Communication Studies

Degree Offered

  • Bachelor of Arts

Nature of Program

The Department of Communication Studies offers a curriculum to meet the needs of liberal arts and pre-professional students oriented toward communication-related careers such as marketing, sales, recruiting, public relations, strategic communication, and market research among many others. The undergraduate curriculum focuses upon the application of theory and research in human communication to a variety of personal, social, and organizational settings.  Majors may elect to follow one of five areas of emphasis (health, integrated, interpersonal, social media and communication technology, or strategic and organizational communication).  All majors complete a capstone sequence that consists of two courses intended to integrate academic coursework and apply course material to real-world experience.  For more information about this program, please go to

Health Communication

Facilitate your preparation for health-related careers by focusing on communication over the lifespan, health campaigns, mediated communication, and persuasion. Learn how to design and evaluate effectively health messages to be communicated interpersonally, organizationally, and within the community at large.

Integrated Communication

Gain exposure to a generalist communication education. Tailor your degree program to enhance communication skills with your own goals and passions in mind with assistance from your advisor.

Interpersonal Communication

Develop your ability to investigate, identify, and enact effective behaviors in personal relationships such as family, coworkers, small group, friends, and romantic partnerships. This knowledge complements fields that involve or focus on the betterment of these relationships.

Social Media & Communication Technology

Gain expertise in the emerging role of social networking and social media in human communication for interpersonal, instructional, organizational, and strategic contexts. Be prepared to apply the theory of social media technology to meet personal and professional goals.

Strategic and Organizational Communication

Develop your ability to successfully navigate any organization by improving your understanding of organizational communication, social media, small group dynamics, persuasion, and communication campaigns.

Students who earn a degree in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences must complete the University requirements, the College requirements for their specific degree program, and their major requirements.


All students have the possibility of earning one or more minors; follow the link for a list of all available minors and their requirements. Please note that students may not earn a minor in their major field.

Certificate of Global Engagement

Students in the Eberly College, regardless of their major, can earn a Certificate of Global Engagement. Completion of the Certificate demonstrates the student’s knowledge of diverse cultures, as well as the ability to communicate and interact effectively with people of different cultural backgrounds.  Students will be required to apply their knowledge of contemporary issues and global social contexts to their course work and their broader citizenship.  For details regarding Certificate requirements, please visit the Eberly College page.

Admission Requirements

Entering freshmen can be admitted directly into the major, based on high school GPA and results of standardized tests. Others will be advised in the Center for Learning, Advising, and Student Success or in the Eberly College Office of Academic Affairs until they meet milestones set by the department: a 2.25 GPA in all Communication Studies courses. Satisfactory completion of one course is sufficient to be accepted into the major.

Benchmark Expectations

In order to declare an Area of Emphasis, students must have a 2.5 GPA in COMM 201 and 203. All students must declare an AoE after completion of COMM 201 and 203. If a student has not declared an AoE in one year’s time, they will be removed from the major. All students must have an AoE to continue in upper division major courses and must have an AoE to graduate with a degree in Communication Studies. All majors must meet with a COMM adviser each semester.  Students who do not meet these expectations may be removed from their major.

Click here to view the Suggested Plan of Study

General Education FOUNDATIONS

Please use this link to view a list of courses that meet each GEF requirement.

NOTE: Some major requirements will fulfill specific GEF requirements. Please see the curriculum requirements listed below for details on which GEFs you will need to select.

General Education Foundations
F1 - Composition & Rhetoric3-6
Introduction to Composition and Rhetoric
and Composition, Rhetoric, and Research
Accelerated Academic Writing
F2A/F2B - Science & Technology4-6
F3 - Math & Quantitative Skills3-4
F4 - Society & Connections3
F5 - Human Inquiry & the Past3
F6 - The Arts & Creativity3
F7 - Global Studies & Diversity3
F8 - Focus (may be satisfied by completion of a minor, double major, or dual degree)9
Total Hours31-37

Please note that not all of the GEF courses are offered at all campuses. Students should consult with their advisor or academic department regarding the GEF course offerings available at their campus.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete WVU General Education Foundations requirements, College B.A. requirements, major requirements, and electives to total a minimum of 120 hours. For complete details on these requirements, visit the B.A. Degrees tab on the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences page.

