Communication Bachelor of Science Degree

In our communication degree, you’ll develop the key skills you need to become a successful communication professional.


Overview for Communication BS

Why Study Communication at RIT?

  • Hands-On Experience: Gain real-world career experience that sets you apart from the competition by participating in cooperative education.
  • Career Readiness: Attain the key competencies and advanced skills necessary to secure a rewarding position in the field of communication.
  • A Customized Degree: Round out your degree with professional core courses in areas as diverse as design, photography, marketing, health care, programming, and engineering.
  • Teaching Partnership Program Available: 4+1 or 3+2 programs enable you to earn your bachelor’s degree at RIT and a master’s degree in education at one of our partner universities.
     

Developing productive relationships, managing teams, analyzing audiences, creating effective messages, and understanding media are key competencies needed for successful communication professionals. RIT’s bachelor's of communication prepares you in the theory, research, and practical application needed to develop these skills. You will graduate ready for a successful career in communication. The degree’s strong focus on undergraduate research also prepares you for graduate work in communication and related academic disciplines.

RIT's Bachelor of Science in Communication

Customize your communication BS by taking professional core courses from RIT’s nine colleges, in areas as diverse as design, photography, marketing, health care, programming, and engineering, to name a few. This unique combination of coursework allows you to explore the breadth of the communication field while studying other subject areas of professional or personal interest. Your BS in communication will prepare you for a variety of careers, ranging from traditional corporate communication to entrepreneurial start-up environments.

Take courses in communication theory, visual communication, public speaking, mass communication, communication law and ethics, technology-mediated communication, and research methods. Complete a professional core from one of the many minors across the university, or you may design your own. Electives and liberal arts courses complete the curriculum. Complement your classroom work by completing one semester of cooperative education that deepens your knowledge of the communication field while you gain hands-on work experience that prepares you for a full-time position after graduation.

Every student in the School of Communication is assigned a professional academic advisor and a faculty mentor. Professional advisors assist with course planning and registration. The faculty mentor provides advising on career development and planning, including information about research opportunities, graduate school, and jobs. Peer mentors, who are upper-level advertising and public relations 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.

RIT’s Pre-Law Program

Law schools welcome applications from students majoring in a wide range of academic programs. RIT’s pre-law program will help you navigate the admission process for law school, explore a range of legal careers, and guide you through course selection to ensure you build the skills and competencies required of competitive law school applicants. The program is open to students in all majors who are interested in pursuing a career in law.

Furthering Your Career in Communication

Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees

Today’s careers require advanced degrees grounded in real-world experience. RIT’s Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees enable you to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in as little as five years of study, all while gaining the valuable hands-on experience that comes from co-ops, internships, research, study abroad, and more. Learn more about our accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degrees and how you can prepare for your future faster.

  • Communication BS/Sustainable Systems MSGain the scientific knowledge and communication prowess necessary to bridge the gap between sustainable solutions and public understanding, preparing you for impactful roles in environmental advocacy, corporate sustainability, and policy development.
  • +1 MBA Early Acceptance Pathway: Successful RIT applicants who are offered admission into the BS degree in communication as an incoming first-year student may also be offered conditional early acceptance into the +1 MBA Early Acceptance Pathway. This option enables you to earn both your BS degree and an MBA in as little as five years of study. Learn how the +1 MBA Early Acceptance Pathway can help you add a competitive advantage to your studies.
  • +1 MBA: Students who enroll in a qualifying undergraduate degree have the opportunity to add an MBA to their bachelor’s degree after their first year of study, depending on their program. Learn how the +1 MBA can accelerate your learning and position you for success.

3+3 Accelerated BS/JD Programs

RIT has partnered with Syracuse University’s College of Law and University at Buffalo School of Law to offer accelerated 3+3 BS/JD options for highly capable students. These programs provide a fast track to law school where you can earn a bachelor’s degree at RIT and a Juris Doctorate degree at Syracuse University or University at Buffalo in six years. Interested students may apply to the option directly, with successful applicants offered admission to RIT and conditional acceptance into either Syracuse University’s College of Law or University at Buffalo School of Law.

RIT's communication degree is one of the approved majors for the 3+3 option.

Learn more about Accelerated Law 3+3 Programs.

RIT’s Teaching Partnership Programs

Whether your goal is to go into early childhood or elementary education, become a secondary education teacher with a content area specialty at the middle or high school level, or work in the higher education or counseling fields, RIT’s partnership programs with local universities provide a guided pathway to a career in teaching. 

