Communication Arts

Women's College

Four-Year Plan
Course Descriptions

Joseph Faura, MFA
Debra Minick Franklin, Ph.D.
Joseph C. Schaub, Ph.D., Chair

The communication arts department of the School of Arts and Sciences offers a major and minor in communication arts to students in the Women's College. The program provides an intensive study of communication between and among persons, via the mass media and in cyberspace. The department mission is to enable students to be knowledgeable creators and astute consumers of messages within our increasingly complex, technological society. The core curriculum aims to develop the student's talents in communicating effectively in print, in visuals, in speech and with diverse types of media. By offering the student additional choices through a series of electives, the program also encourages the student to design a specialty within the communication fields, such as advertising, video and digital media, public relations, journalism or corporate communication. Through internships, practicums and advanced courses, the student learns in more depth about the theory and practices of the specific communication area of the student's interest.

Department facilities include a color video studio with computer-based nonlinear editing, a campus video cable network, ENG equipment for video field work and the campus radio studio. Classes meet frequently in the campus Macintosh laboratory for sessions on writing, digital publishing, digital design work and multimedia presentations.

Early internships during the sophomore and junior years may be taken to explore various career areas in which students may be interested. All communication arts majors must complete an advanced practicum with an approved organization as part of their senior year experience.

Graduates in communication arts have been employed in settings as varied as C-SPAN, Animal Planet, SmartCEO magazine, Baltimore Magazine, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, and The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. They serve as advertising media planners, Webmasters, media relations experts, television producers, newspaper editors and sports information directors. An active Advisory Board of department graduates assists the faculty in preparing the students for careers. The department sponsored the first student chapter of the Association for Women in Communications in the state of Maryland.

The general education requirement in fine arts may be fulfilled by any of the following courses: COM-325, COM-330 or COM-351. The general education proficiency in oral communication may be fulfilled by COM-106 or COM-206. COM-106 is designed specifically for non-communication arts majors; communication arts majors and minors must complete COM-206. The general education requirement in gender studies may be met by completing COM-330, COM-382 or the honors course COM-329. COM-329 also fulfills the requirement in history. The general education requirement in cross-cultural studies may be met by completing COM-303. Communication arts majors and minors must complete all courses for the major/minor (including departmental electives) with a grade of C or higher.

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Program of Study

Required Courses for a Major in Communication Arts (Credits)

COM-101 Introduction to Media Writing (3)
COM-131 Mass Media and Society (3)
COM-200 Digital Skills Workshop (1)
COM-201 Interpersonal and Team Communication (3)
COM-206 Speaking in Professional Settings (fulfills general education requirement for majors) (3)
COM-210 Social Media (3)
COM-256 Popular Culture (3)
COM-310 Media Literacy (3)
COM-313 Digital Media Skills (3)
COM-314 Reporting and Writing News (3)
COM-356 Communication Research Methods (3)
COM-441 Mass Communication Law (3)
COM-461 Communication Arts Practicum (4)

Students also take three additional courses of their choice to prepare for specific careers in communication. Students interested in digital production are strongly encouraged to enroll in DMA-201 Time-Based Media.

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Minor in Communication Arts

COM-101 Introduction to Media Writing (3)
COM-131 Mass Media and Society (3)
COM-201 Interpersonal and Team Communication (3)
Plus three communication arts electives of the student's choice, two of which must be at the 300- or 400-level (9)

N.B. majors and minors must complete COM-206 Speaking in Professional Settings with a grade of C or higher to fulfill the communication proficiency requirement in general education.

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Four-Year Plan

A sample program of study for the communication arts major follows. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor. The plan is intended as a guide only. Many variations are possible.

See course descriptions for a list of required courses and description of course and program options.

Fall Spring 
First year      
COM-131 Mass Media and Society 3 COM-101 Introduction to Media Writing 3
Foreign Language 3 COM-256 Popular Culture 3
Natural Science 4 Mathematics 3
ENG-101 College Writing 3 RST-201 Introduction to Biblical Studies 3
NDMU-100 First Year Seminar 3 History or Social Science 3
[16 credits]   Physical Education 1
    [16 credits]  
Second year      
COM-201 Interpersonal and Team Communication 3 COM-206 Speaking in Professional Settings 3
COM-210 Social Media 3 COM elective 3
PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy 3 History or Social Science 3
English Literature 3 PHL or RST 300/400 level 3
General Education/Course in minor 3 General Education/Course in minor 3
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Third year      
COM-314 Reporting and Writing News 3 COM-356 Communication Research Methods 3
COM elective 3 COM-310 Media Literacy 3
Course in minor 3 COM-313 Digital Media Skills 3
Gender Studies/Cross Cultural 3 Gender Studies/Cross Cultural 3
PHL or RST 300/400 level 3 Ethics/Values Requirement 3
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Fourth year      
COM-441 Mass Communication Law 3 COM-461 Practicum 4
COM elective 3 General Education/minor/Electives 9-11
General Education/Course in minor 6 [13-15 credits]  
Internship 3    
[15 credits]      

