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Major in Communication Studies

Communication Studies is the perfect major for students with multiple interests and diverse talents because the discipline provides theory, tools, and techniques for analyzing, managing and improving communication in every arena of professional and personal interaction.  Our faculty value students who are eager to learn from and contribute to a flexible, challenging, and cutting-edge academic environment.  Courses in Communication Studies will challenge your mind, broaden your views, and develop in you an increased awareness of and skill in communication practices.  Our goal is to prepare students to take their place as responsible leaders, engaged citizens, and pioneering problem-solvers in their communities and chosen fields of work.  To serve this goal, our scholarship and teaching are multidisciplinary, practical and innovative.

Our world-class faculty members teach courses and undertake research projects which blend theory with practice for productive, engaged criticism.  Students in Communication Studies learn to evaluate and produce communicative texts that adapt to changing situations and audiences.  As a result, the undergraduate curriculum in this major rigorously prepares students for future work and study in any number of diverse fields, such as law, political organizing and public affairs, marketing, advertising, public relations, consulting and many others. You’ll find that professional opportunities abound and include a wide range of career choices.  



Many Communication Studies majors find ways to pursue their interests more deeply through involvement in undergraduate research. Research affords students the opportunity to pursue their passions and craft their own unique academic experiences. Along the way, these students also develop skills in critical thinking, detailed analysis, and creative problem-solving. Students who choose to conduct research as undergraduates gain solid preparation for future graduate studies and the workplace, while also forging strong connections with members of the faculty.

Undergraduate Research Grants

Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research  administers many programs that may be of interest to Communication Studies majors, including the Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grants  and Summer Undergraduate Research Grants . With faculty supervision, recipients of these grants are able to conduct independent research or creative work in any field of study. Alternately, students may apply to assist a faculty member who has secured funding through the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program with his or her current research.

Faculty Research Labs

In addition to their individual research projects, many faculty in the Communication Studies department maintain active research labs where they explore issues at the forefront of the field. Students in the department have involved themselves in these labs through work-study positions, through Research Practica (through which they may earn academic credit) and as Research Assistants. Click below to learn more about some of the work being done by our faculty.

Other Opportunities

Students interested in exploring their interests in research are encouraged to consider conducting an independent study with a faculty member or applying for the Communication Studies Honors Program.

Campus Involvement

Students in the Communication Studies major put their talents to use all across campus. Whether it’s helping promote popular student philanthropies like Dance Marathon, writing articles for campus publications such as The Daily Northwestern, hosting a radio show on WNUR or succeeding as members of Northwestern’s athletic teams as well as earning Academic All-Big Ten honors, our students are recognized leaders in the Northwestern community.

Study Abroad

Communication Studies students make excellent use of study abroad as a way to further explore their areas of interest, including cross-cultural communication and the globalization of media. Working with Northwestern’s Study Abroad Office , our students have pursued quarter-, semester-, and year-long programs around the world, and Communication Studies is consistently ranked in the top ten majors on campus for study abroad.

Career Opportunities

Communication Studies is a discipline that prepares students for a wide variety of opportunities post-graduation. Recent graduates have often gone into fields such as marketing, advertising, public relations, and corporate communications. They have also used the skills they developed at Northwestern to work in the public interest, either through roles in government or non-profit organizations.

The School of Communication Office of External Programs, Internships, & Career Services (EPICS) offers extensive programming and resources to support students’ professional development. Particularly popular for students in the Communication Studies major is the School of Communication’s Internship Program, which enables students to connect theory to practice under the supervision of industry professionals. For more information on this and other programs, visit EPICS.