Apr 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


The Department of Communication embraces the mission of Saint Mary’s College to instill a liberal arts, Catholic, and Lasallian character through curriculum that identifies the process of communication as a primary means by which we construct social reality, recognize and analyze social processes, and affect social change. The study of Communication is complex and interdisciplinary, incorporating rhetoric, social sciences, cultural studies, and film and media studies. Students studying communication will engage in ethical and systematic inquiry into a broad range of areas, including relational and intercultural communication, new media and digital culture, mass and alternative media, organizational communication, visual studies, ethics, and international communication. Students will also learn to express their inquiry in research, media production, and other forms of public communication such as advertising, public relations campaigns, and journalism.

The Communication curriculum is both conceptual and applied with core courses preparing students for in-depth exploration of one of two concentrations centered around the kinds of communicative roles students aspire to upon graduation: Media Maker or Communication Strategist. The core courses common to both concentrations highlight oral, written, and media communication competencies, as well as research design and project management skills. The Media Maker concentration is for students interested in examining processes of media communication, especially media production. This concentration balances critical, analytical, and theoretical approaches to the study of media with hands-on media production training, culminating in a media-focused Capstone project. The Media Maker concentration provides students with competencies in media production, especially visual design, cinema and video, and digital media.The Communication Strategist concentration is for students interested in examining the processes of meaning making through communication and its impact on human psychology, emotions, and relationships in various contexts including workplace, groups and teams, and other forms of relationships. This concentration emphasizes the application of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis and communication theories to the production of ethical and strategic plans for effective communication in various contexts, and culminates in a data-driven research Capstone. The Communication Strategist concentration provides students with competencies in qualitative and quantitative data analysis.


Ellen Rigsby, PhD, Professor
Shawny Anderson, PhD, Professor
Veronica Hefner, PhDAssociate Professor
Makiko Imamura, PhD, Professor
Jason Jakaitis, MFA, Associate Professor
Samantha Nogueira Joyce, PhDAssociate Professor, Chair
Aaron Sachowitz, PhD, Professor
Scott Schönfeldt-Aultman, PhD, Professor
Edward E. Tywoniak, MFA, EdD, Professor Emeritus

Learning Outcomes

By the time they graduate, students should be able to:

  • RECOGNIZE communication inquiry by employing communication perspectives, principles, or concepts.
  • CREATE messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context in order to effectively communicate.
  • APPLY communication theories or methods to critically analyze messages.
  • DEMONSTRATE the ability to appraise and apply communication ethics for social justice, to embrace difference, and to exercise moral conduct.
  • PRACTICE using communication theory, strategies, and methodologies in real-world situations.

Major Requirements

Students who major in communication take a total of 24 units of required courses (seven courses) and fifteen units of electives (usually 4 courses). Four courses are shared between the concentrations, and the remaining 15 units plus the capstone course are unique to each concentration.

Minor Requirements

Students who minor in communication choose between 2 100-level courses, take communication theory (two classes), and take 12 units of electives (usually three classes).

Prerequisite Grade

Any course listed in this department with a prerequisite assumes a grade of C- or better in the prerequisite course.

Minor in Cinematic Arts

Students minoring in Cinematic Arts take six courses from the disciplines of Art, Communication, English, Anthropology, and World Languages and Cultures. Beyond the coursework, an internship elective provides a hands-on experience that can include assisting with a film exhibition, working as an assistant with a faculty filmmaker or researcher, and other options. (This program is coordinated with the Art and Art History Department and is cross-listed with their section of the course catalog).

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Minor in Cinematic Arts will be able to:

  • Plan, shoot, edit a finished film or video art project.
  • Contextualize moving image artworks within a broader cultural, historical, and political framework.
  • Utilize critical-theoretical concepts as a springboard to develop a film or video art project.
  • Write a concept statement articulating the aims, influences, and process associated with their own production work.
  • Write an extended critical essay integrating research, analysis, and interpretation of cinematic works of art.

Minor in Digital Studies

The idea for a minor in Digital Studies within the School of Liberal Arts grew out of the recognition that the dramatic change brought about by the digital revolution in areas such as communication, culture, art, commerce, and education necessitated a more formal lens of investigation of the contemporary world. Foundational to this conversation is the very question itself of the role of the liberal arts in the 21st century, including the signature hallmarks of a liberal education-critical thinking, collaborative inquiry, and the ability to effectively communicate.

The Digital Studies minor is open to all students. The program’s curriculum provides the requisite tools for critical analysis of how “the digital” frames human discourse, while simultaneously developing a technical understanding of how digital media and content are produced and delivered in order to prepare students for careers in the technology sector.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Minor in Digital Studies will be able to:

  • Ability to analyze the digital environment toward the end of becoming a digital citizen.
  • Ability to analyze the digital environment (technically and culturally) through shared inquiry and collaborative learning
  • Ability to understand and utilize digital media production tools (video, audio, images, graphics, interactivity).
  • Ability to understand and utilize principles of digital programming (HTML5, CSS5, and Python)
  • Ability to understand and utilize project management tools and skills toward the creation of digital artifacts
  • Ability to understand and utilize critical thinking for the analysis of digital information and its application in the contemporary age
  • Ability to produce and conceptualize through assignments and activities digital bases art within a critical-theoretical framework
  • Ability to investigate through assignments and activities digital concepts within historical cultural and societal contexts
  • Ability to investigate through assignments and activities the dialogic relationships between digital culture and technology
  • Ability to investigate and analyze through assignments and activities the attributes and the effects of “big data” on culture and society, and develop skills and strategies for effective data management.

+1 MA in Communication

The Master of Arts in Communication is an accelerated +1 program that offers undergraduates a second degree after only an additional intensive year. Students select two cross-listed upper division elective courses in their senior, or in some cases, junior, year. Students complete these courses at a graduate level and receive credit toward both graduate and undergraduate degrees.  During the intensive year, students complete and addition five core courses and two electives, choosing either a comprehensive exam or international externship (extra costs apply) as a culminating experience in June.

Matriculation Pattern

Total Requirement (nine courses: two in undergrad and seven in grad)
Required Core Courses:
COMM 500  : Theories of Communication (Fall)
COMM 502 : Strategic Mediated Communication (Spring)
COMM 505 : Applied Research Design (Fall)
COMM 506 : Applied Research Methods (Jan Term)
COMM 507 : Applied Research Analysis (Spring)
Bridge Courses
4 Elective Bridge Courses (500 level course)
2 Courses taken during Undergraduate
1 Bridge Course in Fall term
1 Bridge Course in Spring term


    Bachelor of ArtsMinorMaster of Arts (MA)


      Communication - Lower DivisionCommunication - Upper Division

      Students must have sophomore standing to enroll.