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, 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 36 credits of course work must be completed for the major in communication studies.

Required Courses

COMM 1000Foundations of Human Communication, Culture and Society3
CMST 2310Advanced Public Engagement3
CMST 3000Theories in Communication Studies3
CMST 3120Interpersonal Communication3
CMST 3200Organizational Communication3
CMST 3300Persuasion3
CMST 4997Communication and Contemporary Issues3
Advanced Interpersonal Communication Elective:3
Family Communication
Gender and Communication
Communication and Urban Families
Intergenerational Communication
Communication and Conflict
Mediation Theory and Practice
Cross-Cultural Communication
Intercultural Communication
Health Communication
Advanced Organizational Communication Studies Elective:3
Communication Approaches to Training and Development
Managerial Communication
Communication, Innovation and Progressive Change
Leadership and Communication
Communication Technologies in the Workplace
Intercultural Communication
Health Communication
Communication Consulting
Additional 9 hours of CMST electives not used above.9
Small Group Communication
Communication Approaches to Interviewing
Business and Professional Presentations
Ethics in Human Communication
Modern Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
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
Total Credit Hours36
Choose one of the following math/scientific reasoning courses. Course does not count as credits in the major.3-4
Introduction to Statistics and Business Analytics
Introduction to Computer Science
The Nature of Mathematics
Modern Elementary Statistics
Problem Solving and Reasoning for Teachers
Psychological Measurements and Statistics
Social Statistics
Total Credit Hours3-4

Note: Internships are recommended for each academic/career emphasis. Close advising is recommended to assist students in designing their academic/career emphasis.

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 Communication - Minors in Corporate Communication, Marketing, Human Resources, Advertising or Public Relations.

Interpersonal 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 10501COMM 11003
ENGL 1001 or ESSV1 (MCC)3CMST required math or elective3
PHIL 1001 or THEO 1001 (MCC)3ENGL 1001 or ESSV1 (MCC)3
Electives6PHIL 1001 or THEO 1001 (MCC)3
 16 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
CMST 23103CMST 3000 (WRIT)3
COMM 25003CMST 31203
CMST required math or elective3CMST 3200 or 33003
CORE 1929 (MCC)3DSCV (MCC)1, 23
DSCV (MCC)1, 23Major or minor elective3
 15 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
CMST 3200 or 33003Major or minor electives9
Major or minor electives6DSCV (MCC)1, 23
DSCV (MCC)1, 23Adv CMST or elective3
Adv CMST or elective3 
 15 15
First TermHoursSecond TermHours
Major or minor electives12CMST 49973
CORE 4929 (MCC)3Major or minor electives12
 15 15
Total credit hours: 121

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 Communication3
Total Credit Hours9

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

Communication Studies Minor

Required Courses

COMM 1000Foundations of Human Communication, Culture and Society3
CMST 2310Advanced Public Engagement3
or CMST 3300 Persuasion
CMST 3120Interpersonal Communication3
Additional CMST electives9
Total Credit Hours18


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

Examines theories, principles and methods of small group communication. Focuses on such topics as: leadership, problem solving, roles, norms and climate. Takes a systems approach to groups and students 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 2210. Business and Professional Presentations. 3 cr. hrs.

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

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 COMM 1100. Prereq: Soph. Stndg. and enrolled in College of Business.

CMST 2310. Advanced Public Engagement. 3 cr. hrs.

Explores the role of argumentation and public speaking in public engagement in contemporary society. Includes analysis and application of various theories and methods of argumentation in public settings through oral and written communication. Areas include identification of fallacies, refutation, forms of argument, and formal and informal logic. Criticism and critical listening skills are also emphasized. Prereq: COMM 1100 or cons. of instr.

CMST 2961. Leadershape. 0 cr. hrs.

The LeaderShape Institute challenges participants to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values. Participants explore not only what they want to do, but who they want to be. Dynamic, challenging and exciting, the week is intended to produce a breakthrough in the leadership capacity of participants—benefiting them individually, as well as their respective communities and the organizations they go on to lead and serve in the future. Students accepted into the C-Lead concentration participate in a week long seminar, along with students from engineering and business, where they are exposed to multiple aspects of leadership and team building. Prereq: Admitted to the C-Lead program; Soph. stndg.; and cons. of instr.

CMST 3000. Theories in Communication Studies. 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. Prereq: COMM 1000.

