Communication Studies

Communication Studies Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree On-campus

About Communication Studies

Benefit from multidisciplinary learning to prepare for dynamic communication careers.

Communication skills and knowledge have never been more in demand than they are right now. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication Studies at California University of Pennsylvania offers students an essential set of tools and understanding through:

  • Project-driven coursework.
  • A collaborative learning environment.
  • Experienced faculty.
  • A vibrant, multidisciplinary community of learners.


Newly revised, the B.A. in Communication Studies program combines a range of innovative communication perspectives with a broad set of skills developed in applied courses across a spectrum of specialized communication contexts (media, public relations, film) and knowledge-building courses in philosophy, art history, theory and critique.

Gain a career advantage with Cal U's focus on a well-rounded curriculum.

Students in communication studies learn how to make powerful, effective presentations; write for a range of audiences; and think about designing messages, images and communication campaigns. You will be immersed in the rich history of rhetoric, graphic design, philosophy, art history and the applied fields of media writing, video and audio production, film, and public relations. 

Communication studies courses in persuasion, imagining, designing and executing communication messages open doors to a wide range of jobs and careers.


Solid foundation:  The B.A. in Communication Studies program is unique in the region and across Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. At Cal U, students in communication studies study philosophy, learn creative and visualization skills in graphic design, and develop visual perceptivity and cultural awareness from art history. Students also gain a full range of skills and knowledge in communication studies, including rhetoric, media, social media, research and public relations.

Rich resources: Communication studies faculty members engage in a range of research and applied scholarship, and welcome student participation. Students also can take advantage of our co-curricular student organizations, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and Studio 224, the graphic design club. These two student organizations also will be joining forces to form a new student-run communication firm. These organizations provide students with leadership opportunities and project experience, which serve to enhance their resumes. Students learn in recently renovated production studio space, equipped with an infinity screen, digital cameras and an editing suite.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at Cal U.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in communication studies, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

Students take core courses and experience this learning as a group throughout their four years as communication studies majors. In the last two years of the program, students work closely with their advisers to custom-design their remaining coursework, drawing from a broad range of available courses. Students also can choose from three minors: art history, graphic design and philosophy. These minors can enhance graduates' skills and knowledge to help them succeed in organizational settings of all kinds.

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Graduate Outcomes

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4% through 2024, which will result in about 27,400 new jobs. Cal U graduates are employed by such leading organizations nationwide as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Phipps Botanical Gardens, Blue Cross Blue Shield, USA Today, FOX 5 DC, PR agency Hundred Stories and more. Cal U graduates also go on to graduate study at such institutions as West Virginia University, University of Pittsburgh, Ohio University, Penn State, Delaware University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Communication Studies (B.A.)
A student works at the zoo.

Valuable internships

Communication studies majors are encouraged to take at least two internships, which often result in a first job offer. Students have had internships at Markowitz Communications; Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium; Pittsburgh Steelers; Pittsburgh Penguins; Pittsburgh Pirates; Washington Wild Things; American Diabetes Association; Make-A-Wish Foundation; Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus; Children's Museum of Pittsburgh; Harley-Davidson Motors; Froggy Radio; KDKA; Fox News; Republican National Convention; The Washington Center; Golf Channel; Whirl Magazine; Walt Disney World; The Tonight Show/NBC; and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

A communications studies student sits in the classroom.

Top benefits

Program graduates point to many important benefits from studying communication studies at Cal U. Rachel Connelly '12, who is currently working at Blue Cross Blue Shield, says she was "workforce-ready for a variety of fields, including healthcare. This program prepared me to work in a mid-level position with the ability to grow into leadership." Marc Stempka '10, digital content writer at Geisinger Health System, says he was able to apply his internship experience to what he learned in the classroom. "Being close to Pittsburgh helped to greatly increase opportunities for internships, and my Cal U professors were wonderful to work with when it came to balancing education and internships." Davine Behanna '06 says the program's top benefit is "small class sizes, which allow more one-on-one time with your professors and deeper, meaningful relationships with your classmates and professors." Behanna is the assistant to the director of a privately owned financial advisory firm.

