Communication Arts (Major, Minor)

Communication Arts Department

Britt Christensen, Ph.D.
Pamela O'Brien, Ph.D.
Susie McShea, MA, APR

Degrees offered



Main Campus

The Communication Arts Department of the College of Arts, Sciences and Business 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 additional choices through a series of electives, the Program also encourages students 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 digital, wireless green screen studio with computer-based nonlinear editing, ENG equipment for video field work, the campus streaming radio station, NDMU radio, and student-run newspaper, Columns. Classes meet frequently in the department's 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 students for careers. The Department sponsored the first student chapter of the Association for Women in Communications in the State of Maryland.

For first-year student entering the University in the Fall 2021 and beyone:

The General Education proficiency in Oral Communication may be fulfilled by COM-106.

For students entering the University prior to the Fall of 2021:

The General Education Requirement in Fine Arts may be fulfilled by any of the following courses: COM-325, COM-330, COM-351

The General Education Requirement in Oral Communication may be fulfilled by COM-106, 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.

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-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-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 four 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.

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.

Four-Year Plan

Below is a sample Program of Study for the Communication Arts Major.

Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor. The plan is intended as a guide only. Many variations are possible.

First Year

COM-131 Mass Media and Society


COM-101 Introduction to Media Writing


Foreign Language


COM Elective


Natural Science




ENG-101 College Writing


RST-201 Introduction to Biblical Studies


NDMU-100 First Year Seminar


History or Social Science


[16 credits]

Physical Education


[16 credits]

Second Year

COM-201 Interpersonal and Team Communication


COM-206 Speaking in Professional Settings


COM-210 Social Media


COM elective


PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy


History or Social Science


English Literature


PHL or RST 300/400 level


General Education/Course in minor


General Education/Course in minor


[15 credits]

[15 credits]

Third Year

COM-314 Reporting and Writing News


COM-356 Communication Research Methods


COM Elective


COM-310 Media Literacy


Course in Minor


COM-313 Digital Media Skills


Gender Studies/Cross-Cultural


Gender Studies/Cross-Cultural


PHL or RST 300/400 level


Ethics/Values Requirement


[15 credits]

[15 credits]

Fourth Year

COM-441 Mass Communication Law


COM-461 Practicum


COM Elective


General Education/Minor/Electives


General Education/Course in Minor


[13-15 credits]



[15 credits]


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-203 Media Writing

Provides instruction in writing for print, broadcast, advertising, public relations and new online media. Students will learn skills for adapting written content to various media platforms. Additionally, writing objectively, developing story ideas, proper citation of sources, audience considerations, legal and ethical issues, information gathering, interviewing and fact checking are some of the concepts covered by this course. Prerequisite ENG-101. [ 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 expectations 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-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 Japanese manga, anime, films and video games and discuss the relevance of these texts to contemporary Japanese and American society. Considers the historical contexts during which these unique forms of media developed, with special attention to changes that occurred follow-ing the American occupation in the aftermath of World War II. Particularly focuses on the pop culture texts Japan has exported since becoming an economic superpower in the 1980s. Explores utopian/dystopian expression in Japanese sci-fi narratives of this era, and the complex interplay of gender and technology in the new posthuman societies that these narratives envision. Also considers the significance of global fandom as we chart the rise of the American otaku, and its relevance to future Japanese-American relations. Prerequisite: Morrissy Honor Students or permission of Director, Morrrissy Honor's program. Fulfills general education requirement in cross-cultural studies. [ 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-319 Advertising and Analytics

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. (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-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-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-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]

COM-505 Business Communication

Analyzes verbal and written communication patterns and messages in organizations. Learners evaluate the effectiveness of a range of methodologies and tools to persuade and inform different stakeholder groups. Learners will critique and create oral and written presentations ranging from communicating statistical information and offering a persuasive call to action, to creating executive summaries and editing the work of others. [3 credits]

