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Communication Studies

From left, the Augustana Observer staff at work in Old Main; Haley Fox, Jake Norcia and Ashley Wolfe trying out the broadcast desk at WQAD-TV; and Kyle Soyer at the Observer's end-of-year awards ceremony holding awards he and the Observer photography staff won from the Illinois College Press Association. Soyer '14 is teaching English in France.

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

Employers hire people who communicate well. In a 2013 survey of executives nearly all agreed that critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills are essential in new hires.

Communication graduates have the skills employers want. Majors are taught to think about their audience, to ask intelligent questions and to find answers on their own. 

Graduates pursue careers in business and industry, education and the non-profit sector. About 95% who have applied to graduate schools have been accepted, most with financial support in the form of free tuition.

Communication studies majors have had internships in a wide variety of non-profit, for-profit, and governmental organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Unity Regional Healthcare, Walt Disney World, Congress and the U.S. Senate.

Recent grads:

Lauren Gebhardt '13 is a public relations assistant at Zeno Group, Chicago.

Sarahbeth Jones '13 is a communications specialist with the State of Virginia Department of Health.

Rachel Lenke '13 is studying for a master's degree in public policy at Loyola University of Chicago.

Augustana offers a major and minor in communication studies. The department also has a related major and minor in multimedia journalism and mass communication. A major for teaching speech communication-language arts in housed in the Department of Education.

The curriculum is focused on thinking, writing and speaking with reason and passion. Almost all courses use discussion as a teaching tool, and students are encouraged to express their views.

Classes range from 10-35 students. Students tailor their studies to their goals, choosing from diverse academic areas ranging from rhetorical criticism to interpersonal communication to intercultural communication. Every major engages in Senior Inquiry research, and they regularly present research at conventions of the National Communication Association and Central States Communication Association.

Faculty members specialize in a range of areas, including media studies, rhetoric, interpersonal communication, public speaking, education and organizational communication.

The department is housed in Old Main, the central academic building on campus. The 1889 building underwent a $13 million renovation in 2013. Communication studies and multimedia journalism students take classes in a 20-computer multimedia Mac lab and benefit from other freshly updated spaces. Student media are clustered together on the same floor, with new, dedicated spaces for the student newspaper, The Observer, and the campus radio station, WAUG.

Faculty offices are clustered nearby the classrooms and student media, making informal interactions with students a central part of the department's atmosphere. Interspersed between the classrooms, student media, and faculty offices are sitting areas for student meetings and computer kiosks for students.

Jori Griffith '09, director of operations, Luster Learning Institute NFP
"The real-life skills that I walked away with prepared me for my professional career in the non-profit industry. I have been able to further develop my public speaking/presentation skills to the point now where I present to hundreds of people at a time. I’ve used some of the foundational marketing/advertising skills to help grow my start-up, and because of the invaluable real-life applications from my Communication Studies degree, I’ve been encouraged and supported to go on to studying communication at the graduate level at Northwestern University."

John Jordan '08, marketing manager at The Federated Group
"Augustana's Communication Studies Department helps students make connections. At Augustana, I made connections with classmates, faculty and future employers that have helped shape my career. This diverse network includes some of the greatest minds in communication studies that helps prepare students for graduate work and careers in academia or business."

Katherine Walker '10, Valparaiso law grad
"The Communication Studies department and faculty significantly developed and shaped the professional communication skills I use on a regular basis throughout my legal career. Without learning the techniques, preparation, and confidence of effective communication, I would not be as successful in my legal career, particularly winning the D.M.H. Harish International Moot Court competition."


Alumna launching nonprofit for women's growth

From her days in Campus Ministries to her Civic Engagement project to living in the Quad Cities, Melissa Pepper '09 has always felt called to lead. Using her communication studies and English degree as the Director of Marketing and Client Relations at the law firm Lane & Waterman in Davenport, Iowa, the Augustana grad is preparing to launch her own non-profit: Lead(H)er.

Missavage '04 has fingers crossed for student

Art teacher Kristin Missavage '04 Thomas introduced the Doodle 4 Google contest to her school and one of her third-graders won the Illinois competition. She now advances onto the national level. Thomas majored in art and communication studies at Augustana, then received an art education certification and masters in art education from Northern Illinois University in 2009.

Cullen '13 wins Iowa journalism award

Jack Cullen '13 was awarded the Jay P. Wagner Prize for Young Journalists by the Iowa Newspaper Association. Cullen has been a Davenport Quad-City Times reporter since December 2013. Before joining the Times, Cullen was an intern at the Wisconsin State Journal in his hometown of Madison. He graduated from Augustana with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism.
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