Departmental Requirements for the B.A. in Communication Studies

Completion of the major requires students to earn a minimum of 36 credit hours in Communication Studies courses. All students wishing to obtain a degree in Communication Studies must comply with the following:

  • Capstone Requirement: The university requires the successful completion of a Capstone course: COMM 403.
  • Writing and Communication Requirement: The Communication Studies Bachelor of Arts is a SpeakWrite Certified ProgramTM. SpeakWrite Certified programs incorporate and develop students’ written, verbal, visual, and mediated communication skills across the curriculum.
  • Calculation of the GPA in the Major: Obtain a minimum GPA of 2.5 for all required COMM courses used to meet major requirements. Courses in Communication Studies that a student wishes to count toward the major must be completed with a grade of C- or better.  If a course is repeated, all attempts will be included in the calculation of the GPA unless the course is eligible for a D/F repeat.
  • Area of Emphasis: Students must complete COMM 201 and COMM 203 and select one of five areas of emphasis in Communication Studies in consultation with their adviser (i.e., Health, Integrated, Interpersonal, Social Media and  Communication Technology, or Strategic and Organizational Communication).
  • Benchmark Expectations: For details, go to the Communications Studies admissions tab.

Curriculum Requirements

First-Year Seminar
GEF: number of courses may vary depending on overlap
ECAS B.A. Requirements12
Foreign Language
Fine Arts Requirement
Global Studies and Diversity Requirement
Core Courses16
Communication Research Methods
Communication Cornerstones
Professional Field Experience
Intro to Computer Applications
Select one of the following:
Understanding Statistics
Applied Statistical Modeling
Elementary Statistical Inference
Elementary Business and Economics Statistics
Area of Emphasis18
Communication Studies Electives6
Select two classes in Communication Studies. At least one must be at the 300 or 400 level excluding COMM 490
Capstone experience3
Capstone Seminar
General Electives34
Number of electives will vary depending on overlap and AP credit
Total Hours120

Suggested Plan of Study

First Year
COMM 1911ENGL 101 (GEF 1)3
GEF 43GEF 53
CS 101 (GEF 2)4ECAS Fine Arts Requirement (GEF 6)3
Foreign Language 1013Stat Requirement (GEF 3)3
General Elective4Foreign Language 1023
 15 15
Second Year
GEF 23ENGL 102 (GEF 1)3
ECAS Global Studies and Diversity Requirement (GEF 7)3GEF 8*3
Foreign Language 2033Foreign Language 2043
COMM 2033COMM 2013
General Elective3General Elective3
 15 15
Third Year
GEF 8*3COMM Elective 13
GEF 8*3COMM 4913
Area of Emphasis Course 13Area of Emphasis Course 33
Area of Emphasis Course 23Area of Emphasis Course 43
General Elective3General Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
COMM Elective 2 (@300-level or above)3COMM 403 (Capstone)3
Area of Emphasis Course 53Area of Emphasis Course 63
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
General Elective3General Elective3
 15 15
Total credit hours: 120


Health Communication Area of Emphasis Requirements

Core courses in Health Communication12
Life-Span Communication
Health Communication
Advanced Health Communication
Health Communication Electives6
Select two of the following:
Interpersonal Communication Theory
Business and Professional Communication
Communication and Aging
Social Media in the Workplace
Advanced Communication Research Methods
Effects of Mediated Communication
Advanced Nonverbal Communication
Total Hours18

Integrated Communication Area of Emphasis Requirements

Select 6 classes from the following:18
Interpersonal Communication Theory
Business and Professional Communication
Human Communication and Rational Decisions
Appreciation of the Motion Picture
Life-Span Communication
Health Communication
Nonviolence in Communication Behavior
American Diversity in Film
Communication and Aging
Dark Side of Communication
Social Media in the Workplace
Advanced Communication Research Methods
Effects of Mediated Communication
Advanced Organizational Communication
Advanced Nonverbal Communication
Advanced Health Communication
Family Communication
Communication Ethics
Computer Mediated Communications
Organizational Culture
Advanced Social Media
Total Hours18

