In many professions, the need for communication skills has never been more critical. Employers consistently cite communication skills as a major requirement for success in professional careers. A major in communication studies can help you acquire and learn to use those skills effectively.

Students of communication studies learn to analyze written, oral, visual, and electronic messages from historical, critical, and social science perspectives. They also learn to produce such messages as a means of artistic and functional expression.

Why Study at Iowa

Communication studies is one of the most popular majors at Iowa. Students develop the knowledge and skills to meet today's increasingly complex communication challenges.

Iowa’s program will help you understand how face-to-face and media-based communications influence and shape our everyday lives, including social interaction, work, public opinion, economic activities, and politics. You’ll learn how to analyze and evaluate communication practices critically and how to use practical oral, written, and visual communication. You’ll also prepare to move into any number of professions in which you’ll use effective communication skills to engage with other people.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in communication studies is designed to help you develop a basic understanding of communication as a symbolic action and then move on to more advanced concepts. Enrollment in most communication studies courses requires a cumulative Grade-Point Average of at least 2.50.

The department’s core courses focus on media and society, interpersonal and relational communication, and rhetorical and discourse studies. They cover study areas including interpersonal, group, organizational, professional, and intercultural communication; integration of speaking and listening skills; verbal and nonverbal interaction; argumentation and persuasion; and media technologies.

You will begin the major by studying the foundations of communication and then progress to advanced courses that emphasize four approaches to communication:

  • The practice of communication
  • The context of communication
  • Communication research and criticism
  • Communication theory

Students in the major are not required to select an emphasis area but instead are encouraged to build creative combinations of course work that suit personal learning and career goals. The major culminates with a capstone course experience in which students will participate directly with a faculty member in producing knowledge, research, or creative work.

Students are encouraged to complete a second major or a minor in another discipline or to earn a certificate.

See Communication Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.

Minor in Communication Studies

See Communication Studies in the UI General Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Students in this major may enjoy the Journalism and Mass Communication Living-Learning Community in the UI residence halls.

The A. Craig Baird Debate Forum, which is housed in the Department of Communication Studies, gives students the opportunity to conduct on-campus debates, to promote speech and debate activities in the state through developmental programs, and to participate in competitive intercollegiate debate and individual events.

Lambda Pi Eta, the honors society in communication studies, invites outstanding students to become members.

Study Abroad

Many study abroad programs offer credit that counts toward the communication studies major, including the CIMBA program in Paderno del Grappa, Italy. CIMBA offers semester-long programs and a four-week summer program.

Visit with advisers in the Study Abroad Program and talk with the department’s educational adviser about how to earn study abroad credit toward the communication studies major. They also can advise you on coordinating registration and other processes when you study abroad.


Internships provide students with opportunities to supplement their classroom work with professional job experiences in communication-related environments. Internships are not required, but you may be able to earn 1-3 semester hours of academic credit for an internship experience.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The Department of Communication Studies has a diverse, multidisciplinary faculty whose members are among the country’s best in their areas of expertise. They advance understanding of their field by promoting the study of different media, modes, and uses of communication as a social activity.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

As a communication studies graduate, you’ll have numerous career options. The major provides solid preparation for employment in almost any job that requires effective critical thinking and communication skills. Graduates find work in fields such as the arts, entertainment, and media industries; consulting; sales and marketing; human resources; and public advocacy.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. There also are major-specific scholarships for students who have earned a number of credits in the major. Additional information is available on the Communication Studies website.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Communication Studies (BA)
Communication Studies
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan