Communication Major & Minor

Tackle challenges as diverse as the world itself

Communication, in one form or another, has been a core part of the social sciences at Cornell since its founding. Students in the Department of Communication learn to understand audiences, shape messages and interact with individuals and technologies. Through the study of science, media and technology, you’ll develop essential skills for leading in the rapidly changing communication landscape.  

Communication is a process engaged in by people, between people and with the aim of influencing people. It happens inside of real social contexts: communities, organizations, teams, nations, societies. It happens with the aid of information technologies that are themselves a product of the social world. 

As a Communication student, you’ll gain the theoretical strength and methodological rigor of the social sciences, and get to learn—even take part in—grounded, empirical research about some of the most pressing social issues of the day.  

Major in Communication

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Communication majors at Cornell learn how communication interacts with media, science, and technology, while developing skills to succeed in complex work environments. The communication curriculum offers students opportunities to experience the breadth of the field and to develop a depth of understanding in a chosen focus area.

Specific topics that Communication majors study are as diverse as the faculty and students who explore these areas in Communication research projects and courses.

The core curriculum provides majors with a foundation in fundamental communication theories and concepts, allows them to develop oral and written communication skills and instructs them in common communication research methods. After completing the core curriculum, all majors must complete an additional eighteen credits in communication courses distributed among advanced writing and presentation courses, electives and focus area requirements. Students must also complete three credits of introductory-level statistics outside of the department as part of the major requirement.

Communication majors participate in academic internships and other hands on experiences, including the Interaction Design Lab where students learn how technology can help to enable healthier, more socially connected and reflective living.

Focus Areas

  • Communication, Environment, Science and Health
  • Communication Media Studies
  • Communication and Information Technologies
  • Communication and Social Influence

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement.

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics* (including pre-calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)

  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science; statistics

Communication Major Requirements

A.  Core Courses (15 Credits)
B.  Focus Area Introductory Courses (6 Credits)
C.  Focus Area Upper Level Courses (6 Credits)
D.  Upper-Level Electives (9 Credits)
E.  Communication Practica (3 Credits)
F.  Additional COMM Major Requirements

A. Core Courses  (15 credits)

  • COMM 1101 - Introduction to Communication (fall only)
  • COMM 1300 - Visual Communication (winter, spring, summer)
  • COMM 2010 - Oral Communication (fall, spring, summer)
  • COMM 2310 - Writing About Communication (fall, spring, summer)
  • COMM 2820 - Research Methods in Communication Studies (fall only)

B. Focus Area (6 credits)

  • COMM 2200 - Media Communication (fall, summer)
  • COMM 2450 - Communication and Technology (fall, summer)
  • COMM 2760 - Persuasion and Social Influence (spring only)
  • COMM 2850 - Communication, Environment, Science and Health (spring only)

C. Focus Area Upper Level (6 credits)

  • Students must take six credits (two courses) of coursework within their declared Focus Area at the 3100+ level.

D. Upper-Level COMM (9 credits)

Students must complete 9 additional credit hours at the 3100+ level. Electives can come from any of the focus area lists. A student may elect to fulfill 3 of these credit hours by taking a third focus area introductory course.  A maximum of 6 credits can be counted for 4970 or 4990 (combined). Refer to the Course and Time Roster for the most up-to-date offerings. 

