Department of Communication Studies

Chair: Dr. Frances E. Brandau (936) 294-1356

Information: (936) 294-1497; Suite 410 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building (CHSS)

Website: Department of Communication Studies

Communication Studies is the modern heir to one of the world’s oldest disciplines. Its connection to thought and language is fundamental, and its primacy in marriage and the family, in obtaining employment, and in advancing a career regardless of one’s field is well documented.


Communication Studies students learn the interpersonal skills required to lead teams and build successful collaborations.  Students will learn how to write and deliver informative and persuasive presentations using the latest technologies and learn the skills necessary to effectively engage in interpersonal, small group, and intercultural forms of communication in a variety of contexts. They study the nuances of nonverbal communication, the dynamics of communication in across both professional and social relationships, the principles of persuasion, the influence and power of culture on communication, as well as lying and other forms of deception, and theories of communications about risk, health, and environmental issues as well as how to apply them in today's rapidly changing world.


The Department of Communication Studies provides a rich climate in which to pursue the study of communication with a highly qualified faculty who take a personal interest in each student's learning. The friendly, cooperative climate among faculty is reflective of the general climate of collaborative learning throughout the department. Faculty participate in collaborative research projects with departmental colleagues and those from other departments, as well as provide research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. All classrooms are equipped with the latest classroom and presentational technology.

A state-of-the-art research laboratory in the department enhances research. The lab is equipped with high resolution video recording/playback capability and a 55-inch monitor, an ultra-low temperature freezer to store research samples, and a support room containing multiple computers to monitor various social science research projects.

Suggested Minors

There is no preferred minor for Communication Studies. Students should select a minor that suits their interests and career needs. Common minors include English, Political Science, Spanish, French, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Sociology.

Career Opportunities

The Department of Communication Studies offers coursework that provides for a wide variety of career choices. Faculty members and students have ongoing research programs in various areas of interpersonal communication, such as, relationship maintenance and repair, health communication, intercultural communication, new communication technologies, affectionate communication and visual persuasion. The program is actively involved in advising students about course sequences available to prepare them for careers in both public and private organizations and agencies.

Communication Studies graduates enter a variety of fields, including teaching at all levels, public advocacy and public relations, governmental relations, human resources, management, community affairs, corporate trainer, motivational speaking, nonprofit and professional fundraising, event planning, website development, and marketing. Many continue their studies in Communication Studies graduate programs and in law schools.


Required Courses for Major

Communication Studies offers both the Bachelor of Arts (B. A.) and Bachelor of Science (B. S.) degree options. The B. A. option requires 14 hours of a foreign language plus a Philosophy course, while the B. S. option instead requires 8 hours of natural science plus a math/statistics or computer science course beyond the core curriculum science requirement.

Students choosing to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Communication Studies must complete at least 30 hours of credit in Communication Studies (COMS) courses, including at least 9 hours of advanced courses and 6 hours of elective courses in the program. To satisfy the foreign language requirement, all hours must be taken in the same language.

If students choose the Bachelor of Science degree option they must complete at least 30 hours of credit in Communication Studies courses, including at least 9 hours of advanced courses and 6 hours of elective courses in the program.

All students must take the following courses:

Required Courses
COMS 1361Public Speaking3
COMS 2331Intro - Comm Theory & Research3
COMS 2386Interpersonal Communication3
COMS 4381Communication Theory3
12 hours Advanced COMS credits12
6 hours COMS elective credits6
Total Hours30

COMS 2382 does not count toward the 30 hour requirement for majors.

Student Organizations

Students may take advantage of the department’s student organization, Speakeasies. The department is also home to the Lambda Beta chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the official honor society of the National Communication Association.


The department offers internship opportunities for qualified students through COMS 4378.


The Department of Communication Studies offers several scholarships. Most scholarship deadlines are in March for the following academic year at: Scholarships4Kats.

Honor Society

Lambda Pi Eta (LPH) is the National Communication Association’s official honor society at four-year colleges and universities. LPH has more than 500 active chapters at four-year colleges and universities nationwide.

LPH represents what Aristotle described in Rhetoric as three ingredients of persuasion: logos (Lambda), meaning logic; pathos (Pi), relating to emotion; and ethos (Eta), defined as character credibility and ethics.

Learn more at

COMS 1361. Public Speaking. 3 Hours. [TCCN: SPCH 1315]

Students apply the research, composition, organization, and delivery of informative and persuasive speeches for various purposes and occasions. Topics may include strategies for reducing speaker apprehension and audience analysis.

