Communication Studies

Central communication studies majors experience a broad education that prepares them to take their place in diverse fields such as social and mass media, public relations, marketing, management and human resources, nonprofit services, healthcare, politics and law. Communication studies students develop skills in critical thinking, writing and speaking for a variety of audiences in the contexts of interpersonal, intercultural, public and mediated communication.

Nearly 100% of communication studies majors are employed, in graduate school or completing service within a year of graduation
of communication studies majors engage in off-campus experiences
of communication studies majors complete at least one internship or pre-professional experience before graduation

The Central Difference

Curriculum for Career Flexibility

The career world is changing so rapidly that communication studies students are prepared not just for their first job, but for the job they will have several years after graduation, one that possibly doesn’t even exist yet. To achieve this goal, communication studies majors explore an intentionally broad-based curriculum focusing on concepts and oral/written skills sought by employers. Further enhancing flexibility, students often complement a major or minor in communication studies with a wide variety of programs, such as business, psychology, political science, arts or athletics/health.

Exactly Where I Want To Be

Hailey Swan ’23 transferred to Central College to continue her education. After visiting campus, she realized this was exactly where she wanted to be.

Experiential Learning

Communication studies majors complete both internships and applied projects embedded in courses. These opportunities enhance theoretical learning and provide interactions with people in a variety of settings and help students acquire professional experience and skills alongside working professionals. Recent experiential learning opportunities have included:

  • Planning and promoting an event for a local non-profit organization
  • Managing an organization’s social media
  • Interviewing immigrants about their experiences
  • Volunteering and researching an organizational culture
  • Working with individuals with cognitive disabilities
  • Corporate partnerships
  • Sports communication

Emerging Media Citizenship

Acknowledging that students are highly engaged in social and digital media, communication studies provokes them to think intentionally about their media citizenship. Specifically, students reflect on consuming and producing media messages that construct identities, cultures and social inequalities.

Exploring Civic Engagement

Communication studies includes a focus on local and global civic engagement, examining the role of citizen voices and public forums, social movements, strategic campaigns and risk communication. The Senior Seminar in Communication Ethics explores the intersections of personal decision-making with the needs of one’s relationships, community and society. Other advanced communication courses closely examine the inherent tensions in our desire for interdependency and social justice.

Off-Campus Experiences

Central students can study off-campus — both internationally or domestically in the United States. These opportunities give students the chance to prepare to be global citizens, equipped to compete in the global job market. Students can check out experiences led by Central faculty or attend select academic programs across the world that provide opportunities for study, service, internships and other types of experiential learning. Options include experiences in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Central America, Ghana, England, the Scottish Highlands and more.

Communication studies majors have the chance to gain world perspective on global business and international corporations.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Megan Muur ’23, Marketing Specialist, Home Solutions of Iowa
  • Madison Johnson ’22, Office and Finance Manager, Single Parent Provision
  • Ashley Heubner ’21, Communications Coordinator, Children and Families of Iowa
  • Brandon Rosas ’20, Writer, Musco Sports Lighting
  • Emma Skahill ’19, Executive Director, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce
  • Sara Rodriguez ’18, Marketing Strategist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Logan Moeller ’17, Internal Auditor, University of Iowa
  • Andrew Buenger ’16, Media Buyer, Customized Newspaper Advertising
  • Jordan Bohr ’15, Web Design and Marketing Specialist, Des Moines University
  • Anne Youngman ’14, Marketing Manager, CRST International
  • Jordan Hedrick ’13, Continuous Improvement Manager, Vermeer Corporation

Harry Smith ’73 Shares Plans After NBC

Harry Smith ’73 shared his final report for NBC Nightly News Thursday, April 4, and let the audience know his plans to return to Central College. The 1973 graduate heads to Pella this fall.

Other Opportunities

Central offers a variety of communication-related student groups and activities, including:

  • Theater Central
  • CAB (Campus Activities Board)
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)
  • SOS (Student Orientation Service)
  • Admission Office Ambassador
  • Student Senate
  • Mock Trial

Connect with the communication studies department on Facebook for other news and events.

Graduate Placement

A major in communication studies is great career preparation and an excellent foundation for graduate study.  Our majors have gone on to grad programs in the following fields:

  • Communication studies
  • Business
  • Mass communication and journalism
  • Law
  • Student development
  • Communication sciences and disorders
  • Higher education
  • Environmental education


All communication studies majors complete at least one internship or pre-professional experience. Students have completed internships in a variety of organizations locally, nationally and internationally, including:

  • Media representative intern, White House, Washington, D.C.
  • Naturalist, Jasper County
  • Marketing intern, Fit for Sport, London, England
  • Public relations intern, Pella Regional Health Center
  • Program assistant, Iowa Council for International Understanding, Des Moines
  • Nutritional education intern, health clinic, Merida, Mexico
  • Marketing intern, Iowa Events Center, Des Moines
  • Social media liaison and program coordinator, performing arts school, Vienna, Austria
  • Content communications intern, Pella Corp.
  • Reporting intern, KNIA/KRLS radio, Pella
  • PR intern, non-profit fair trade store, Pella
  • Strategic communications intern at JDRF, New York
  • Branding strategy intern, LW Branding, Chicago
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

From the ins and outs of public relations to the keys to effective public speaking, communication studies prepares students with the skills they will need for the future.

Communication studies students examine the process of creating messages, meaning and relationships in a broad array of contexts. Students are first introduced to theoretical concepts that enhance their skills and understanding of communication in interpersonal, intercultural and public settings, as well as in contemporary media. Advanced students examine communication related to professional engagement and ethics, civic responsibility and media citizenship.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • Shelley Bradfield, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies
  • Mary Donato, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Lecturer of Communication Studies
  • Stavros Papakonstantinidis, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies
  • Mary Stark, B.S., M.A., Ph.D., John and Anna Poole Professor of Humanities and Professor of English

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Communication in Everyday Life
  • Introduction to Communication Theory
  • Public Speaking
  • Performance Studies
  • Core courses and/or electives

Sophomore Year

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Evaluating Contemporary Media
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Communicating Health & Illness
  • Communication Research & Writing
  • Core courses and/or electives

Junior Year

  • Digital Media Discourses
  • Public Relations
  • Internship in communication studies
  • Off-campus experience

Senior Year

  • Negotiating Organizational Cultures
  • Media Criticism
  • Communication Ethics
  • Internship in communication studies


Learn More

Want to find out more about Communication Studies at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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