CMST 3120. 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: CMST 3000, which may be taken concurrently, 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. Prereq: CMST 3000, which may be taken concurrently; or cons. of instr.; or declared ADVE, CCOM or PURE majors and minors or CMST minors.

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 3000, which may be taken concurrently; or cons. of instr.; or declared ADVE, CCOM or PURE majors and minors or CMST minors.

CMST 3964. Leadership Mentor Program. 0 cr. hrs.

Students enrolled in the Communication Leadership Program are assigned a mentor who is in an established leadership role. Students shadow that individual during scheduled opportunities during the spring and fall terms. Students document their experiences and work with their leader mentor to explore the concept of leadership and leadership styles. Prereq: Enrolled in the C-Lead program; Jr. stndg.; and cons. of instr.

CMST 4100. Advanced Interpersonal Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Examines major theoretical perspectives and concepts relevant to interpersonal communication in close personal relationships. Using a lecture-discussion format, focuses on the development and testing of interpersonal communication theory through research. Multiple theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches geared toward understanding interpersonal communication are studied. Focuses on integrating research, theory and skills to recognize and claim the personal agency interpersonal communication affords us in shaping our quality of life. Prereq: CMST 3120 and Jr. stndg; or cons. of instr.

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: COMM 1000, CMST 3120, Jr. stndg.; or INFS minor; 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: COMM 1000 and CMST 3120, Jr. stndg.; or INFS minor; 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: COMM 1000 and CMST 3120, Jr. stndg.; or INFS minor; 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: COMM 1000 and Jr. stndg.; or INFS minor; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4150. 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or INPS major or minor; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4160. Mediation Theory and Practice. 3 cr. hrs.

When parties in conflict can no longer negotiate or manage the conflict, they might need a mediator. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution in which a neutral person helps two or more parties discuss the conflict, explore wants and needs, generate options and reach their own agreement. Exposes students to the principles and theory behind mediation and gives them the opportunity to develop introductory mediation skills. Interactive exercises and role plays are used to provide experiential practice. Prereq: COMM 1000; or INPS major or minor; 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4240. 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; 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, charismati, and functional approaches. The different leadership challenges posed by community and institutional settings are also explored. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4310. 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4350. 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 4400. Cross-Cultural Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Cross-cultural communication offers a comparison of communicative behavior phenomena across national cultures and examines the influence of national group identity on communicative practice among groups in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Global in scope, with a social justice emphasis, this course addresses a dynamic and mobile world as it seeks to provide an analytical framework for dissecting and understanding issues of hegemony, equity, and conflict management in cross-cultural exchanges. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4410. Intercultural Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

Intercultural communication in the United States explores the dynamics of interpersonal interaction and obstacles to those interactions between U.S. co-cultures. Examines the impact of identity on intercultural relationships; as well as the interpersonal patterns of selected co-cultural groups within the United States with the aim of improving individual communication competency and cultural understanding. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg; 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4520. Health Communication Campaigns. 3 cr. hrs.

Designed to enhance student understanding of theories that guide health communication campaigns with a particular focus on message design principles. Discuss issues related to social, emotional and interpersonal influences on health risk perception and behavioral outcome. Particularly relevant to students interested in topics including health message design, social influence on health behaviors and emotional appeals in health communication. Prereq: CMST 4500, which may be taken concurrently, Jr. stndg; or cons. of instr.

CMST 4570. Cultural Diversity in Communicating Health and Wellness. 3 cr. hrs.

Prepares students to work in a health-related field by learning to successfully communicate with medical practitioners/providers and patients from diverse populations. Sensitizes students to the issues and concerns of cultural context and resulting potentials for unequal or disparate health care among co-cultural groups and vulnerable populations, and ensures successful communication among all parties striving for patient wellness. Prereq: CMST 4500, which may be taken concurrently, Jr. stndg; 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 3200, Sr. stndg.; or cons. of instr.

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.

Topics vary. Topics of seminar to be announced in the Schedule of Classes. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or con. of instr.

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

Project in Communication Studies to be determined by the instructor. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or con. of instr.

CMST 4986. Internship in Communication Studies. 0-3 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: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg.; or con. of instr., CMST 3200 recommended, but not required.

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

Independent Study in Communication Studies. 1-3 credits. Prereq: COMM 1000, Jr. stndg; or 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 3000, must have completed at least 21 additional credit hours in the CMST major; or cons. of instr.

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: COMM 1000, Sr. stndg.; or cons. of dept. ch.