COMS 2331. Intro - Comm Theory & Research. 3 Hours. [TCCN: COMM 1307]

Students study theories and research in the field of communication with an emphasis on interpersonal and family communication. Students prepare reviews of literature as well as scholarly abstracts.

COMS 2382. Comm. for Bus. & Professions. 3 Hours. [TCCN: SPCH 1321]

Students examine communication theories and research with the goal of developing skills in settings such as interviewing, group decision-making, speech preparation, and presentation. Topics may include interpersonal communication, leadership strategies, listening, and non-verbal communication. Not for COMS majors or minors. Non-Minors only. Non-Specializations only.
Prerequisite: Non-Majors only.

COMS 2386. Interpersonal Communication. 3 Hours. [TCCN: SPCH 1318]

Students examine theory and research in one-to-one communication in relationships. Topics may include perception, listening, conflict management, and the development and maintenance of relationships.

COMS 3330. Communication in Sport. 3 Hours.

Students analyze the field of sport communication research. Students explore sport issues across various communication contexts. Students apply theory and research-based approaches to effectively communicate sport-related issues. Students also examine ethical considerations and the role of sport in culture.

COMS 3340. Communication, Culture, and Technology. 3 Hours.

Students examine how computers mediate communication issues, such as interpersonal relationships, social networking, information literacy, political agendas, and entertainment.

COMS 3341. Digital Communication Literacy. 3 Hours.

Students analyze strategies of self-presentation and impression management and apply theory and research-based approaches to effectively communicate messages through various social media platforms. Students gain practical knowledge in creating communication content for various audiences. Students implement these strategies on their own social media platforms as they learn to become more literate information consumers.

COMS 3350. Communication and Pop Culture. 3 Hours.

Students identify messages and meanings contained in popular culture, and examine how messages from music, television, films, celebrities, and advertising reflect and create social norms.

COMS 3360. Interpreting Visual Images. 3 Hours.

Students examine messages found in visual communication and analyze visual messages using theoretical constructs. Topics may include the persuasive impact of those visual messages.

COMS 3365. Humor in Communication. 3 Hours.

Students examine how humor functions across a variety of contexts, including interpersonal, organizational, public, and political. In the process, students apply theories and research about humor in communication.
Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor.

COMS 3370. Intercultural Communication. 3 Hours.

Students analyze the theory, research, and practice of communicating within and across cultures with an emphasis on application to the student’s own intercultural communication. Topics may include a comparison of various cultures, culture shock, racism, and prejudice.

COMS 3371. Conflict, Negotiatn & Resolutn. 3 Hours.

Students investigate the complexities of conflict in order to understand forces that make conflict challenging and to develop skills for examining and managing conflict more effectively in a variety of close relationship contexts.

COMS 3374. Persuasion. 3 Hours.

Students assess the principles of attitude and behavior change as they apply to the speaker, political campaigns, and social movements.

COMS 3375. Strategic Organizational Communication. 3 Hours.

Students analyze the impact of human communication technology on organizations of all types, including political, social, religious, and educational institutions. In the process, students may examine how communication technologies shape organizations, channel power, manage crisis, establish leadership, and redefine privacy and freedom of expression.
Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing.

COMS 3379. Freedom of Speech and Civic Communication. 3 Hours.

Students examine a broad range of free speech issues, including blasphemy, defamation, popular culture, political speech, privacy, public forums, symbolic speech, threats, and restrictions on free speech. The course is structured to expand the knowledge of the student about freedom of speech and to enable them to be more engaged citizens in their communities. To this end, the course not only covers the areas that the right to free speech encompasses, it also explores instances in which freedom of speech protections do not apply.

COMS 3383. Small Group Communication. 3 Hours.

Students examine the theories and practices of interaction, leadership, and problem-solving in formal and informal small group settings.

COMS 3385. Community Applied Communica. 3 Hours.

Students improve research skills, critical thinking, leadership, individual and group communication skills. This is achieved through lecture and community interaction. Students work together to examine their community for need, investigate how to meet that need through the lens of established organizations, and present their findings. This is a capstone course.

COMS 3386. Learning to Listen: A Key Communication Competency. 3 Hours.

Students examine significance and complexity of the many different types of listening across various social, professional, and interpersonal contexts. Students use theory and research-based approaches to tackle issues surrounding listening as a cognitive process, a social and relational skill, and professional competency. They also examine emerging areas, such as mediated listening in the digital age.
Prerequisite: COMS 2386.

COMS 3391. Interpersonal Health Communication. 3 Hours.

Students examine patient and physician communication skills. Topics may include communicating social support for those with serious illnesses, survivorship, identity issues, media influence, and e-health across a wide range of communication contexts.