Interpersonal Communication Area of Emphasis REquirements

Core Courses12
Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal Communication Theory
Dark Side of Communication
Family Communication
Select two of the following classes:
Gender Communication
Life-Span Communication
Communication and Aging
Advanced Organizational Communication
Advanced Nonverbal Communication
Communication Ethics
Organizational Culture
Total Hours18

Social Media and Communication Technology Area of Emphasis Requirements

Core Courses 12
Social Media in the Workplace
Effects of Mediated Communication
Computer Mediated Communications
Advanced Social Media
Select two of the following:
Interpersonal Communication Theory
Human Communication and Rational Decisions
Appreciation of the Motion Picture
American Diversity in Film
Advanced Communication Research Methods
Advanced Organizational Communication
Total Hours18

Strategic and Organizational Communication Area of Emphasis REquirements

Core Courses12
Organizational Communication
Advanced Organizational Communication
Organizational Culture
Select two of the following classes:
Interpersonal Communication Theory
Business and Professional Communication
Human Communication and Rational Decisions
Social Media in the Workplace
Advanced Communication Research Methods
Communication Ethics
Advanced Social Media
Total Hours18

Major Learning Outcomes

communication studies

Upon successful completion of the B.A. degree, Communication Studies majors will be able to:

  1. Describe the communication discipline and its central questions
  2. Employ communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts
  3. Engage in communication inquiry
  4. Create messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context
  5. Critically analyze messages
  6. Demonstrate the ability to accomplish communicative goals (self-efficacy)
  7. Apply ethical communication principles and practices
  8. Utilize communication to embrace difference
  9. Influence public discourse

Communication Studies Minor

Minor Code - U001

A cumulative GPA of 2.0 across courses counted toward the minor is required.

Group A *
Select six hours of the following:6
Principles of Human Communication
and Human Communication in the Interpersonal Context
Presentational Speaking
Public Communication
Introduction to the Mass Media
Small Group Communication
Human Communication in Contemporary Society
Group B
Select 6 hours from the following:6
Organizational Communication
Nonverbal Communication
Intercultural Communication
Group C
One additional 3-credit 300 or 400 level course (excluding Comm 490)3
Total Hours15

COMM 100. Principles of Human Communication. 1 Hour.

Introduction to the human communication process with emphasis on the principles, variables, and social contexts of communication.

COMM 102. Human Communication in the Interpersonal Context. 2 Hours.

Introduction to interpersonal communication with emphasis upon application of one to one communication in a variety of social contexts.

COMM 103. Presentational Speaking. 1-3 Hours.

A laboratory designed to reinforce behavioral speaking skills based on the theory taught in COMM 104.

COMM 104. Public Communication. 3 Hours.

Introduction to principles of communication in the one-to-many context. Emphasis is given to the creation and refutation of arguments.

COMM 105. Introduction to the Mass Media. 3 Hours.

Critical examination of mass media with special emphasis on ways in which social, economic, and psychological factors influence the structure, functions, and effects of the media.

COMM 112. Small Group Communication. 3 Hours.

Introduction to small-group communication with emphasis on developing understanding of the small group communication process and learning how to communicate effectively when working in a small group.

COMM 122. Human Communication in Contemporary Society. 3 Hours.

This course addresses various social issues faced by young adults in our society and how communication is often part of the problem and how it can be used to solve these problems.

COMM 200. Communication Theory and Research 1. 3 Hours.

PR: Pre-communication studies major. Methods of understanding human communication behavior; issues relating to epistemology and ontology in communication studies; and reviews/critiques of the major approaches and theories of human communication.

COMM 201. Communication Research Methods. 3 Hours.

Emphasis on social science research; the language research, types of research, sampling, design, measurement, observation, and ethics from a communication perspective.

COMM 202. Interpersonal Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 102. Survey of theoretical and research literature in interpersonal communication. Emphasis on interaction, interpersonal understanding, personal relationships, and self-understanding as outcomes in interpersonal communication.

COMM 203. Communication Cornerstones. 3 Hours.

As an introduction to the study and application of communication, this course addresses the history, theory, and applicable research findings in central disciplinary areas including mediated, interpersonal, organizational, and health communication.