  • ANTHR/COGST/STS 4330 - How Do We Know Nature? Language, Knowledge and the Environment - CESH
  • COML/ENG/MUSIC/PMA 2703 - Thinking Media - CMS
  • COMM  3100  Communication and Decision Making in Groups - CSI            
  • COMM  3110  Educational Psychology - CSI                    
  • COMM  3150  Organizational Communication: Theory and Practice - CSI        
  • COMM  3189  Taking America’s Pulse - CSI
  • COMM  3200  New Media and Society - CAT, CMS
  • COMM  3210  Communication and the Environment - CESH, CMS
  • COMM  3300  Media and Human Development  - CESH, CAT, CMS, CSI
  • COMM  3400  Personal Relationships and Technology - CAT, CSI
  • COMM  3450  Human Computer Interaction Design - CAT
  • COMM  3460  Crowds, Communities, and Technology - CAT, CSI
  • COMM  3560  Computing Cultures - CSI, CAT
  • COMM  3710   Crossing Cultures Through Film - CSI
  • COMM  3720   Intercultural Communication - CSI
  • COMM  3760   Planning Communication Campaigns - CSI, CMS, CESH
  • COMM  4200  Public Opinion and Social Processes  - CMS, CSI, CESH
  • COMM  4201  Information Policy: Research, Analysis, and Design - CSI
  • COMM  4220  Psychology of Entertainment Media - CAT, CESH, CMS
  • COMM  4250  Sports and the Media - CMS
  • COMM  4260  Gender & the Media - CMS
  • COMM  4280  Communication Law - CMS, CSI 
  • COMM  4292  Sexual Identities and the Media - CMS
  • COMM  4300  Ethics in New Media, Technology and Communication - CESH, CAT, CMS, CSI
  • COMM  4350  Communicating Leadership and Ethics - CSI
  • COMM  4360  Communication Networks and Social Capital - CAT, CMS
  • COMM  4380  Communication in Virtual Worlds - CAT
  • COMM  4400  Advanced Human-Computer Interaction Design - CAT
  • COMM  4410  Communicating Self in Social Media - CAT
  • COMM  4450  Computer-Mediated Communication - CAT
  • COMM  4560  Community Involvement in Decision Making - CESH
  • COMM  4650  Mobile Communication in Public Life - CAT, CMS
  • COMM  4660  Public Communication of Science and Technology - CESH
  • COMM  4760  Population Health Communication - CESH, CSI
  • COMM  4860  Risk Communication - CESH, CSI
  • COMM 4940  COMM Special Topics count ONLY if they are 3 credits (may be repeated if different topics)
  • COMM 4970  COMM Individual Study 
  • COMM 4990  COMM Independent Research


* More 31XX+ courses may be added.

Students may not use the following courses to complete this area:

  • COMM 2990 (Research – Freshman/Sophomore level)

  • Courses ranging from COMM 3000 through 3099

  • COMM 4580 (The Science of Behavior)

  • COMM 4950-4952 (NYCOMM, LACOMM and SiliCOMM

  • COMM 4960 (Communication Internship - only 2 credits, one per internship, may count towards graduation)

  • COMM 4980 (TA - only 6 credits may count towards graduation)

E. Communication Practica (3 credits)

  • COMM 3010: Narrative for Digital Media
  • COMM 3020: Science Writing for the Media 
  • COMM 3030: Organizational Writing
  • COMM 3040: Writing and Editing for the Media 
  • COMM 3060: Creating a Personal Brand 
  • COMM 3070: Communicating for Impact: Developing Strategic Messages
  • COMM 3080: Environmental & Sustainability Communication
  • COMM 3090: Experiential Writing in the Yucatan
  • * All courses in the 30XX range count as a Practica

E. Additional COMM Major Requirements

  • One First-Year Writing Workshop (FWS). (A score of 5 on the AP English Language exam is accepted.)

  • Students must take an introductory statistics class, such as PAM 2100, AEM 2100, ILRST 2100, etc.
    A transfer credit or a score of 5 in AP statistics is also acceptable as credit for this requirement. Students should consult with CALS Student Services to ensure they have the appropriate credit for this requirement.

  • Develop familiarity with ideas fundamental to scholarship in the social sciences, with mastery of principles of key communication theories.
  • Demonstrate understanding of how processes of social influence operate in communication contexts including science, media and technology.
  • Apply systematic analytic skills to pressing social and policy issues.
  • Develop communication knowledge and skills to enter into and succeed in complex social organizations.
  • Recognize the foundations, assumptions, and methods of communication research, and be able to apply a wide range of empirical research methods to diverse intellectual questions.
  • Write and speak lucidly, logically, and intelligently.

COMM 2450 – Communication and Technology

This course steps back from the bewildering changes in information technology and social media, to ask some fundamental questions about technology and its role in human behavior and society. Topics include the psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication; how design plays a role in the way we interface with technology and collaborate with each other; and the ways in which communication technology is situated inside social and institutional structures and cultural formations.

COMM 2760 – Persuasion and Social Influence

Social influence and persuasion are the most basic and important functions of communication. The course covers characteristics of persuasive messages, message sources, and targets; interpersonal influence; and influence in groups. Special emphasis is given to topics in health, science, risk. This course features interactive lectures, assignments that apply principles of persuasion to real world contexts, and an applied group research project.

COMM 2850 – Communication, Environment, Science, & Health

Environmental problems, public health issues, scientific research— in each of these areas, communication plays a fundamental role. From the media to individual conversations, from technical journals to textbooks, from lab notes to the web, communication helps define scientifically-based social issues and research findings. This course examines the institutional and intellectual contexts, processes, and practical constraints on communication in the sciences.