These 4+1 or 3+2 programs enable you to earn your bachelor’s degree at RIT and a master’s degree in education at one of our partner universities. As you progress, you’ll benefit from focused academic advising, career exploration opportunities, and resources for research, learning, and skill development.  

RIT's communication degree is eligible for RIT’s Teaching Partnership Programs.

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Careers and Cooperative Education

Typical Job Titles

Social Media Specialist Communication and Marketing Coordinator
Director of Development Technical Writer
Campaign Manager

Industries

  • Construction
  • Museum
  • Higher Education
  • Government (Local, State, Federal)

Cooperative Education

What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries. 

Co-ops take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. A liberal arts co-op provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your knowledge in professional settings while you make valuable connections between course work and real-world applications.

Students in the communication degree are required to complete one cooperative education experience.

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Communication BS

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Communication, BS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
COMM-101
Human Communication (General Education)
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
COMM-105
Foundations of Communication
An introduction to the discipline of communication and the fields of advertising, journalism, and public relations. Topics include: the history and evolution of the discipline, major theories, principles of ethics, methods of research, writing styles, digital portfolio development, professional organizations, and potential careers. Students meet professors in the School, explore opportunities to engage with the professional and academic community beyond the classroom. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS or COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-201
Public Speaking (General Education)
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-202
Mass Communications
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
MATH-101
College Algebra (General Education – Mathematical Perspective A)
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. (Prerequisites: Students may not take and receive credit for MATH-101 and MATH-111. See the Math department with any questions.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
YOPS-10
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
0
 
General Education – Artistic Perspective
3
 
General Education – Ethical Perspective
3
 
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
3
 
General Education – Global Perspective
3
 
General Education – Elective
3
Second Year
COMM-341
Visual Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
3
COMM-342
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
Choose one of the following:
3
    COMM-302
Interpersonal Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
    COMM-303
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
    COMM-304
Intercultural Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
COMM-343
Technology-Mediated 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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
STAT-145
General Education – Mathematical Perspective B: 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. (Prerequisites: Any 100 level MATH course, or NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275 or (NMTH-250 with a C- or better) or a Math Placement Exam score of at least 35.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
General Education – Immersion 1
3
 
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
3
 
General Education – Social Perspective
3
 
Open Elective
3
 
Professional Core‡
3
Third Year
COMM-301
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. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-401
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-499
Communication Co-op (summer)
One semester of full-time paid work experience in a professional setting related to the communication major. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) CO OP (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
 
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective§
3
 
General Education – Immersion 2, 3
6
 
Communication Elective
3
 
Open Electives
6
 
Professional Core‡
6
Fourth Year
COMM-402
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-497
Communication Portfolio
Communication, advertising, and public relations majors create a portfolio comprised of projects, papers, and related professional materials; Journalism majors complete a senior project. Near the end of every semester, the department hosts a portfolio review day when department of communication seniors present their portfolio or project work in a public space for review and comment by faculty, staff, and peers. The presentation constitutes completion of the course. (Prerequisites: At least 4th year student standing in ADVPUB-BS, PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS.) Studio (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
COMM-501
Senior Thesis in Communication (WI-PR)
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-401 and COMM-402 or equivalent course and student standing in ADVPUB-BS, COMM-BS or PTCOMM-BS program.) Seminar (Fall or Spring).
3
 
Communication Elective
3
 
Professional Core‡
3
 
General Education – Electives
15
 
Open Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
120

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

(WI-PR) 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.

Combined Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Degrees

The curriculum below outlines the typical course sequence(s) for combined accelerated degrees available with this bachelor's degree.

Communication, BS degree/Communication, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
COMM-101
Human Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
COMM-105
Foundations of Communication
An introduction to the discipline of communication and the fields of advertising, journalism, and public relations. Topics include: the history and evolution of the discipline, major theories, principles of ethics, methods of research, writing styles, digital portfolio development, professional organizations, and potential careers. Students meet professors in the School, explore opportunities to engage with the professional and academic community beyond the classroom. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS or COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-201
Public Speaking
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-202
Mass Communications
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
YOPS-10
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
0
 
