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Northwestern School of Communication


The School of Communication’s vibrant programs have their history in the art of elocution and oratory. In 1868, Robert McClean Cumnock began teaching a course in elocution at Northwestern University; within ten years, a certificate program in elocution was offered, serving as the founding of our school’s offerings. In 1891, the School of Oratory was founded. In 1921, the School is renamed the School of Speech, and in 2001, renamed again the School of Communication to better reflect the broad array of subjects studied here.

Today, the School has more than 1,200 undergraduates, 700 graduate students, and 170 faculty members, and six majors in five departments.

Our Academic Offerings

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Professor Bonnie Martin-Harris presents throat x-rays on double video screen

Communication Sciences & Disorders

The Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is home to undergraduate, professional and doctoral research programs that explore the science of human hearing, speech, language, learning and swallowing and seek new and more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat related communication disorders.

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Students around table with Communication Studies department chair Leslie DeChurch discussing the NASA astronauts' team dynamics work

Communication Studies

The Department of Communication Studies explores the social, political and cultural functions of communication as it occurs in diverse settings ranging from interpersonal interaction to global media. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods, the department’s scholarship explores communication practices, media, institutions and arts as they shape agreement and dissent, competition and cooperation.

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Performance Studies

The Department of Performance Studies lives at the sprawling intersection of personal narrative, literature, culture, technology and performance theory. By thinking critically about cultural performance, students and faculty in the department bend—and sometimes break—long-standing concepts of what performance really is.

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The Department of Radio/Television/Film explores the history, theory and production of media—from cinema to broadcast television to alternative media to emerging technologies. Our programs, courses and research opportunities focus on the history of film, television and emerging media and the critical analysis of media texts, technologies and cultures.

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Three student performers rehearse a play by holding a female student overhead in Superman pose


Theatre and dance mirror the nature of life in all its rich variety. To work effectively within the theatre arts requires a broad knowledge upon which to draw. To that end, the Department of Theatre believes in giving students a full range of instruction and experience in the theatre arts—practice, history, and theory—along with the full benefits of a liberal arts education.

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