Chairperson: Scott D'Urso, Ph.D.

Our ability to communicate defines what it means to be human and is a central feature of our existence. People communicate in a variety of contexts: interpersonal, group, organizational, public and intercultural. This major examines the theories, concepts and skills related to human interaction. The focus is on developing personal communication skills and critiquing the communication practices of others.

The communication studies major explores organizational and managerial communication, family communication, gender and interpersonal communication, multicultural and international communication and argumentation and persuasion. Students have the flexibility to choose a specific area of focus or to combine several in ways that best meet their interests and career plans. Communication Studies majors are prepared for careers in a variety of settings including corporate, political, family and social service agencies, multinational organizations, legal, nonprofit organizations, and educational.

Communication Studies Major

A total of 33 credits of course work must be completed for the major in communication studies.

Required Courses

COMM 1000Foundations of Human Communication, Culture and Society3
CMST 2100Interpersonal Communication3
CMST 2310Argument in Contemporary Society3
CMST 3200Organizational Communication3
CMST 3300Persuasion3
CMST 3600Advanced Human Communication3
CMST 4997Communication and Contemporary Issues3
Additional 12 hours of CMST electives (See suggested CMST Academic/Career Emphases)12
Total Credit Hours33

Suggested Communication Studies Academic/Career Emphases

Students are encouraged to focus their Communication Studies degree in one of two Academic/Career emphases: Organizational and Public Communication or Relational Communication. These two Academic/Career emphases will enable students to focus their degree and point their studies toward a viable and rewarding career track. These Academic/Career emphases are suggested rather than required.

Organizational and Public Communication (12 credit hours): Focuses on communication content and practices essential to success in both for-profit and non-profit organizations as well as in public settings such as the law and politics. Combined with a carefully selected minor, this academic/career emphasis assists with career options in a range of business sectors including marketing, human resources, sales, management, law, public policy, speech writing and international business. This academic/career emphasis also compliments various graduate program offerings.

Select 12 credit hours from the following electives:12
Business and Professional Presentations
Classical Rhetorical Theory
Modern Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
Communication and the Legal Process
Communication Approaches to Training and Development
Managerial Communication
Leadership and Communication
Communication Technologies in the Workplace
Communicating in Multinational Organizations
Freedom of Speech
Rhetoric of Social Movements
Communication Consulting
Total Credit Hours12

Relational Communication (12 credit hours): Focuses on communication content and practices essential to success in interpersonal relationships regardless of setting. Combined with a carefully selected minor, this academic/career emphasis assists with career options in a variety of relational communication vocations including human resources, mediation, fundraising/event planning and health administration. This academic/career emphasis also compliments various graduate program offerings.

Select 12 credit hours from the following electives:12
Introduction to Small Group Communication
Communication Approaches to Interviewing
Communication and Conflict
Intercultural Communication
Family Communication
Gender and Communication
Communication and Urban Families
Cross-Cultural Communication in the United States
Health Communication
Total Credit Hours12

Additional Electives Available to CMST Majors:

Public Speaking
Debate/Forensic Practicum
Communication, Innovation and Progressive Change
Ethics in Human Communication
Philosophy of Communication
Directing Speech Activities
Seminar in Communication Studies
Special Institute/Workshop/Project in Communication Studies
Internship in Communication Studies
Independent Study in Communication Studies
Senior Thesis


  • Internships are recommended for each academic/career emphasis. Close advising is recommended to assist students in designing their academic/career emphases.
  • The suggested academic/career emphases are complimentary to many graduate programs. For example, the Relational Emphasis is well suited to graduate study in areas of Health Administration and Dispute Resolution, and the Organizational and Public Communication Emphasis is well suited to graduate study in Human Resources and other business-related programs.

Suggested Minors for Communication Studies Majors

Students in the Diederich College of Communication with a Communication Studies major may choose any minor offered through the university; however, the following minors are suggested for the academic/career emphases.

Organizational and Public Communication - Minors in Marketing, Human Resources, Advertising, Public Relations, Criminology & Law Studies or Political Science.

Relational Communication - Minors in Human Resources, Advertising, Public Relations, Psychology, Social Welfare and Justice, Health Studies or Interdisciplinary Minor in Family Studies.

Typical Program for Communication Studies Majors

First TermHoursSecond TermHours
COMM 1000 or 12003COMM 1200 or 10003
COMM 10501Second language or UCCS Diverse Culture3-4
ENGL 10013CMST 2100 or 36003
UCCS History3UCCS Math or Science3
Second language or UCCS Diverse Culture3-4Elective3
THEO 10013 
 16-17 15-16
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
COMM 11003COMM 25003
CMST 2100 or 36003UCCS Diverse Culture or Minor/elective course3
CMST 23103Major/Minor electives6
UCCS Math or Science3UCCS Literature/Performing Arts3
UCCS Diverse Culture or Minor/elective course3 
 15 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
CMST 32003CMST 33003
PHIL 10013PHIL 23103
Major/Minor electives9Major/minor electives9
 15 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
Major/Minor electives12CMST 49973
UCCS Theology3Major/minor electives11
 15 14
Total credit hours: 120-122

Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in Speech Communication (Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence)

In addition to completing all requirements as specified by the College of Education, students must also complete all requirements listed under the communication studies major.

Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in Speech Communication (Early Adolescence/Adolescence)

In addition to completing all requirements as specified by the College of Education as well as those listed under the communication studies major, students seeking Wisconsin teaching licensure in speech communication at the early adolescence/adolescence level must also complete:

COMM 1200Media in Society3
CMST 4810Directing Speech Activities3
CMST 4400Cross-Cultural Communication in the United States3
Total Credit Hours9

The latter two will count toward required electives in the communication studies major.

Communication Studies Minor

Required Courses

COMM 1000Foundations of Human Communication, Culture and Society3
CMST 2100Interpersonal Communication3
CMST 2310Argument in Contemporary Society3
or CMST 3300 Persuasion
Additional CMST electives9
Total Credit Hours18


CMST 1300. Public Speaking. 2 cr. hrs.

Examines theory and practice of effective public speaking. The course includes informative, persuasive, and occasional speaking. Criticism and critical listening skills will also be emphasized.

CMST 2000. Introduction to Small Group Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines theories, principles and methods of small group communication. The course will focus on such topics as: leadership, problem solving, roles, norms, and climate. The class takes a systems approach to groups and students will have hands-on experience in a decision making group.

CMST 2010. Communication Approaches to Interviewing. 3 cr. hrs.

Stresses communication theory and current research related to interviewing. Provides in-class practice with interchanging roles as interviewer/interviewee in several types of interviews. Current research in interviewing techniques, assistance in resume preparation and legal guidelines for questions are among the topics for discussion.

CMST 2100. Interpersonal Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines person-to-person communication with a focus on such topics as social roles, conflict management, relationship development, perception, communication effectiveness and relevant theories. Prereq: COMM 1000.

CMST 2300. Business Communication. 2 cr. hrs.

Provides students with the opportunity to explore and develop the presentation skills necessary for success within the context of business through a study of communication and theory. Includes informative, persuasive, and small group presentations, as well as an emphasis on critical thinking, listening, non-verbal and technological presentation skills. Students may not receive credit for both CMST 2300 and CMST 1300. Prereq: Soph. Stndg. and enrolled in College of Business.

CMST 2310. Argument in Contemporary Society. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores the role of argument in contemporary society. Includes analysis and application of various theories of public argumentation. Areas include identification of fallacies, refutation, forms of argument, and formal and informal logic.

CMST 2800. Debate/Forensic Practicum. 1 cr. hr.

Students participate in intercollegiate debate and/or individual events and travel to various tournaments. May be repeated for 1 credit per term. A maximum of 3 credits can be applied to the CMST major.

CMST 3150. Communication and Conflict. 3 cr. hrs.

Communication and conflict explores theoretical and experiential avenues to conflict management, resolution, and regulation through communication styles and methods. The communicative contexts for investigation are interpersonal and organizational (profit and non-profit). Exercises and case studies provide an opportunity to implement theoretical learning from the course. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 3200. Organizational Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Presents historical and current perspectives on the origins and usefulness of organizational theories as they relate to communication issues. Emphasizes the relationship between organizational life and communication principles. Ultimate goals, assumptions, and cases relating to organizational communication theories are developed and discussed.

