Undergrad Program

Department Launches New Undergraduate Curriculum

Since the department’s establishment as a standalone unit in 2012, the undergraduate program in Communication has grown and adapted to reflect a rapidly-changing discipline. Communication is one of the largest majors in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, enjoying steady growth during the 2010’s. The department places a focus on quality instruction, innovative pedagogy, and adaptive goals that reflect the needs of our students.

In 2019, the department conducted a rigorous self-study followed by an external program review. As part of this process, we identified areas where our undergraduate program needed to continue to grow, gaps that should be addressed, and opportunities to work more efficiently. Shortly after the conclusion of this process, we decided the timing was right to deconstruct the program we had created over the years and rebuild its components in a single, cohesive plan that could reflect our educational, organizational, and cultural goals.

Read more about our new curriculum below:


Beginning in November of 2019, we envisioned an 18-month process for the revitalization of our undergraduate curriculum and program. Changes would be introduced in the Fall of 2021, after passing through rigorous faculty vetting and the appropriate university channels. Our goal was to work deliberately, considering each piece of our program as we made changes to ensure that every adjustment was delivered with purpose. In 2020, COVID-19 put an unexpected strain on this process as all participants worked to pivot courses to online instruction. Nevertheless, thanks to the persistence of our faculty and staff and the utility of online collaboration tools, we were able to meet our intended timeline.


Our curricular redesign was conducted with five primary goals in mind:

1. Ensure we’re meeting the learning objectives set forth by the National Communication Association.

A student of Communication should be able to:

    • Describe the communication discipline and its central questions.
    • Employ communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts.
    • Engage in communication inquiry.
    • Create messages appropriate to audience, purpose, and context.
    • Critically analyze messages
    • Demonstrate the ability to accomplish communicative goals.
    • Apply ethical communication principles and practices.
    • Utilize communication to embrace difference.
    • Influence public discourse

2. Rebalance the courseload across all four levels of study.

1000-level: Gateway courses to the Communication Major. Introductory courses that can serve outside departments as general education or foundational courses.
2000-level: Core courses in the Communication Discipline. Courses that provide baseline training and skill development in major domains of the field, preparing students for more advanced work.
3000-level: Specialty courses in the Communication Discipline. Courses that build upon knowledge developed at the 2000-level, including deeper dives into specific and nuanced areas of the field.
4000-level: Academic and Professional Student Development. Courses that prepare students for future work in academia or industry. Students will synthesize theory, research, and practice in the creation of high-caliber works. Products from these courses should directly translate to students’ academic and professional portfolios.

3. Ensure ‘Truth in Advertising’ in our Undergraduate Course Catalog.

We updated course names and descriptions to ensure they accurately reflect the modern course content, and eliminated courses that had not been offered recently. We also reworked our course numbering scheme to categorize our offerings into seven different course series, making it clear to students which courses cluster together in various areas of the discipline.

4. Encourage further experiential and application-based learning without losing our theoretical roots.

Modern communication graduates need to be able to reach complex audiences with effective messages, which places a premium on skills such as content development, data analysis, and professional communication. As a social science program, we looked for ways to develop these skills within a framework that values the role of communication theory and research. This approach ensures that our students receive a balanced education that prepares them for both professional careers and graduate-level academic studies.

5. Promote faculty experimentation within a modern curricular framework.

As society changes, so does the communication discipline. By introducing Variable Topics courses in each course series, and working to incentivize innovative course development, we want to empower faculty to regularly experiment with new ideas in the classroom.

Communication Courses

Beyond our required introductory and methodology classes, we restructured our courses into seven major series that reflect the range of the discipline. In virtually all cases, the 2000-level course offering in a series serves as the primary pre-requisite for all successive courses at the 3000 and 4000 levels to simplify enrollments. This structure also identifies five core courses that anchor their respective course series and serve as the foundation to our students’ education in the field. Finally, six advanced courses are identified as immersion courses, in which our students engage in practical work in the field prior to graduation.

