Communication and Media Studies

The CMS Major

Crafted. Customized. Curated. 

The CMS major combines field-specific curriculum with student’s chosen focus to produce a customized major that prepares students to act as conscious citizens and exceptional professionals.

Upon graduation, CMS majors are trained both in their field and in critical career skills sets including:

  • critical thinking
  • persuasive and thorough writing
  • problem solving
  • project and time management
  • written and spoken interpersonal communication
  • public speaking 
  • ethical and conscious professionalism

The CMS field is roughly divided across two approaches: the humanities approach and the social scientific approach. The core classes in CMS use a combination of these two paths to impart onto students the breadth and depth of the field. 

Concentrations within the major also speak to the bifurcated nature of the field and the need for hybridity of approaches. While specific information on each concentration appears on their dedicated page, below is a breakdown of where they stand in relation to the broad-based CMS field:

  • Arts + Production: humanities based
  • Business and Organizational Communication: social science based
  • Identity & Culture: hybrid of humanities and social science
  • Film Studies: humanities based

General Major Requirements

The requirements for majors in Communication and Media Studies are as follows:

  • Three Core CMS classes (CMS 101 Introduction to Communication & Media Studies; CMS 250 Intermediate Communication & Media Theory; CMS 301 Research Methods in Communication & Media Studies)
  • Seven additional courses in the chosen concentration, at least four at the 300-400 level
  • Senior Capstone Experience

CMS majors may count twelve credits taken toward non-CMS major or minor requirements as hours earned toward their CMS major.

CMS 101 Introduction to Communication & Media Studies  offered every fall semester 

This course introduces core issues in communication and media studies, ranging from theories and models of communication, the relationship between media and society, and history/technology/trends in newspapers, radio, television, film, electronic and digital technologies, & advertising. Key problems and paradigms are explored through materials drawn from academic scholarship, popular press, and multimedia.

CMS 201 Contemporary Popular Film & Television offered every other spring semester

This course teaches students to develop a critical understanding of the role of popular movies and television in their own lives and in U.S. culture. The course looks at issues of the relationship of media to social violence, gender identities, sexual identities, technology, minority cultures, and the role of the U.S. media globally.

CMS 250 Intermediate Communication & Media Theory offered every spring semester

Theory may seem like a scary word, but theory helps us to make sense of our world. Theories shape how we understand reality, relationships, and the media around us, and helps us to create media of our own. Theory tells us more about how we communicate, aids in holistic comprehension of our media landscape, and prepares us for lives consciously lived. This course exposes students to the major theories of communication and media studies, their application to the academic and professional inquiry in the field, and their importance in everyday life. The course also teaches students to write in and across the field, and prepares them for upper level critical, analytical, and theoretical based communication and media studies thinking and research. Students who take this class must have taken CMS 101 or have explicit permission from the professor to enroll.

CMS 301 Research Methods in Communication & Media Studies  offered every fall semester

What do Buzzfeed quizzes and the U.S. Census have in common? They’re both surveys constructed through a specific methodological approach. Whether you are trying to help the Internet determine what Stranger Things character they are or counting the U.S. population, you need a method to build your project on. This course introduces students to the basic quantitative, qualitative, interpretive, rhetorical, and critical research methods used in communication and media studies. Students can expect a project-based class applicable to majors across the social sciences and humanities that uses popular culture, current events, and multimedia to become methodological experts. Students who take this class must have taken CMS 250 or have explicit permission from the professor to enroll.

Senior Capstone Experience (SCE)

The Senior Capstone Experience is an intensive research project on a topic chosen by the student and guided by a faculty mentor. It hones research, analytic, and writing skills developed during four years of study. Students usually complete the Capstone in the spring of their senior year. However, planning for the SCE begins in the spring of their junior year with the submission of an SCE application during advising week. The Capstone receives a mark of Pass, Fail, or Honors.