Communication Studies

Chair: M. Chad McBride,
Department Office: Hitchcock Communication Arts Building, Room 310

The Department of Communication Studies is a vibrant program focused on teaching, service, and scholarship. Communication courses provide a strong foundation for your education while introducing communication theory, practicing communication principals, investigating how we interact with others in relationships, analyzing how we behave when joining an organization, and considering how popular culture impacts our daily lives.

The Department of Communication Studies prepares students to be intellectually curious, go into the world informed by Jesuit values, and contribute meaningfully to their communities and professions. Within our program, students will analyze, craft, and evaluate communication messages and understand communication as a set of everyday practices that are mindful, purposeful, and strategic. Students learn to ask good questions and find the answers about meaningful problems in our society, our workplaces and our personal lives. In our major capstone sequence, all students conduct a senior research project, complete an internship and reflect on the role of communication in their work, and connect communication with Jesuit values of service and justice. Our program offers flexibility in terms of choices of projects, service, and work experiences, giving students a chance to pursue a wide variety of occupations or graduate programs pursuant to their particular talents, callings, and interests. Our graduates are able to embrace and act on complex problems in groups, organizations, relationships, and cultures.

B.A., Communication Studies requirements: 36 credits

COM 200Communication Practices3
COM 300Communication Research Methods3
COM 359Rhetoric and Public Culture3
COM 360Organizational Communication Theories3
COM 361Interpersonal Communication3
COM 490Communication and Community3
COM 496Communication Internship and Professional Development1-3
COM 497Senior Research in Communication Studies3
Electives: Select 12 elective hours, 9 of which should be numbered at 200-level and above.12

Communication Studies minor requirements: 18 credits*

COM 359Rhetoric and Public Culture3
COM 360Organizational Communication Theories3
COM 361Interpersonal Communication3
Select 9 COM credits, 6 of those must be 200-level or above.
Total Credits18

A.A. Degree

This department offers the following associate degree:

Accelerated Master's Programs

  • The following programs are designed for students to complete their Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies while also pursuing a Master's degree.

B.A., Communication Studies / M.S., Health and Wellness Coaching
B.A., COM / M.S., Organizational Leadership
B.A., Communication Studies / M.S., Negotiation and Conflict Resolution


COM 000. COM Transfer Credit. 1-21 credits.

COM 101. Digital Communication Lab. 1 credit.

An introduction to the process by which informed, sound, and sensitive messages are formulated and delivered to influence decision-making. Emphasis on developing analytic approaches to message preparation: the validity, credibility, and uses of evidence; patterns of inference; and the selection and presentation of judgments. CO: Critical Issues in Human Inquiry course.

COM 152. Civic Engagement through Public Communication. 3 credits. FA, SP, SU

An introduction to the process by which informed, sound, and sensitive messages are formulated and delivered to influence decision-making. Emphasis on acquiring common analytic approaches to message preparation: the sources, credibility, and uses of evidence; patterns of inference; and the selection and presentation of judgments. Students apply critical thinking skills to solve problems and build consensus in interpersonal, small-group, and public settings.

COM 170. Communication across Cultures. 3 credits.

Communicating across Cultures will explore how we communicate interculturally, focusing first on the interpersonal (fact-to-face) communication that happens when we volunteer, travel, and socialize, and then on meta-level communication that audiences receive through media depictions of cultures (both explicit and implied). CO: COM 101.

COM 171. Friendships and Our Changing Social World. 3 credits.

Friendships are common and important human experience; they are often seen as egalitarian but can also (re)produce hierarchies. Students will understand the dimensions of friendships (from Aristotle's notions to Facebook "friends") and critically analyze the functions of friendships and the role they play in constructing social structure. CO: COM 101.

COM 172. Princesses, Brides and Mothers. 3 credits.

This course will descriptively and critically examine princesses, brides, and mothers as feminine icons. CO: COM 101.

COM 173. Health, Communication, and Media. 3 credits.

This course explores how popular media functions to influence health beliefs and behaviors. We will examine the effects health beliefs have on our interactions with others and critically evaluate health messages. Students will gain an understanding of how socially held health beliefs can privilege some groups in society over others. CO: COM 101.

COM 174. From Big Brother to Big Data: Surveillance Culture. 3 credits.

