opportunities after graduation. The ability to communicate clearly and persuasively is highly valued by employers in many fields. Many B.A. graduates in Communication Studies have found work in the business world (sales, management, human resources), in social services, education, and government (information specialists, speechwriters, training and development), along with many of the newer information sector careers, including public information specialists, electronic media writing and production, marketing, advertising and public relations. Our graduates have found communication studies a useful foundation for professional studies in law, medicine, journalism, and business. Local business and social service organizations offer a variety of internship opportunities for students to apply course concepts to issues in actual communication situations.

The CLA Career Services Office (STSS 411), (612) 624-7577, helps
students find and apply for internships. Internships are a key way to
develop skills and experience.

The Undergraduate Advising Office (274 Ford Hall) also receives internship announcements that are posted on the bulletin boards outside the office. Students are encouraged to begin studying career options and making job search plans early in their junior year.

The CLA Communications and Media Student Advising Community also has pages with relevant event information, scholarship, job and internship information that you might find useful.

Areas of Concentration

The Communication Studies Major examines human communication using both humanistic and social scientific methods. Fields of study include rhetorical theory and criticism, political communication, ethics, interpersonal, small group, organizational, intercultural, and electronic media (broadcasting, cable, satellite, Internet) forms of communication. Specifically:

Courses in Rhetorical Studies approach communication studies as a humane study. Course work includes argumentation and persuasion, ethics, rhetorical theory and criticism, and American public address. Students may also pursue special interests in rhetorical philosophies, movements and campaigns, popular culture, or historical and contemporary political speaking.

Critical Media Studies approaches mediated communication as a cultural form that is socially influential, economically powerful, and politically significant. Coursework in Critical Media Studies emphasizes qualitative, historical, and critical approaches to the study of media texts, audiences, institutions, policies, and economics. Topics covered in the Critical Media Studies curriculum include audio and video production, feminist media studies, media, race, and identity; political economy of media, audience reception and effects, popular culture, and media regulation and industries.

Coursework in Interpersonal Communication has a social science (i.e., empirical) orientation and, most broadly defined, focuses on the processes underlying interpersonal communication. Students can take courses in areas such as persuasion, message processing, small group communication, family communication, intercultural communication, linguistics, or computer mediated communication.

Student Organizations

The Communication Studies Association is an undergraduate organization dedicated to helping students discover jobs/careers available to people with a love for communication.

Lambda Pi Eta is the official communication studies honor society of the National Communication Association (NCA).