Skip to Content
University Catalog

COMMUNICATION STUDIES

Communication Studies Students

College of Arts and Letters

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Communication Studies is a broad-based discipline concerned with the exchange of messages in interpersonal and mediated situations and with the impact of such exchanges on society. Courses focus on understanding the communication process and developing skills to communicate effectively. The Department offers a wide range of courses in interpersonal, group, and organizational communication, rhetorical theory and criticism, public relations, mass communication, research methodologies, and digital media (video or multimedia).

Concentrations

General Communication: for students who focus on International and Intercultural; Interpersonal Communication; Mass Communication; New Media; Organizational Communication; Rhetoric and Social Influence or Small Group Communication.

Coms/Public Relations: for students who wish to prepare for a professional career in public
relations.

Coms/Digital Video: for students who wish to prepare for a professional career in digital
video.

Special Features

  • Communication Studies faculty possess professional expertise and academic excellence. Faculty maintain a high level of scholarly publication, creative activity, consulting, and outstanding teaching.
  • The Sacramento State Debate Program is highly ranked nationwide with opportunities for both experienced and beginning debaters.
  • The Department's Internship Program serves over 100 students each semester with internships in government agencies, private industry, TV stations, and public service organizations.
  • The Department sponsors Epsilon Phi, a chapter of the National Communication honors society Lambda Pi Eta. Students eligible for membership participate in a variety of activitiesand are recognized at the university's graduation ceremony.
  • The Department also sponsors PRSA, our student chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

Units required for Major: 39
Minimum total units required for the BA: 120

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

General Requirements

  • All Communication Studies majors except those in Mass Communication and Digital Media are required to complete at least one three-unit public speaking course such as COMS 4, COMS 104, or transfer equivalent. Public speaking courses taken to fulfill the GE oral communication requirement also fulfill this Department requirement.
  • Majors must complete each core course and each option core course with a grade of "C-" or better.
  • Not more than 6 units of debate, internship and/or individual study (COMS 110, COMS 111, COMS 194, COMS 195, COMS 199) can be applied to the major requirements.
  • Majors are urged to take COMS 2, Argumentation (or transfer equivalent) to fulfill their critical thinking requirement.
  • Communication Studies courses may only be repeated once for a grade change. Students who fail to achieve at least a "C-" in two attempts in a core course will be disqualified in majoring in Communication Studies.
  • One project or paper from each capstone course will be reviewed by selected faculty for the purpose of departmental assessment.

Pre-Major Requirements

Prior to acceptance as a Communication Studies major, students must complete a pre-major consisting of all required lower division courses plus the upper division survey course (COMS 100A). Students must successfully complete each pre-major course with a grade of "C-" or better. Students with a Sacramento State grade point average of 2.3 or better may request early admission to the major.

Requirements - Bachelor of Arts Degree - Concentration in General Communication

Units Required: 39

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

This concentration is designed to:
  • improve student awareness, understanding, and practice of communication in professional and social interactions;
  • enhance the traditional citizenship role in the democratic process; and
  • train students in communication skills in preparation for professions within the public or private sectors of the economy.
A. Required Lower Division Core Courses (9 units)

(3)

COMS 2

Argumentation

(3)

COMS 8

Interpersonal Communication Skills

(3)

COMS/JOUR 55

Media Communication and Society

B. Required Upper Division Core Courses (9 units)

(3)

COMS 100A

Survey of Communication Studies

(3)

COMS 100B

Critical Analysis of Messages (COMS 2 and COMS 4 [COMS 5 is accepted for COMS 4 for MCOM majors] or transfer equivalents; GWAR Certification before Fall 09, or WPJ score of 80+; or 3-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W; or 4-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; or WPJ score 70/71 and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; COMS 100A; may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 100C

Introduction to Scientific Methods in Communication Research (COMS 100A; may be taken concurrently)

C. Research Methods(3 units)

Select one of the following:

(3)

COMS 164

Visual Communication (COMS 100A and COMS 100B or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better)

(3)

COMS 165

Communication and Religion

(3)

COMS 168

Approaches to Rhetorical Criticism (COMS 100B or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better)

(3)

COMS 170

Data Analysis in Communication Research (COMS 100C or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission)

(3)

COMS 171

Survey Methods in Communication Research (COMS 100C or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission)

(3)

COMS 172

Content Analysis (COMS 100C or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission)

D. Theory and Seminar Pair (6 units)

Select one of the following pairs:

International and Intercultural Communication

(3)

COMS 174

International Communication (COMS 100A)

(3)

COMS 188

Senior Seminar in Intercultural Communication (COMS 116, completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses including COMS 100A)

Interpersonal Communication

(3)

COMS 143

Theories of Interpersonal Communication (COMS 8 or equivalent; and COMS 100A may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 182

