Optional Concentrations

undergrads in class

Overview of Comm Concentrations

Concentrations give our majors the opportunity to prioritize certain topics within the broad field of Communication. These optional concentrations may also help students market themselves for employment or graduate school. A concentration is not required for the Communication major.  

While each concentration focuses on different aspects of the study and practice of communication, all involve the critical examination and application of relevant theories, frameworks, and methods to better understand the central role of communication in how we think, feel, and act as individuals and as local and global communities. Across all concentrations, Comm majors have the opportunity to examine issues related to cultural identity and diversity.

Students interested in pursuing one of these concentrations should make an appointment to meet with a member of the Comm Undergraduate Advising Team.

Effective Fall 2020, optional Communication concentrations are as follows:

Alternatively, students may also choose to focus on Communication and Public Service through the ComPS Program. The ComPS Program has specific requirements that differ from requirements for the major in Communication or a Communication Concentration. Please refer to the ComPS page for more details.

Students in the Class of 2021 and Class of 2022 who declared the Comm major before May 2020 may choose one of these new concentrations or, with approval from the Comm Undergraduate Advising Team, choose a concentration from the old list. No additional courses will be approved for these older concentrations. Eligible students seeking approval to select a past concentration need to make an appointment to meet with the Comm Undergraduate Advising Team.

Requirements for a Comm Major Concentration

Communication students with a concentration complete fourteen courses for the major, with five of the fourteen courses specific to the concentration.  Students select three Comm specific courses from the approved concentration list (see below) and two Non-Comm elective courses from a department outside of Communication. 

Additional Concentration requirements are as follows:

  • Two of the three Communication courses must be 300 to 499 level courses.
  • With department permission, COMM 499 can be counted as one of your Communication specific courses.
  • No more than one non-COMM elective can be at the introductory level. Non-COMM elective courses must be related to the student’s concentration and require pre-approval from a member of the COMM Undergraduate Advising Team.

Students enrolled in an optional Concentration must meet all major requirements.  

See the major description for details on how to complete the remaining nine requirements for the Comm major.

Comm Concentration Descriptions & Approved Classes

Advocacy & Activism

Courses in this Concentration focus on the intersection of communication and social justice. Through this concentration, students will explore vital communication-related questions about socio-political power, protest, and progress. Courses explore media institutions and the past, present, and evolving techniques and technologies of protest and social movements.

Advocacy & Activism Courses
COMM 203: Media, Culture & Society in Contemporary China (Yang)
COMM 211: Media Activism Studies (Pickard)
COMM 243: Ethnography and Media for Social Justice (Lingel)
COMM 248: Digital Dissidence: Networked Movements in the Age of the Internet (Ustun)
COMM 270: Global Digital Activism (Yang)
COMM 282: Sick and Satired: The Insanity of Humor and How is Keeps Us Sane (Booth)
COMM 292: WARNING! Graphic Content - Political Cartoons and the Uncensored Artistic Mind (Booth)
COMM 301: Introduction to the Political Economy of Media (Pickard)
COMM 311: Peace Communication:  The Use and Abuse of Communications in Intergroup Conflict  (Bruneau)
COMM 322: History and Theory of Freedom of Expression (Marvin)
COMM 327: Critical Explorations in Global Communication (Budnitsky)
COMM 330: The Hidden World of Privacy Policies (Turow)
COMM 373: Black Geographies: Race, Risk, and Visual Culture (Ward)
COMM 378: Journalism & Public Service (Romano)
COMM 359: Journalism in an Age of Information Disorder (Wardle)
COMM 411: Communication, Activism, and Social Change (S. Jackson)
COMM 432: Digital Inequality (Ticona)
COMM 441: The Impact of the Internet, Social Media, & Information Technology on Democracy (Lelkes)

Audiences & Persuasion

Courses in this Concentration focus on both the social construction of audiences and the influence of interpersonal and mass mediated communication. Through this concentration, students will gain an understanding of how individual and collective attitudes, opinions, information-processing, and behaviors develop, and how audiences and messages interact to create effects.

Audiences & Persuasion Courses
COMM 213: Social Media and Social Life (González-Bailón)
COMM 225: Children and Media (Woolf)
COMM 226: Introduction to Political Communication (Jamieson)
COMM 230: Advertising and Society (Turow)
COMM 275: Communication and Persuasion (Cappella)
COMM 310: The Communication Research Experience (Falk)
COMM 330: The Hidden World of Privacy Policies (Turow)
COMM 332: Survey Research and Design (Dutwin)
COMM 367: Communication in the Networked Age (González-Bailón)
COMM 393: Political Polling (Dutwin)
COMM 404: Media and Politics (Mutz)
COMM 423: Communication and Social Influence Laboratory (Falk)
COMM 441: The Impact of the Internet, Social Media, & Information Technology on Democracy (Lelkes)
COMM 498: Experimental Design (Mutz)

Culture & Society

Courses in this Concentration explore the complex relationships between communication and cultural practices. Through this concentration, students will gain an understanding of the ways in which communication is central to the construction, maintenance, and transmission of culture, as well as to cultural resistance and change.

