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.

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
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

(Select 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

Dr. Sylvia Foil

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

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Greg Harrison

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Dr. Macdonald Kale
Associate Professor

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Dr. Cindy Persinger
Associate Professor

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Dr. Joel Press
Associate Professor; Chair of the Department of Communication, Design and Culture

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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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