COMM 212. Gender Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 102 or consent. The similarities and differences of communication variables for males and females. Theoretical implications in the study of the gender variable with practical applications in different contexts.

COMM 293. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

COMM 300. Interpersonal Communication Theory. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 203. Analysis of interpersonal communication theories, frameworks, and/or perspectives from a social scientific approach.

COMM 303. Business and Professional Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 306. Application of the theories of effective communication in organizations. Simulated projects and oral presentations will be used to refine communication skills necessary for entry-level positions within business and industry.

COMM 304. Human Communication and Rational Decisions. 3 Hours.

Argumentation, small group, and persuasion, to the process and outcome of rational decision making in communication. Some emphasis on critical-rational response to manipulative communication.

COMM 305. Appreciation of the Motion Picture. 3 Hours.

Evaluation of motion picture and television film as forms of mediated communication and as art forms involving communication and aesthetic principles. Emphasis on the feature-length theatrical fiction film.

COMM 306. Organizational Communication. 3 Hours.

Instruction on the role that culture plays in organizations with adaption of one’s communication to be successful; understand appropriate and effective communication in the superior-subordinate relationship; evaluate organizational problems with strong communication strategies and the impact of organizational structure on communication.

COMM 307. Life-Span Communication. 3 Hours.

Development of communication from birth through adulthood to later years; study of media, interpersonal relationships, and competence in communication. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 308. Nonverbal Communication. 3 Hours.

An examination of the effects of human nonverbal behavior on human communication. Emphasis on specific nonverbal behaviors including touch, time, environmental contexts, physical appearance cues, and social communication cues. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 309. Health Communication. 3 Hours.

This course examines the vital role that communication plays in the American health care system and introduces concepts and approaches needed to effectively and ethically communicate about health in a pluralistic and multicultural society. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 314. Nonviolence in Communication Behavior. 3 Hours.

Nonviolent resistance as communication behavior. Emphasis on Gandhi's and Dr. King's methods of addressing conflict and injustice. Also, applying their techniques in assessing contemporary protest actions,and our own interpersonal behaviors.

COMM 315. American Diversity in Film. 3 Hours.

This course explores films that show the diversity of individuals who live in the United States of America. Films will show characters of different ages, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, region, and social class.

COMM 316. Intercultural Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 100 and 102 or COMM 104. Examines similarities and differences between cultures with regard to norms, values, and practices in verbal and nonverbal communication. Emphasis on communication in Latin America, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern cultures. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 317. Communication and Aging. 3 Hours.

Examining the influence of aging on communication, concentrating on persons over age 55. Social, psychological, biological, and sensory communication adjustments. Multidisciplinary approach to aging theories.

COMM 322. Dark Side of Communication. 3 Hours.

This course deals with transgressions and violations of relational rules as well as their communicative and behavioral antecedents and consequences in personal relationships.

COMM 335. Social Media in the Workplace. 3 Hours.

Explores social media technologies and their application in the workplace. Emphasis on collaboration skills.

COMM 393. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

COMM 393. Special Topics. 1-6 HR. PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

COMM 400. Principles of Communication Education. 3 Hours.

Literature, principles, and current practices of communication education in public schools with directed application. Intended for teachers in communication and language arts.

COMM 401. Advanced Communication Research Methods. 3 Hours.

PR: Communication studies major or consent and COMM 201. Research methods in human communication and related professional areas with emphasis on understanding and evaluating research procedures. Special focus on practical application.

COMM 403. Capstone Seminar. 3 Hours.

PR: Senior status and completion of 24 hours of communication studies coursework or consent. Part one in a two-part sequence aimed at the appraisal and synthesis of communication knowledge and skills. It also prepares students to complete an in-depth applied project related to communication studies.

COMM 404. Persuasion. 3 Hours.

Theory and research in persuasion, emphasizing a critical understanding and working knowledge of the effects of social communication on attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 405. Effects of Mediated Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 105. Messages and characteristics of mass media with emphasis on effects of mass communication on society. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 406. Advanced Organizational Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 306. Communication in superior/subordinate and peer relationships; emphasis on application of communication theory to complex organizations and organizational contexts. This course is not open to freshmen.

