Communication Studies Major

Program Overview

The BA in Communication Studies is a major in the College of Arts and Sciences for students interested in specializing in digital media studies as an area of expertise. The major helps students develop advanced skills in communications with an emphasis on digital media studies, including multimedia writing, video editing and production, web content strategy and design, and writing for social media platforms.

Communication Studies students acquire a solid grounding in the study of digital communications while exploring current ideas and tools that are shaping the knowledge society. A hallmark of the Communication Studies curriculum is the emphasis on both theory and practice. Not only do students study what is happening at the forefront of emerging communication technologies, they also participate. Students have access to cutting-edge resources as they make and reflect upon media and in the process acquire important skills in teamwork, innovation, design, and entrepreneurship. The major prepares students for careers in digital media including web content strategy and design, social media/community management, and multimedia journalism.

The Department of Communication Studies is committed to excellence in teaching and learning. Faculty are dedicated to the art of thinking across media, platforms, and theories in order to create an innovative and socially responsible curriculum that goes beyond the classroom. Communication Studies students gain hands-on experience by working closely with faculty on a variety of activities.

Learning Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Students will gain critical awareness of the social role of media.

Objective 1.1: Students will understand the history and context of the role that media has played in society.

Objective 1.2: Students will be able to articulate and critique the role media has historically played, and currently plays in society.

Goal 2: Students will understand the principles and practices of effective media communication.

Objective 2.1: Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate audience, purpose, and context.

Goal 3: Students will understand and apply human centered design approaches to communicating through digital media.

Objective 3.1: Students will analyze, articulate, and understand how multiple theoretical approaches of aesthetics and design inform the way audiences act, interact, and produce meaning.

Objective 3.2: Students will be able to create media objects which effectively applies these design principles for a desired rhetorical goal.

Goal 4: Student will understand the relation between media and social responsibility.

Objective 4.1: Students will understand and articulate the ethical questions and principles that inform the use of digital media.

Objective 4.2: Students will understand and articulate how digital media has been, and can be, employed to facilitate innovation, social change, and civic engagement.

Goal 5: Students will be able to use digital media in a way which demonstrates information literacy.

Objective 5.1: Students will employ digital media tools and approaches to establish the veracity and credibility of information.

Objective 5.2: Students will demonstrate the ability to effectively manage the ubiquitous flow of digital media information.

Objective 5.3: Students will be able to effectively use digital media to research, gather, and assess digital information and knowledge.

Communication Studies Major Curriculum

The traditional undergraduate programs include 40 courses distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive, and
  3. Writing Intensive. Overlay requirements are part of the forty-course requirement.

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses. Six courses

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

General Education Overlays

See this page about Overlays.

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses

Communication majors must also take three courses in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) as part of the Integrated Learning Component (ILC) of the GEP. These courses must be outside of the major department. To fulfill the ILC requirement, students should choose three courses from the following:

ART 103Non Western Art & Architecture3
ART 104The Experience of Architecture3
ART 105Arts of East Asia3
ART 106Art of Colonial Latin America3
ART 107Women, Gender, and Art3
ART 208Modern Art & Architecture3
ART 209Contemporary Art3
ART 212History of Photography3
CHN 310Selections in Chinese Lit3
ECN 330Economics of Labor3
ECN 370Economic Development3
ECN 375Environmental Economics3
ECN 460African Economies3
ECN 475Asian Economies3
ECN 480Ecns of Poverty & Income Dist3
ECN 485Ecns of Migration & Immigratn3
ENG 207Images of Women in Literature3
ENG 211Black Popular Culture3
ENG 215Passing Narratives - Black Lit3
ENG 329Black Women's Literature3
ENG 364History of Journalism3
FRE 322Making our Voices Heard3
GRM 321Getting to Know the Germ Media3
ITA 365Italian Society and the Media3
JPN 310Selections in Japanese Lit I3
HIS 385His of Women in Am Since 18203
HIS 386American Environmental History3
HIS 387Popular Culture in the US3
MTF 191Introduction to the Film3
MTF 192History of Narrative Film & TV3
MTF 291American Film3
MTF 292European Cinemas3
MTF 293Asian & Pacific Cinemas3
MTF 294Global Cinemas3
PHL 262Freedom, Citizenship, Culture3
PHL 334Ethics and Criminal Justice3
POL 117Intro to Political Thought3
POL 150First-Year Seminar3
POL 305Politics, Ideology, & Film3
POL 317Urban Politics3
POL 324Race & Ethnic Politics in U.S.3
POL 327Environmental Politics in Am3
POL 331Latin American Politics3
PSY 150Gender Matters3
REL 327Religion & Race in Phila.3
RUS 310Selections in Russian Lit I3
SOC 205Ethnic & Minority Relations3
SOC 206Theories of Crime3
SOC 207Juvenile Justice3
SOC 208Sociology of Gender3
SOC 252Media & Popular Culture3
SOC 330Urban Sociology3
SOC 335Classes and Power in US3
SOC 377Inside-Out Expl Crime&Justice3
SPA 360Spanish in the Community4
THE 371Christianity and Media3
THE 372Technology Ethics3

Major Requirements

Communication Studies Courses

Eleven required courses, including six core courses and five option courses.

All Communication majors will be assigned a departmental advisor with whom they will consult during the course of their studies and who will help them select a series of course appropriate for both their interests and future careers.

All students complete the six Core courses and select the remaining five courses from the list of Option Courses.

Core Courses
COM 200Communication Theory/ Practice3
COM 201Ethics in Communication3
COM 202Digital Aesthetics3
COM 371Civic Media3
COM 372Web Design & Development3
COM 472Digital Storytelling3
Option Courses
Select five of the following: 1
Digital Photography I
Digital Photography II
Photo Essay/Docu Photo
Digital Publishing
Advanced Web Design
Social Media & Communty Engmnt
Non-Profit Communications
Bear Witness:Images/Soc Change
Special Topics/ Com&Digi Media
Communications Internship
Intro to Computer Science
Computer Science II
Public Speaking & Presentation
News Reporting
Writing for Organizations
Writing for Public Relations
Case Studies: PR & Advertising
Negotiations, Writing&Conflict
Persuasion/Influence in Media
Nonfiction Workshop
Tutor Prac, Writ Cntr Thry Pr
Writing for Digital Platforms
Feature Writing
Mobile Journalism
Sports Journalism
History of Journalism
Multimedia Reporting
Special Topics in Writing
Magazine Writing
Food Writing
Travel Writing
Literary Journalism
Special Topics in Journalism
Journalism & Entrepreneurship
Ethics in Journalism
Global Journalism
The Art of Editing
English Internship
Integrated Mktg Communications
MKT Communications (non-Bus)
Social Media Marketing
Mkt in a Multicultural World
Media Management
Public Relations and Publicity
Fundamentals of Design
Media Now
Digital Media in Sports
Screenwriting I
Digital Filmmaking
Screenwriting II (MTF 282 is a pre-req)
Directing for Film/TV (MTF 284 is a pre-req)
Advanced Lghtg, Camera, Design (MTF 284 is a pre-req)
Edit & Digital Post-Production (MTF 284 is a pre-req)
Prof. Film Production Workshop (MTF 284 is a pre-req)


Students who have completed both 200 and 201 and have at least junior standing are eligible to take the Internship course as one of their option courses. In order to take the Communications Internship students must be a Communications major and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Independent Study

Communication Studies students with junior or senior standing and an overall GPA of 3.0 may apply for credit in an independent study program. These courses usually cover a topic not typically offered as part of the standard selection of courses, but which will enhance the student's educational objectives. At the end of the semester preceding the semester in which an independent study is sought the interested students should submit a written proposal describing, with particulars, the planned study project. The minimum requirement for such a proposal is that it include a substantial critical and/or creative project, and the name of the appropriate faculty member.