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Communication Studies Major

To major in Communication Studies, you must apply through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.


Patrick Baron, Assistant Professor of Health and Human Values
Jason Blum, Visiting Assistant Professor, College Writing Program
Laurian Bowles, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Graham Bullock, Associate Professor of Political Science
Shireen Campbell, Professor of English
Van E. Hillard, Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies
J. Michael Hogan, Visiting Professor and Chair of Communication Studies
Andrew Leslie, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Kevin Marinelli, Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Amanda Martinez, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Sociology
Paul Miller, Associate Professor of English
Stacey Reimer, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement
Susan Roberts, Associate Professor of Political Science
Mark Sample, Associate Professor of Digital Studies
Anne Blue Wills, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Learning Outcomes

Students in Davidson College's interdisciplinary major in Communication Studies will be able to:

  • Articulate the central questions of the communication discipline and its various theoretical and methodological approaches.
  • Employ communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts in original research.
  • Master the rhetorical principles of effective communication in a variety contexts, for diverse audiences, and for different purposes, particularly in the civic realm.
  • Adapt those rhetorical principles to differing communication modalities and technologies.
  • Develop the critical thinking and analytical skills necessary to describe, analyze, and evaluate messages in a variety of mediated and non-mediated settings.
  • Articulate and apply appropriate ethical principles in both the composition and critical evaluation of messages.
  • Explain the connections between communication and culture and demonstrate awareness of, and sensitivity to, issues of cultural diversity.
  • Describe the connections between communication and civic life and the importance of free speech and robust debate in a democratic society.

Course Requirements

The Communication Studies major requires 10 courses, including the senior capstone. Students majoring with honors will complete a two-semester senior thesis instead of the senior capstone. No more than one independent study can count toward the major.

Methodology Requirement

At least one course chosen to satisfy the Communication Studies major must focus on a research method or methods suitable for use in a thesis or other research project in the field. Courses that satisfy this requirement are listed among the Electives below.

Senior Capstone Requirement

All Communication Studies majors will complete an independent research, experiential learning experience, or community engagement project to fulfill their senior capstone requirement. Program faculty will assist students in the design and implementation of their capstone project. All students will participate in the campus-wide research/experiential learning celebration describing his/her capstone experience.


Students who qualify during their junior year with a minimum GPA and an approved research proposal will be eligible to complete a year-long thesis. The thesis will replace the capstone experience for students seeking honors. To qualify for honors at graduation, a student must have:

  • 3.5 GPS in the major
  • 3.2 overall GPA
  • A- or above on the final thesis.


I. Required Courses (Two Courses):

  • COM 101: Principles of Oral Communication
  • COM 201: Introduction to Communication Studies

II. Electives (Four Courses from within Communication Studies; Three from Outside Communication Studies.)

Methodology (One Course)

COM 202 Rhetorical Criticism
SOC 201 Social Statistics
SOC 390 Qualitative Research Methods
SOC 391 Survey Methodology
SOC 392 Quantitative Data Analysis
HHV150 Health Methods

Courses within Communication Studies

COM 218 Gendered Communication in Society (SOC 218)
COM 225 Interpersonal Communication
COM 230 Organizational Communication
COM 275 Mass Media and Society (SOC 275)
COM 280 Intercultural Communication
COM 290 Persuasion and Propaganda
COM 315 Media Effects (SOC 315)
COM 328 Social Media's Impact on Society
COM 350 Communication and Issues of Diversity (SOC 350)
COM 365 Rhetorics of Justice and Equality
COM 390 Special Topics in Communication Studies
Rhetoric and Law
Voices of Democracy: Great Speeches in US History
Debate and Deliberation in Civic Life
Persuasion and Social Change
COM 395 Independent Studies
COM 495 Communication Theory and Research

Courses Outside Communication Studies

AFR 292 "Fake News," Journalism and Ethics
AFR 298 Race and American Journalism
ANT 205 Ethnic Relations and Social Media
ANT 220 Religion, Society, and Culture
ANT 261 Science, Policy, and Society
ANT 263 Social Change
ANT 291 Social Networks & Social Media
ANT 310 Politics, Society, and Culture
ANT 321 Borderlands, Identity, and Rights
ANT 341 Globalization
ANT 343 Feminist Anthropology
ANT 357 Language Before History
ANT 372 Visualizing Anthropology
DAN 101 Introduction to Dance
DIG 210 Data Culture
DIG 220 Electronic Literature
DIG 340 Gender and Technology
DIG 350 History and Future of the Book
DIG 401 Hacking, Remixing, and Design
EDU 131 Schools, Cinema, & American Culture
EDU 221 Schools & Society
EDU 330 Sociology of Education
EDU 340 Education in African American Society
ENG 110 Graphic Medicine: Drawing Disability
ENG 110 Media and Community
ENG 201 Professional Writing
ENG 288 Contemporary American Multicultural Drama
ENG 289 Environmental Literature
ENG 292 Documentary Film
ENG 293 Film as Narrative Art
ENG 301 Advanced Nonfiction
ENG 374 Picturing Disability
ENG 388 Contemporary Theatre
ENG 389 Posthumanism
ENG 393 Film Theory
ENG 420 Narrative Theory
ENG 494 Disability in Literature
ENG 494 Multicultural Literature
FMS 220 Introduction to Film and Media Studies
FMS 321 Interactive Digital Narratives
HHV 110 Introduction to Public Health
HHV 251 Health Disparities in the U.S. and Beyond
HIS 252 The United States from 1900 to 1945
HIS 253 The United States Since 1945
HIS 255 American Popular Culture
HIS 357 The Civil Rights Movement in the United States
HIS 358 Civil Rights War, Civil Rights Warriors
HIS 364 Race, Sex, Power in Latin America
HIS 451 African American Cultural History
PHI 102 Reason and Argument
PHI 120 Applied Ethics
PHI 216 Philosophy of Language
PHI 220 Political Philosophy
POL 121 American Politics
POL 220 The US Congress
POL 222 Parties and Interest Groups
POL 223 The Presidency
POL 225 Public Policy
POL 228 US Environmental Politics and Policy
POL 229 Business and Politics
POL 328 Politics of Information
POL 330 Campaign Strategy
POL 334 Public Opinion
POL 336 Politics and the Media
POL 341 The Rise of New Democracies
POL 398 Global Environmental Politics
POL 422 Political Communication
POL 472 Citizens vs. Consumers
REL 261 African American Religious Traditions
REL 262 Imagining American Religion
REL 360 American Civil Religion
REL 365 Women in Religion
SOC 205 Racial and Ethnic Relations
SOC 210 Power and Politics
SOC 217 Gender and Society
SOC 225 Religion and Non-Religion
SOC 231 Leadership and Organizations
SOC 240 Social Movements
SOC 300 Education in African American Society
SOC 310 Gender, Race, and Sports
SOC 331 Theoretical Explorations of Community Engagement
SOC 430 Race and Religious Faith
THE 362 Theatre for Social Justice

III. Capstone (Course in which students pursue an independent research or community engagement project or write a thesis.)

  • CIS 495 (Fall)

IV. Honors Option (Additional course for students choosing to write an Honors thesis.)

  • CIS 496 (Spring)

Additional Notes

  • No more than two courses at the 100 level may count for the major.
  • A maximum of two courses may count both toward the COM major and a second major or minor.
  • No more than two courses taken from an institution other than Davidson may count toward the major. Once the Registrar has granted transfer credit, students may petition the Communication Studies faculty to approve transfer courses for the major.
  • Careful course planning is important to all Communication Studies majors, particularly those who plan to study abroad.