Introductory Courses

1000: The Process of Communication
1100: Principles of Public Speaking

Methodology Courses

2000Q: Research Methods in Communication
2010Q: Applied Research Methods

100’s: Professional Communication

2100: Professional Communication (core)
2110: Presenting in the Digital Age
3110/w: Organizational Communication
3120/w: Small Group Communication
3130: Comm. in Conflict Management
3198: Variable Topics in Professional Comm.



200’s: Interpersonal Communication

2200: Interpersonal Communication (core)
3210: Gender in Communication
3220/w: Intercultural Communication
3222/w: People of Color and Interpersonal Comm.
3230: Marital and Family Communication
3240: Nonverbal Communication
3241: Motivation and Emotion
3298: Variable Topics in Interpersonal Comm
4200/w: Advanced Interpersonal Communication

300’s: Media Effects and Audiences

2300: Effects of Mass Media (core)
3310/w: Media Literacy and Criticism
3320: Media & Diverse Audiences
3321: Latinas and Media
3322: Soap Opera / Telenovela
3330/w: Children and Mass Media
3398: Variable Topics in Media Effects
4300/w: Advanced Media Effects

400’s: Communication in Context

3410/w: Political Communication
3415: Protest and Communication
3420/w: Health Communication
3430/w: Science Communication
3498: Variable Topics in Specialized Comm.
4411: International Communication and Conflict


500’s: Persuasion and Promotion

2500: Persuasion (core)
3510: Marketing Communication
3520: Communication Processes in Advertising
3530: Public Relations
3598: Variable Topics in Persuasion and Promotion
4501: Advanced Persuasion and Communication
4510: Comm. Campaigns and Applied Research
4530w: Public Relations Writing
4540: Crisis Communication

600’s: Communication Technology

2600: Media in the Information Age (core)
3600: New Communication Technologies
3605: Communication Technology & Social Change
3610/w: Computer-Mediated Communication
3698: Variable Topics in Communication Technology
4640/w: Social Media - Research and Practice
4650: Human-Computer Interaction


700’s: Multimedia Production

2700: Fundamentals of Digital Production
3700: Visual Communication
3798: Variable Topics in Multimedia Production
4710: Narrative Digital Video Production
4720: Nonfiction Digital Video Production
4799: Independent Study in Multimedia Prod.

Immersion Courses

4979: Digital Portfolio
4981: Internship in Communication
4982: Research Practicum
4996: Undergraduate Research
4997w: Senior Thesis
4999: Independent Study

Major and Minor

The new major raises the number of credits in communication, expands the number of core courses required, and adds an Immersion Courses requirement. Each of these changes will allow our graduates to create a clearer picture of their education upon completion of the degree. For the minor, requirements remain flexible to meet the diverse needs of interested students. Across both, students have the option to pursue depth (by working extensively in one or two course series) or breadth (by selecting courses across the curriculum.)

Communication Major

  • COMM 1000 and COMM 1100.
  • 30 credits in 2000-level or above COMM courses, as follows:
    • Methods: COMM 2000q or 2010q
    • 4 of 5 Core courses (COMM 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600)
    • 15 additional credits in COMM, including:
      • At least one COMM writing (W) course
      • At least three credits in Immersion courses
  • 12 outside related credits at 2000-level or above (CLAS requirement)

Communication Minor

  • COMM 1000 and COMM 1100
  • 15 credits in 2000-level or above COMM courses, as follows:
    • Methods: COMM 2000q or 2010q (or equivalent)
    • 2 of 5 Core courses (COMM 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600)
    • 6 additional credits in COMM

Core Courses

image listing COMM Core CoursesCore courses teach students about the breadth of the communication discipline while providing the foundation for deeper inquiry needed in our 3000- and 4000-level courses. For both the communication major and minor, core courses represent a substantial amount of required coursework in a student’s plan of study. While each core course is uniquely suited to its subject matter, they collectively aim to accomplish the following goals in support of the undergraduate program:

  1. Develop competencies in the National Communication Association’s key Learning Outcomes to ensure our graduates meet the education standards of the discipline.
  2. Frame the discipline of communication clearly, including the roles of theory and research in its development, to prepare students to engage with more nuanced topics and challenges.
  3. Empower students to think like a communication expert when engaging with social, professional, political, and technological issues.
  4. Establish the self-efficacy, professionalism, and problem-solving skills that students need to succeed in advanced courses, professional careers, and graduate-level work.

