Communication Studies

Communication Studies

Courses & Curriculum

The Communication Studies major is grounded firmly in the liberal arts tradition. The Communication Studies curriculum reflects an equal interest in what is communicated within and between cultures and in how communication takes place in intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational and mediated contexts. The department’s curriculum addresses three major facets of the academic study of communication: theory, criticism and professional skills.

In the Communication Studies program, students examine the dynamic nature of modern communication processes and technologies by emphasizing the theory, structure, function, value systems and effects of society’s communication institutions. In practical terms, students examine how we communicate as families, couples and friends. We study how we interact in work and corporate settings. How we persuade and are persuaded, as individuals, professionals and intended targets. And how we affect others through various media, from oral to written to electronic to digital. The program offers students a variety of opportunities to acquire professional knowledge, skills and production competencies relevant to diverse careers in many communication-related fields.

Recognizing the need to prepare students for productive lives in a changing world, the department aims at educating its graduates to welcome change. In a rapidly changing and highly competitive job market, the Communication Studies faculty provides the foundation on which to build meaningful roles in the contemporary world. 

Qualifications for the major

Communication Studies majors must have a cumulative G.P.A. of at least 2.00, a minimum grade of C- in all communication courses, and a minimum overall average of 2.00 in all communication coursework. The performance of all majors is subject to review relative to their continuation in the program, using such criteria as academic record, demonstration of appropriate communication skills, co-curricular activity, interdisciplinary engagement and community involvement. Communication Studies majors select an academic sequence within the Communication major. They need at least 36 hours of communication courses (or 33 hours for dual majors).


Concentration and Sequence Courses in the major

Communication Studies majors must select an area of concentration and complete at least two courses in that concentration in order to graduate. There are three sequences, which include a total of four concentrations:

A concentration in integrated marketing communications is also available. Students who successfully complete this course of study will receive an award of completion from the Communication Studies Department.

Communication Studies Curriculum:

1. Core Curriculum Requirements: 
View the Core Curriculum requirements. All students complete these requirements as part of their overall Canisius education.

2. Major course requirements: (12 courses)       36 credits
A.  Major Required Courses (6 courses)    
   COM 201 Oral Communication   3 credits
   COM 202 Communication Theory   3 credits
   COM 203 Writing for the Public Media   3 credits
   COM 204 Interpersonal Communication   3 credits
   COM 205 Mass Communication and Society   3 credits
   COM 206 Introduction to Research Methods   3 credits
B. Sequence Courses (2 courses)   6 credits
C. Major Electives (4 courses)   12 credits
3.  Free electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.

New Communication Minor

The Communication Studies department will offer a general Communication Studies minor. Students need to complete 18 credit hours of Communication Studies courses, based on the following requirements:

Required courses for the Communication Studies minor (18 total credits): 

 1.  Foundation courses:  Any three of the following:  (9 credits)

 Course Credits

COM 201 Oral Communication (3)
COM 202 Communication Theory (3)
COM 203 Writing for the Public Media (3)
COM 204 Interpersonal Communication (3)
COM 205 Mass Communication and Society (3)
COM 206 Introduction to Research Methods (3)

 Note:  A section of each foundation course is offered every semester. Multiple sections of COM 201 and 203 are offered each semester. 

2.  Sequence Courses: One course from each of the following areas:  (9 credits)

One course from Interpersonal/Organizational Communication (COM 302, 304, 318, 319, 327,  335, 337, 350, 354, 359)    3 credits each 

One course from Advertising/Public Relations Communication (COM 311, 312, 315, 320, 330, 340, 348, 353, 360)   3 credits each

One course from Media Communication (COM 323, 325, 328, 351, 361, 367, 368, 374, 375, 376, 382, 385, 479)  3 credits each 

Internships and Independent Study

Internships awarding up to a maximum of 12 credit hours may be earned by qualified Communication Studies majors at approved locations in Buffalo or other cities. The internships are individually arranged, require department approval and are available only to junior or senior candidates with a cumulative G.P.A. of at least 2.50 and a Communication average of at least 2.70. Internships are taken on a Pass/Fail basis and are counted towards free elective credit. Students are encouraged to plan early to do internships during their Junior and Senior years.

Opportunity for independent study (three credits) is sometimes available for qualified upperclass students by arrangement with the Communication Studies chair and faculty supervisor. 