COMS 3392. Risk Communication. 3 Hours.

Students illustrate the history of risk communication research. Students examine how to effectively communicate risks across various contexts including interpersonal communication, organizational communication, and mass communication. Students apply theory and research-based approaches to effectively communicate risks including health risks, environmental risks, and technological risks.

COMS 3393. Environmental Communication. 3 Hours.

Students learn theory, research and practice with regard to environment and communication from both international and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Students will also learn how to identify environmental issues and use appropriate communication strategies to respond to/solve those issues. The course uses a lecture/discussion format.

COMS 4091. Independent Study in Communication Studies. 1-3 Hours.

Students pursue particular problems or issues beyond the limits of current course offerings. Students may receive Academic Distinction credit for this course. See Academic Distinction Program in this catalog. May be repeated for credit. Senior standing. Variable Credit (1 to 3). Senior standing.
Prerequisite: 12 hours COMS completed and approval of the Chair.

COMS 4365. Nonverbal Communication. 3 Hours.

Students study systems of nonverbal communication and their effective use. Topics may include body language, vocalic, facial, and spatial communication. Students apply current theory and research in nonverbal communication to their own communication.

COMS 4366. Deceptive Communication. 3 Hours.

Students assess lying and other forms of deception in a variety of communication contexts, including interpersonal, public, and legal. Students gain empirical, ethical, and critical understandings of deception including their own deception and that of others.

COMS 4378. Internship In Comm Studies. 3 Hours.

Students apply skills and theories learned in the classroom to on-the-job situations. Internships may occur with public relations and governmental agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
Prerequisite: At least junior standing, 12 COMS hours completed, and approval of the Chair.

COMS 4381. Communication Theory. 3 Hours.

Students analyze and apply contemporary theories of communication.
Prerequisite: 12 hours COMS completed.

COMS 4386. Family Communication. 3 Hours.

Students examine interpersonal communication within families. Topics may include family conflict, family structure, culture and the family, and family stories.
Prerequisite: COMS 2386.

COMS 4387. Relationship Communication. 3 Hours.

Students explore communication as it occurs in various types of personal relationships with a special focus on romantic relationships and close friendships. Topics may include long-distance and mediated relationship forms. Students work to enhance the quality of communication and satisfaction within relationships.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

COMS 4392. Sem In Communication Studies. 3 Hours.

Students explore new and special interest areas of communication scholarship offered on a rotating basis.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

Director/Chair: Frances Elizabeth Brandau

Michael I Arrington, PHD, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Univ of South Florida; MA, Univ of South Florida; BA, Univ of Southern Mississippi

Tamara Sue Arrington, MA, Lecturer of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, MA, The University of Memphis; BA, Univ of Florida

Frances Elizabeth Brandau, PHD, Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, LSU & A&M College; MA, Univ of Southern Mississippi; BS, Univ of Southern Mississippi

Yixin Chen, PHD, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, University at Buffalo, Suny; MA, Univ of Texas-El Paso; ME, Huaqiao University; BE, Huaqiao University

Lisa Joanne Dahlgren, PHD, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Arizona State University; MA, Univ of Hawaii At Manoa; BA, Univ of Hawaii At Manoa

Dena Ruth Horne, MA, Lecturer of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, MA, Sam Houston State University; BS, Sam Houston State University

Caleb George Hubbard, MA, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, MA, West Texas A&M State Univ; BS, West Texas A&M State Univ

Anna Hommadova Lu, PHD, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Arizona State University; PHD, University of Tsukuba; MA, University of Tsukuba; BA, Minnesota State Un-Moorhead

Anne Bennett Cook Smithson, PHD, Lecturer of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, George Mason University; JD, Northern Kentucky; MA, Georgetown University; BA, Univ of Kentucky

Caroline Eleanor Waldbuesser, PHD, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Ohio University; MA, Texas State Univ-San Marcos; BS, Missouri State University

Michesha Sherrelle Washington, MA, Lecturer of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, MA, Texas Southern University; BA, Texas State Univ-San Marcos

Melinda Rachelle Weathers, PHD, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, George Mason University; MA, Univ of Houston-Main; BA, Texas A&M University

Kelly Lynn Matheney Weikle, PHD, Lecturer of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Ohio University; MA, Ohio University; MMC, Univ of S Carolina-Columbia; BSJ, West Virginia University

Shuangyue Zhang, PHD, Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, PHD, Ohio State Univ; MA, Kent State University; MA, Shandong University; BA, Shandong Normal University