Skip to content

Communication Studies Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Communication Studies

Communication Studies involves the study of messages.  We are concerned with how people interact in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public speaking contexts.  In addition, we study how people interact in specialized contexts such as the family or health care settings.

Communication Studies course work includes interpersonal communication, organizational communication, public speaking, communication theory, and research methods.  Elective courses in communication studies include persuasion, group communication, communication and conflict, health communication, political persuasion, and family communication.

Career Opportunities in Communication Studies

The School of Communication Studies prepares students for careers in a wide variety of fields such as law, health, management, sales, politics, consulting, mediation, education, and event planning.  Graduates of the program have been accepted into a variety of professional and graduate programs including schools of law, master’s of business administration programs, health sciences programs, education programs, and college student personnel programs.  Graduates of the program have secured jobs in management, sales, marketing, government, public relations, law enforcement, health care, education and politics.

Salary Trends in Communication Studies

Communication Studies majors pursue a variety of career opportunities.  Since Communication Studies majors work in a variety of fields, it is difficult to generalize about salaries.  However, the average entry-level salary for communication studies graduates is $38,000.

High School Preparation

High school preparation for the Communication Studies major may include:

  • Participation in high school debate and forensics
  • Course work that involves oral communication, critical thinking, and research skills
  • Course work that involves social relationships
  • Course work that involves computer-mediated presentations and Web page design
  • Course work that involves how people relate to others in organizations

How to Major in Communication Studies

Students may choose communication studies as their major when applying to UT.  Current students should contact the School of Communication Studies for current admission procedures.

Requirements for Communication Studies

Requirements for the major fall into several broad categories that include basic skills, general education requirements, and major requirements.

In the basic skills category, students follow a prescribed list of courses that involve writing, foreign language, and math.  In the general education category, students select from a list of courses in areas such as the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and western or world civilization that provide the breadth of knowledge required of the communication professional.  In the major category, students begin with a prescribed set of courses that involve speaking and research skills.  Following completion of the skills courses, students enroll in course work designed to advance their knowledge of communication theory, human interaction in various contexts, and social science research processes.  In addition, students may select from a number of elective communication studies courses to develop expertise in organizational communication, interpersonal communication, health communication, and family communication.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The School of Communication Studies has one of the most active internship programs at the University of Tennessee.  Our students obtain internships in organizations such as Disney, CNN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government, NBC, and the American Cancer Society.

Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of extracurricular activities involving honors programs, study abroad, and travel to develop professional networks.  The school sponsors a chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national honor society for students in communication studies.  The School of Communication Studies offers a supervised study abroad program each summer.  Based in Paris, the program offers students the opportunity to learn about and experience intercultural communication in European business settings.  In addition, the School of Communication Studies is a member of the Consortium of Universities for International Studies that offers both graduate and undergraduate study abroad opportunities in Italy.  Finally, members of the Communication Studies program travel to Washington each spring to meet with members of Congress as well as business leaders to discuss career and internship opportunities.

Highlights of Communication Studies

As noted in a recent program review, “The Communication Studies program offers a very effective program of study that provides a balance between theory and application.  Because of this balance, students are confident of their ability to apply their knowledge and skills to virtually any professional and personal setting.  In addition to practical professional applications, the curriculum is set to prepare students to enter virtually any graduate communication program in the country.”

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Opportunities for International Study
Students in the College of Communication and Information are encouraged to participate in a study abroad program as part of the University of Tennessee’s commitment to make our graduates “Ready for the World.”  Studying abroad opens up many opportunities for students to learn about communication and information in an international setting, develop cross-cultural communication skills, and enhance their marketability and career options.  Students often say that their study abroad experience was the highlight of their college years.  Communication and information students may participate in faculty-led summer programs including global advertising in London, intercultural communication in Europe, global public relations in Italy, British media in London, foreign language in any number of countries, or participate in the study abroad program of their choice.  Most students participate in study abroad during their second or third year at UT.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, click here.


For More Information

Dr. John Haas, Associate Professor
School of Communication Studies
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-0324
(865) 974-0696


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.