Dual Majors 

Dual majors with Communication Studies are available with the permission and guidance of both chairs. Students complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of communication courses. Communication Studies dual major sequences allow several different choices; among those most frequently involved are digital media arts, political science, psychology, English, history, management/marketing and modern languages. The department participates in programs with Women’s Studies and Fine Arts, and also offers courses towards a minor in Child, Family and Community Studies. Photography courses listed in Fine Arts are limited to six credits in the Communication Studies major. Each Communication Studies and dual major is assigned a department faculty advisor for the purpose of planning an individual program that will satisfy the department’s requirements and the student’s personal goals. Course selections develop from communication major requirements, prerequisites, recommended sequences and communication electives.
Communication Studies students who are dual majors and successfully complete 3 or more credit hours in Independent Study or Internships (COM 488, COM 498 or COM 499) are required to complete 30 hours of in-class credit in order to complete the Communication Studies major (i.e., not 33 or 36 in-class hours).


Communication Studies majors are assigned an advisor at the beginning of their freshman year. If you are a transfer into the Communication Studies major or you do not have an advisor, please contact the Communication Studies departmental office at 888-2115, so that an advisor can be assigned to you. Each student should have an academic advisor. Students should meet with their advisors regularly. Canisius College requires all students to meet with their advisor and obtain their alternate PIN in order to register each semester


Note: Additional Communication Studies courses may be offered each semester in both the day and evening. Students should consult the department.

COM 201 Oral Communication   3 credits
Study and practice of concepts, processes and techniques of effective verbal communication in face-to-face, small group and public-address contexts. Speeches required. 
COM 202 Communication Theory  3 credits
Fundamental forms of communication theory and perspectives are explored and related to particular lines of research in interpersonal, group, organizational, public and mass mediated communication contexts. 
COM 203 Writing for the Public Media  3 credits
Intensive writing assignments employing message-design principles provide opportunities to prepare news, features, press releases, advertising copy and opinion pieces.  
COM 204 Interpersonal Communication  3 credits
Examines the theoretical and pragmatic aspects of interpersonal communication in various contexts to enhance self-awareness and effective self-expression in relationships.
COM 205 Mass Communication and Society   3 credits
Survey of mass communication processes and the mass media in terms of development, structures, functions, effects and interactive relationships with American society. 
COM 206 Introduction to Research Methods    3 credits
The fundamentals of the scientific method, especially, the basics of research methods, designs and hypothesis testing. 
COM 302 Small Group Communication     3 credits
Creative problem solving is often used in small groups. Learn how small groups form, develop, and use creative processes. Investigate the question, “Do groups have their own personalities?” Study group pressure, risk taking, conformity, cohesiveness, consensus and voting principles & processes.
COM 304 Family Communication  3 credits
Our families are often a great source of support and stress. This course examines family communication patterns, theories, and research with special emphasis on improving family communication and relationships.

COM 311 Principles of Advertising   3 credits
The fundamentals of advertising, including history and development, advertising media, marketing, audiences, campaign objectives, budget, creativity and agency functions. DMA elective.
COM 312 Public Relations:  Principles & Practices     3 credits
Historical antecedents and contemporary practice of public relations, the nature of day-to-day tasks and communication responsibilities of practitioners and PR concepts and theories. 
COM 315 Advertising and the Creative Process   3 credits
Study of techniques, tools and theories for generating innovative concepts and ideas. Emphasize application to advertising context. DMA elective.
COM 318 Organizational Communication     3 credits
Organize! Communication is the lifeblood of modern organizations. Find out how and why by examining the organizational communication in modern day settings such as NASA! You will, probably, work for a company; would it be good to know how communication operates (or fails!) in business settings?
COM 319 Training and Development  3 credits
Learn how to become an effective trainer! Students will learn how to assess training needs within companies & organizations, design training programs, and evaluate training programs. There is a strong need for good trainers when the economy is in hard times.  Prerequisite: COM 201 or permission of instructor.
COM 320 Advertising Writing   3 credits
Bring your imaginations and come ready to play with words and ideas. Learn to develop the creative concepts and persuasive copy to basic print, television, web and radio advertising. During the semester you’ll also see your words come to life as we team up, on a few projects, with designers in DMA 393- Advanced Digital Design Prerequisite: COM 311 or permission of instructor.
JRN 322 Feature/Magazine Writing  3 credits
Profiles and other human-interest features developed for newspapers and magazines. Free-lance writing introduced. 

COM 323  Social Effects of Media    3 credits
The media continue to create much discussion and controversy over their potential influence. How do the media affect our behaviors, attitudes, and pictures of the world?  In this course, students examine the social influence of media and review theories and research in media effects.