Senior Seminar in Interpersonal Communication (COMS 8, completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses including COMS 100A)

Mass Communication

(3)

COMS 150

Mass Communication Theories and Effects (COMS 55 or Jour 55 or equivalent:and COMS 100 may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 183

Senior Seminar in Media Issues and Ethics (COMS 55 or Jour 55; completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses including COMS 100A

New Media

(3)

COMS 150

Mass Communication Theories and Effects (COMS 55 or Jour 55 or equivalent:and COMS 100 may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 191

New Media and Society (COMS 101 and COMS 106 )

Organizational Communication

(3)

COMS 145

Organizational Communication (COMS 100A)

(3)

COMS 180

Senior Seminar in Organizational Communication (COMS 145; completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses including COMS 100A)

Rhetoric and Social Influence

(3)

COMS 167

Systems and Theories of Rhetoric (COMS 100B or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission)

(3) COMS 169

Television Criticism (COMS 100B with a grade of "C-" or better; completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses; or unclassified graduate student status; or instructor permission)

Small Group Communication

(3)

COMS 105

Communication in Small Groups

(3)

COMS 181

Senior Seminar in Small Group Communication (COMS 105; completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses including COMS 100A)

E. Upper Division Electives (12 units)

Select any four COMS and/or Jour upper division courses numbered 100 or above in consultation with your major advisor.

Requirements - Bachelor of Arts Degree - Concentration in Public Relations

Units required: 48

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

This concentration, developed from the Commission on Public Relations Education recommendations, is designed to:

  • prepare students to assume professional entry level roles in the practice of public relations;
  • help students understand the integration of public relations and marketing;
  • prepare students to compose, develop, and analyze print and broadcast messages;
  • help students to develop demonstrable competencies in writing, analyzing, problem-solving, and critical thinking;
  • provide opportunities for testing public relations theory and practice, not only in the classroom, but in the field as well; and
  • develop relationships with local public relations professionals as well as with community organizations.
A. Required Lower Division Core Courses (12 units)

(3)

COMS 2

Argumentation

(3)

COMS 8

Interpersonal Communication Skills

(3)

COMS/JOUR 55

Media Communication and Society

(3)

JOUR 30

News Writing

B. Required Upper Division Core Courses (9 units)

(3)

COMS 100A

Survey of Communication Studies

(3)

COMS 100B

Critical Analysis of Messages (COMS 2 and COMS 4 [COMS 5 is accepted for COMS 4 for MCOM majors] or transfer equivalents; COMS 100A, may be taken concurrently; and GWAR Certification before Fall 09, or WPJ score of 80+; or 3-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W; or 4-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; or WPJ score 70/71 and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X)

(3)

COMS 100C

Introduction to Scientific Methods in Communication Research (COMS 100A; may be taken concurrently)

C. Concentration Requirements (21 units)

(3)

COMS 118

Survey of Public Relations (At least one college writing course in ENGL or JOUR with a grade of "C-" or better)

(3)

COMS/JOUR 123

Writing For Public Information (GWAR certification before Fall 2009; or WPJ score of 80+; or 3-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W; or 4-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W + co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; or WPJ score 70/71 + co-enrollment in ENGL 109X)

(3)

COMS/JOUR 158

Public Relations Planning and Management (COMS 118, COMS 123 or JOUR 123 with a grade of "C-" or better)

(3)

COMS 170

Data Analysis in Communication Research (COMS 100C or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission) OR

 

COMS 171

Survey Methods in Communication Research (COMS 100C or equivalent with a grade of "C-" or better; or instructor permission)

(3)

COMS 187

Issue Management and Case Studies in Public Relations (COMS 118; completion of 12 units of upper division COMS courses)

(3)

MKTG 101

Principles of Marketing

(3)

MKTG 125

Advertising (MKTG 101)

D. Electives (6 units)

(6)

Six units of upper division Communication Studies courses selected in consultation with major advisor.

Notes:
  • Students in the Public Relations Concentration would be encouraged to minor in the social sciences or business.
  • Not more than 3 units of Internship (COMS 195) can be applied to the Public Relations Concentration.

Requirements - Bachelor of Arts Degree - Concentration in Digital Video

Units required:45

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

A. Required Lower Division Courses (9 units)

(3)

COMS 2

Argumentation

(3)

COMS/JOUR 55

Media Communication and Society

(3)

COMS 100B

Critical Analysis of Messages (COMS 2 and COMS 4 [COMS 5 is accepted for COMS 4 for MCOM majors] or transfer equivalents; COMS 100A, may be taken concurrently; GWAR Certification before Fall 09, or WPJ score of 80+; or 3-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W; or 4-unit placement in ENGL 109M/W and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; or WPJ score 70/71 and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X)

B. Required Courses (18 units)

(2)

COMS/FILM 20A

Audio Production (Corequisite: COMS/FILM 20B)

(1)

COMS/FILM 20B

Audio Production Lab (Corequisite: COMS/FILM 20A)

(2)

COMS/FILM 27A

Digital Film/Video Production (Corequisite: COMS/FILM 27B)

(1)

COMS/FILM 27B

Digital Film/Video Production Lab (Corequisite: COMS/FILM 27A)

(3)

COMS/FILM 121

Media Aesthetics

(3)

COMS/FILM 124A

Writing Short Scripts for Film/Video (ENGL 1A, ENGL 20) OR

COMS/FILM 124B

Documentary and Non-Narrative Film/Video Writing (ENGL 1A, ENGL 20)

(3)

COMS/FILM 128

Non-Studio Video Production (COMS/FILM 20A, COMS/FILM 20B, COMS/FILM 27A and COMS/FILM 27B each with a grade of "B-" or better)

(3) COMS/FILM 141 Theory of Film/Video Editing

(6) Select two courses from the following:

(3)

COMS 126

Advanced Capturing and Editing Digital Media (COMS/FILM 20A, COMS/FILM 20B and COMS 26, or both COMS/FILM 27A and COMS/FILM 27B each with a grade of "B-" or better; instructor permission)

(3)

COMS 127

Producing and Directing for Television (COMS/FILM 20A, COMS/FILM 20B, COMS/FILM 27A and COMS/FILM 27B each with a grade of "B-" or better)

(3)

COMS/FILM 130

Staging and Lighting Digital Video (COMS/FILM 20A, COMS/FILM 20B, COMS/FILM 27A and COMS/FILM 27B each with a grade of "B-" or better)

(3)

COMS 144

Developing Rich Media Web sites (COMS/FILM 27A, COMS/FILM 27B)

(3) Select one course from the following:

(3)

COMS 149

Multimedia Authoring (COMS 106, COMS 126)

(3)

COMS/FILM 185

Senior Practicum in Video Production (COMS/FILM 128 with a grade of "C-" or better; and instructor permission)

Electives (9 units)

(9)

Select three electives in consultation with your advisor

Requirements - Minor

Total units required for Minor: 18 Communication Studies units, 12 of which must be upper division. Minor programs must be approved by a Department advisor. A specific course requirement is:

(3) COMS 100A Survey of Communication Studies with a grade of "C-" or better.

Note: No more than a total of 3 units of COMS 110, COMS 111, COMS 195, or COMS 199 can be applied to the Minor.

Digital Communication and Information Minor

Total units required for Minor: 18

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

Required Upper Division Core Courses (18 units)

(3)

COMS 101

Information Management and Privacy

(3)

COMS 106

Digital Media Creation - An Introduction

(3)

COMS 117

Multimedia Communication (COMS 101 and COMS 106)

(3)

COMS 140

Online Collaboration (COMS 101 and COMS 106)

(3)

COMS 190

Human Communication on the Internet (COMS 101 and COMS 106)

(3)

COMS 191

New Media and Society (COMS 101 and COMS 106)

GRADUATE PROGRAM

A Master's degree can lead to doctoral or other professional education, or to advanced positions in business, public service, or government. The graduate program in Communication Studies is guided by two interrelated goals. First, that each student has the opportunity to study and conduct original communication research consistent with individual interests and abilities. Second, that each student develop and follow a coherent, rigorous plan of study within the field of communication. Accordingly, a structured advising procedure has been established in the Department to help accomplish these two goals (see "The Graduate Document," available from the Department, for details). As an integral part of a plan of study, each student will designate a series of courses to be completed for their degree with the assistance of their advisor and the approval of the Graduate Committee. A statement outlining the logic of the chosen courses will be required and will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee. Areas of faculty expertise include (but are not limited to):

  • Mediated Communication
  • Organizational Communication
  • Instructional Communication
  • Rhetoric and Criticism
  • Political Communication
  • Intercultural/International Communication
  • Social Interaction

As mentioned above, this program, culminating in the Master of Arts in Communications, is designed for the student who subsequently will pursue a doctoral degree or a professional career. The program is NOT designed for students who wish to train in production or presentational skills which are taught at the undergraduate level in the Sacramento State Communication Studies Department.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Communication Studies is based on the assessment of individual credentials by the Graduate Committee, but requires at least:

  • a 3.0 overall GPA or 3.25 GPA in the last 60 undergraduate units;
  • a grade "B-" or better in COMS 167, COMS 168 or COMS 169; and COMS 170, COMS 171, or COMS 172 (or equivalent courses);
  • a clearly written statement of purpose for pursuing this particular MA degree. This statement is part of the application to the graduate program and should explain the applicant's career and academic goals, specifying how the program will help to accomplish these goals, and explain the applicant's motivation for pursuing those goals;
  • three letters of recommendation indicating the applicant's abilities and potential for completing graduate work successfully. These letters should assess at least the student's abilities to perform well in academic courses; to conduct research independently; to express ideas well in writing and orally; and to think critically, analytically, and creatively;
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores;
  • an earned baccalaureate degree, and
  • two examples of writing that indicate research, analytical, and/or creative abilities.

