Irina Gendelman
John Hopkins
Teresa Winstead


Irina Gendelman
360-486-8826 igendelman@stmartin.edu

Communication Studies Program (M., m.)

Department overviewCommunication studies (M., m.) Community services (M.)Community services and social work internshipsCriminal justice (M., m.)Legal studies (m.)Social justice (m.)Social work (M.)Sociology and Cultural Anthropology (M., m.)Women's studies (m.)Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series

The Communication Studies Program is a distinct program set in a unique location. Our program focuses on social justice and critical cultural theory, developing critical thinkers who are also engaged citizens. It is a perfect fit for students with diverse talents and interests.

Students have access to a rich cultural environment that is also a hub of civic activity. Saint Martin's University is located in a thriving arts community and a stone’s throw away from the state capitol. The Lacey-Olympia-Tumwater area boasts a film society, community television and radio stations, recording studios, live theater, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, the state legislature and a deep tradition of activism and originality.

Shaped by the Benedictine values of stewardship, community and listening with the ear of the heart, the Communication Studies Program utilizes accessible media technologies such as cloud computing, mobile devices and social media, citizen journalism and digital media production to encourage creativity and build a solid foundation for a wide array of professional endeavors.


Communication studies is an interdisciplinary program that uses critical and cultural studies to understand the central role of communication in society, with a focus on social justice. This program provides a broad overview of the different areas of communication, including the historical, institutional and social contexts of mass media and communication technologies; communication laws and ethics; rhetorical and semiotic analysis; as well as self-reflective citizen engagement and the creation of communication media (written, oral and visual).

Communication studies prepares students for careers in a wide range of fields, from public relations and advertising to media arts production to work in the public sector and more. Students also may continue to further their studies in graduate school, specializing in the humanities, social sciences, public relations, digital media, or filmmaking. This major offers the opportunity to pursue a production-focused or more theoretically oriented course of study and it is designed to provide a well-rounded understanding of the field of communication.

Major requirements

Bachelor of Arts

General education core (42-48 semester hours)

Major in communication studies (39 semester hours)

Lower-division courses

  • COM101 Introduction to communication
  • COM201 Communication and identity. COM101 prerequisite.
  • SOC240 Research methods

Upper-division courses

  • COM320 Media and culture
  • COM390 Internship
  • COM499 Capstone project

21 additional credits required from the list of approved electives, 18 of which must be upper division.

Minor requirements

Minor in communication studies (21 semester hours)

Lower-division courses

  • COM101 Introduction to communication
  • SOC240 Research methods

Upper-division courses

  • COM320 Media and culture

12 additional credits required from the list of approved electives, 9 of which must be upper division.


  1. COM300 Media production
  2. COM360 Communication law and policy
  3. COM380 Copy editing and design
  4. COM385 Conflict and peace studies
  5. COM395 Special topics
  6. COM397 Directed study
  7. COM398 Media history
  8. COM399 Communication theory
  9. COM401 Community media lab
  10. COM299/WRT299 Introduction to journalism
  11. COM302/WRT302 Advanced journalism
  12. COM303/WRT303 Digital journalism
  13. COM307/THR307 Studies in film
  14. COM317/ENG317/SOC395 Language and culture
  15. MUS110 Applied lessons (voice)
  16. PHL301 Ethics
  17. PSY320 Social psychology
  18. SJ370/SOC370 Social action
  19. SOC450 Advanced research methods
  20. SPH103 Interpersonal communication
  21. SPH106 Public address
  22. THR302 Playwriting
  23. THR402 Playwriting II
  24. WRT306 Professional and academic writing

COM101 Introduction to Communication (3)
A survey of communication studies in social interaction, international communication, political communication, and communication technology and society.

COM201 Communication and Identity (3)
Investigates identity and cultural communication theories and their application for varying levels of human interactions - between individuals, within groups, and across cultures. Prerequisite: COM101.

COM299 Introduction to Journalism (3)
Fundamentals of journalistic writing, including basic news story and feature writing, interviewing, copyediting, media law, ethics and writing from speeches and interviews.

COM300 Media Production (3)
Provides a hands-on introduction to the various pre-production, production and post-production processes and techniques used in the creation of media projects. Students gain practical experience in producing, directing, and editing media in field productions of narrative, documentary and/or experimental forms. Topic and media focus varies depending on instructor. May be repeated for credit.

COM302 Advanced Journalism (3)
Aspects of media law, First Amendment rights and various modes of reporting. Prerequisite: ENG299, WRT299 or COM299.

COM303 Digital Journalism (3)
Introduces students to the theory and practice needed to write stories for the digital newsroom. Students explore tools of RSS, blogging, mapping, photography, audio and slide production. Prerequisite: ENG299, WRT299, COM299 or permission of the instructor.

COM307 Studies in Film (3)
How do films work? Critical survey of several narrative films in their historical context and exploration of filmmaking techniques — acting, directing, editing, screenwriting and other related topics — as a means of developing tools for analyzing films as art, popular culture and socio-political commentary.

COM317 Language and Culture (3)
Course examines the nature of language and its various functions, with an emphasis upon English and its cultural and historical contexts. Students explore the structure of language and its role in identity, power and history. Course content varies. May be repeated for credit.

COM320 Media and Culture (3)
Provides an overview of mass communication history and theory, with emphasis on the role of influential media forms in 20th century American culture and beyond.

COM360 Communication Law and Policy (3)
Social and legal questions over communication resources, rights and responsibilities. Examination of law and policy with respect to social communication practices, such as the First Amendment, media ownership and intellectual property rights.

COM380 Copy Editing and Design (3)
Focus on editing copy for publications, covering grammar and style, production methods, news criteria, design, pagination, and publication.

COM385 Conflict and Peace Studies (3)
Examines conflict and leadership in global and local settings with a focus on the role communication plays in understanding, creating, negotiating, and transforming conflict situations. The class will emphasize the reconciliation movement over the past 25 years, particularly between modern nation-states and indigenous peoples.

COM390 Internship (1-6)
Approved by the department and carried out under the direction of department members and internship coordinators.

COM395 Special Topics (3)
Instructors and topics will vary.

COM396 Intercultural Communication (3)
Cross-cultural examination of international, domestic and personal communication. Coursework intended for anyone whose work or lifestyle may involve encounters of the intercultural kind.

COM397 Directed Study (1-3)
Directed study allows students to pursue an area of interest as developed with their directed study instructor. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

COM398 Media History (3)
A focused study of the evolution and cultural history, the distribution of information, and the creation of knowledge through the means of a specific medium. Media focus may vary, depending on instructor. May be repeated for credit.

COM399 Communication Theory (3)
Social and cultural theory of media and communications applied to analysis of media events and texts. Students will apply research methods and strategies to analyze media content. Topic may vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit.

COM401 Community Media Lab (3)
Students produce news and feature stories for local media in the Pacific Northwest area. Requires writing and reporting skills. Prerequisites: ENG302, WRT302, COM302, WRT303 or COM303.

COM499 Senior Seminar (3)
Students write a thesis paper or create a media project.

College of Arts and Sciences