Academics

Everyone at the School of Communication is looking forward to helping you start your academic career. Working with faculty both in and out of class, you’ll benefit from being part of a community of artists and scholars that is both challenging and nurturing. Each of our school’s five departments ranks at the top of its discipline, and each curriculum provides opportunities for you to apply theories, criticism, and research in performance and practice.

Our comprehensive program is also interdisciplinary. We invite you to investigate all our programs of study via the links below, including opportunities for supplementing your major with a minor or certificate program or a module [pdf]. Once you arrive on campus, you’ll be able to explore more specific courses available to you and enroll in your first quarter classes.

Communication Studies Major

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 marketing, advertising, public relations, consulting law, political organizing, public affairs and many others. You’ll find that professional opportunities abound and include a wide range of career choices.

Department of Communication Studies >>


Dance Major

As an undergraduate in dance, you’ll study composition and choreography in depth as you are challenged to write, research, and analyze the field of dance. At the same time, you’ll continue to develop your dance skills with technique classes and performance opportunities.

The foundations of our dance program are contemporary modern dance, which includes the vibrant Jump Rhythm Jazz style, along with ballet and tap. You’ll examine the body in motion, explore collaborations in dance and music, and improvise dance as you develop your own vocabulary for composition and choreography.

Our faculty include award-winning professional dancers, choreographers and renowned researchers and scholars of dance history, theory and education. Guest artists lead master classes in a variety of forms and styles.

The dance and liberal arts curriculum is designed to foster your intellectual, artistic and professional growth and prepare you to pursue career opportunities in performance, dance writing, education, choreography, dance therapy and administration.

Dance Major Requirements >>


Human Communication Sciences Major

Students who pursue an undergraduate degree in Human Communication Sciences are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives, and enjoy learning about how to help children and adults to overcome difficulties in hearing, speech, language and learning.

Most students who complete the undergraduate program go on to medical or dental school or to graduate programs in audiology, speech pathology, learning disabilities, biomedical engineering, or neuroscience. Others begin work immediately in research laboratories or for businesses that produce and market related products and services.

You may choose to pursue a general education in communication sciences and disorders, or to concentrate your coursework in one or more specific areas that match your interests and career goals:

Audiology and Hearing Science. Explore processes and disorders of the auditory system, and the social and emotional impact of hearing loss as you prepare to work with infants, children, adults and the elderly. In introductory courses, you may also learn to conduct some of the standard clinical tests used to evaluate hearing at the School’s onsite audiology service clinic.

Speech and Language Pathology. A pre-professional program, with an interdisciplinary behavioral-science focus, that prepares you to begin working with individuals who struggle with daily communication. Together with faculty investigators, you’ll research the reasons behind delayed childhood language development and adult speech loss. You may also engage in a supervised clinical practicum in the School’s onsite Speech, Language, and Learning clinic.

Learning Disabilities. A pre-professional program for students who want to help children or adults experience the joy of reading a book, the satisfaction of solving a math problem, or the assurance of telling the time. The emphasis of this area of specialization is on diagnostic approaches and methods of therapy. You may also observe clinical services in action in the Evanston Speech, Language, and Learning Clinic.

Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders >>


Performance Studies Major

As an undergraduate in Performance Studies, you will learn to adapt a wide variety of texts, including your own original work, into innovative performance. You will also learn to examine the performance and rituals of everyday living to see how we define ourselves through our various identities and roles.

You will be inspired to go further with your original ideas as you engage in interdisciplinary coursework and work with our diverse faculty. Award-winning theatre directors, keen scholars of literature, ethnographers examining ritual here and abroad, and performers exploring gender, sexuality, and race—these are some of the people who’ll change your way of viewing the world. You will learn to decode arenas of culture, and then share that insight with others as an effective and persuasive communicator. Opportunities to perform abound within the department and across the university.

Graduates with Performance Studies majors have gone on to enjoy success as theatre and film artists and performance reviewers. Many have founded innovative theatre companies. Others now employ their critical and creative thinking skills in their careers as teachers, psychologists, lawyers, advertising executives, and urban planners.

Learn more about the Performance Studies Major >>


Radio/Television/Film Major

As an undergraduate in Radio/Television/Film, you’ll become fluent in both media production and analysis.

You’ll receive hands-on training in creating, editing and producing innovative media—films, computer animation, and video installations. Student work regularly wins awards in the U.S. and abroad.

You’ll examine media’s role in cultures around the world—past, present and future. You’ll study the history of cinema and broadcast media as you study the social, economic and political dimensions of radio, television and film.

Our faculty, which boasts both practicing filmmakers, screenwriters, and leading cultural theorists, will challenge you to hone your own original vision and make you conversant with the important ideas of our times. As you learn, your technical skills, critical skills and social senses will be transformed, preparing you to reinvent the media of the future.

A degree in Radio/Television/Film prepares you to continue working in areas such as:

  • Directing
  • Screenwriting
  • Media content creation
  • Media production and post-production
  • Arts and entertainment management
  • Media analysis and criticism
  • Cultural scholarship

Learn more about the Radio/Television/Film Major >>


Theatre Major

Our belief is that the best theatre artists—designers, actors, playwrites, dancers and directors—combine highly developed performance capabilities with a broad knowledge of the theatre literature and theory. You’ll have the opportunity to study and practice acting, voice, movement, dance, directing, design, stage production, playwriting and dramaturgy, along with theatre history, literature and criticism. You’ll develop the ability to analyze situations and complex social issues from a variety of perspectives, while developing skills in research, writing, group discussion, oral presentation, performance and production.