COMM 2200 – Media Communication

This course will provide an introductory understanding of media content, industries, policies, research and effects. Topics include the history of mediated communication, how the media operate, how they affect you and others, how society influences the creation of mediated messages, how messages are psychologically processed, who owns/controls the media, research to date on media content and effects and an overview of media policy. These topics will be examined through current theoretical and empirical research on mediated communication. In this sense, the course is designed to introduce you to topics that will be covered in depth in the media-related Communication courses here at Cornell.

Minor in Communication

The Minor Program of Study in Communication gives students a balanced background in communication theory and practice. The broad applications of our curriculum will contribute and advance your understanding of a broad range of disciplines. The minor consists of 21 credit hours.

The minor consists of 21 credit hours.

Students must complete:
COMM 1101: Introduction to Communication – Fall only

Two courses from the following, only one of which can be a writing course (2310 or 3000-3099):
COMM 1300: Visual Communication – Spring only
COMM 2010: Oral Communication
COMM 2310: Writing about Communication (Very limited spots for non-majors)
COMM 2820: Research Methods in Communication Studies – Fall only
COMM 3010: Writing and Producing the Narrative for Digital Media
COMM 3020: Science Writing for the Media
COMM 3030: Organizational Writing
COMM 3040: Writing and Editing for the Media 
COMM 3060: Connecting Experience: Creating a Personal Brand and Implementing an ePortfolio
COMM 3070: Communicating Today: Creating Strategic Messages Across Media
COMM 3080: Environmental & Sustainability Communication 
COMM 3090: Experiential Writing in the Yucatan: Environmental and Cultural Communication

One Focus Area Introductory Course from the following:
COMM 2200: Media Communication – Fall & Summer only
COMM 2450: Communication and Technology – Fall & Summer only
COMM 2760: Persuasion and Social Influence – Spring only
COMM 2850: Communication, Environment, Science and Health – Spring only

Three courses of upper-level Communication from the following: 
ANTHR/COGST/STS 4330 - How Do We Know Nature? Language, Knowledge and the Environment - CESH
COML/ENG/MUSIC/PMA 2703 - Thinking Media - CMS
COMM  3100  Communication and Decision Making in Groups - CSI            
COMM  3110  Educational Psychology - CSI                    
COMM  3150  Organizational Communication: Theory and Practice - CSI        
COMM  3189  Taking America’s Pulse - CSI
COMM  3200  New Media and Society - CAT, CMS
COMM  3210  Communication and the Environment - CESH, CMS
COMM  3300  Media and Human Development  - CESH, CAT, CMS, CSI
COMM  3400  Personal Relationships and Technology - CAT, CSI
COMM  3450  Human Computer Interaction Design - CAT
COMM  3460  Crowds, Communities, and Technology - CAT, CSI
COMM  3560  Computing Cultures - CSI, CAT
COMM  3710   Crossing Cultures Through Film - CSI
COMM  3720   Intercultural Communication - CSI
COMM  3760   Planning Communication Campaigns - CSI, CMS, CESH
COMM  4200  Public Opinion and Social Processes  - CMS, CSI, CESH
COMM  4201  Information Policy: Research, Analysis, and Design - CSI
COMM  4220  Psychology of Entertainment Media - CAT, CESH, CMS
COMM  4250  Sports and the Media - CMS
COMM  4260  Gender & the Media - CMS
COMM  4280  Communication Law - CMS, CSI 
COMM  4292  Sexual Identities and the Media - CMS
COMM  4300  Ethics in New Media, Technology and Communication - CESH, CAT, CMS, CSI
COMM  4350  Communicating Leadership and Ethics - CSI
COMM  4360  Communication Networks and Social Capital - CAT, CMS
COMM  4380  Communication in Virtual Worlds - CAT
COMM  4400  Advanced Human-Computer Interaction Design - CAT
COMM  4410  Communicating Self in Social Media - CAT
COMM  4450  Computer-Mediated Communication - CAT
COMM  4560  Community Involvement in Decision Making - CESH
COMM  4650  Mobile Communication in Public Life - CAT, CMS
COMM  4660  Public Communication of Science and Technology - CESH
COMM  4760  Population Health Communication - CESH, CSI
COMM  4860  Risk Communication - CESH, CSI
COMM 4940  COMM Special Topics count ONLY if they are 3 credits (may be repeated if different topics)
COMM 4970  COMM Individual Study 
COMM 4990  COMM Independent Research


* There may be additional COMM Upper Level courses that are not listed. If you have a question about a particular course, contact program coordinator hec58 [at] cornell.edu (subject: Transfer%20Credit%20for%20COMM%20Minor) (Heather Crespin).