General Education – First Year Writing (WI)
3
 
General Education – Artistic Perspective
3
 
General Education – Ethical Perspective
3
 
General Education – Global Perspective
3
MATH-101
College Algebra (General Education – Mathematical Perspective A)
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. (Prerequisites: Students may not take and receive credit for MATH-101 and MATH-111. See the Math department with any questions.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
General Education – Elective
3
Second Year
Choose one of the following:
3
   COMM-302
 Interpersonal Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
   COMM-303
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
   COMM-304
 Intercultural Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
COMM-341
Visual Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
3
COMM-342
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
COMM-343
Technology-Mediated 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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
 
Professional Core
3
 
General Education – Social Perspective
3
 
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
3
STAT-145
Introduction to Statistics I (General Education – Mathematical Perspective B)
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. (Prerequisites: Any 100 level MATH course, or NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275 or (NMTH-250 with a C- or better) or a Math Placement Exam score of at least 35.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
General Education – Immersion 1
3
 
Open Elective
3
Third Year
COMM-301
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. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-401
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-499
Communication Co-Op
One semester of full-time paid work experience in a professional setting related to the communication major. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) CO OP (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
 
Professional Core
6
 
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective‡
3
 
General Education – Immersion 2, 3
6
 
General Education – Elective
3
 
Open Electives
6
Fourth Year
COMM-402
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-497
Communication Portfolio
Communication, advertising, and public relations majors create a portfolio comprised of projects, papers, and related professional materials; Journalism majors complete a senior project. Near the end of every semester, the department hosts a portfolio review day when department of communication seniors present their portfolio or project work in a public space for review and comment by faculty, staff, and peers. The presentation constitutes completion of the course. (Prerequisites: At least 4th year student standing in ADVPUB-BS, PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS.) Studio (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
COMM-501
Senior Thesis in Communication (WI-PR)
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-401 and COMM-402 or equivalent course and student standing in ADVPUB-BS, COMM-BS or PTCOMM-BS program.) Seminar (Fall or Spring).
3
COMM-714
Strategic Communication
This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of strategic communication in advertising, public relations, health communication, crisis/risk communication, and/or political communication. This course will cover problem identification, audience research, message creation, and execution of strategic communication activities. It will also cover ethics and strategic communication through digital media. By the end of the course, students should be able to analyze and execute various components to help solve problems or achieve an organization’s goals and objectives. Seminar 3 (Fall).
3
 
Graduate Communication Elective
3
 
Professional Core
3
 
General Education – Electives
12
 
Open Elective
3
Fifth Year
COMM-702
Communication Theories
Over the course of this term we will cover mass communication theory from its inception as a field of study, to major trends, followed by current applications of previous paradigms, and finally into the development of new theoretical frameworks. While the main focus of this course is the integration of current mass communication theory with an individual and organizational online presence, we will also focus on how digital platforms can inform the future of theoretical research and vice versa. From a practical perspective, students will be able to apply these theories to their integrative approaches in creative digital communication and design. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 3 (Fall).
3
COMM-703
Research Methods in Communication
This course is designed to introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods in communication and guide them in choosing the appropriate method for their thesis research project. Topics may include research perspectives, ethics and IRB, variables, sampling methods, reliability and validity, survey, experiments, content analysis, in-depth interview, focus group, observations/ethnography, and mixed methods. (Prerequisites: COMM-702 or equivalent course.) Seminar 3 (Spring).
3
COMM-720
Thesis Preparation Seminar
An introduction to graduate study and research in communication including the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological parameters of communication and its sub-disciplines. Participants will interact with the faculty teaching required and elective communication courses. Attention will be drawn to scholarly writing and research design. When possible, the course is organized in conjunction with the department’s colloquium series. (This course is restricted to COMMTCH-MS Major students.) Seminar 1 (Spring).
0
Choose one of the following:
6
   COMM-800
Communication Thesis/Project
A guided research project that focuses on designing, conducting, and completing a research project. The project culminates in a public presentation and defense. Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
 
COMM-801
Comprehensive Exam plus two Graduate Electives**
 
 
Graduate Communication Elective
3
 
Professional Core
9
Total Semester Credit Hours
144

Please see General Education Curriculum 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.

** These can be from the Graduate Professional Core or a Graduate Communication Elective, or a combination of both.

‡ 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, student must take both the lecture and lab portions to satisfy the requirement.

