Create messages that convey meaning and shape interaction

The Bachelor of Arts in Communication major focuses on how verbal and nonverbal messages create meaning in various contexts.

This ranges from interactions between two people to interactions within groups. It also encompasses the creation of messages aimed at mass audiences across cultures and media. Particular interest is in the effect of messaging on human behavior. Coursework guides students to apply communication principles to a world of increasing complexity. Over the course of your studies as a Communication major, you will study…

  • Principles of public relations and advertising
  • Organizational communication
  • Rhetorical theory and criticism
  • Argumentation and persuasion
  • Media  and visual communication 
  • Popular culture
  • Intercultural communication
  • Active listening and nonverbal communication

This major is part of the Department of Communication.

Degree Requirements

Major Requirements: The Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communication requires 45 hours of major courses. As part of their major courses, students will choose from one of four areas of specialization, totaling 21 hours:

  • Interpersonal and Organizational Communication
  • Media Arts and Broadcast Journalism
  • Public Relations and Advertising
  • Rhetorical and Cultural Studies

Electives: Choose nine hours from one of the areas of specialization in the major or from the remaining courses in the major’s core; six hours must be upper-division.

General Education Requirements: The Communication degree requires 57 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses and electives.

View or download the full Communication degree plan (PDF)

Some examples of Communication coursework that students take includes:

  • Social Media for Public Relations – Explores how to use emerging technologies strategically to monitor conversations on the Internet, engage online communities, identify influencers, establish thoughtful leadership, optimize content for search engines, and measure performance across social media platforms.
  • Visual Communication – Focuses on the ethical and social concerns of image construction. Students will learn to design professional-looking images created with the latest image-editing and graphic layout software.
  • Communication and Popular Culture – Examines popular culture and the complex history surrounding it. Students will learn to analyze popular culture and will have the opportunity to conduct an analysis of an event in the Austin community.

Outside the Classroom

Communication Internships

An internship is a valuable opportunity for a student. It provides hands-on experience key to career development. It's a unique chance to experience daily life in a job and decide whether or not it's a good fit for you. You'll also have the chance to network and make important connections for career opportunities. 

For example,  Kay (Karen) Bell and Karoline Watson  put their Communication major to work as an intern with KXAN-TV, virtual channel 36, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Austin, Texas, United States.

The following is a list of internships students have held in the past and should provide Communication majors with some ideas for what is available:

  • Austin Film Festival
  • Austin Music Network
  • Capital internship in D.C.
  • Chipps Quinn
  • Dateline NBC
  • Fox News, NY
  • Kinko's Golf Classic
  • Manhattan University
  • New York Yankees
  • Polo International
  • SXSW Volunteer Coordinator
  • Tate Austin
  • Texas Music Commission
  • Texas State Capital

Our Faculty

Stephen A. King, Professor & Department Chair

Dr. King has more than twenty five years of experience teaching in higher education; he previously taught at Delta State University (Mississippi) and Eastern Illinois University (EIU). At EIU, he served as Chairperson for EIU's Department of Communication Studies for five years (2013-2018). He has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, social movements, intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, communication theory, qualitative research methods, small group communication and public speaking. Dr. King's research reflects his interest in the intersection of rhetorical theory, public memory, authenticity, tourism and popular music. Dr. King has been actively involved in a variety of professional organizations including the National Communication Association and the Southern States Communication Association. He has served as division program planner, panel chair and respondent and manuscript reviewer. He has published articles on reggae, blues and country music and serves on the editorial board for the interdisciplinary journal Rock Music Studies.

Innes Mitchell, Associate Professor 

Dr. Mitchell teaches courses in Media Communication, Gender Communication, Rhetorical Criticism, and Perspectives on Atheism. He has previously taught courses on Political Communication, Persuasion, and Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric. His research interests focused on new social movements and political movements, including Media Reform, New Atheism, and the movement for Scottish Independence. Professor Mitchell’s special topics course, Perspectives on Atheism, is one of the only courses in the country on this subject taught from a Communication perspective. He has also led study abroad courses in his native country of Scotland, at Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh Napier University. His most recent projects focus on visual ethnography and "digital storytelling." He produced a series of short films documenting his long-distance hike of the Scottish National Trail. He is currently documenting his hike of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain, which he completed with his daughter in Summer 2017. 