COM 325 Media Literacy  3 credits
Focuses on theoretical approaches and practical skills enabling students to analyze, think critically and produce effective mediated messages in a variety of formats and specialized content areas.  Service Learning Option   DMA & JRN elective.
COM 327 Gender Differences in Human Communication    3 credits
Examines gender as a variable of interest in social interaction with special emphasis on contemporary gender theories, concepts, and research.  Understand the reasons why communication misunderstandings related to gender differences occur.
COM 328 Scriptwriting   3 credits
Think you have a good idea for a TV show or a movie? This course will help you take that idea and develop it into a teleplay or screenplay. Explore characters, story, dialogue and the business of screen writing. DMA elective.
COM 330 Public Relations Writing   3 credits
Theoretical and practical perspectives on various forms of Public Relations writing. Students produce a portfolio of PR writing samples using a wide range of tools and techniques. Prerequisite: COM 312 or permission of instructor.
COM 335 Communication and Personality    3 credits
We will look at some common personality characteristics such as shyness, argumentativeness and aggression. This is a very good course for people who enjoy interpersonal communication.  Prerequisite: COM 204
COM 337 Constructive Uses of Humor  3 credits
Survey of classic and contemporary humor theories, concepts and research. Special emphasis on research that highlights the benefits of humor in education, medicine, business and relational contexts.

COM 350 Health Communication 3 credits
Examines how communication plays a role in the health decisions people make from a variety of perspectives. Focuses on theoretical approaches to health communication, influence tactics, challenges associated with medical adherence/compliance gaining, caregiver-client communication, how personality affects health decisions, nonverbal and verbal factors in the health interaction, and social-cultural factors in health.
COM 351 Media Ethics  3 credits
Explores ethics across mass media disciplines, through the work of professional communicators—journalists, broadcasters, advertising and public relations practitioners, as well as the new cyber-communicators. Develop practices of making crucial media decisions based on principles and idealism.
COM 353 Advertising Account Strategies  3 credits
Account management is a critical component of marketing and communications. We’ll cover the practical aspects of planning, client-agency relationships, functioning effectively in a creative environment, working with media outlets and start to learn how to develop an integrated marketing communications program. 
COM 354 Persuasion    3 credits
Examines classic and contemporary persuasion and social influence theories, models, concepts, and research. Students will become more effective in designing and delivering persuasive messages.   

COM 355 – Advertising Media Planning/Buying      3 credits
Where should we advertise? Why? How often? And how much will it cost? Orchestrating the marketing mix is both an art and a science. We will explore the relationship between market research, consumers, and the media they read and watch. Learn about the newest tools media planners employ to reach these consumers. We’ll discuss traditional media such as TV, print and outdoor as well as the newest online media that are changing the marketing communication landscape.

COM 359  Communication and Sports     3 credits
Why do so many people enjoy playing, watching, and talking about sports? This course examines the significance of interpersonal communication in the context of sports. Communication interactions between coaches and athletes, athletes and teammates, coaches and parents, and parents and athletes are explored.

COM 360 Health Campaigns     3 credits
In this course students will learn how to design, draft and deliver effective health campaigns using a variety of message strategies. Students will work collaboratively to develop effective tools for a health communication campaign that bring about behavioral change among target audiences and influence health policy issues. Students will also learn how to develop evaluation techniques to determine whether or not their messages effectively reached and influenced the targeted population. Pre-requisite: COM 312 or COM 350.
COM 361 Introduction to Television Production     3 credits
Studio techniques, lighting, sound recording, set design, electronic graphics and editing, production of live and edited programs in studio. DMA elective. 

COM 367  Broadcasting in America    3 credits
Examines the history and development, regulation, operations, programming, technology and economics of broadcasting, cable and satellite pertaining to both the radio and television industries in the U.S.

COM 368  Analysis of Daytime Television   3 credits
Daytime television used to be dominated by soap operas.  While some of these daytime serials still survive, the daytime television landscape has changed significantly.  This course examines the history, audience, and programming in this important daypart.

COM 374 Film History    3 credits
Development of film-making and cinema art from 1895 through World War II. Students study, view, and discuss classic silent and sound pictures from Hollywood and abroad. DMA elective. Also accepted for Art History major/minor credit. 
COM 375 Film Classics    3 credits
The development of cinema worldwide from World War II through the 1970s. Study, view and discuss films representative of major directors, genres and national cinema movements.  DMA elective. Also accepted for Art History major/minor credit.

