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 PennWest California 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 PennWest California'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 PennWest California, 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 PennWest California.
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. PennWest California 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. PennWest California 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 PennWest California. 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 PennWest California 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. PennWest California Television (CUTV) is PennWest California's award-winning cable TV station, owned and operated by the Student Association Inc. CUTV offers students experience in television writing, production and performance.

Kate Brady working an internship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Internship Experience

“My oral and written communications skills have improved through my internship experience,” says student Kate Brady. “On social media, I interact with more than 40,000 fans and in-person we connect with thousands of fans on game days. I have refined my skills and developed a professional communication style.”

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B.A., Communication Studies Courses

Students benefit from a multidisciplinary program that offers courses in communication, graphic design, art history and philosophy.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar  OR  UNI 101  Introduction to University Studies  OR  HON 100  Honors and University Orientation
ENG 101  English Composition I  OR  HON 150  Honors Composition I
Public Speaking
CDC 101  Public Speaking
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics or Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
3 or 4
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
Ethics and Multicultural Awareness
PHI 220  Ethics
General Education Options

Select one of the following courses related to reasoning:
  • CDC 201  Argumentation and Advocacy
  • PHI 115  Logic and Language
  • PHI 311  Formal Logic I
Select one of the following courses related to aesthetic appreciation:
  • CCDC 252  The Art of Film
  • PHI 335  Aesthetic Theory
  • ART 270  Art History Today
Select one of the following courses related to written expression:
  • ENG 102  English Composition II
  • ENG 211  Business and Professional Writing
  • ENG 217  Sci and Tech Writing
  • HON 250  Honors Comp II
Core Major Courses 30
CDC 100  Communication Perspectives 3
CDC 120  Visual Communication I 3
CDC 150  Imagine, Design, Create 3
CDC 151  Producing Media Messages I 3
CDC 200  Truth and Representation 3
CDC 220  Visual Culture 3
CDC 230  Strategic Professional Communication 3
CDC 304  Communication Research  OR  PHI 335  Aesthetic Theory 3
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
Advanced-Standing Courses (select four courses) 12
Select at least one course from the following:
  • CDC 310  Seminar in CDC
  • CDC 350  Image, Sound, Text
  • CDC 431  PR Cases and Problems
  • CDC 461  Communication and Social Meaning
  • CDC 465  Media Ethics
  • CDC 490  Theorizing Human Communication
3 or 6
Experiential Learning
Select at least one course from the following:
  • CDC 301  Advanced Performance 
  • CDC 311  Special Experience Lab in CDC 
  • CDC 331  Public Relations Applications 
  • CDC 351  Media Production II 
  • CDC 430  PR and 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 
3 or 6
Area Studies
Select at least one course from the following:
  • 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 and 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 and Problems
  • CDC 450  Media, Society, Culture
  • CDC 460  Phil of Art, His, Theory and Criticism 
  • CDC 498  Senior Project in CDC 
  • CDC 499  Career Design Strategies
  • PHI 335  Aesthetic Theory 
3 or 6
Free Electives 38
This category includes courses of interest to students, courses toward a minor and internships. 38
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): CDC 498 Senior Project in CDC OR CDC 499 Career Design Strategies
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): (1) Select from: CDC 304 OR PHI 335 AND (2) Select from: CDC 490 OR ART 422
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Lab Course