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COM-101 Introduction to Media Writing

Explores the various types of writing and rhetorical approaches used in crafting messages for the mass media. Provides experience in writing for journalistic, broadcasting, public relations and advertising needs, with diagnostic attention given to the individual student's writing skills. Writing requirements of the Web and digital media are previewed. Intensive laboratory work assists the student in improvement of skills. Offered in Women's College only. Prerequisite: ENG-101 or permission of department. [3 credits]

COM-106 Fundamentals of Oral Communication

Cultivates oral communication skill for non-majors, with emphasis on improving speaking and listening skills. Analyzes factors affecting oral communication with self, in dyads, small groups, the public arena, organizations, mass media, and among members of differing cultural backgrounds. Practical experience in delivering speeches and briefings. Fulfills the general education requirement in oral communication. [3 credits]

COM-131 Mass Media and Society

Studies the role of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, motion pictures and the "new media" in contemporary life and their impact on sociological and cultural patterns. The goal of the course is to develop the students'critical perspective through reflective review of media messages and analysis of current media systems. [3 credits]

COM-200 Digital Skills Workshop

Provides students with hands-on experience in using digital technology tools toward development of competencies needed for advanced courses in the major and professional field work. Should be completed by majors in the first or second year. [3 credits]

COM-201 Interpersonal and Team Communication

Examines concepts, principles and skills central to interpersonal communication processes. Develops understanding of verbal and nonverbal dimensions of human interaction from both experiential and competency-based approaches. Consideration given to group dynamics. Students write reflective journals and participate in a number of workshop experiences. [3 credits]

COM-202 College Media Workshop

Provides training for staff members and leaders of the student media on campus-the yearbook, television channel, radio station and newspaper. Requires substantial writing, editing, promotional, and/or production work on at least one campus medium. Opportunities to develop materials for presentation in a professional portfolio. May be repeated for additional credit (up to six credits) to complete an extended project or learn new skills. [1-3 credits]

COM-206 Speaking in Professional Settings Speaking in Professional Settings

Explores the art of public communication and persuasion, content and delivery, through composition and delivery of a variety of speeches. Particular attention is given to the xpectations of the workplace. Recommended in first year or second year. Fulfills the general education requirement in oral communication. [3 credits]

COM-210 Social Media

Engages students in a theoretical and critical look at the incursion of social media (such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter) into human communication processes and considers the implications of use of these media for the future of communication. [3 credits]

COM-221 Small Group Communication

Studies communication in task and decision-making groups. Explores communication that contributes to cohesion, conformity, conflict and coalition formation. Provides methods of team building and group observation through varied workshop opportunities. [3 credits]

COM-249 Television Performance

Employs a workshop format to examine the techniques used in television performance. Develops skills in news delivery, interviewing and on-camera demonstration. Students spend extensive time in front of the camera improving their delivery. Teaches basic scriptwriting and directing. [3 credits]

COM-256 Popular Culture

Explores contemporary American culture through an examination of the creation and propagation of iconic images, myths, stereotypes and shared beliefs within a mass-mediated context. Extensive discussion and analysis of media and media artifacts. [3 credits]

COM-257 Honors: Japanese Popular Culture: Manga & Anime

Examines a wide variety of post WWII Japanese manga, anime, and film texts.  Considers their relevance to contemporary Japanese and American society and to future Japanese-American relations. Prerequisite: Morrissy scholar or permission of Morrrissy program director.  Fulfills general education requirement in cross-cultural studies. [ 3 credits ]

COM-301 Feature Writing

Focuses on the preparation of long and short feature articles, columns and editorials for magazine, newspaper or web publication. Analyzes markets for writing. Requires reporting activities outside of class. Opportunities to prepare manuscripts for publication and for the professional portfolio. Prerequisite: COM-101. [3 credits]

COM-303 Intercultural Communication

Provides an overview of face-to-face intercultural communication, integrating theory and interaction. Examines the anthropological, sociological and psychological aspects of culture as applied to solving communication problems in multicultural and international settings. Fulfills general education requirement in cross-cultural studies. [3 credits]

