Communication Studies program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Take your communication skills to the next level

With a degree in communication studies, you'll increase your understanding of the communication process and develop communication skills to serve you personally and professionally throughout your life. Effective communication is essential for success in any job that requires working with other people, giving directions and instructions, making presentations, designing messages, persuading others, promoting ideas and products, and helping others resolve problems.

UW-La Crosse's Communication Studies Department focuses on academic training and professional skill building, so graduates develop outstanding abilities in writing, speaking, organization and critical thinking.

Communication Studies jobs

Graduates may pursue communication-intensive careers in business, law, politics, social and human services, media, and higher education. Because effective communication skills are a major concern of almost every employer, the field also provides an excellent knowledge foundation and general skills for careers in any type of business, industry or organization in both the public and private sector.

Students with a UWL degree in Communication Studies are also prepared for graduate study in fields such as organizational communication, media studies, international relations, health communication and college student personnel. The programs also provide a solid foundation for students who aspire to graduate study in communications, counseling, student life, seminary and law school. 

Entry-level careers

  • Promotional specialist
  • Customer service representative
  • Management or administration trainee
  • Media production
  • Media sales
  • Personnel/human resources
  • Public information officer or press secretary
  • Salesperson
  • Event coordinator
  • Corporate trainer

Long-term career development

  • Communication consultant
  • Government lobbyist
  • Human resources/personnel manager
  • Marketing communication manager
  • Media or advertising account executive
  • Non-profit organization director
  • Public affairs director
  • Vice president
  • Public relations
  • Dean of student life
  • Certified counselor
  • Development director

What distinguishes UWL's Communication Studies program?

Student involvement

Student organizations including Communication Club and Lambda Pi Eta allow students to become more involved with the department, the campus and in the community. Students in the Communication Club gain professional and social skills by providing peer advising, workshops and technical training. 

Earn credit for communication-intensive activities

Students are able to earn academic course credit for communication-intensive extracurricular activities through participation in communication studies activities courses and independent studies.

High rate of internship placement

The Communication Studies Department typically has one of the highest rates of internship placement at UWL. Faculty encourage students to include an internship as part of their academic experience, and many students pursue these experiences working in government, public or social services, public relations, advertising, management, promotions or other related organizations. 

Apply knowledge in small group discussions, research, case studies

Inside the classroom, students learn a wide variety of applications of theories and concepts. Courses focus on community and research projects, small group discussions, and case studies that ensure students leave the program with skills and knowledge to be successful. Communication studies faculty members help build skills not only in the student’s area of program emphasis, but across the communication studies field.

Writing-in the major program

Communication Studies is a Writing-in-the-Major Program, which means students will learn about written as well as spoken communication.

Semester-long investigation of a communication-related topic

Every communication studies major completes a semester-long investigation of a communication-related topic. This senior capstone project allows students the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research and work closely with a faculty mentor. It provides firsthand experience with valuable skills such as analytical thinking, the use of research tools, and the development of critical arguments and research questions.

Connection to professional associations

The Communication Studies Department and faculty are affiliated with a variety of professional organizations including the National Communication Association, International Communication Association, Central States Communication Association, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, National Association of Television Programming Directors, and Rhetoric Society of America.

Scholarships available

The department offers several scholarship opportunities for Communication Studies majors. Visit the Communication Studies scholarships page to learn more.

Choose your path

Students can select a major or minor in Communication Studies with an emphasis in one of the following areas. The department also offers two interdisciplinary minors: A digital media studies and design and a leadership development.

  • Interpersonal Communication: Learn about how our daily interactions with others in one-on-one and small group communication impact our identities and relationships. Coursework focuses on theories and skills to ensure students' personal and professional relationships are successful as well as socially just. 
  • Media Studies: Gain skills in multimedia production; analyze media industries, texts, audiences, and technology from different perspectives and theories; and learn how to work within a media culture that intersects with history, politics, and economics. Media studies graduates have been successful in earning master's degrees as well as working in various media-related fields.
  • Organizational and Professional Communication: Receive intensive training in the types of communication that are essential in business, industry, and organizations of all kinds. Courses in this emphasis relate to the fundamentals of effective professional communication and focus on such topics as interviewing, leadership, communication in the health professions, and organizational communication.
  • Public Communication and Advocacy: Focus on communication as a tool for civic engagement and social change in our local, regional, national and international communities. Many students who choose this emphasis are interested in careers in public advocacy, law, government, politics or civic engagement more broadly. This emphasis gives students the opportunity to build on their ability to construct and examine public communication messages in order to ensure a more just world.

Areas of study

Communication Studies

Communication studies is the study of the process of human communication. The field is broad because communication can be both verbal or non-verbal, and it is critical in a variety of settings. Communication can be interpersonal, mediated and intercultural. It can happen in public or private contexts. 

Learn more for Communication Studies

Interpersonal Communication Emphasis

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Interpersonal Communication Catalogfor Interpersonal Communication

Media Studies Emphasis

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Media Studies Catalogfor Media Studies

Organizational & Professional Communication Emphasis

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Organizational & Professional Communication Catalogfor Organizational & Professional Communication

Public Communication & Advocacy Emphasis

Undergrad major Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Public Communication & Advocacy Catalogfor Public Communication & Advocacy

Sample courses

CST 190 Introduction to Communication Studies An introduction to the professional study of communication, including detailed exploration of factors involved in the communication process, effects of media on the communication process, and the importance of the communication process in intrapersonal, interpersonal, small group, organizational, and intercultural contexts. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Fall, Spring.

