Department of Communication Studies History

A rich history in academic excellence and a deep understanding of communication

Since its founding in 1969, the Department of Communication Studies (originally called the Department of Speech and Theatre) has evolved to meet the changing needs of students and to reflect the shifting nature of the communication discipline.

During the past 50 years, the department has made substantial evolutions to the undergraduate curriculum, shifting from a major that offered “tracks” in telecommunication, organizational communication, rhetoric & public address, and theatre to a single major in communication studies.

More recently, departmental changes have focused on the expansion of graduate programs. The department launched an M.A. program in Applied Communication in 2004 and, in 2014, a Ph.D. program in Health Communication, the only program of its kind in Indiana and only the second doctoral program created in the School of Liberal Arts.

Our most recent curricular initiatives include the addition of a 5-year BA/MA degree in Applied Communication and the development of an interdisciplinary major in Applied Theatre, Film, and Television, that was approved by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education in December 2020. The new major provides clarity to the study of film, television, and theatre in the School of Liberal Arts. While this new major makes extensive use of courses housed in Communication Studies, it is an interdisciplinary degree and not solely a departmental program.

The Department offers the following programs:

  • B.A. in Communication Studies
  • 5-Year Accelerated B.A./M.A.
  • M.A. in Applied Communication
  • Ph.D. in Health Communication
  • Undergraduate minors in Communication Studies, Corporate & Organizational Communication, Health Communication, Media Arts & Studies, Public Communication & Persuasion, and Theatre
  • Online Certificate in Human Communication in a Mediated World
  • Health Communication Ph.D. Minor
  • Graduate Minor in Communicating Science

In addition, the Department contributes to the IUPUI General Education Core by offering a variety of 100-200 level courses in media, interpersonal communication, and theatre which fulfill General Education requirements as well as 60 + sections each semester of COMM-R110: Fundamentals of Speech Communication. COMM-R110 is a required course for all IUPUI students.  Connected to R110 is the Department’s hosting of Speech Night. This semi-annual speech competition is the oldest continuously running event on the IUPUI campus. The live event attracts well over 1000 students, faculty, friends, and family each December and April. In 2021, we celebrated the 50th year of Speech Night.