Communication Studies

Student raising her hand in a classroom.

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 either study abroad or participate in the Chicago Semester or Washington, D.C., intern program
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.

A Passion for Sports and Volunteering

Holly Osborn ’13 is volunteer coordinator for Von’s Vision and a writer for 303 Magazine in Denver.

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.

Central College student

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Delanie Donovan ’19, Talent Acquisition, Pella Windows and Doors, Pella
  • Emily Van Gent ’19, Event and Volunteer Coordinator, Many Hands for Haiti, Pella
  • Sabrina Hoffert Smead ’19, Public Relations and Educational Coordinator, Retail Jewelers Organization, Newton
  • Rachel Flynn ’18, M.A., Political Communication, University Of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Alex Bleadorn ’16, claims service representative, Farm Bureau Financial Services, West Des Moines
  • Sarah Purdy ’16, writer/editor/publishing consultant, The Write Place Publishing & Design, Pella
  • Emily Friedricks ’15, project manager, Webspec Design, Des Moines
  • Lauren Newendorp ’15, program centre manager, Ruffalo Noel Levitz; Brisbane, Australia
  • Morgan Baustian ’14, placement coordinator, QPS Employment Group, Grinnell
  • Anne Youngman ’14, community relations specialist, Mercy Hospital, Iowa City
  • Anna Leavenworth ’13, brand marketing coordinator, The Des Moines Register
  • Holly Osborn ’13, health and sports writer, 303 Magazine, Denver
  • Jacob Dreyer ’11, communications director, Ronald McDonald House; Rochester, Minnesota
  • Allison Fegley ’08, director of booking and event services, Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines
  • Ben Christian ’07, senior manager of partnership marketing, The Royals, Kansas City

Student-Athletes: Balancing the Workload

Lauren Brown ’24 gives an inside perspective on what it means to be a student-athlete at Central.

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
  • Linda Laine, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Kenneth J. Weller Distinguished Professorship of the Liberal Arts and Professor of Communication Studies
  • Stavros Papakonstantinidis, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies

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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