 

Communication, BS degree/Sustainable Systems, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
COMM-101
Human Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
COMM-105
Foundations of Communication
An introduction to the discipline of communication and the fields of advertising, journalism, and public relations. Topics include: the history and evolution of the discipline, major theories, principles of ethics, methods of research, writing styles, digital portfolio development, professional organizations, and potential careers. Students meet professors in the School, explore opportunities to engage with the professional and academic community beyond the classroom. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS or COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-201
Public Speaking
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-202
Mass Communications
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
YOPS-10
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
0
 
General Education – First Year Writing (WI)
3
 
General Education – Artistic Perspective
3
 
General Education – Ethical Perspective
3
 
General Education – Global Perspective
3
MATH-101
College Algebra (General Education – Mathematical Perspective A)
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. (Prerequisites: Students may not take and receive credit for MATH-101 and MATH-111. See the Math department with any questions.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
General Education – Elective
3
Second Year
Choose one of the following:
3
   COMM-302
 Interpersonal Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
   COMM-303
 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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
   COMM-304
 Intercultural Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
 
COMM-341
Visual Communication
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. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
3
COMM-342
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
COMM-343
Technology-Mediated 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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
 
Professional Core
3
 
General Education – Social Perspective
3
 
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
3
STAT-145
Introduction to Statistics I (General Education – Mathematical Perspective B)
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. (Prerequisites: Any 100 level MATH course, or NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275 or (NMTH-250 with a C- or better) or a Math Placement Exam score of at least 35.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
General Education – Immersion 1
3
 
Open Elective
3
Third Year
COMM-301
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. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-401
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-499
Communication Co-Op
One semester of full-time paid work experience in a professional setting related to the communication major. (This class is restricted to ADVPUB-BS or PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS Major students.) CO OP (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
Choose one of the following:
3
   ISUS-702
 Fundamentals of Sustainability Systems
This course prepares students to understand grand challenges in sustainability, conduct original research related to sustainable production and consumption systems, and apply the scientific method in an integrative, team-based approach to graduate research. This course introduces fundamental concepts that are essential to understanding the interaction of economic, environmental, and social systems. Successful students will understand multiple perspectives on sustainability, the importance of sustainability as an ethical concept, behavioral impacts to sustainable solutions, and a life-cycle approach to organizing research related to sustainability. It is a core course within the Sustainability program. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
   ISUS-706
 Economics of Sustainable Systems
The goal of this course is to introduce students to economic concepts and analysis pertaining to sustainable systems. This course offers a nontechnical but rigorous introduction to microeconomic theory, engineering economics, and benefit-cost analysis. A thorough treatment of models relevant to each topic is provided. The over-arching goal is for students to gain an understanding of the logic of economic reasoning and analysis as it pertains to the study of sustainable systems. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
   ISUS-806
 Risk Analysis
The goal of this course is to introduce students to economic concepts and analysis pertaining to sustainable systems. This course offers a nontechnical but rigorous introduction to microeconomic theory, engineering economics, and benefit-cost analysis. A thorough treatment of models relevant to each topic is provided. The over-arching goal is for students to gain an understanding of the logic of economic reasoning and analysis as it pertains to the study of sustainable systems. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
 
Professional Core
3
 
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective‡
3
 
General Education – Immersion 2, 3
6
 
Communication Elective
3
 
Open Electives
6
Fourth Year
COMM-402
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
COMM-497
Communication Portfolio
Communication, advertising, and public relations majors create a portfolio comprised of projects, papers, and related professional materials; Journalism majors complete a senior project. Near the end of every semester, the department hosts a portfolio review day when department of communication seniors present their portfolio or project work in a public space for review and comment by faculty, staff, and peers. The presentation constitutes completion of the course. (Prerequisites: At least 4th year student standing in ADVPUB-BS, PTCOMM-BS, COMM-BS or JOURNAL-BS.) Studio (Fall, Spring, Summer).
0
COMM-501
Senior Thesis in Communication (WI-PR)
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. (Prerequisites: COMM-401 and COMM-402 or equivalent course and student standing in ADVPUB-BS, COMM-BS or PTCOMM-BS program.) Seminar (Fall or Spring).
3
Choose one of the following:
3
   ISUS-704
 Industrial Ecology
Industrial ecology is the study of the interaction between industrial and ecological systems. Students in this course learn to assess the impact and interrelations of production systems on the natural environment by mastering fundamental concepts of ecology as a metaphor for industrial systems and the resultant tools from industrial ecology, including life cycle assessment, material flow analysis, and energy and greenhouse gas accounting. This is a core course within the Sustainability Ph.D. program. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
   ISUS-808
 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems
This class will explore how decisions are made when confronted with multiple, often conflicting, criteria or constraints. The focus will be on the following analytical methods: linear and stochastic programming, optimization, and Monte Carlo simulation. Case studies will focus on sustainability multi-criteria problems such as energy planning, sustainable development, resource management, and recycling. Students will apply methods learned to a project involving their graduate research. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 
   PUBL-810
 Technology, Policy, and Sustainability
This course introduces students to public policy and its role in building a sustainable society. The course places particular emphasis on the policy process; the relationship among technology, policy, and the environment; and policy mechanisms for addressing market and government failures that threaten sustainability. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 
 
