Course of Study


The Communication Studies curriculum integrates structure with student-guided choice to provide each student with a completely unique experience in the major. Students are offered a broad introduction to the communication studies discipline in the form of required “core” courses. These courses are designed to offer foundational training, and they should be completed during the first and second years. In addition to these, students choose upper-division courses from the available department offerings to complete the major. Students have opportunities for additional academic progressions through departmental curricular modules.  These learning communities can be coordinated with both larger curricular plans and specific opportunities for research or civic participation. 

Communication Studies students work closely with their SoC academic advisor to develop a strategy for course selection and enrollment that best suits their intellectual and professional goals. Students who transfer into the program also find meetings with an academic advisor helpful in assuring timely completion of their degree programs.


Details about the requirements for completion of a Communication Studies major can be found on the Undergraduate Advising website.

First Year Seminars

Students who arrive at Northwestern with a Communication Studies major enroll in a first year seminar their fall quarter. These courses provide an introduction to a topic within the field of communication and allow students to develop close relationships with a member of faculty and other students in the major. Past seminar topics have included:

  • Truth, Truthiness and Media
  • Slum Cinema
  • Media and the Human Sensoria
  • How Media Frames Reality
  • Visual Cultures
  • Media as Business
  • Images of Influence

Students transferring into the Communication Studies major after fall quarter should consult with their academic advisor to determine an appropriate course substitution for the First Year Seminar.


The Communication Studies Honors Program provides a special opportunity for advanced students to pursue an intellectual passion, acquire valuable research and writing skills, and complete their undergraduate career with distinction.  Through guided development of an independent study research project, the student will produce a scholarly paper, laboratory research report, or other dedicated research project.  This work provides a final opportunity to draw together the student’s distinctive set of courses and other academic experiences, and to strengthen applications for subsequent vocational preparation or placement.

The Honors Program begins in the spring quarter of junior year.  Participating students also will take one Senior Honors Thesis credit during the following academic year, typically fall quarter.  The project must be completed no later than spring quarter; students may finish at the end of winter quarter if they wish.  During that time, students in the program will conduct their Honors project with the guidance of a faculty advisor.  Final projects will be presented at the annual departmental Honors convocation, and those who complete the program successfully will be eligible to graduate with departmental honors.

> Learn more about the Honors Program.