In a time when people are bombarded with messages, our world needs professional communicators who bring meaning and clarity to complex situations.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research, and study abroad. View the Communication Major Guide to find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
Prepare for a creative career in one of the most popular majors in the country. Employers consistently rank communication skills at the top when making hiring decisions.
As a Communication major, you’ll begin by studying the principles of communication, but you’ll also become adept at applying them — so you can take your skills to a Fortune 500 company, fledgling nonprofit or buzzing startup.
And Austin is the perfect place to be a Communication major. Our students intern at places like Livestrong, Margin Walker Presents (a boutique concert promotions agency), and the Austin Film Society.
What do our graduates do?
Communication majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- Launched a growing nonprofit for hearing and vision screenings
- Landed the prestigious Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellowship at FleishmanHillard
- Won an Emmy Award for coverage of a Pittsburgh water main break that grew into a water crisis
- Become a technical writer at leading employment search engine (and Austin company) Indeed
- Been named director of marketing and communications for a Bay Area nonprofit
- Gone on to become a broker for a real estate investment firm
- Created a cancer foundation to provide financial support to families impacted by cancer
- Co-wrote and co-directed a film which earned a Grand Jury award at SXSW
- Became a movie propmaster in New York City
- Graduated from law school
For more information on the Communication major, please contact Stephen A. King, chair of the Department of Communication.
Unfiltered: My Last Semester
Go behind the scenes with Communication major Patricia Medina ’19 as she graduates from St. Edward’s and begins her career as a creative specialist at GoDaddy.
The Classroom and Beyond
In addition to taking classes that include hands-on projects and interning at Austin organizations, you can get involved with a wide range of student media.
Your Communication classes will incorporate active learning so you can practice applying your major to real-life situations.
- In Public Relations for Nonprofit Organizations, you’ll learn the public relations process by creating your own project for an Austin client.
- In Communication and Popular Culture, you’ll analyze a pop-culture event occurring in the Austin community.
- In Rhetoric and Public Memory, you’ll study monuments and memorials around campus and around Austin. You’ll analyze what they communicate about the population’s values and power structure.
- The St. Edward’s University Magazine published a story about the course.
Get involved with student productions in whatever medium interests you most.
- Hilltop Views, the weekly student newspaper, is published both in print and online. Student journalists report news from the campus and greater Austin community. You can get involved as early as your freshman year as a writer, editor, photographer or designer.
- Sorin Oak Review is a literary magazine that showcases the poetry, prose and artwork of St. Edward’s students. Working on the editorial staff is a great way to gain experience in project management and the practical details of putting together a publication.
- Arete is a student-produced academic journal that publishes student-written research, nonfiction essays and commentary. Editors choose from among the dozens of submissions to create a cohesive journal that represents a variety of perspectives.
- New Literati publishes both creative and academic work.
- B. Hooved is the student humor journal, inspired by our Hilltopper goat mascot.
- Topper Radio is the student-run radio station.
- Topper Studios is the digital media club. Members are involved in creating podcasts, YouTube channels, short films, music videos and comedy sketches, and helping their fellow students produce digital content. Students in Topper Studios also frequently make promotional videos for other clubs at St. Edward’s.
The Digital Media Center in the Munday Library is a resource for creating your own content and learning new skills. Here, you can produce and edit videos, podcasts and visual design projects with the help of your fellow students. The lab is equipped with top-of-the-line computers running the latest software including the Adobe Creative Suite. It also has a group editing/podcasting room, a green screen room and a “whisper room” used for voiceovers. If you are skilled at software, hardware repair, graphic design or video editing, you can apply to work in the lab as a digital media specialist.
Major Requirements: Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communication requires 45 hours of major courses.
Students complete five “core” communication courses, totaling 15 hours.
Students will also choose from one of four concentrations, totaling 30 hours:
- Public Relations and Advertising
- Relational Communication
- Critical Media Studies
- Communication Influence and Diversity
Required Concentration Courses and Electives: As part of the 30-hour requirement, students complete both required concentration courses and select from a list of elective courses.
General Education Requirements: The Communication degree requires 43 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 include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Sports Communication – Explores a wide range of topics related to the understanding of the importance of sports, the cultural identities of those who engage in sports communication, and the organizations involved in sports. Specific topics include community in sport, sports media, mythology, fan culture, gender and race in sport, employment in sport, and crisis communication.
- Social Movement Communication and Public Advocacy – Explores the intersection of social movements and rhetoric with a specific focus on how social movements deploy rhetorical strategies to achieve persuasive goals. Students will learn about different types of social movements (e.g., civil rights, environmental, right to die, animal rights) from the Revolutionary War to the present.
Every Communication major completes at least one internship on or off campus. You’ll apply your skills, build professional experience and try on a potential career at settings like these:
- Hahn Public Communications
- The Austin Film Society
- Margin Walker Presents—an independent concert promotions agency based in Austin, Texas.
- Giant Noise: Public Relations, Marketing, Events
- Breakaway Public Relations
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
- Safe Austin
- Con Mi Madre
- Austin Film Society
Student Professional Organizations
Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) takes career networking to the next level. This pre-professional, international organization connects students with local and specialized PR and advertising professionals. Mentorships and personalized agency, corporation and non-profit tours are additional benefits. Visit prsa.org/prssa or request information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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, Professor
Lori West 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 is now a tenured, associate professor. Dr. Peterson also served a three-year administrative role as Associate Vice President for Faculty Development & Academic Programs from 2015-2018. Her frequently taught classes include: interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and family communication among others. Lori 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, 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.
Nancy Reiter-Salisbury, Visiting Assistant Professor
Nancy Salisbury brings a mix of practical, entrepreneurial and teaching experience to the classroom at St. Edward’s University. She utilizes emergent technology, communication tools and engagement tactics to connect, listen and understand.
She specializes in social media, storytelling, and socially responsible strategic business planning. Her strengths lie in stakeholder communication and developing a mutual understanding to grow the good in business. She’s worked with Alliance Healthcare Services, GE Healthcare, Facebook, Social Factor and the ALS Association.
Salisbury is passionate about teaching and assisting her students in their academic and professional growth. She is the faculty advisor for PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and takes a learner-centered approach in her public relations, digital media and presentational speaking courses. She helps her students create clear messaging and interactive opportunities that align with the Holy Cross mission to pursue a more just world.
The Communication minor is designed as a broad-based introduction to the discipline of Communication as well as an opportunity for students to explore—in more depth—a specific concentration.
Students who wish to earn a Communication minor must take the following coursework, totaling 18 hours.
COMM 1306 Introduction to Communication
COMM 2312 Interpersonal Communication
Choose nine hours from one concentration/cluster in the major and three hours from a different concentration/cluster in the major; at least nine of these hours must be level 3000 or higher.
The Communication Department also offers a minor in Health Communication. View a description of the Health Communication Minor here.
Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.