COMM 408. Advanced Nonverbal Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 308. Functions of nonverbal communication including status, power, immediacy, relationship development, regulation, turn-taking, leakage and deception, person perception, and emotional expressions.

COMM 409. Advanced Health Communication. 3 Hours.

PR: COMM 309. Advanced study of research and practice of health communication. Students use theory to create and deliver communication campaigns addressing health issues, policy or practices, using mediated, community, group, or one to one interaction.

COMM 410. Family Communication. 3 Hours.

This course explores the components and dynamics of human communication within the family unit. The student will examine research, various communication models, principles and theories that are relevant to family communication.

COMM 416. International Culture and Communication. 3 Hours.

This course provides a hands-on study of the influence of culture on verbal and nonverbal communication, and of the influence of cultural communication norms on conflict and intercultural relations. The course is conducted in the context of a faculty led study abroad experience.

COMM 424. Communication Ethics. 3 Hours.

This course focuses on communication ethics with a particular emphasis in the organizational context. Communication issues and situations are explored from various ethical perspectives.

COMM 425. Computer Mediated Communications. 3 Hours.

Explores the relationships between CMC and various aspects of human activity. Investigates established and emerging CMC-based social, cultural, organizational, and instructional activities.

COMM 426. Organizational Culture. 3 Hours.

This course focuses on organizational culture. Topics include the role of culture and how organizations refine, alter, and reinforce their cultures.

COMM 435. Advanced Social Media. 3 Hours.

Explores the uses and effects of social media for various human activities. The student will examine research and theories relevant to the topic, especially focusing on social networking.

COMM 490. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Teaching practice as a tutor or assistant.

COMM 491. Professional Field Experience. 1-18 Hours.

PR: Consent. (May be repeated up to a maximum of 18 Hr.) Prearranged experimental learning program, to be planned, supervised, and evaluated for credit by faculty and field supervisors. Involves temporary placement with public or private enterprise for professional competence development.

COMM 492. Directed Study. 1-3 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

COMM 493. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

COMM 494. Seminar. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Presentation and discussion of topics of mutual concern to students and faculty.

COMM 495. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

COMM 496. Senior Thesis. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent.



  • Matthew M. Martin - Ph.D. (Kent State University)


  • Melanie Booth-Butterfield - Ph.D. (University of Missouri-Columbia)
    Interpersonal, nonverbal, health, and instructional communication
  • Matthew M. Martin - Ph.D. (Kent State University)
    Chair. Instructional communication, Interpersonal and family communication, Personality
  • Scott A. Myers - Ph.D. (Kent State University)
    Instructional, small group, interpersonal, and family communication

Associate Professors

  • Megan Dillow - Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University)
    Interpersonal communication, Communication theory, Darkside
  • Alan Goodboy - Ph.D. (West Virginia University)
    Instructional Communication, Interpersonal Communication
  • Brian R. Patterson - Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma)
    Interpersonal communication, Communication theory, Communication and development
  • John D. Shibley - Ph.D. (Ohio State University)
    Film appreciation, Communication and nonviolence

Assistant professors

  • Jamie Banks - Ph.D. (Colorado State University)
    Identity, Social Media, Human Communication
  • Nick Bowman - Ph.D. (Michigan State University)
    Entertainment Media, Social Media, Media Effects, Experimental Methods
  • Elizabeth Cohen - Ph.D. (Georgia State University)
    Social Media, Game Studies, Prosocial Media Effects
  • John Cole - M.A. (West Virginia University)
    Political communication, Organizational communication. Computer mediated communication.
  • Ji Young Lee - M.A. (Pennsylvania State University)
  • Christine Rittenour - Ph.D. (University of Nebraska at Lincoln)
    Family communication, Communication and aging, Social identity and intergroup communication.
  • Michael Rold - Ph.D. (Louisiana State University)
    Business Communication, Presentational Speaking, Interpersonal

Professor Emerita

  • Virginia P. Richmond

Associate Professor emerita

  • Enid J. Portnoy


  • Nikki Loy - M.S.J. (West Virginia University)
    Public Communication, Small Group Communication