The Department offers five Core courses, which also serve as important prerequisites to advanced courses in the program. All communication majors must complete at least four of the five courses as part of their plan of study; communication minors must complete two of the five courses.

Immersion Courses

Understanding communication from a theoretical and methodological perspective is critical to the success of our students, but this knowledge is not sufficient without direct experience. Immersion courses serve as a supported environment where students are encouraged to apply and experience the concepts, theories, and ideas they have learned in the classroom.

Through immersion courses, students will:

  1. Devote considerable time and effort to work that develops practical skills in communication in preparation for future professional and academic work.
  2. Formulate meaningful working relationships with experts (faculty, alumni, corporate professionals, community leaders) over an extended period of time.
  3. Receive frequent constructive feedback about their performance to help better their work.
  4. Develop the experience, resourcefulness, and ethical grounding to act with confidence in academic and professional settings.

Given the diversity of our student body, we offer a variety of different immersion courses so students can choose the experience that best fits their interests, with the option to complete more than one as part of their plan of study. All communication majors must complete a minimum of three credits through one or more immersion courses:

Digital Portfolio (COMM 4979) allows students to continue to improve their digital production skills to assemble a collection of work that showcases their academic and creative talent.

Internship (COMM 4981) facilitates student entry into the business environment through supervised work in professional and community organizations.

Research Practicum (COMM 4982) connects students to ongoing research projects to contribute to the development, operation, or maintenance of the projects with careful supervision from faculty and graduate students.

Undergraduate Research (COMM 4996) provides students who are ready to lead their own research, the space and support to do so in partnership with at least one department faculty member.

Senior Honors Thesis (COMM 4997w) supports honors students in the research and writing of an undergraduate thesis with the support of a faculty advisor.

Independent Study (COMM 4999) enables students to pursue individualized, advanced projects under the guidance of a faculty member.

More to come…

While developing this new curriculum, our conversations shifted quickly from curricular requirements and structures to the type of culture we want to develop in our Undergraduate Program. To sustain a great program, we need to be clear on our vision, and incorporate our values into each learning experience. Keep an eye out for more on our vision, our values, and how we plan to incorporate those into our Undergraduate Program.


Just want the basics? For a summary of the new Communication curriculum, check out this video from Director of Undergraduate Studies Steve Stifano for students thinking about a major or minor in Communication.

Undergraduates in the Industry: Jeremy Karew

Every semester, students take their passion for communication to the industry by interning for various companies and organizations. Over the years, students in the Department of Communication have had the opportunity to be a part of prestigious intern programs throughout the country. Jeremy Karew, a 2020 graduate of the graduate of UConn and a Communication major held a particularly interesting internship that prepared him for life after college.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Jeremy worked for Bayer AG, U.S. Pharmaceutical as a Media Relations Intern. In this role he was responsible for creating pitches to media outlets about Bayer’s actions, which were sent to large publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. While creating these pitches, he also contributed to the creation of communications on behalf of executives, the production of an internal town hall, and stakeholder mapping. 

Jeremy stated that this hands on experience “helped me as a professional as this was my first full time position and I learned how to manage my time effectively by keeping up with deadlines and assignments. Also, it gave me the opportunity to present a stakeholder mapping project to the marketing team, which helped my presentation skills greatly.” Learning in this environment supplemented the skills that he was learning in class, such as internal and external public relations.

In the future, Jeremy hopes to join a law firm in Boston in a case assistant or junior paralegal role. This internship prepared him for what it’s like to work in a fast moving, competitive industry. It taught him how to manage deadlines, meet assignments, and to go above and beyond a tasks’ basic assignments. Like many of his classmates, he found that applying what he learned at UConn in the workplace can help build the skills necessary to succeed early in his career. 