Admission Procedures

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply several months prior to the semester first enrollment is sought. All application materials must be received before any evaluation begins. Applicants must complete a separate university application by the posted application deadline date for the term applying. For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit http://www.csus.edu/gradstudies/:

  • an online application for admission; and
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State.

A decision regarding admission will be mailed to the applicant.

Advancement to Candidacy

Near the completion of coursework each student must submit an Advancement to Candidacy form, with his or her major advisor and graduate coordinator's approval, to the Office of Graduate Studies. This procedure may begin upon satisfactory completion of the following:

  • all deficiencies in admission requirements removed;
  • all undergraduate course deficiencies, as noted as conditions on application response;
  • COMS 200, COMS 201 and COMS 202 with a grade "B-" or better;
  • at least 50 percent of coursework toward the degree; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Requirements - Master of Arts Degree

Units required: 30, with a grade "B-" or better in each course
Minimum GPA: 3.0

Courses in parentheses are prerequisites.

At least 18 units must be 200-level courses and no more than 6 units of courses numbered 150-198 (excluding 195) may count toward the minimum 30-unit requirement. By University policy, courses completed to satisfy deficiencies or admission requirements are not counted toward the MA degree. An outline of degree requirements follows.

A. Required Courses (12 units)

(3)

COMS 200

Introduction to Graduate Study (COMS 167, COMS 168 or COMS 169; COMS 170, COMS 171, or COMS 172; may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 201

Communication Theory (COMS 167, COMS 168 or COMS 169; COMS 170, COMS 171 or COMS 172)

(3)

COMS 202

Research Methods in Communication Studies (COMS 167, COMS 168 or COMS 169; COMS 170, COMS 171, or COMS 172; may be taken concurrently)

(3)

COMS 213

Seminar in Criticism

B. Major Courses (12-18 units)

Select between 12 and 18 units of graduate courses with the assistance of your advisor. Be certain these Major Courses contain a specific focus or area of concentration that can be described and explained to the Graduate Committee. Courses may be grouped into a Major and Minor area of concentration if desired. Up to six units may be taken in a related department and still be counted toward the degree.

C. Culminating Requirement (1-6 units)

Select one of the following:

(3-6)

COMS 500

Culminating Experience (Advanced to candidacy and chair permission of his/her thesis or project committee)

Thesis (Plan A)

Project (Plan B)

(1-3)

COMS 297

Directed Study and Comprehensive Examination (Must be advanced to candidacy)

Exam (Plan C)

Note: For students completing Plan A or B, no more than a total of 3 units of COMS 295 or COMS 299 may be applied to the 30-unit MA requirement. For students completing Plan C, this limit is increased to 6 units. Graduate Committee approval is required in the semester prior to enrollment for these units.

Career Possibilities

Community Relations Director · Organizational Trainer · Organizational Newsletter Editor · Public Information Specialist · Media Technician · Organizational Consultant · Organizational Trainer and Developer · Personnel Staff · Public Service Agency Staff · Corporate Media Director · Communication Consultant · Public Relations Professional · Video Editor · Video Producer or Director · Health Educator · Fund Raiser · Media Sales and Promotion Staff · Multimedia Project Manager · Community College Instructor · Lobbyist · Speech Writer · Minister · Lawyer · Politician · Consumer Market Researcher · Staff Analyst · Focus Group Leader · Political Campaign Staff · Public Affairs Director · Advertising Account Executive

Faculty

Diego Bonilla, Nicholas Burnett, Steve Buss, Lawrence Chase, Michele Foss-Snowden, Elaine Gale, Timothy Howard, Jacqueline Irwin, Tom Knutson, Raymond Koegel, Edith LeFebvre, Christine Miller, Chevelle Newsome, Bill Owen, Gerri Smith, Val Smith, Jenny Stark, Carmen Stitt, Mark Stoner, Donald Taylor, Kristen Tudor, John Williams, Mark Williams, ,David Zuckerman

Note: See Journalism program description for a list of Journalism faculty.

Contact Information

Steve Buss, Department Chair
Carly Gulde, Administrative Support Coordinator II
Mendocino Hall 5014
(916) 278-6688
www.asn.csus.edu/coms



COMPLETE COURSE LISTING | RETURN TO TOP|