A communication studies major uses the television studio.

Campus resources

California's radio station, WCAL, provides students with hands-on radio experience, while broadcasting news, sports, public service information and the best in popular music from a variety of genres. Students who successfully complete a training program are able to become on-air DJs. California University Television (CUTV) is Cal U's award-winning cable TV station, owned and operated by the Student Association Inc. CUTV offers students experience in television writing, production and performance. CUTV is seen in more than 100,000 homes through various cable systems in southwestern Pennsylvania. Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society is the official communication studies honor society of the National Communication Association.


B.A., Communication Studies Courses


Course Credits
Freshman Year  
First Semester 16
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar 1
ENG 101 English Composition I or HON 150 3
CDC 100 Communication Perspectives 3
CDC 101 Public Speaking 3
CDC 120 Visual Communication I 3
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Course 3
Second Semester 15
ENG 102 English Composition II, ENG 211 Business and Professional Writing, ENG 217 Science and Technical Writing OR HON 250 Honors Composition II 3
CDC 150 Imagine, Design, Create 3
CDC 201 Argumentation and Advocacy, PHI 115 Logic and Language OR PHI 311 Formal Logic I 3
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Course 6
Sophomore Year  
Third Semester 15
ART 270 Art History Today, CDC 252 The Art of Film or PHI 335 Aesthetic Theory 3
CDC 200 Truth and Representation
CDC 151 Producing Media Messages I
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Course
Fourth Semester 15
PHI 220 Ethics 3
CDC 220 Visual Culture 3
CDC 230 Strategic Professional Communication 3
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Course 6
Junior Year  
Fifth Semester 15
CDC 304 Communication Research OR PHI 335 Aesthetic Theory
Required Related Elective*
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Course 9
Sixth Semester 15
Required Related Electives*
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Courses 
Senior Year  
Seventh Semester 15
Required Related Electives* 6
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Courses 9
Eighth Semester 15
CDC 490 Theorizing Human Communication or ART 422 After Modernism 3
CDC 498 Senior Project in Communication, Design and Culture OR CDC 499 Career Design Strategies 3
Required Related Elective* 3
Gen Ed/Elective/Minor Courses 6
Total 120

* Advanced Standing Electives (Choose at least one from each category)

CDC 310: Seminar in CDC
CDC 350: Image, Sound, Text
CDC 431: PR Cases and Problems 
CDC 490: Theorizing Human Communication
CDC 461: Communication and Social Meaning 
CDC 465: Media Ethics 

Experiential Learning
CDC 301: Advanced Performance 
CDC 311: Special Experience Lab in CDC 
CDC 331: Public Relations Applications 
CDC 351: Media Production II 
CDC 430: PR & Integrated Communication Practicum 
CDC 432: Public Relations Campaign Management
CDC 451: Producing Media Messages III
CDC 455: Media Writing III 
CDC 497: Internship in CDC 

Area Studies
ART 422: After Modernism
CDC 210: Special Topics in CDC 
CDC 302: Persuasion 
CDC 303: Organizational Communications
CDC 304: Communication Research
CDC 305: Sports Com & Media Relations
CDC 312: Area Studies in CDC 
CDC 330: Intro to Public Relations
CDC 355: Media Writing I 
CDC 356: Media Writing II 
CDC 357: Media Management
CDC 370: Challenges in Communicating Science 
CDC 431: PR Cases & Problems
CDC 450: Media, Society, Culture
CDC 460: Phil of Art, His, Theory & Criticism 
CDC 498: Senior Project in CDC 
CDC 499: Career Design Strategies
PHI 335: Aesthetic Theory 



Communication Studies Faculty

James Carter
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Sylvia Foil

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Dr. Craig Fox
Associate Professor and Associate Director of the University Honors Program

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Greg Harrison

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Dr. Susan Jasko
Associate Professor

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Dr. Macdonald Kale
Associate Professor

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Dr. Drew McGukin
Associate Professor

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Cindy Persinger
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Joel Press
Associate Professor

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Dr. Nancy J. Shaffer
Associate Professor

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Dr. Greg Spicer
Associate Professor; Director of Speech and Debate

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