Frequently Asked Questions | Communication Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Listed here are questions that we get asked frequently by our students, and people thinking of majoring in Communication Studies. We have listed them along with our answers to help keep you informed about the Department and its operations. We will continue to update this list so send any questions that you might have about the Department of Communication Studies to Dr. Roy Schwartzman, the Department Head, at or call 334-3840. You can also let your advisor know that you have significant questions that you would like addressed. Those questions and answers that are useful to several students will be posted in this section of the Department website.

Curriculum Questions

What is an independent study (CST 333) and how do I go about arranging one?

Independent studies are, as the title suggests, self-directed research projects done by students. These are arranged between a student and a faculty member before the semester in which the student will conduct the research. Independent studies are done quite rarely, and are arranged only if a faculty member wants to supervise the research. They are normally done when a student completes a course with a faculty member and they have a mutual interest in collaborating on some follow up research. They are added manually after the faculty member signs an add slip for the independent study.

What is the difference between 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 level classes?

All 100 level classes focus on skills and core communication competencies. 200 level classes introduce key terms and topics from the mission. 300 level classes provide students with a deeper exploration of key topics, skills, and issues in communication through the use of theoretically grounded research methods. 400 level courses are either internships or “case study” courses designed to provide “real world” or “case based” applications of the key terms of the mission. All 500 level classes are open to both graduate and undergraduate students and are based on project-based learning (individual and groups) in which students engage in advanced applications and experience with the key terms of the mission. Note that all Communication courses, regardless of level, require students to read closely and carefully, contribute through class discussion and/or presentations, and use communication scholarship to create, interpret, and analyze communicative practices.

What is CST 460 “Special Topics ” and how many of them can I take?

This course can be repeated for credit up to three times providing that it is a different topic each time. CST 460 is designed to give faculty an opportunity to focus on a special topic that is perhaps not fully represented in the normal curriculum. Because a wide variety of topics might be done as a 460, this allows us to be innovative in responding to student needs and turning current faculty scholarly interests into learning experiences for our students.

Careers and Applications Questions

See also the National Communication Association Web Site

What do our graduates do with a Communication Studies Degree?

Besides going on to be effective citizens in their relationships, families, workplaces and communities, there are some broad patterns of career choice that our graduated tend to follow. We have been tracking our students and what they go on to do as part of our departmental assessment processes. They do go in a wide variety of directions including but not limited to: PR, promotions, special events planning, HR, non-profit management, sales, training and development, ministry, law school, graduate school, and so on.

Advising questions

What should I expect from my advisor relationship, advising sessions, and when should we meet?

Your advisor is here to help you make decisions about courses that best meet your needs, including what order you should take classes in, and so on. You are responsible for the decisions you do make. Prior to your appointment you should review the schedule of classes for the upcoming semester and have some tentative choices and alternatives ready for you and your advisor to review. To assist you in making the best choices, it is a good idea to have an audit done periodically. Bring any audits with you to your advising appointment with any questions you have about courses, career objectives, and other university-related programs. At the conclusion of your advising session (15-30 min’s) your advisor will give you your PIN code enabling you to register online. You must get your “code” to register for classes from your advisor. Some courses (333, 412) must be added manually after you have gained faculty permission to register for them. Prior to registering for courses, check with you advisor on the times they will be holding advising appointments. They normally post these times on a sign-up sheet on their doors shortly before registration begins.

Can I change my advisor?

Yes, if there is a serious problem with your advising relationship. You do this through student academic services.

How do I find out which advisor I am assigned to?

You can schedule an appointment with either advisor you wish–once you are a CST major, their schedues show up in Starfish and you can select your own appointment dates/times.

How do I declare a “minor”?

Minors are declared in the department that is offering the minor. Follow the requirements as outlined in the bulletin.

Do we have to do an internship?

No, CST 412 is not required. Some students do not need an internship and so we do not require it.

What kinds of internships are available if I do want to do one and how do I sign up for one?

Talk to a faculty member with whom you might be interested in completing an internship. Check also the internship notice board in the department for leads. Each faculty member has specific types of internships that they supervise. You must set up the internship and register for it through a faculty member who has agreed to supervise you, and you must complete their contract form.

In what order should I take classes in the department?

You should follow the departmental check sheet for moving up through the levels of classes (100, 200, 300’s, etc), and you should pay particular attention to the prerequisites listed for upper level courses and plan with your advisor accordingly.

Why are some courses writing intensive, speaking intensive, or service-learning based?

The classes with SI and WI markers provide students with opportunities to practice speeches or writing through rehearsals at the Speaking Center or through draft and writing workshops. Speaking and Writing are emphasized as ways of learning effectively. As for SVL, the marker is there because the material is better, if not best, learned through hands-on experience of working with people in the community.

Which classes will prepare me for law school; sales or marketing; graduate school?

Your advisor will have materials on how our courses group together according to your current and future interests. Consult with them about these groupings, and the courses that will prepare you best for specific future interests, including graduate school.

Can I double major in communication and something else?

Yes, some students like to combine their interests and preparation for future plans by double majoring. See the undergraduate bulletin for guidelines and requirements.

What do I need to do to declare a major in Communication Studies?

If you have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above, you can declare your major in Communication Studies through the University Registrar Office.