To learn more about Jeremy’s experience, you can connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-k-66a370106/. To advertise your company’s internship opportunities to undergraduate students at UConn, reach out to undergraduate advisor Joel Nebres at jose.nebres@uconn.edu.

Behind the Lens

When it comes to building a schedule for the upcoming semester there are things that every student looks for: new courses and classes that only meet one time a week with no textbooks. If I’m being honest, that was why I enrolled in Digital Production. Little did I know I enrolled in an incredibly enriching applied course that would allow me to unleash my creativity in ways I’ve never been able to before.

Walking into the first class of Digital Production I was concerned because there were only 35 people in a 150 person lecture hall, and I assumed no one even bothered to show up. I later learned that the course was designed to use a big lecture hall so we could use class time to collaborate. As Professor Stifano walked in, it was clear that something was going to be different about this course as the first thing he said was “I’m Professor Stifano, but you can call me Steve. If I could be wearing sweatpants I would be.” The course is presented in a very relaxed manner, allowing every student to feel comfortable sharing ideas and thoughts about projects they are making. The greatest part about a small class size setting is that you get to develop a strong bond with your classmates to create things that are more than just a group project. We created stories, we created movements, we created news, collectively.

With equipment provided by the Communication Department, the only thing that we had to worry about was coming up with ideas, and making them come to life through photo essays and short films.  While many courses that are required for the Communication major stress theoretical approaches, this course allows us to test out those theories. Professor Stifano gave us complete freedom to turn our passions into visions.  By pushing us to ask ourselves what we’re afraid of, what we care about, what we believe in, we could exemplify those things in our images and films.

Initially my classmates and I were nervous about operating equipment, coming up with new ideas, and editing films. It’s one thing to read about how to do these things, but to actually get our hands dirty and develop those skills allowed us as students and artists to build off of each other and create really amazing projects. Every single group developed friendships that continued outside and after the class.

Communication is a lot more than just learning how to speak to one another. This class explores the way that we can communicate through different types of media. Communication becomes an art in this course because of the way the we carefully design each message. We learn about media bias, hypodermic needle model, and decoding messages in every communication course that we take, but this class allowed us to experiment with them in our own projects.

Professor Stifano’s passion for the class and respect for all of our projects and ideas makes COMM 2940 an environment where students can thrive.



Students Become Activists

Every semester UConn students enroll in COMM 3100 Persuasion with the intention of gaining 3 credits and a few new tricks to convince their friends to do things for them. This course does not teach students how to control the minds of others, but it does teach them how to use persuasion skills to impact causes that they are passionate about. The course assigns students a group project in which they create activist campaigns to carry out through the course of the semester. Students then promote their movement and present it to their peers at an event towards the end of the course. Some of the previous campaigns have consisted of clothing drives, campaigns against texting and driving, and organizations to promote diversity and confidence around campus.

The course gives opportunities to apply the theories that students read in textbooks to real world scenarios. Within the campaign, students hone in on their design and public relations skills by designing videos, flyers, social media accounts, and websites. Professors are not holding any hands in this course, students are given the freedom to harness their own creativity to design a campaign that they are passionate about. Each project is unique in many ways, allowing students to not be bound by their rubric, but rather set free by an assignment.

One of the professors teaching the course this semester, Professor Thomas Meade, stated that Persuasion is special because students can “leave the class with a sense of pride”. The course allows students to be involved with an organization on campus that they create, giving students a voice and an opportunity for that voice to be heard.

The outcomes of these projects have been phenomenal, consisting not only of the persuasion skills that the students gain, but also the impact that the campaigns make themselves whether they raise awareness, money, or supplies. Each campaign has a measurable outcome, meaning the students can see the direct impact they make on their cause. By encouraging students from other departments to come and join their efforts, they are showing the importance of the field of Communications to their peers. It is easy to see the effects of nurses, accountants, and engineers, and with this project, it is easy to see the impact that communication professionals have on the world.

Show your support for the students at their Project Showcase on December 7, from 5-7 pm in the Dodd Research Center.