Combine the theory and practice of communication with focused study in one of three subdisciplines: technical communication; health communication; or media, rhetoric, and culture.
Communication is a diverse field of study that incorporates mass media and interpersonal, strategic, and organizational communication. The BS in communication degree combines advanced education in the theory and practice of communication with focused interdisciplinary study in areas such as business, engineering, health sciences, computing and information sciences, and art and design. This unique combination fosters an understanding and application of the central concepts and processes of the field of communication on both traditional and emerging media platforms.
The communication major combines advanced education in the theory and practice of spoken, written, and technology-mediated communication with focused study in a communication track and instruction in a professional or technical program related to the selected track. This unique combination fosters an understanding of the central concepts and processes associated with the field of communication as well as a communication sub-discipline, and a working familiarity with the principles and practices of a particular professional/technical field. Graduates are qualified for a number of different functions as communication specialists within a specific professional area. Their career opportunities are numerous and varied. The degree also prepares them for graduate work in communication and related academic disciplines.
Plan of study
Students develop skills through a core of required communication courses, which cover communication theory, visual communication, public speaking, mass communication, communication law and ethics, technology-mediated communication, and research methods. Students then focus their studies by selecting a track in health communication; media, rhetoric, and culture; or technical communication. A professional core of four courses related to the selected track may be taken from minors within the colleges of Art and Design, Business, or Science. Students may also customize a concentration using courses from other RIT colleges. With approval of an academic adviser, students may design their own professional core. Electives and liberal arts courses complete the curriculum.
Students complete one semester of cooperative education. Co-op is paid, practical work experience that deepens students’ knowledge of their academic fields, allows them to determine their suitability for a particular professional position, and increases their chances for employment upon graduation. Many students use the extra income earned on co-op to help offset college expenses.
There is a broad range of co-op opportunities, and there is no restriction on geographic location as long as the position is related to communication. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education assists students in identifying and applying to co-op and permanent positions with a large and diverse number of employers. Students have held co-ops across the United States at such organizations as Greenpeace, Bausch & Lomb, the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, the Chicago Hearing Society, Eastman Kodak Co., City of New York Parks & Recreation, and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Handcrafted pussyhats, subversive embroidery (“resist”), protest banners and quilts are among the politically charged textiles inspired by the rise of President Donald Trump, and they are the focus of a new exhibit and catalog curated by two RIT professors.
An introduction to the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of oral, visual, and written communication. Introduces basic communication models, the role of language in communication, symbols and symbol making, issues of audience analysis, and the development of different modes of discourse. Also explores the history of communication and introduces students to basic principles and research in communication studies.
The public speaking course is designed to equip the student with knowledge of the theories and principles necessary for formal public speaking. Informative and persuasive speeches are the focus with emphasis on organization, evidence, language use, strategy, delivery, and effective use of media aids. Public speaking is generally offered each semester.
The history and development of U.S. media, theoretical aspects of mass communications, the composition of media audiences, law and regulation of mass communications and how the media affect and are affected by society are presented.
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): College Algebra
This course provides the background for an introductory level, non-trigonometry based calculus course. The topics include a review of the fundamentals of algebra: solutions of linear, fractional, and quadratic equations, functions and their graphs, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic and rational functions, and systems of linear equations.
RIT 365: RIT Connections
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
First Year Writing (WI)
This course is an introduction to the study of visual communication. The iconic and symbolic demonstration of visual images used in a variety of media is stressed. The major goal of the course is to examine visual messages as a form of intentional communication that seeks to inform, persuade, and entertain specific target audiences.
Communication Law and Ethics
This course examines major principles and trends in communication law. The course analyzes a broad range of issues related to the First Amendment, intellectual property, and media regulation. Special attention is paid to discussing the major ethical perspectives and issues surrounding contemporary communication behavior.
Choose one of the following:
Interpersonal communication provides analysis and application of the major theories of interpersonal communication in various situations. The course focuses on perception of self and others, language use, nonverbal communication, and symbolic interaction in the communication of shared meanings in face-to-face and mediated interpersonal relationships. There is a strong focus on both conflict management and intercultural interactions.
Intercultural communication provides an examination of the role of culture in face-to-face interaction. Students may find a basic background in communication, anthropology, or psychology useful.
Small Group Communication
This course provides students with opportunities to engage in small group decision making and problem solving. Students will analyze and evaluate their own experiences and relate them to theories and research from the field of small group communication.
Technology-mediated communication (TMC) was originally defined as a form of electronic written communication. As networking tools advanced, TMC expanded to include new software developments, such as instant messenger and the web. Today, the term technology-mediated communication is used to refer to a wide range of technologies that facilitate both human communication and the interactive sharing of information through computer networks. Through readings, discussions, and observations of online behavior, students will be introduced to TMC terms and theories to further develop their TMC communication and critical thinking skills.
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
LAS Immersion 1
Theories of Communication
An introduction to human communication theory, including a history of the field and major theories from the intrapersonal, language, interpersonal, small group, public, organizational, mass, visual, and computer-mediated communication contexts. Theories based both in the humanities and the social sciences are covered. This course should be taken during the student's second year.
Quantitative Research Methods
An introduction to the methods and ethics of scientific, scholarly communication research including methods of locating, analyzing, critiquing, and conducting communication research. The course focuses on empirical research methods and leads to the development of a research project proposal suitable for implementation in senior thesis in communication. This course should be taken during the student's third year.
Communication Co-op (summer)
One semester of full-time paid work experience in a professional setting related to the communication major.
LAS Immersion 2, 3
Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction to the methods and ethics of qualitative and critical research. Students are introduced to interviewing, participant observation, naturalistic study, and ethnography. They also develop a disciplined ability for the critical appraisal of public discourse, cultural phenomenon, and designed objects. Both qualitative and critical research methods rely on the researcher's observational, analytic, and critical skills, and seek to understand the behaviors, beliefs, values, attitudes, assumptions, rituals, and symbol systems that characterize relationships between the source, message, media, and audience of specific communication acts. Students will also investigate the processes of rhetorical action. By the end of the course, students will have developed a research proposal suitable for implementation as the senior thesis in communication. This course should be taken during the student's third year.
Senior Thesis in Communication (WI)
A guided research seminar culminating in a major project that brings together the communication students’ communication studies and substantive work in his or her professional core. Focuses on designing, conducting, and completing an independent research project. The progress of each project is shared with the class for discussion and critiques.
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
‡ Professional core may be fulfilled by selecting a 300-level (or higher) course from a discipline outside the liberal arts.
§ Students will satisfy this requirement by taking either a 3- or 4-credit hour lab science course. If a science course consists of separate lecture and laboratory sections, the student must take both the lecture and lab portions to satisfy the requirement.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
Strong performance in English and social studies is expected
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in liberal arts, math, science, and computer science
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Liberal arts with emphasis in communication and a technical field such as business, photography, or computer science
Every student is assigned a professional academic adviser and a faculty mentor in the school of communication. The professional adviser assists with course planning and registration; the faculty mentor provides advising about career development and planning, including information about research opportunities, graduate school, and jobs. Peer mentors, who are upper-level communication students, are also available to answer questions about classes, clubs on campus, student-run activities, and other matters from the student’s perspective. For more information, please refer to the college's academic advising page.