CST 211 Communication and Civic Engagement The world is full of so many problems; how can one person hope to make a positive change? Communication and Civic Engagement will answer this question, both in theory and in practice. The course surveys basic concepts of rhetoric, or persuasive symbol use, and their intersection with civic life. Students will engage with principles of deliberative public discourse and dialogue to explore the meanings and responsibilities of engaged, civil, public citizenship. Focus is placed on recognizing, analyzing, and constructing arguments and dialogues in the public sphere. Course principles will be enacted through a semester-long civic engagement project in which students will be empowered to make meaningful change in their own communities. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Annually.

CST 230 Interpersonal Communication This course is an introduction to the concepts, theories and research in the field of interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication impacts our relationships with family members, friends, romantic partners, and coworkers. Special consideration is given to verbal and nonverbal messages and the meaning and impact they have on our relationships and our personal identities (e.g., gender, culture, ability, race, socioeconomic background). Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Fall, Spring.

CST 260 Professional Communication This course focuses on developing communication skills and learning communication principles important to an organizational setting. Students will improve essential verbal and nonverbal communicative skills that are needed to succeed in their careers. While studying organizational processes, students will enhance their abilities to plan and deliver professional information and persuasive messages, while incorporating presentational technology. Students will also learn how to conduct effective training sessions. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Annually.

CST 280 Introduction to Communication and Leadership This course is an introduction to the study, skill and practice of leadership from a communication perspective. Students will take a variety of surveys and instruments in order to understand their unique leadership style and characteristics. Planning and practicing leadership will involve developing leadership skills, creating a vision, setting organizational tone, listening to organizational members, and overcoming obstacles to effective leadership. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Annually.

CST 301 Theories of Communication A survey of theories used in the field of communication studies. Consideration is given to theories that explain communication behavior in interpersonal, group, public, media, intercultural, and gendered contexts. The role of theory in research is examined through the development of a theory driven review and synthesis of communication literature. Prerequisite: CST 190; sophomore standing. Offered Fall, Spring.

CST 310 Debate An introductory course covering the concepts, formats and strategies of debating. Emphasis is on the development of personal skills of argumentation. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Occasionally.

CST 332 Intercultural Communication The primary objective of this course is to provide an overview of the study of cultures and their effects on communication. Cultural, socio-cultural, psychocultural and environmental influences will be explored in terms of how they affect the communication process. Communication behavior (both verbal and nonverbal) will be examined to determine its role in other cultures. Students will learn to communicate more competently with people from other cultures and ethnic groups. Prerequisite: CST 190 or CST 230. Offered Occasionally.

CST 334 Gender Communication Explores theory and practice of communication across boundaries of gender, sexuality and sexual identities. Focuses on social construction of gender, and the communicative performance of gender across inter-sectional lines, such as race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual identities. Encourages the critique of communication as it establishes and normalizes certain gender identities and performances over others. Fosters critical thinking of identity and social construction of self. Prerequisite: CST 230 or RGS 100. Offered Fall, Spring.

CST 350 Organizational Communication Analysis of traditional and contemporary theories of communication in the context of modern complex organizations. Emphasis is placed on how communication serves to create and recreate formal and informal organizational structures. Particular attention is paid to the theoretical approaches to organizational communication that can be used to describe, analyze, and offer solutions to organizational communication challenges. Prerequisite: CST 190. Offered Fall, Spring.

CST 351 Interviewing: Principles and Processes This course is designed to enhance understanding of and participation in a range of interviews that occur in our society. Students will increase their proficiency by participating in interviews, both as interviewers and interviewees. Emphasis is placed on learning effective communication skills and practicing important communication principles inherent in the following forms of interviews: employment (including cover letters, resumes, and portfolios), performance reviews, information gathering and persuasive. Students will also learn how to critically examine interview behaviors. Prerequisite: CST 190 or CST 230 or CST 260; declared communication studies major or minor. Offered Fall.

CST 360 Public Relations This course is an introduction to the field of public relations. The course will cover topics that include a history of the practice of public relations, the understanding of various publics and their needs, the importance of the management of public opinion, and the techniques and channels used to communicate messages and manage relationships with relevant publics. Students will actively engage in the practice of public relations through the application of principles essential to the field. Prerequisite: CST 190. Offered Occasionally.

CST 377 Digital Media Production This hands-on course will give students the skills they need to understand, engage with, and produce creative digital media from a communication studies perspective. Students will learn key concepts related to media communication through photography, editing, digital and web design, social media, podcasting, video production, and digital media storytelling. Students will work individually and in small crews producing projects for their personal web portfolios while developing marketable skills in digital media. Prerequisite: CST 190 or CST 271; CST major/minor or digital medial studies and design minor. Offered Occasionally.

CST 378 Emerging Media and Communication Technology This course offers an overview of the socio-technical, cultural, and psychological aspects of emerging media, exploring the characteristics of emerging media and their related technology, together with their effects on the process and dynamics of human communication and society. The dynamics of emerging media will be explored, including its relationships to a variety of communication contexts, including interpersonal, organizational, and public discourse. Students will read critical essays about Internet culture and theories of emerging media. Prerequisite: CST 190. Offered Annually.

CST 498 Research Methods in Communication Examines research methods for answering communication research questions in all communication studies emphases. Investigates qualitative, quantitative, and critical approaches, as well as underlying assumptions of all communication research. Prerequisite: grade of "C" or better in CST 301; junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.