COM-507 Film Themes

Provides students with a grasp of the communicative art of this global medium through analyzing selected films based in theories of film making, particular genre, specific director, culture phenomena or historical location. Discussion focuses on theoretical understanding of the art through an analysis of the selected topic. Students are allowed to take this course more than once if the focus topic is different. [3 credits]

COM-509 Media Criticism and Theory

Presents traditional and contemporary critical frameworks for evaluation of the rhetoric of diverse mediated messages. Students explore how to apply these critical theories to a number of media messages. The course examines the connection between the medium and message in successful communication. [3 credits]

COM-511 Communication Issues

Engages students in a critical examination of an emerging issue or problem of interest to communication practitioners. Possible topics: crisis communication, non-profit public relations, the computer/human interaction and impact of social media on human communication. [3 credits]

COM-515 Cross-Cultural Communication

Explores, in our diverse and global world, how an understanding of communication between persons, or groups, of different cultures or sub-cultures is essential. This course looks at the dimensions that differentiate cultures, the diversity of perceptual and behavioral habits and the role of language and rituals within cultures. Study is applicable to building awareness of communication problems and solving them in multicultural and international settings. [3 credits]

COM-517 Communication and Gender

Explores how communication creates, perpetuates and recreates gender roles. The course considers the perception and theoretical foundations that explain these situations. The rhetorical movements that provide the foundation for gender and communication in diverse settings are analyzed. This includes the role of the media and the personal environment be it workplace, social or educational setting. [3 credits]

COM-520 Digital Asset Management

Closely examines the nature and uses of media technology in organizations and aids students in developing skills in this technology. The course explores strategies for using multimedia as effective communication devices. These include uses of print, broadcast and/or Internet with a focus on the World Wide Web. Students also learn to develop skills in video conferencing, multimedia presentations and interactive computer instruction. [3 credits]

COM-530 Independent Study

Allows the graduate student an opportunity to explore independently under faculty supervision a specialized topic in contemporary communication that is not part of the regular curriculum. The nature, scope and design of this area of study or writing, as well as a schedule of prearranged meetings will be individually contracted between the instructor and student with the approval of the contemporary communication chair. Required forms must be completed through the Graduate Studies office. This course may not be repeated. [3 credits]

COM-550 Communication Theory

Provides students with a solid foundation in scholarly literature of the communication field. Application of theory to contemporary research questions is stressed. Systems theory, situational theory, theories of social influence and mass communication will be surveyed. The primary work of the course is preparation of a literature review regarding a topic of interest. [3 credits]

COM-556 Research Methods for Professionals

Develops the skills and knowledge central in engaging in human communication research. Students gain an understanding in how to formulate communication questions, review pertinent research literature, collect and analyze information/data from answers in research question and report research findings in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Ethical and social/cultural implications of research findings are stressed. [3 credits]

COM-565 Campaign Design and Execution

Guides students through developing successful advertising, public relations and marketing campaigns. Through analysis of objectives, strategies, tactics and messages, students explore what is necessary and essential to reflect an organization's mission and strategic plans in order to devise a coherent campaign. Students will examine what succeeds, what fails, and why. [3 credits]

COM-610 Social Media for Professional

Explores the practical uses of, and rationale behind the strategic uses of various social media platforms in businesses and organizations. Students will engage in hands-on activities while developing a broad understanding of how social media can play a strategic role in developing an organization's mission and communication goals and objectives. [ 3 credits ]

COM-620 Public Relations Management

Analyzes the practices of public relations in the corporate and nonprofit sectors as a function of management. Effective ways of preparing public relations messages are explored in depth. Strategies for communicating with an organization's internal and external constituencies including employees, clients, stockholders, media representatives, consumer advocates and regulatory agencies are evaluated. Emphasis in the course is placed on trends in public relations since the 1970s. [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. [ 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-401 Computer Animation

Engages students in an intensive investigation of animation through the analysis of motion in traditional and digital media. Students apply skills to various anatomical problems to find modeling and rigging solutions for character motion. Major emphasis is placed on proper identification of controls for the end user. [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]