From the Director of Undergraduate Studies

Greetings and welcome! If you are a Communication Studies major or minor or are thinking about becoming one, you have made a wise and exciting choice! Communication Studies is one of the fastest growing majors in the country. Not only do employers list effective communication as the #1 priority in hiring employees -- making a Communication Studies a great major for jumpstarting your professional career -- but theoretical, conceptual, and applied depth in the field of communication can make you successful in your personal and public life as well. When you graduate, you should be able to advocate, negotiate, and relate across contexts. These intellectual capacities can point you toward a number of different career paths. Check out our newly designed webpage that allows you to see which combination of Communication Studies courses may put you on the best pathway toward your intended career choice.

In addition to our diverse and vibrant curriculum, the Department of Communication Studies also offers many opportunities that complement formal classroom experiences. First, students enjoy a rigorous, growing major, with a family feel. Faculty and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) get to know their students, meet with them regularly outside of class, involve them in their research, write them letters of recommendation for graduate school and jobs, know them by name, and welcome their involvement in departmental activities and committees. In 2005, we established a Communication Studies Speech Lab dedicated to assisting students in Communication Studies courses excel on their assignments.

Second, we have a number of ways you can get involved in the Communication Studies community! The COMM Club meets monthly and sponsors guest speakers, conducts discussions of undergrad student concerns and issues, holds social events and performs community service projects. Students can also apply what they’ve learned in the major by partnering with a faculty member and learning how to engage in the research process by applying for a Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences (UCARE) grant. Finally, students are strongly encouraged to supplement their classroom experiences by earning credit through our internship program and/or through Education Abroad. Applying Communication Studies curriculum in the workplace and in diverse cultural contexts makes the coursework come to life in a way that can deeply impact your undergraduate experience.

Communication theorist John Stewart has said “there is a direct link between the quality of your communication and the quality of your life.” Communication Studies is a vibrant and rigorous major that is both complex and readily applied to every aspect of your life. By learning to examine human symbolic activity as it shapes and is shaped by relationships, institutions, and societies, you are equipping yourself with the knowledge and skills necessary for improving the quality of your life within and outside the university. To learn more about the undergraduate program in Communication Studies, please don’t hesitate to contact me at jkellas2@unl.edu.

Sincerely,

Jody Koenig Kellas
Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Program Description

The undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Communication Studies concentrates on communication as a field of study, research, and application that focuses upon how, why, and with what effects people communicate. By learning how to interpret, analyze, and create messages across diverse contexts and content areas, students gain the theoretical and practical knowledge related to public, political, rhetorical, and organizational advocacy; the negotiation of conflict, image, power, problem-solving, and difference; and the ability to effectively communicate and relate in personal, family, and organizational environments. In essence, in Communication Studies courses, students learn to advocate, negotiate, and relate. Thus, Communication Studies helps students succeed in an increasingly pluralistic, global, and mediated culture.

In each course, students create and test ideas, explore how meaning is communicatively constructed across different contexts, and acquire knowledge and methods that apply to nearly every aspect of their personal, professional, and public lives. Many of our courses incorporate experiential learning, such as service learning projects, into the curriculum, and multiple courses require students to create artifacts (e.g., videos, webpages, posters) that illustrate communication concepts as they apply to everyday life.

Majors and minors in the program are afforded flexibility in planning their curricular pathway. In addition to three required courses, students cater their upper division courses to their intended professional, public, and private pathways. Advisors and faculty provide guidance on choosing the courses that are most suited to meeting students' goals.

Students are also strongly encouraged to supplement their classroom experiences with internship, study abroad, or research (i.e., UCARE) opportunities. Students may also get involved in our highly competitive and award winning Speech & Debate Program.

Students in the Department of Communication Studies are taught by highly skilled and respected teachers. Our faculty and GTAs have won prestigious awards, including

  • The College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award
  • The Central States Communication Association Outstanding New Teacher Award (faculty) and the Cooper Award (GTA)
  • The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award
  • The Impact Award from the National Academy of Hispanic Scholars at UNL

Our professors are also engaged in teaching initiatives across campus aimed at improving teaching and student learning, such as the Peer Review of Teaching Program.