Whether your focus is acting, directing, playwriting, production or design, you’ll have ample opportunity to practice your craft. As many as forty productions are staged each year in the multi-stage Theatre and Interpretation Center, with an equal number of student productions across campus.

Our faculty have a rich collective of expertise, including history of the theatre, acting and directing, dance, music theatre, creative drama, storytelling, children’s theatre, playwriting, stage management, and costume, set and light design. Many faculty members also work as professionals in productions in Chicago and nationally.

Many theatre undergraduates go on to enjoy success as theatre, television, and film artists. Others find that with the combination of theatrical studies and a solid liberal arts education, they are prepared to pursue a career in a variety of fields, including law, teaching, business, performance coaching, and sales and marketing.

Learn more about the Theatre Major >>

Dance Minor

Formalize your love of dance and expression by earning a minor in dance. Whether your primary program of study is education, business, the sciences, or the humanities, the study of dance will give you insight into the nature of performance and expression and its impact on human interactions.

The foundations of our dance program are contemporary modern dance, which includes the vibrant Jump Rhythm Jazz style, along with ballet and tap. Our rich selection of courses allow you to pursue areas of special interest, such as dance history, choreography for music theatre, dance criticism, dance therapy, and dance in education.

Join in the vibrant life of our dance program, express your creative side, and enrich your primary program of study. Training in performance, improvisation, and collaboration develops your ability to create and communicate and help others to do the same.

Film and Media Studies Minor

With a minor in film and media studies, you’ll acquire the tools necessary for rigorous analysis of media within the broader context of the humanities and social sciences. The focus of this interdisciplinary program is on media analysis within an expansive intellectual framework, rather than on media creation.

You’ll have the opportunity to view films from countries around the world and ascertain their impact, understand the power of image in culture, and examine race and gender through the language of cinema. We encourage you to augment your coursework by attending the varied university events on media—film series and individual film screenings, workshops and invited speakers, performances and exhibitions.

As a complement to your major area of study, a minor in film and media studies gives you deep insight into how media shapes society and prepares you for a career that requires you to anticipate the impact of media, such as politics and entertainment management.

Human Communication Sciences Minor

Students who pursue an undergraduate minor in Human Communication Science are passionate about understanding their own abilities to communicate, and are eager to expand the ways in which they can improve the quality of life for children and adults with difficulties in hearing, speech, swallowing, language and learning.

This minor is a strong complement to studies in therapies that use art, dance or theatre to reach children with learning disabilities or other developmental difficulties. It is the ideal option for School of Communication students who want to expand their understanding of the physical and physiological principles underlying communication. The minor is also suited to students who want to learn about communication-based health issues, or to apply their knowledge and skills gained from their major to health-related industries by which they can help others.

Sound Design Minor

This interdisciplinary program offers you professional training in sound design. You’ll explore sound in film and video, new media, theatre, radio, and art installations. The coursework draws from across the university—the Schools of Communication, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Music—giving you a strong foundation in sound theory, production, and practice.

Using state-of-the-art facilities, you’ll get hands-on audio training as it relates to a broad range of media. You’ll understand how sound conveys character in narrative film, how it changes a theatre space or expands the physical boundaries of art, and how the latest technology affects audio in streaming media. In conjunction with your primary area of study—whether it’s media, art, or computer science—you’ll create an audio portfolio that is equal parts artistry and craft.

A minor in Sound Design can launch your audio production career in:

  • film/video, television, radio, and new media
  • game and software design
  • theatre and other live events
  • art

Theatre Minor

With a minor in theatre, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your interests with courses in acting for non-majors as well as classes in voice and movement, stage production, directing, dance, playwriting, set, costume, lighting design, theatre history, literature and criticism.

Join in the vibrant life of the Theatre Department. Express your creative side and enrich your primary program of study. Training in the arts of performance and design will enhance your communication skills for any number of fields, including law, politics, teaching, sales, marketing and management.

Music Theatre Certificate

Each fall, voice and theatre students audition for a coveted spot in the Music Theatre Certificate program. This interdisciplinary program prepares students for careers as music theatre performing artists, choreographers, composers, lyricists and directors.

The 30 students admitted to the program on the basis of their vocal, monologue and dance auditions develop the versatile performance skills demanded by this specialized art form. Students take specialized courses in music theatre techniques, as well as acting, voice and dance. Students also study the history and creation of music theatre.

Music theatre is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America—and one of the toughest to break into. Alumni of Northwestern and the Music Theatre Certificate program can be seen on Broadway and in national tours of hit productions.

 

Modules

Modules are an innovative new type of program within the School of Communication. Built around four to six courses on important areas of study within the communication arts and sciences, they are designed to provide School of Communication students with an opportunity for true interdisciplinary study and participation in focused learning communities. Modules integrate in-class learning with co-curricular and professional development opportunities, thereby bridging the gap between school and the professional world. This approach helps students develop their ability to articulate their skills and learning and to begin to develop a professional direction.   

More Information

  • Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams: AP or IB Credits
  • Foreign Language Requirements and Placement 
  • Many academic issues are covered in our FAQ – ranging from the role advisors play at our school and where our classes are held, to what classes are required and studying abroad. Additionally, our school’s Web site is a resource that will serve you well throughout the year.
  • Our Student Resource Center site contains more detailed information on SoC academic policies and requirements.