Teresita (Tere) Garza, Professor

Dr. Garza’s teaching interests, scholarly research and publications are in the areas of rhetorical theory and criticism, popular culture, communication theory, cultural studies, Native American-Chican@ film and communication. Her former students have attended top ranked graduate programs, film schools and law schools. Some have received notable awards such as Fulbright scholarships, academic fellowships and prestigious internships. Many of Dr. Garza’s mentees have successful careers in education, law, government, film, news and broadcast journalism, philanthropy, and some have gone on to win national and international acclaim for their work.

Lori A. Peterson, Associate Professor

Dr. Peterson has been a full-time faculty member for over twenty years. She came to St. Edward's University in 2001 as an assistant professor of communication and currently serves in the role of associate vice president for faculty development and academic programs. Her office is responsible for overseeing and coordinating faculty development in teaching, scholarship and creative expression, advising, pedagogical innovation and faculty participation in the global initiative as well as the academic program review process. Dr. Peterson has extensive experience teaching abroad, in Japan at Asia Pacific University as well as at UCO in Angers, France. She is a self-professed Francophile.

Stephanie J. Martinez, Associate Professor

Dr. Martinez is an ethnographer and communication scholar whose interests are in the areas of organizational communication, health communication, feminism, leadership, service learning, and public speaking. She founded the Brother Dunstan Bowles Persuasive Speaking Contest that will be in its tenth year in 2016. She has led 2 study abroad trips in the last couple years to Angers, France and to Sevilla, Spain. After being awarded a Presidential Excellence Summer Grant, she conducted work on people's perceptions of the media from the 2014 Ebola crisis in Texas. Dr. Martinez is also Director of  COMM 1317 - Presentational Speaking.

 Billy Earnest, Assistant Professor

Prior to embarking on his graduate career, Dr. Earnest worked as a business analyst, technical writer, and account trainer for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Atlanta, from 1990 to 1995. While completing graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he lectured in Business Communication at UT's McCombs School, from 2003 to 2005. He joined the St. Edward's faculty in 2005 and regularly teaches a diverse set of classes, including Media & Professional Presentations, Rhetoric & Religion, Lying & Deception, and Intercultural Communication. In 2007 Kendall Hunt published his guide to presentation design, "Save Our Slides: PowerPoint Design That Works," a fourth edition of which is now under contract. In 2015 he co-authored the second edition of Lying and Deception in Human Interaction and created the Instructor Resources for the book (also with Kendall Hunt)

Teri L. Varner, Associate Professor 

Dr. Varner's ethnographic qualitative research interests range from women of color in American higher education to hair/body politics to increasing the amount of classroom instruction devoted to teaching students how to actively listen in the 21st century. She has over 15 years of diversified experience in higher education including classroom instruction, directing, lecturing and coaching with an emphasis on communication skills enhancement, and oral interpretation. She has more than eight years of performing, directing, adapting poetry, prose, non-fiction and theatrical projects. She is highly skilled in editing and writing academic research and presenting both written and performance based scholarly presentations at national conventions.

Alumni Outcomes

Students in the Communication major complete their undergraduate education prepared to enter the workforce in a variety of fields or to pursue post-graduate education.

Marketable skills include:
  • Writing and oral communication
  • Critical thinking, especially for consuming and synthesizing information
  • Analyzing issues from multiple perspectives
  • Interpreting data
  • Crafting persuasive messaging
  • Understanding how to be influential 
  • Ability to meet strict deadlines
  • Ability to compare and contrast information
  • Project management
Examples of potential careers a Communication major may pursue include:
  • Digital media manager for an internet media company, such as Facebook, Google or Twitter
  • Advertising copywriter or content strategist on the client side or agency side
  • Public relations executive for a large corporation or an agency
  • Nonprofit specialist for organizations such as charity water, The Red Cross or the Humane Society
  • Television producer for a major network such as ABC, CBS, TNT or the CW
  • Online content creator for companies like Mashable, Buzzfeed or Upworthy

Read about our successful alumni. See what they have to say about life after St. Edward’s.

About the Minor

Students who wish to earn a Communication minor must take the following coursework, totaling 21 hours.

Required Courses
  • Communication Theory
  • Media Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Electives

Students choose nine hours from one area of specialization in the major or from the remaining courses in the major's core. Six hours must be upper division.

Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.