Recent breaking news has brought the topic of surveillance to the forefront of the U.S. American attention span. However, surveillance is hardly a new topic. This class examines surveillance as a critical issue that intersects our everyday lives. We will examine surveillance as government action, economic activity, and personal practice. This course will also task students with considering the ways surveillance practices disproportionally impact marginalized populations. C: COM 101.

COM 175. Diverse Family Communication on Challenging Topics. 3 credits.

This course explores the communicative experiences of diverse families during adolescence, focusing on ways families talk about challenging or taboo issues. This course focuses on "the family during adolescence" as a framework for communication analysis, and examines topics such as adolescent identity, racism/sexism, body image, adolescent stereotyping, peer-pressure, bullying/gossip, social media, and risky health behaviors. Co: One Magis Core Oral Communication course.

COM 176. Talk to Me, TED: Leadership, Social Media, and Communication. 3 credits.

Social media, communication, and leadership on their own have the ability to attract and form agents of change. Through social media, leadership and communication emerge to provide a unique opportunity for establishing power and change. ln an instant, leaders are capable of reaching new audiences and sharing topics related to diversity and social justice with the masses. Students in this course will examine how social media allows or constrains leaders (and potential leaders) access to audiences while spreading their message. CO: Oral Communication.

COM 177. Being Color Brave: Race, Privilege, Oppression, and Justice. 3 credits.

Using the standpoint of race, students examine how privilege, power, and difference operate among individuals and within institutions to create conditions of (in)justice. Students examine the importance of language; connections to service, social justice and human dignity; and articulate current events that exemplify privilege, power and/or oppression in moving toward become color brave. CO: Oral Communication course.

COM 200. Communication Practices. 3 credits. SP

Thinking about "communication as practice" involves not only engaging in multiple communicative activities but also talking and thinking about those activities as theoretical, normative, and discursive (Craig, 2006). In this course, students will be able to articulate, enact (individually and in groups), and evaluate various forms of communicative practice-including oral, written, visual, and technological-along the dimensions of interpersonal and organizational and from rhetorical and cultural perspectives.

COM 203. Applied Communication for Business Success. 1.5 credit.

This course is designed to give you practice in presenting yourself and your ideas in a variety of contexts, including virtual meetings, social media content, and face-to-face interactions. Throughout the course, you will adapt messages to different audiences and reflect on the role of verbal and nonverbal communication in different contexts. P: Heider College of Business students only; Sophomore standing.

COM 211. Communication Studies:Relationships, Work, and Culture. 3 credits.

Communications Studies: Relationships, Work, and Culture first explores the history of the communication discipline as well as theories and paradigms of and methods in Communication Studies and then outlines sub disciplinary contexts that may include Rhetoric, Interpersonal, Organizational, Mediated, Intercultural, Health, Group, Nonverbal, and Gender Communication.

COM 244. Cross-Cultural Communication. 3 credits.

Course combines attention to sociolinguistic theory and analysis with practical strategies for maximizing communication between people from varying national, ethnic, professional, religious, and regional backgrounds. P: Sophomore standing.

COM 261. This is Us: Exploring Complex Communication in Family and Interpersonal Relationships. 3 credits.

Often in our culture we learn about what it means to be in a particular relationship (e.g., family, romantic relationship, friendships) by watching media representations of these relationships. Sometimes these mediated relationships are an accurate representation of current knowledge about the relationship, but other times they are not. In this course, we will examine one such artifact, This is Us, and explore and analyze current relational communication literature to see how our social scientific knowledge about various relational communication topics is reflected in or challenges mediated representations of these relational issues in a popular TV show. P: Understanding Social Science course; Mathematical Reasoning course.

COM 300. Communication Research Methods. 3 credits. FA

Examination and practical application of research methods in Communication Studies. Includes rhetorical, cultural, interpretive, quantitative methods of analyzing communication artifacts such as content analysis, field research, ethnography, rhetorical criticism, among others. Applied to such areas as culture, group, interpersonal, family, organization, and media. P: One Magis Core Mathematical Reasoning course.

COM 312. Mass Media and Modern Culture. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 312, ENG 312)

Examination of the role of film, television, and print media in American life. P: Jr. stdg.

COM 314. Managerial Communication. 3 credits. FA, SP, SU

Theory and practice of advanced topics in managerial communication. Topics include organizational structure and lines of communication; interpersonal and group communication in organizational settings; problem solving; interviews; techniques for written and oral presentations. P: Jr. stdg; COM 101.