Communication Elective
3
 
General Education – Electives
15
 
Open Elective
3
Fifth Year
Choose two of the following:
6
   ISUS-702
 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science
This course prepares students to understand grand challenges in sustainability, conduct original research related to sustainable production and consumption systems, and apply the scientific method in an integrative, team-based approach to graduate research. This course introduces fundamental concepts that are essential to understanding the interaction of economic, environmental, and social systems. Successful students will understand multiple perspectives on sustainability, the importance of sustainability as an ethical concept, behavioral impacts to sustainable solutions, and a life-cycle approach to organizing research related to sustainability. It is a core course within the Sustainability program. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
   ISUS-706
 Economics of Sustainable Systems
The goal of this course is to introduce students to economic concepts and analysis pertaining to sustainable systems. This course offers a nontechnical but rigorous introduction to microeconomic theory, engineering economics, and benefit-cost analysis. A thorough treatment of models relevant to each topic is provided. The over-arching goal is for students to gain an understanding of the logic of economic reasoning and analysis as it pertains to the study of sustainable systems. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
  
   ISUS-806
 Risk Analysis
The goal of this course is to introduce students to economic concepts and analysis pertaining to sustainable systems. This course offers a nontechnical but rigorous introduction to microeconomic theory, engineering economics, and benefit-cost analysis. A thorough treatment of models relevant to each topic is provided. The over-arching goal is for students to gain an understanding of the logic of economic reasoning and analysis as it pertains to the study of sustainable systems. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
Choose two of the following:
6
   ISUS-704
 Industrial Ecology
Industrial ecology is the study of the interaction between industrial and ecological systems. Students in this course learn to assess the impact and interrelations of production systems on the natural environment by mastering fundamental concepts of ecology as a metaphor for industrial systems and the resultant tools from industrial ecology, including life cycle assessment, material flow analysis, and energy and greenhouse gas accounting. This is a core course within the Sustainability Ph.D. program. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 
   ISUS-808
 Multicriteria Sustainable Systems
This class will explore how decisions are made when confronted with multiple, often conflicting, criteria or constraints. The focus will be on the following analytical methods: linear and stochastic programming, optimization, and Monte Carlo simulation. Case studies will focus on sustainability multi-criteria problems such as energy planning, sustainable development, resource management, and recycling. Students will apply methods learned to a project involving their graduate research. (This class is restricted to students in the SUSTSY-MS and SUST-PHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 
   PUBL-810
 Technology, Policy & Sustainability
This course introduces students to public policy and its role in building a sustainable society. The course places particular emphasis on the policy process; the relationship among technology, policy, and the environment; and policy mechanisms for addressing market and government failures that threaten sustainability. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 
Choose one of the following:
6
   ISUS-780
 Graduate Sustainability Capstone
An independent project in sustainability serving as a capstone experience for students completing the non-thesis option. This course requires a formal proposal and a faculty sponsor. Lecture (Fall, Spring, Summer).
 
   ISUS-790
 Thesis
Independent research in sustainability leading to the completion of the MS thesis. This course requires a formal proposal and a faculty sponsor. Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
 
 
Sustainability Elective
6
Total Semester Credit Hours
144

Please see General Education Curriculum 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.

** These can be from the Graduate Professional Core or a Graduate Communication Elective, or a combination of both.

‡ 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, student must take both the lecture and lab portions to satisfy the requirement.

Admissions and Financial Aid

First-Year Admission

A strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. This includes:

  • 4 years of English with a strong performance is expected.
  • 3 years of social studies and/or history with a strong performance is expected.
  • 3 years of math is required and must include algebra, geometry, and algebra 2/trigonometry. 
  • 2-3 years of science.

Transfer Admission

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

Learn How to Apply

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RIT’s personalized and comprehensive financial aid program includes scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment programs. When all these are put to work, your actual cost may be much lower than the published estimated cost of attendance.
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