In our communication degree, you'll develop the key skills you need to become a successful 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 cooperative education that deepens students’ knowledge of the communication field while they gain hands-on work experience that prepares them 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.
The communication degree prepares students to pursue graduate studies in a variety of fields.
An accelerated 4+1 MBA option also is available for students who wish to earn a BS in communication and an MBA. The program is offered in conjunction with Saunders College of Business and allows students to obtain both degrees in five years of study. Students should consult their advisor for more information.
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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. RIT co-op is designed for your success.
Students in the communication degree are required to complete one block of cooperative 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 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Elective: 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 (Fall, Spring).
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 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Mathematical Perspective A: 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. (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).
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. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – Artistic Perspective
General Education – Ethical Perspective
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
General Education – Global Perspective
General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective §
General Education – Elective
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 (Fall Or Spring).
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 (Spring).
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. Lecture (Fall Or Spring).
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 (Fall Or Spring).
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 (Fall Or Spring).
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).
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. (Prerequisite: MATH-101 or MATH-111 or NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275 or a math placement exam score of at least 35.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Immersion 1
General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
General Education – Social Perspective
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 (Fall, Spring).
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).
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).
General Education – 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. (Prerequisites: COMM-301 or equivalent course.) Lecture (Fall, Spring).
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. (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).
General Education – Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours
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.
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