  • Upper-Level Communication courses must be between COMM 3100 and 4990 (excluding COMM 4950-4952, 4960, and 4980).
  • Only certain COMM 4940 Special Topics course will count in this area; please ask hec58 [at] cornell.edu (subject: Transfer%20Credit%20for%20COMM%20Minor) (Heather Crespin).
  • Students may also use an additional Focus Area Intro Course or COMM 2840 in this area.
  • Minor Transfer Credit Policy: Students can transfer up to 6 credits toward the 21 credits required for the minor. Only course equivalencies will count toward minor. To determine whether a course will be counted as an equivalent, please email hec58 [at] cornell.edu (subject: Transfer%20Credit%20for%20COMM%20Minor) (Heather Crespin )with a copy of the syllabus of the course in question.

Acceptance is automatic to the minor. If you complete the form, you are a listed a pursuing the minor until you let us know that you are no longer completing it. There is no penalty for lack of completion. 

Declare the Communication Minor

Transfer requirements

Study communication processes and put theory to use in understanding audiences, shaping messages, and interacting with individuals and technologies. Focus areas include: environmental, science and health, media studies,  information technologies and social influence.

Academic Record

  • Strong academic record at the college level. In general, competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.

  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.

  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

Required:

Strongly encouraged (but not required):

  • One full year of Introductory Biology (labs recommended)

  • One course in either General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I (labs recommended)

(Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).

Required:

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking

  • Statistics

  • Psychology

  • Sociology

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I (labs recommended)

Strongly encouraged (but not required):

  • One full year of Introductory Biology (labs recommended)

Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition and Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language

All courses must be approved by CALS for transfer to the College before they can be considered for counting toward the Communication major. The following only applies to the Communication major:

  • Up to 12 credits of coursework may be counted towards Cornell Communication major, if approved, from transfer coursework.
    • Students may transfer communication credits that are course equivalencies; that is, courses which are taught in our department. 
    • Students may transfer in one 3-credit communication practica course. 
    • Students may transfer in one 3-credit upper level elective (from a study abroad or an institution of higher education) that is communication-related, even if it is not necessarily equivalent. This must be approved by the advisor.
    • Petitions for coursework outside of these parameters should be sent to the hec58 [at] cornell.edu (Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Heather Crespin.)
       
  • In addition to the 12 Communication credits, students may also transfer up to 12 credits toward their Outside Concentration, and 3 statistics credits, which are required for the Communication major.

All questions regarding communication transfer credits should be sent to the hec58 [at] cornell.edu (Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Heather Crespin.) 

For students looking to transfer Communication courses toward the major, please include a copy of the syllabus (which includes required readings, assignments and course work) in your email to Heather. 

Careers in Communication

Students conduct a meeting

Business

  • Marketing manager
  • Gallery assistant
  • Business analyst
  • Product buyer
  • Social media customer care
  • Supply chain analyst
  • Business development coordinator
  • Wine sales and marketing manager

Communication

  • Social media coordinator
  • Public relations associate
  • Advertising analyst
  • Film production assistant
  • Web designer
  • Digital designer
  • Journalism staff writer
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Marketing manager

Education/Research

  • Leadership coach
  • Numeracy interventionist
  • English instructor
  • Elementary teacher
  • Bilingual teacher
  • Communication assistant
  • Research aid
  • UX researcher
  • Research analyst

Entertainment

  • Marketing coordinator
  • Talent agent
  • Non-scripted television assistant
  • Creative artist assistant
  • Professional hockey player
  • Client service representative

More

Law officer

Harm reduction specialist

Nonprofit marketing and communication manager

35%

of students

joined an off-campus experience, such as Cornell Abroad, Urban Semester and Cornell in Hollywood.

20

Countries represented

The Department of Communication includes students from 27 states and 20 countries.

Student Organizations

Student groups are a great way for students to explore their interest in many areas. Communication-related groups include:

  • The Cornell Daily Sun
  • Slope Media
  • Centrally Isolated Film Festival
  • The Thread Magazine
  • The Big Red Sports Network
  • Cornell Media Guild - WVBR Radio

Explore your opportunities

A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.