COM 376 – Film Genre   3 credits
Students who are interested in film professionally or personally are invited to view sequences from the finest motion pictures made in the past 100 years. The course will present an overview of the types (genres) of films, including: Action-Adventure, Animation, Avant-Garde, Biopic, Children’s Comedy, Crime, Cult Movies, Documentary, Drama, Film Noir Historical, Horror, Melodrama, Musical, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Serials, War, and the Western.

COM 382  Issues in Broadcasting    3 credits
What issues and controversies surround and shape the broadcast industry today? Explores issues of creativity, control, power, programming and more.

COM 385 Television and Children   3 credits
Learn about the role of television in children’s lives. Course explores children’s television use, the development and content of children’s television programs (both commercial and educational), television and the family, and children’s advertising. 
COM 411 Advertising Campaigns   3 credits
Designed as a capstone course for advertising students, this course examines current and classic advertising campaigns for technique and effectiveness. Students also have the chance to develop their own advertising campaigns.Prerequisite: COM 311 or permission of instructor. 
COM 412 Public Relations Case Studies    3 credits
Students will become familiar with a process for public relations problem-solving through analysis of PR cases in major areas of the field, including media relations, consumer/ investor relations and crisis communications.
COM 413 Issues in Public Relations     3 credits
In this seminar, students will explore a range of contemporary issues surrounding the field of public relations, including crisis communications and the growth of social media tactics.

COM 414 Issues in Advertising   3 credits
In this seminar, students explore a range of contemporary issues surrounding the advertising industry including consumerism, effects, ethics, racism and sexism and trends. Prerequisite: COM 311 or permission of instructor. 
COM 422 Public Relations Campaigns       3 credits
Designed as a capstone course for public relations students, this course examines PR campaigns as the concerted efforts of an organization to build socially responsible relationships by achieving research-based goals through the application of communication strategies and the measurement of outcomes. Students produce an actual campaign. Prerequisite: COM 312 or permission of instructor.
COM 479 World Cinema          3 credits
Explore the world of movies beyond Hollywood. See award winning and critically acclaimed films from 15 different countries and cultures. Have your eyes, ears and minds opened to alternative ways of using the universal language of cinema to tell stories which represent life and the human condition from other national, artistic and political perspectives.
COM 488 Internship I Seminar   3-12 credits
Student experientially learns communication functions in compatibly matched professional setting, locally or out-of-town. Faculty and on-site supervision. Seminar required. Pass/fail. May be repeated as COM 498; 12-credit limit for COM 488/498 combined. Prerequisite: Open to junior and senior majors with G.P.A. of at least 2.50 and Communication Studies average of 2.70 and approved by department faculty. Applications on Communication Studies Department website. 

COM 491/492/493/494  Video Institute I, II, III, IV    3 credits
Students produce significant projects in video, film, and television.  See Dr. Irwin or Professor O’Neil for additional information.

COM 498 Internship II Seminar    3-9 credits
Sequel to COM 488 for students taking multiple internships. Each student is limited to a combined total of 12 credit hours for COM 488 and 498. Prerequisite: Same as for COM 488.
COM 499 Independent Study    3 credits
Student conducts original project or self-designed course of study under the tutelage of Communication Studies faculty member. Prerequisite: Open to junior and senior majors in good standing with consent of instructor, chair, and Associate Dean.  
NOTE:  Students may also earn Communication Studies credit for the following courses offered through other programs. Please see course descriptions in the respective major/program pages in this catalog.
DMA 201 Introduction to Digital Media  3 credits
DMA 202 Digital Media Culture   3 credits
DMA 204 Digital Media Law  3 credits
DMA 205 Digital Graphics   3 credits
DMA 206 Interactive Multimedia   3 credits
DMA 310 Digital Audio/Music Production  3 credits
DMA 342 Introduction to Web Design  3 credits
DMA 385 Intro to Digital Filmmaking   3 credits
DMA 442 Advanced Web Design   3 credits
FAS 140  Introduction to Still Photography  3 credits
FAS 141  Digital Photography    3 credits
FAS 142  Travel Photography    3 credits
FAS 240  Color Photography    3 credits
FAS 241  Intermediate Photography   3 credits
JRN 310  Journalism I
JRN 311  Journalism II
JRN 322  Feature/Magazine Writing
JRN 336  Sports Journalism
JRN 363  Journalistic Editing
JRN 369  Television Features