COM 319. Language, Culture, And The Individual. 3 credits. AY (Same as ANT 319)

The anthropological approach to the study of language examines the biological source and manner of human communication as well as the cultural processes that structure languages, their meanings, means of acquisition, and transformations. The course examines the interrelationship of individuals, groups, and the wider culture through language. P: So. stdg.

COM 320. Leadership: Theories, Styles, And Skills. 3 credits. OD (Same as EDU 320, ILS 320)

Course designed to offer participants an opportunity to gain a working knowledge of leadership theories and group dynamics. Designed to develop and improve leadership skills and to learn how to apply these skills in a practical setting. P: One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

COM 321. Persuasion. 3 credits. OD

Theory and practice for the advanced student interested particularly in psychology and method of persuasion. Useful for professional fields which deal in persuasion, or for anyone interested in better understanding the world of persuasion in which he or she lives. P: Understanding Social Science course.

COM 344. Border Rhetorics. 3 credits.

Borders are the product of an array of tensions - globalization, nationalism, racism, classism, sexism, colonialism, etc. These tensions erupt in borderlands. In Border Rhetorics, students interrogate the role of discourse (interpersonal, organizational, rhetorical, mediated, etc.) in imagining, describing, enforcing, and violating borders. Students will also consider questions of human dignity and social justice in border controversies, in particular, attending to the role our language around borderlands impacts our treatment of people who cross borders. This course is a 3-week Faculty Lead Program Away (FLPA) based in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland.

COM 359. Rhetoric and Public Culture. 3 credits. FA

This course provides an introduction to key theoretical concepts and perspectives in rhetoric and public culture (glossing the history of rhetoric and focusing on contemporary rhetorical theory). After considering how and why one might study rhetoric in contemporary public culture, emphasis is placed on how to critically analyze artifacts of public culture. P: One Magis Core Contemporary Composition course.

COM 360. Organizational Communication Theories. 3 credits. FA

Introduction to the basic theories, research, and methods of effective communication needed in the organizational setting. Review of the strategies of spoken and written communication to increase understanding and to affect the actions of others. Topics may include theories of management, models of communication, formal and informal communication networks, the elements of superior-subordinate communication, and communication styles and problems. P: One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

COM 361. Interpersonal Communication. 3 credits. SP

This course is designed to help you become more aware of the processes and theories of interpersonal communication. Throughout this semester, you will study communication between yourself and others through examination of scholarly research and self-analysis of interpersonal concepts. Topics include relational culture, perception, listening, conversations, identity formation/management, self-disclosure, stages of relationships, and conflict, among others. P: One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

COM 362. Small Group Communication. 3 credits.

Examines the need for communication within and between groups within the organization. Theory and practice in methods for improving communication within and between groups, including leadership, conflict management, and decision-making.

COM 363. Family Communication. 3 credits.

An introduction to the process by which students can use the principles of interpersonal and group communication to create and sustain healthy family relations. Course seeks to enable students to create and sustain cohesion and adaptability as two prerequisites for successful family relations. Topics covered include communication patterns and family meaning, the communication of intimacy, the communication of family roles, decision making in families, family conflict resolution, and communication strategies for reducing family stress.

COM 364. Family Communication About Health and Well-Being. 3 credits.

This course examines the connection of family communication and health/well-being. It covers topics of narrative medicine, infertility and parenthood; childhood health and obesity; adolescent health; depression; illness and cancer; and finally, family members' aging and end-of-life communication. P: Mathematical Reasoning course; Understanding Social Science.

COM 380. History And Criticism Of Cinema. 3 credits.

Motion pictures as a distinctive medium of communication and as an art form; film language; film history; film appreciation; critical assimilation of film content. P: Contemporary Composition course.

COM 390. Health Communication. 3 credits.

This course investigates research and theories and permits students to demonstrate practical applications of communication within health care situations. The course emphasizes understanding communication variables such as verbal, nonverbal, conflict, listening, and self-disclosure in health care contexts. The course also examines issues of ethics and relationships between health care providers, patients, and families. P: Understanding Social Science.

COM 440. Gender Communication. 3 credits. (Same as SOC 440, WGS 440)

The course examines the construction of gender through communication. Topics of lectures, exercises, and discussions may include: female-male roles and stereotypes; differences in verbal and nonverbal codes; partnership styles and alternatives; communication skills in relationships; gender and media; sexuality; gender and rhetoric; and special problem areas of female-male communication. P: One Magis Core Curriculum Understanding Social Science course.

COM 441. Dialogue and Deliberation. 3 credits.