Culture & Society Courses
COMM 203: Media, Culture & Society in Contemporary China (Yang)
COMM 230: Advertising & Society (Turow)
COMM 253: Divine Mediation: Media & the Shaping of Religious Identity & Practice (Balaji)
COMM 282: Sick and Satired: The Insanity of Humor and How is Keeps Us Sane (Booth)
COMM 286: Masculinity and the Media (Balaji)
COMM 290: Special Topics // Fall 2019 -- Visual Culture and Communication (Erdener)
COMM 292: WARNING! Graphic Content: Political Cartoons & the Uncensored Artistic Mind  (Booth)
COMM 301: Intro to the Political Economy of Media (Pickard)
COMM 322: History and Theory of Freedom of Expression (Marvin)
COMM 339: Critical Perspectives in Journalism (Zelizer)
COMM 355: Media, Memory, and Cultural Identity (Nguyen-Thu)
COMM 373: Black Geographies: Race, Risk, and Visual Culture (Ward)
COMM 377: Philosophical Problems of Journalism (Romano)
COMM 388: Ritual Communication (Paxton)
COMM 359: Journalism in an Age of Information Disorder (Wardle)
COMM 411: Communication, Activism, and Social Change (S. Jackson)
COMM 439: Media Criticism (Zelizer)
COMM 468: Annenberg Media Lab 2020: It’s Not Just TV - The HBO Project (J. Jackson & Das)

Data & Network Science

Courses in this Concentration focus on the role and analysis of data, complex systems, and networks in digital communication. Through this concentration, students will gain an understanding of the role of digital media and social networks in disseminating information and influencing the communications, attitudes, and behaviors of social groups. Students have the opportunity to learn computational social science techniques to support research in this area, including social network analysis and methods from data science (information visualization, social media collection, and quantitative data and textual analysis) using various tools and programming languages (Python and R).

Data & Network Science Courses
COMM 290: Special Topics // Spring 2020, Fall 2020 -- Intro to Data Analysis for Communication (Kim)
COMM 313: Computational Text Analysis for Communication Research (O'Donnell)
COMM 318: Stories From Data: Introduction to Programming for Data Journalism (O'Donnell)
COMM 367: Communication in the Networked Age (González-Bailón)
COMM 407: Understanding Social Networks (González-Bailón)
COMM 432: Digital Inequality (Ticona)
COMM 441: The Impact of the Internet, Social Media, & Information Technology on Democracy (Lelkes)
COMM 459: Social Networks and the Spread of Behavior (Centola)

Politics & Policy

Courses in this Concentration explore communication among and between political elites and other policy influencers, the media, and citizens. Through this concentration, students will gain an understanding of the attitudes, opinions, information-processing, and behavior of citizens, political elites, political institutions, and political systems.  

Politics & Policy Courses
COMM 226: Introduction to Political Communication (Jamieson)
COMM 292: WARNING! Graphic Content - Political Cartoons and the Uncensored Artistic Mind (Booth)
COMM 301: Introduction to the Political Economy of Media (Pickard)
COMM 322: History and Theory of Freedom of Expression (Marvin)
COMM 323: Contemporary Politics, Policy, and Journalism (Hunt)
COMM 330: The Hidden World of Privacy Policies (Turow)
COMM 339: Critical Perspectives in Journalism (Zelizer)
COMM 359: Journalism in an Age of Information Disorder (Wardle)
COMM 378: Journalism & Public Service (Romano)
COMM 393: Political Polling (Dutwin)
COMM 395: Communication and the Presidency (Eisenhower)
COMM 397: New Media and Politics (Winneg)
COMM 404: Media and Politics (Mutz)
COMM 411: Communication, Activism, and Social Change (S. Jackson)
COMM 428: Conventions, Debates and Campaigns (Eisenhower)
COMM 431: Is Public Opinion the Voice of the People? (Lelkes)
COMM 432: Digital Inequality (Ticona)
COMM 441: The Impact of the Internet, Social Media, & Information Technology on Democracy (Lelkes)

Communication and Public Service (ComPS) Program

ComPS is a specialized program that allows students to engage in public service by combining individual research opportunities with hands-on experience in the public arena. Classes, seminars, internships, field experiences, and individual research projects provide students with opportunities to meet and learn from current and former officeholders, journalists, and public servants who have been leaders in government and civil society. The ComPS program has specific requirements that differ from requirements for the major in Communication or a Communication Concentration. Please refer to the ComPS page for more details.