About the Major

A major in communication studies contributes significantly to the personal growth and development of an individual. Cooperation, negotiation, and mutual understanding are the cornerstones of successful interpersonal relationships in work, the family, and the community. The study of public communication also encourages students to participate in civic affairs by equipping them with the critical skills necessary to evaluate social issues, express opinions, and assume positions of responsible leadership in a democratic society.

A total of 120 hours is required for graduation, 33 hours of which must be in upper-division courses (at the 300- or 400-level).  The major in Communication Studies requires the completion of a minimum of 36 hours in COM courses, along with the successful completion of a minor in another field of study, usually 18-21 hours.

For a comprehensive listing of courses offered in the department, please visit the communication studies undergraduate catalog.

To view a semester-by-semester, sample curriculum for communication studies majors, click here.

Focused Areas of Study

Through the selection of elective courses, Communication Studies majors may choose to emphasize one of the following focused areas of study: rhetoric and public discourse, interpersonal communication, organizational leadership, or communication and culture. Communication Studies majors do not have to select a focused area of study for their elective coursework; however, they are encouraged to plan their individual programs of study with the guidance of their departmental academic advisor. 

Rhetoric & Political Discourse

Rhetoric is the study of the effective use of discourse. With this emphasis, you will develop skills in critical thinking and argument, analyzing construction and presentation of public messages. You also study the role of rhetoric in initiating or sustaining change –social, political, or cultural change. Those interested in careers in the political arena should find this emphasis particularly helpful.

Interpersonal Communication

With this emphasis, you will focus on knowledge and communication skills vital for understanding how to interact effectively in interpersonal settings within families, social groups, or among friends, as well as with others in business, within professional organizations or small groups. Those with career goals in human services may benefit from this area.

Organizational Leadership

With this emphasis, you will develop communication leadership skills for small groups and organizations and strengthen professional communication skills, with an emphasis on ethics and diversity.  Those with career goals for positions of leadership in business and other professions should find this area of courses beneficial.

Communication & Culture

In these courses, you will study the diversity of human communication in a wide variety of contexts and forms. You will develop an understanding for navigating communication choices in the larger social world, both within and across cultures. Those who seek to have careers involving human resources or community services may find these courses to be of interest.

Minors for Non-COM Majors

A Communication Studies minor requires 18 hours of coursework in the department, including COM 100 Rhetoric And Society or COM 101 Principles Human Communication and at least six hours of upper-division courses (at the 300- or 400-level). A grade of C- or higher is required in all Communication Studies (COM) courses counted toward the minor.

A minor in Leadership Communication is a 18 credit hour minor designed to focus on courses that foster both understanding and development of leadership communication skills.  This minor combines the application of communication theory with practical skills and provides students with the opportunity to develop their own personal communication skills with diverse groups of people and in different contexts.

An online COM minor, focusing on interpersonal and organizational leadership, is also available.  Students complete a foundational course and select a series of elective online courses to prepare themselves for the various communication challenges that characterize our rapidly changing world.

Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) in Communication Studies

Available for Communication Studies majors only, the Accelerated Masters Program offers students the opportunity to earn both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communication Studies at the University of Alabama in five years. For the highly motivated and high achieving student, this program offers several distinct advantages:

  • Faster, more economical plan of study than earning the two degrees separately
  • Richer undergraduate degree experience, fewer unrelated core courses and more courses in the major
  • Stronger mentoring relationship with the faculty
  • Greater opportunity to develop understanding of the field in preparation for doctoral work

Admission into the program begins, after the completion of 91 semester hours with a 3.3 GPA or better, when the student applies for admission to the Graduate School. Upon admission to the Graduate School, the student will be allowed to take graduate-level courses and begin a program of study leading to the Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies.  AMP students in Communication Studies are allowed to count up to 10 hours of coursework dually, toward both the BA and the MA.

If you are interested, please speak to your advisor or consult this guide:  Accelerated Masters Program.


All undergraduate students, upon majoring in the College of Communication & Information Sciences, are assigned an academic advisor within Tisch Student Services. Students should visit their academic advisor at least once a semester for a review of their academic progress, of their requirements for degree completion, and of ways to get involved as students on campus before finishing their degrees.

Student Opportunities

Alabama Forensic Council

The award-winning Alabama Forensic Council, the competitive speech and debate program at The University of Alabama, aims to promote intellectual discovery, enable professional development, strengthen and utilize one’s unique voice, construct democratic messages, engage in interpersonal and rhetorical exploration, and foster community. Student members of the council participate in the University’s forensics program and attend both regional and national intercollegiate forensic competition. The AFC consistently places in the top 10 at the nation’s premier National Individual Events Tournament.



The Frank M. Thompson Jr. Award for Excellence in Forensics

The Thomas E. Harris Award for Excellence in Organizational Communication

The Marsha Houston Award for Outstanding Student Work in Social Justice and Diversity

Honor Societies

Lambda Pi Eta

This national communication studies honor society established a chapter on The University of Alabama campus on November 15, 1998. Invitations to membership are issued to juniors and seniors in communication studies who have cumulative undergraduate grade point averages of at least 3.0, have completed the equivalent of 12 semester hours in communication courses, and have minimum grade point averages of 3.25 in those courses. The goals of Lambda Pi Eta are to recognize, foster, and reward outstanding scholastic achievement and to stimulate interest in the field of communication.

Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha

This national honor society is for individuals who have excelled in forensics and who have maintained distinguished academic records.

Internship Opportunities

The department coordinates experiential learning opportunities for its majors through enrollment in COM 490 Field Experiences in Communication Studies.  COM majors interested in registering for the course must meet eligibility requirements before they may secure approval to register for the course.  To apply for COM 490, please complete the Eligibility Form and submit it to the departmental coordinator, Dr. Caroline Parsons, for approval.

For more information about internship opportunities, consult the College webpage devoted to available internships for all five C&IS majors.


The Speaking Studio

Created to assist individuals in clarifying and crafting their message, cultivating a dynamic delivery and calming public speaking anxiety, The Speaking Studio is a community-wide resource and available for use both on campus and off campus. The Speaking Studio is staffed by trained public speaking consultants who facilitate the recording and immediate feedback of individual and group presentations. For more on The Speaking Studio, or to schedule an appointment, visit their website.


Student Competitions

The Speak-Off Competition is held in the fall semester and is open to all students enrolled in COM 123 Public Speaking. The winner is awarded the Oscar Newton Public Speaking Prizeand first, second, and third place winners receive cash awards.

Holle Award for Excellence in Public Speaking

The public speaking program, in the Department of Communication Studies, offers a general education humanities course, COM 123, for the entire university population to cultivate basic public communication skills. Only those students who have been enrolled in COM 123, in either the fall or spring semester, and have been selected by their peers and instructors are eligible to compete for the Holle Award.

Those entering the competition will be required to present formal persuasive speeches that demonstrate logical structure and credible research in support of specific actions or concepts and that display exemplary standards of delivery. All contestants compete in a preliminary judging round, which is followed by a semi-final round to determine the finalists. Only the finalists advance to the last round to compete for the grand prize.