This course has the dual purpose of exposing students to a variety of local, national and international examples of deliberative process while affording an opportunity for students to engage in the creation and facilitation of a deliberative forum on an issue important to the Creighton campus. This course is primarily about deliberation. At the moment (during this decade, at least), sustainability is a topic worthy of consideration through deliberative, democratic means.

COM 442. Cultural Communication. 3 credits.

This course combines attention to cultural communication and the ethnography of communication with practical strategies for coming to terms with communication between people from varying national, ethnic, professional, religious, and regional backgrounds. P: One Understanding Social Science course.

COM 447. Special Methods In Teaching Secondary School Speech. 3 credits.

To meet the needs of the teacher, or speech major who anticipates a teaching career. Practical methods and materials for a survey course in speech fundamentals. P: DC of Communication Studies, Education.

COM 450. Communicating Health Narratives. 3 credits.

This course examines communication in multiple health care contexts: individual (health beliefs and attitudes), interpersonal (patient-provider and provider-provider), organizational (hospital, and clinic), and societal (public health campaigns, public health policy, and health politics). We will explore how narratives function to construct and communicate health beliefs in these contexts.

COM 459. Environmental Communication. 3 credits.

Our communication about the natural world both interprets and defines it. We experience and understand the natural world through communication, through different channels, and through discourses that have evolved over time. This course interrogates this communication as well as the underlying assumptions that ground such communication. ln doing so, we will evaluate the social construction of the environment and environmental issues through media and other communication processes. This will allow us an opportunity to recognize how dominant discourses shape individual and societal choices. P: Understanding Social Science; Contemporary Composition.

COM 460. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Organizational Communication. 3 credits.

This course takes an advanced look at organizational communication by first covering the history and theoretical perspectives that underpin the study of organizations, and then by engaging significant areas of research in the field from a variety of methodological perspectives. P: COM 360 or IC.

COM 462. Gender, Work, and Organizing. 3 credits. (Same as WGS 462)

This course explores what it means to "work" and organize in a gendered world from a communicative perspective. Topics include how labor is valued differently whether performed in the public (i.e., business and government) or private realm (i.e., domestic work, childcare and eldercare) - and by whom such labor is performed. P: Understanding Social Science; Oral Communication.

COM 463. Communication Consulting. 3 credits.

Workshop evaluating characteristics of organizations (including schools and service organizations). Practical training in assessing the effectiveness of such interventions as curriculum, training and development, and personnel. Special emphasis on planning, conducting, and interpreting surveys; developing questionnaires, interpreting results, and writing final reports. P: Oral Communication course; COM 200; COM 300; COM 360.

COM 471. Discourse of the American Family. 3 credits.

With American culture, the concept of family has taken on "god term" status. Rather than studying communication within families, the course examines how the social construction of family (communication about family) has changed over time and examine the discourse, myths, problems/limitations, and power with how family has been culturally constructed.

COM 472. Communication in Close Relationships. 3 credits.

One of the unifying factors in human life is having close, personal relationships. These relationships cannot be formed or maintain closeness without communication. In this course, we will examine the role of communication in various close relationships (relationships which might be covered include family, friendships, and romantic relationships) as written and theorized about in the literature. Additionally, we will discuss and critique various methodological perspectives for the study of communication in close relationships. P: One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

COM 474. The Dark Side of Personal Relationships. 3 credits.

This particular course focuses on "the dark side" of interpersonal and family communication. Although much of communication research orients us to the value of open, honest, effective, and competent communication, this course acknowledges that an examination of the "brighter" sides of communication only provide part of the picture in everyday communication. Certainly, many of you have experienced lying, ambiguity, gossip, jealousy, loneliness, conflict, rejections, over sharing, criticism, shame, etc. in your interpersonal and family relationships. The goal of this course is to explore research, concepts, and theories that illuminate "the dark side" of relationships and provide orientation for understanding the dark side as inseparable from the bright side in understanding interpersonal and family communication. P: Understanding Social Science course.

COM 475. Resisting the Politics of Everyday Life. 3 credits.

This course is designed to study issues of experience, aesthetics, and practice in the study of human communication. Students will examine the relationship between politics and bodies, the dramatic nature of society, and the shared and public nature of culture. P: One Magis Core Critical Issues in Human Inquiry course; Senior standing.

COM 476. National Parks-Created through Communication. 3 credits.

