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Communication Studies

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Join the conversation about the role of communication in social, political and cultural contexts with critical thinking, exchange of ideas.

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Undergraduate programs

Communication Studies

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

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. 

Areas of study

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

Digital Media Studies & Design

Undergrad minor

UWL’s Digital Media Studies and Design minor aims to help students learn practical skills in professional writing, graphic design, websites, social media and more to add to their resume. In addition to hands-on, relevant practice, students also gain an understanding of theory, history and trends to deepen their understanding of the material.

Students will take one foundational course in Art, English or Communication Studies. Students then have the flexibility to choose from a wide array of elective courses to polish skills in specific areas. From classes on public relations to graphic design to publishing in the digital age, students will enjoy course selection across three UWL departments: Art, English and Communication Studies.

Leadership Development

Undergrad minor

Management is not the same as leadership. Good managers create a harmonious, consistent experience for their followers. Managers keep the organization moving forward by working to maintain the status quo and create as few interruptions as possible.

Leaders, on the other hand, are looking ahead to see what the future may hold and how the organization can adapt to meet challenges five or more years into the future. Their goal is to lead through sometimes turbulent circumstances and prepare their establishment to succeed long-term.

Graduate program


Graduate degree

Featured courses

  • Introduction to Communication Studies
    CST 190 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Communication and Civic Engagement
    CST 211 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Interpersonal Communication
    CST 230 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Professional Communication
    CST 260 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Introduction to Communication and Leadership
    CST 280 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Theories of Communication
    CST 301 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Debate
    CST 310 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Intercultural Communication
    CST 332 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Gender Communication
    CST 334 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Organizational Communication
    CST 350 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Interviewing: Principles and Processes
    CST 351 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Public Relations
    CST 360 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Digital Media Production
    CST 377 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Emerging Media and Communication Technology
    CST 378 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Research Methods in Communication
    CST 498 | 3 credits
    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; admission to the communication studies major; junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Introduction to Digital Art and Design for Non-Art Majors
    ART 206 | 4 credits
    This is an introductory studio art course surveying the growing field of digital art and design. This class will explore the process of visual expression, communication with attention to aesthetic considerations, and art created using a wide range of digital media. This class will also introduce digital tools to produce original, creative work. Using creative software, students will create a diverse array of art and design works, spanning digital imaging, compositing, and video editing. As with all fine arts studio courses, conceptual creative approach and development is prioritized. A basic knowledge of computer use is required. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Prerequisite: not open to art majors or minors. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Media and Society
    CST 271 | 3 credits
    This course explores media and their economic, social, political, and cultural implications in individual and social life. Students will have the opportunity to engage with concepts and theories relating to media industries and production, media audiences, media effects on social and cultural change, social and cultural issues created or sustained by media, critical analysis of media messages, and issues relating to evolving media technologies. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Digital Content Writing, Strategy, and Experience Design
    ENG 310 | 3 credits
    This course is designed to develop rhetorical knowledge of and practice in digital content strategy, written content creation, and user experience design for professional organizations across multiple platforms, including websites, social media, blogs, and other professional digital spaces. Students will develop skills in content strategy and user experience/user interface design for professional digital ecologies/networks, including those within mobile and desktop interfaces. The course will also introduce students to tracking and measuring data analytics, integrating search engine optimization, and developing content strategies to optimize professional and technical writing across digital platforms and situations. Prerequisite: ENG 110 or ENG 112; sophomore standing. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Introduction to Communication and Leadership
    CST 280 | 3 credits
    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.
  • Communicating Leadership
    CST 380 | 3 credits
    An in-depth exploration of the communicative phenomenon of leadership. Theories and research methods used by noted communication and leadership scholars will be discussed and critiqued. Topics covered may include notions of leadership and organizations as places of leadership. Additional topics will focus on leaders as communicators, creators and sustainers of organizational culture, decision makers, change agents, and facilitators. Offered Annually.
  • Applied Leadership Experience
    CST 481 | 3 credits
    The applied leadership experience course is a capstone to the leadership development minor and designed to guide students through a leadership immersion experience. As such, students are required to be the designated leader of a group, lead an implementation of a product, process, policy or procedure, or have an important role on a change-oriented/social justice group or team. Students will reflect on their leadership experiences in terms of course content covered in the core and emphasis area classes of the leadership development minor. Students who are eligible for this course will complete an application and description of their leadership immersion experience for approval and permission to enroll. Prerequisite: CST 280, CST 380. Consent of instructor. Offered Annually.