COM-310 Media Literacy

Explores visual and audio literacy through the balance of critical consumption and production skills. Employs a series of units in which students decode complex visual and audio images and then move to composition in both visual and auditory production. Creation of a Web-based portfolio is the culminating unit. [3 credits]

COM-313 Digital Media Skills

Provides hands-on experience in the use of digital and social media in professional contexts in the communication fields. Students will complete a number of projects applicable to professional situations that will enhance the job-search portfolio. [3 credits]

COM-314 Reporting and Writing News

Stresses the writing of accurate and stylistically compelling news and information and the development of interviewing skills. Students will use digital media and new technologies necessary for covering stories and preparing news packages in the field. Mobile reporting and convergence are stressed. [3 credits]

COM-315 Topics in Communication

Provides an intensive study of a specific topic in communication. May be taken for credit more than once if topic is different. [3 credits]

COM-319 Advertising

Provides a foundation in the principles of advertising and studies the advertising media. Includes the planning of advertising strategy and making ads. Practical assignments advance understanding of key message objectives, copywriting principles and ad design principles introduced in COM-101. Discusses social and economic aspects of advertising and advertising research. [3 credits]

COM-325 Film Themes (by Topic)

Teaches the principles of screen art with viewing of selected films. Critiques the films based on theories of filmmaking. Themes drawn from world cinema, specific genres, filmmakers and various relevant issues. (May be taken for credit more than once if topic is different.) Fulfills the general education requirement in fine arts. [3 credits]

COM-329 Honors: Women in Mass Communication History

Engages students in an historical-critical study of the role of women in the communication fields of broadcasting, journalism, public relations and advertising. Surveys their contributions as practitioners and the challenges they have met as part of the professional media culture. Opportunities to meet women working in the media and to participate in an oral history project. Fulfills general education requirement in history and gender studies. [3 credits]

COM-330 Women in Film

Heightens awareness of the ways in which women have been portrayed in Hollywood-made films during the 20th century. Presumes that mass media serve as agents of socialization and will consider how popular films have both reinforced and challenged gender stereotypes and ideals. Extensive screening of films and film clips. Fulfills general education requirement in fine arts and gender studies. [ 3 credits ]

COM-331 Public Relations

Takes a social science approach to the study of public relations as relationship management. Examines communication strategies for reaching various publics and stakeholders. Provides practical experience in planning and writing publicity and public relations materials to reach communication goals. Opportunities to produce materials for the professional portfolio. [3 credits]

COM-343 Video and Audio Production

Introduces students to audio and video production in the studio and in the field through the study of aesthetics and technical principles. Hands-on learning of cameras, video switching, audio, lighting, effects and non-linear, digital editing. Opportunities to produce materials for the professional resume tape and portfolio. Extended class plus lab session in studio. [4 credits]

COM-351 Art of the Film

Surveys the evolution of motion pictures as a distinctive art form. Studies major film theories, film genres and film reviewing. Incorporates extensive screenings of selected films and readings from film literature. Fulfills the general education requirement in fine arts. [3 credits]

COM-356 Communication Research Methods

Serves as an introduction to research methods in the communication field, detailing how to gather and analyze data about communication processes and their effects. Emphasizes the relevance of research to helping communication practitioners make sound decisions in applied settings (e.g., print, video, advertising, public relations and interpersonal relations). In workshop and small group settings, students learn how to formulate and pursue research questions of interest. Prerequisites: COM-131, COM-201. [3 credits]

COM-362 Copy Editing

Teaches basic skills required in editing for print media, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters and brochures, public relations and advertising copy. Includes writing headlines, specifying type, editing photos and proofreading for style and accuracy based on the requirements of the copy. The rudiments of design are introduced with emphasis on the relationship between editorial planning and visual presentation. Extensive workshop and laboratory work. [3 credits]

COM-363 Publication Design and Publishing

Provides extensive laboratory practice in print media design principles and development of skills required to manipulate illustration and desktop publishing software packages. Studies newspaper, magazine, newsletter, brochure and advertising designs and issues of convergence to the Web. Extensive workshop and laboratory work. Opportunities provided to produce materials for the professional portfolio. [3 credits]

COM-375 Event Planning

Provides an overview of the necessary preparations for planning a major event. Course work includes a survey of the types of events, venue selection, catering, marketing and promotions, networking, budgeting, execution and evaluation of events. [3 credits]

COM-382 Gender and Communication

Examines how communication creates, perpetuates and recreates gender roles. Includes an exploration of the rhetorical movements that provide the foundation for gender and communication in different settings such as the personal environment (gendered verbal and nonverbal communication), the professional environment (education and the workplace) and the media environment. Fulfills general education requirement in gender studies. [3 credits]