This course will focus on how environmental communication impacts our experiences in national parks and has consequences for US national identity. This course will investigate how communication about national parks reveals historical tensions and power struggles. Additionally, it will give students a chance to study communication within national parks in situ so that they will better understand how communication in these setting operates. P: Critical Issues in Human Inquiry; Senior standing.

COM 478. Perspectives on Work-Life Balance, Wellness and Justice. 3 credits.

Students engage perspectives on “balance”, wellness, and justice in (paid) working life and personal/family life from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students explore the implications for social justice in (Western) cultural norms (including gendered and classist practices), governmental policies, organizational program, relational practices, and individual negotiations of identity(s) concerning balance and wellness. P: One Magis Critical Issues in Human Inquiry course. P: One Magis Core Critical Issues in Human Inquiry course; Sr. Stdg.

COM 479. Communication and Theology. 3 credits.

This course explores communication from a Christian perspective. Christian values such as charity, justice, freedom, human dignity, reconciliation, and peace as developed in Sacred Scripture, Church documents, and by great Christian thinkers are applied critically to issues and cases from three areas of communication studies: Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, and Mass Communication. P: PHL 250 or THL 250 or Magis Core Ethics course and Sr. Stdg.

COM 481. Rhetoric Dimensions of Persuasion and Social Movements. 3 credits.

This course will focus on the ethical dimensions of persuasion and social influence in public culture. Students will critically examine the role persuasion and social influence has historically had in the construction and evolution of social movements and their leaders.

COM 489. Visual Construction of Modern Culture. 3 credits.

This course explores the idea that memorable visual messages have power to inform, educate, and persuade. It attempts to discover why some images are remembered while some are not. We will study visual communications to understand their rhetorical power. Topics could include: iconicity, verbal versus visual, public memory, and visual argumentation.

COM 490. Communication and Community. 3 credits. SP

Communication and Community is the senior capstone course for majors in Communication Studies. lt offers students an opportunity to channel the experiences they have had with communication research and theory over the past years in order to prepare for life as a professional and a member of society. Students revisit the concept that communication and rhetoric (symbolic action) create and define social reality and examine how that has manifested in differing worldviews, resulting in "isms" (racism, heterosexism, ethnocentrism, etc.) as well as "moral conflicts." Students will discuss the importance of societal engagement and being a member of (multiple) communication communities. To supplement the "book" learning of the classroom, there will also be a community-based learning component where students take their new knowledge, in combination with their communication expertise, and engage with an unfamiliar or unknown Omaha community group. P: Ethics course; Senior standing; COM major.

COM 493. Directed Independent Readings In Communication. 1-3 credits. FA, SP, SU

In-depth survey of literature on a topic determined in consultation between a student and faculty supervisor. Requires extensive library work and a written analysis of readings. Subject matter and method constructed to meet the individual needs of students. May be repeated for credit to a limit of six hours. P: IC and approval of major adviser.

COM 494. Directed Independent Study in Communication. 0-3 credits. FA, SP, SU

Subject matter and method constructed to meet the individual needs of students. May be repeated for credit to a limit of three credits. P: IC and approval of major advisor.

COM 495. Special Topics In Communication Studies. 3 credits. OD

Focus on developing practical application of communication concepts in a variety of contexts. Course will be subtitled in the Schedule of Courses. No more than six hours of COM 495 may be taken for credit toward a degree.

COM 496. Communication Internship and Professional Development. 1-3 credits. FA, SP, SU

Students are placed in organizations for the purpose of applying the principles and theories learned in the classroom. Supervision provided both on site and on campus. May be repeated for credit to a limit of six semester hours. P: Nine hours of COM courses and Instructor Consent.

COM 497. Senior Research in Communication Studies. 3 credits. FA

This course reinforces students' knowledge of the communication research process by reviewing the methodical alternatives in the field, introducing students to exemplary scholarship in communication studies, and by guiding students through the completion of original research projects. P: COM 300 and One Magis Core Oral Communication course.

COM 498. Directed Independent Research - Special. 0-3 credits.

Participation in a pre-approved independent research project conducted outside the Creighton University Communication Studies Department. This course is repeatable.


Professors: Mary Ann Danielson, Erika L. Kirby, M. Chad McBride

Associate Professors: Marty Birkholt, Amanda Jean Holman, James Leighter, George F. McHendry Jr. , Samantha Senda-Cook, Sherianne Shuler

Instructor: Laura K. Gill

Resident Assistant Professor: William R Cooney