CMST 3210. Business and Professional Presentations. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores and offers practice in the types of oral communication faced in organizational settings. The emphasis is on creation, development, and delivery of professional presentations building on persuasion and informative speaking skills.

CMST 3240. Communication, Innovation and Progressive Change. 3 cr. hrs.

A forward-looking assessment of the role that communication plays in the spread of new ideas. Examines the influence of technological and social innovation in individual, organizational and societal contexts. Investigates the effects of innovation when dealing with progressive change and managing social interactions. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 3300. Persuasion. 3 cr. hrs.

Surveys theories, principles, and practices of persuasion. Special emphasis on the social, psychological and cultural study of influence. Prereq: CMST 1000.

CMST 3310. Ethics in Human Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores theoretical and practical ethical questions of importance to responsible communicators in personal and public contexts. Discussion of ethical theories in communication studies provide an opportunity to explore case studies and contemporary communication dilemmas critically, while heightening personal sensitivity to the underlying ethical implications of human communication. Prereq: CMST 3300 or cons. of instr.

CMST 3340. Classical Rhetorical Theory. 3 cr. hrs.

Analyzes Greek and Roman rhetorical theory from the rise of the early sophists in Greece to rhetoric's decline in the early Christian era. Special emphasis on Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. Prereq: CMST 1000 and CMST 3300; or cons. of instr.

CMST 3350. Modern Rhetorical Theory and Criticism. 3 cr. hrs.

Discusses contemporary theoretical and critical approaches to the description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of public discourse. Examines and applies principles established by such theorists as Kenneth Burke, Ernest G. Bormann, Chaim Perelman, and Stephen Toulmin, among others. Prereq: CMST 1000 and CMST 3300; or cons. of instr.

CMST 3410. Intercultural Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines the influence of culture on communication within Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. International in scope, the course also analyzes communication between people from different national cultures and provides an analytical framework for dissecting intercultural exchanges. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 3600. Advanced Human Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Surveys major theoretical approaches to communication studies, reviews the history of the discipline and introduces students to basic research methods in the field.

CMST 3800. Communication and the Legal Process. 3 cr. hrs.

This course focuses on the role of communication in the American legal system. The course is designed to acquaint students with the various dimensions of communication in the practice of law with a particular emphasis on the trial process.

CMST 4110. Family Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Introduces communication phenomena in the family setting. Examines how communication affects the development, maintenance and enhancement of family relations. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4120. Gender and Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines the relationship between gender and communication. Includes discussion of verbal and nonverbal communication patterns of males and females, various explanations for these patterns, perceptions of gender differences and the implications these perceptions have for people in several contexts (public, interpersonal and organizational). Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4130. Communication and Urban Families. 3 cr. hrs.

Investigates communication about urban families, the communication links between urban families and institutions and communication practices within urban families. Emphasizes the diversity among urban families as well as the stressors and strengths found in the urban context. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4140. Intergenerational Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Focuses on communication theories and the role of communication in intergenerational interactions within a wide variety of contexts including: interpersonal, workplace, familial, health, and mediated technology. Prereq: CMST 1000 and 2100; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4220. Communication Approaches to Training and Development. 3 cr. hrs.

Emphasizes development of training sessions within organizations. Diagnostic methods for assessing needs and determining the utility of specific training are explored. Roles of consultant, in-house human resource trainer, and liaison with subject matter experts are differentiated. Students develop training modules for communication skills training. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4230. Managerial Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

The communication relationship between managers and employees involves a set of circumstances not often found in everyday communication with friends and colleagues. The differences in power, knowledge, job description, and life experiences create many unique and challenging interactions. Takes an in-depth look at the circumstances which affect communication between managers and their employees as well as at a number of theories and strategies for improving communication in the workplace. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4250. Leadership and Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores communication variables involved when leaders attempt to influence members to achieve a goal. Topics include: power, credibility, motivation, research on leader traits, styles and situations, and current models of leadership such as transactional, transformational, charismatic, and functional approaches. The different leadership challenges posed by community and institutional settings will also be explored. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4260. Communication Technologies in the Workplace. 3 cr. hrs.