COM-401 Writing for the Web

Explores techniques for making the transition from writing for traditional mass media to writing for online media. Teaches students to use online resources and produce online messages and "articles" of various types. Provides opportunities to develop materials for the professional portfolio. [3 credits]

COM-403 Organizational Communication

Studies communication systems, structure, problems and solutions within complex organizations, such as business corporations, governmental agencies, hospitals and schools. Students develop practical plans to improve communication within organizations. [3 credits]

COM-404 Literary Journalism

Examines the literary qualities of reporting, particularly in the 20th century. Presumes that journalists are primarily storytellers and explores the narrative structures and stylistic devices developed in many types of articles. Students will read examples of the best reportage, including first-person experience accounts, war reporting, crime coverage, sociological journalism, medical and science writing, investigative pieces, political stories and profiles. [3 credits]

COM-419 Advertising and Public Relations Campaigns

Focuses on the development of objectives, strategies, tactics and messages for advertising and public relations campaigns. Analyzes current ongoing campaigns to learn how and why campaigns succeed and fail. Class functions as an agency and prepares campaign proposals for clients. Provides opportunities to develop materials for the professional portfolio. Prerequisite: COM-319 or COM-331. [3 credits]

COM-430 Strategic Communication

Serves as the capstone course for the corporate communications program; requires students to apply their knowledge from the program's core subjects in the analysis of communication, technology, and business problems reflected in case studies of specific organizations. [3 credits]

COM-441 Mass Communication Law

Provides students with opportunities to discuss and analyze the major legal problems encountered by communication practitioners. Teaches case method by review of benchmark federal and state court decisions and statutes. Covers freedom of information, censorship, copyright, privacy, libel, and law for the digital media, public relations, business communication, advertising and broadcasting. Students write case briefs and hypothetical case analyses. [3 credits]

COM-461 Communication Arts Practicum

Provides opportunities to work in pre-professional settings in communication positions with an approved organization. Prepares the student for a career in the communication field of her choice as a culminating experience. The student must enroll for the spring semester of her senior year. Prerequisite: senior standing. [4 credits]

COM-463 Independent Study in Communication

Provides the qualified student with opportunities to conduct research or produce a body of creative work under the direction of a faculty member. Permission required. [3 credits]

DMA-101 Graphic Design I

Explores graphic communication through understand-ing the elements and principles of design, as well as the design process, from idea development through final execution. Emphasizes two- dimensional design, color and content creation, while employing the design process of research, sketching and experimentation. [3 credits]

DMA-201 Time-Based Media

Provides experience in the fundamentals of time-based design. Students will create projects that deal with narrative elements, composition, motion, variables and type. Storyboard project planning and software animation will be covered. [3 credits]

DMA-253 Graphic Design, Theory and Practice

Offers an introduction to the theories and practices of graphic design. Provides a historical analysis of visual communication with emphasis on the development of the profession of graphic design and the relationship of commerce and technology to the history of graphic design. Formerly ART-253. [3 credits]

DMA-351  Graphic Design II

Advances computerized graphic design skills with an emphasis on Adobe InDesign. Students learn software-specific skills needed for full color graphic arts and pre-press production. Clear and precise visual communication, problem solving and presentation are stressed. Focus on portfolio development. Formerly ART-351. Prerequisite: DMA-102. [ 3 credits ]

DMA-360 Animation and Motion Graphics

Engages students in a more intensive investigation of animation through the analysis of motion and transformation with photograph, video, illustration, and animation in traditional and digital media, with a focus on Adobe After Effects. Students learn how images and type are choreographed to produce attractive and dynamic motion graphics. Prerequisite: DMA-201. [3 credits]

DMA-375 Typography

Investigates problem-solving strategies concerned with the selection, organization and presentation of text. Students will enhance digital typesetting skills to effectively present information in print and motion applications. Topics include origins of the alphabet, typeface classifications, abstract communication with letterforms and design with text. Formerly ART-375. Prerequisite: DMA-101 or permission. [3 credits]

DMA-411 Topics in Digital Media

Surveys current topics of interest within the field of graphic design, video, animation, web and social media. Projects in typography, book design, motion, digital imaging and a variety of other methods will be addressed in different sessions to complete the course portfolio. May be taken more than once on different topics. Prerequisite: will differ depending on topic. [3 credits]

DMA-461 Digital Media Practicum

Structures a professional-level internship that places students in an entry-level position at a high-tech company in the Greater Baltimore area. Students will work under close supervision of faculty and the agency sponsor with the intention of gaining in-depth experience in the field. [3 credits]