In our communication degree you will develop the key skills you need to become a success communication professional.
Developing productive relationships, managing teams, analyzing audiences, creating effective messages, and understanding media are key competencies needed for successful communication professionals. RIT’s communication degree prepares you in the theory, research, and practical application needed to develop these skills. You will graduate ready for a successful career as a communication specialist. The degree’s strong focus on undergraduate research also prepares students for graduate work in communication and related academic disciplines.
Students customize their program work 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 course work allows you to explore the breadth of the communication field while studying other subject areas of professional or personal interest. You will be are prepared for a variety of careers, ranging from traditional corporate communication to entrepreneurial start-up environments.
Plan of study
Students take courses in communication theory, visual communication, public speaking, mass communication, communication law and ethics, technology-mediated communication, and research methods. They also complete a professional core from one of the many minors across the university or may design their own. Electives and liberal arts courses complete the curriculum. Students complement their classroom work by completing one semester of co-op experience. Cooperative education, also known as co-op, is full-time, paid work experience that deepens students’ knowledge of the communication field while you gain hands-on work experience that prepares you for a full-time position after graduation.
Cooperative education, or co-op for short, is full-time, paid work experience in your field of study. And it sets RIT graduates apart from their competitors. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries. Learn more about how co-op at RIT is designed for your success.
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
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.
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.
Four faculty members from RIT’s College of Liberal Arts have recently written books on diverse subjects: how disability is viewed in the media, the commercialization of 19th-century autobiographies, how birth and death costs and practices have changed over the years, and how Germany adopted technology and a productivity culture after World War II.
Roughly one person in four has a fear of public speaking, but the anxiety can be reduced if you know just what to say, how to organize, begin or end. RIT’s Expressive Communication Center strives to help students better prepare to deliver speeches and presentations.