Presents a historical and theoretical review of the impact of new communication technologies on organizations and their membership. Focuses on the organizational, social and communicative implications of new communication technologies across a broad range of contexts in the organizational setting, including: interpersonal, groups and teams, management, and technological innovations. Includes some special topics particularly relevant to new communication technologies including: anonymity, privacy and surveillance, and technology apprehension. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4270. Communicating in Multinational Organizations. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines the influence of culture on communication in organizations. Global comparisons in organizational communication are offered including analysis of European, Asian and Latin American corporate cultures. Intercultural communication in U.S. organizations is also explored. Prereq: CMST 3200 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4320. Philosophy of Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Outlines foundational theories and concepts regarding rhetoric's contribution to our understanding of reality, knowledge, truth, and certainty. Topics include: the role of rhetoric in the construction of our knowledge of science, politics, ethics, religion, law, gender and culture. Prereq: CMST 3300 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4330. Freedom of Speech. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines definitions, issues, problems and requirements for protecting or curbing free expression of speech in areas such as defamation and invasion of privacy; religious-moral heresy; provocation to anger; commercial speech; time, place, manner and institutional constraints; and prior restraint. Analysis of landmark cases and contemporary public arguments. Prereq: CMST 3300 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4360. Rhetoric of Social Movements. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines the rhetoric of social change and methodologies for analysis and appraisal of social movement discourse. Rhetorical strategies will be traced through contemporary movements including: civil rights, feminism, Native American, anti-nuclear, abortion, gun control, Ku Klux Klan, and others. Prereq: CMST 1000 and CMST 3300; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4400. Cross-Cultural Communication in the United States. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication in the U.S. and obstacles to effective interaction across American co-cultures. Examines the interpersonal patterns of selected ethnic groups, races, religions and social classes in the U.S. with the aim of improving cross-cultural understanding and communication. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4500. Health Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Provides an introduction to the field of health communication. Examines the role of communication in health care with a focus on provider training and the provider-patient relationship. Theoretical models for developing effective health communication programs are discussed and applied within a variety of health care settings. Prereq: CMST 2100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 4600. Communication Consulting. 3 cr. hrs.

Introduction to communication consulting and the design implementation of communication audits for corporate and non-profit settings. Surveys various models of consulting. Learn to design and implement a communication audit that includes needs assessment, interpretation, and recommendations. Methods of audits include survey design, interviews and focus groups. Prereq: CMST 1000, CMST 3200, and Sr. stndg.

CMST 4810. Directing Speech Activities. 3 cr. hrs.

Theory and practice in the organization and management of co-curricular speech activities in high school and college.

CMST 4953. Seminar in Communication Studies. 1-3 cr. hrs.

Special subjects of seminar to be announced in the Schedule of Classes. Variable topics.

CMST 4961. Special Institute/Workshop/Project in Communication Studies. 1-3 cr. hrs.

CMST 4986. Internship in Communication Studies. 1-3 cr. hrs.

Internship in Communication Studies provides students with the opportunity to apply theories, skills and techniques in communication as believed appropriate within specific organizational settings. S/U grade assessment. Prereq: CMST 1000 and CMST 2310; or cons. of instr. CMST 3200 is recommended but not required.

CMST 4995. Independent Study in Communication Studies. 1-3 cr. hrs.

Prereq: Cons. of dept. ch.

CMST 4997. Communication and Contemporary Issues. 3 cr. hrs.

A capstone experience for Communication Studies majors. Examines communication theories and principles in the context of contemporary events and social issues. Students conduct original communication research and apply theories to specific communication contexts and practices. Prereq: CMST 2600 and must have completed at least 21 additional credit hours in the CMST major.

CMST 4999. Senior Thesis. 1-3 cr. hrs.

The application of rigorous methodology in developing and writing a thesis under the direction of an adviser. Prereq: Cons. of dept. ch.