Communication Studies Overview

A well-rounded curriculum combines theory, criticism, context and more, resulting in a communications program that produces impactful thought leaders in the field.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2020-2021, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2020. Access the catalog of record at

Communication Studies is firmly committed to academic excellence through promoting a rigorous and relevant curriculum grounded in the liberal arts tradition. We approach communication as the primary social process: the various modes of human communication forge and maintain individual identity and collective organization. Our curriculum offers an integrated approach to communication, providing depth and breadth of knowledge, and experience for undergraduate students competent in the construction, reception, and analysis of messages, which give shape to our world. Communication studies prepare students to participate in the professional, social, and civic life in an ethical, intellectually curious, and engaged manner.

Students who complete the major will have knowledge of foundational theories of communication; prevailing communication research paradigms; media industry structure and practices; prevailing criticism of media practice and performance; media influence on individuals and groups; the interplay of media systems in a global context; roles and functions of communication in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; conventions of public address and advocacy; and the impact and ethics of persuasion. Students will also have the ability to think critically; develop and present an argument; conduct and evaluate social scientific, interpretive, and critical research; communicate effectively in interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts; and invent, arrange, and deliver effective and ethical messages via oral, print, and electronic modes.

All students in the communication studies major must complete 39 units of coursework in the major, including 15 units of lower-division core courses, 6 units of upper-division core courses, and an additional 18 units divided into 6 units of Human Communication course, 6 units of Media Studies courses, and 6 elective units from upper-division offerings.

Practical experience is a valuable addition to the undergraduate major. The department offers opportunities for students to participate in an outstanding internship program and in student media (The Vista, USD-tv, and USD Radio) providing the opportunity to receive academic credit for these experiences. No more than three practicum units may be applied toward the major or minor. No more than six units combined of practicum may be applied to the BA degree.

Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad to complement the major with global learning opportunities. No more than six units from a non-USD faculty led study abroad course can be applied to the major or minor.