The communication major emphasizes three interrelated areas of public relations and organizational cultures, public advocacy and democratic cultures, and intercultural/international communication and global cultures. Each area has a practical focus in which written and oral communication skills and interpersonal awareness are developed; in addition the communication degree is designed to emphasize the intellectual, historical, and critical perspectives emerging from the intersections between and among these larger areas of communication inquiry. This “triadic” approach presents  communication as a challenging, creative skill to be mastered, and, moreover, as an integral process through which democratic and professional possibilities are shaped and social realities constructed.

A prominent emphasis on culture and community connects disciplinary work in communication with the integrative understanding of people’s needs and interests that characterizes the best work in anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. The program combines this strong theoretical foundation with the practical skills training to prepare students for any number of opportunities in our globalized multicultural and highly technological environment.

Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement

The minimum passing grade for a Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) course is 2.0. The minimum GPA for the program is 2.0. In addition, the DDC permits any approved course to satisfy up to three credit hours within three different categories. Please see the General Education Program: The Dearborn Discovery Core section for additional information.

Foundational Studies

Written and Oral Communication (GEWO) – 6 Credits

Upper Level Writing Intensive (GEWI) – 3 Credits

Quantitative Thinking and Problem Solving (GEQT) – 3 Credits

Critical and Creative Thinking (GECC) – 3 Credits

Areas of Inquiry

Natural Science (GENS) – 7 Credits

  • Lecture/Lab Science Course
  • Additional Science Course

Social and Behavioral Analysis (GESB) – 9 Credits

Humanities and the Arts (GEHA) – 6 Credits

Intersections (GEIN) – 6 Credits


Capstone (GECE) – 3 Credits

Foreign Language Requirement

Complete a two-semester beginning language sequence.

Ancient Greek I and IIMCL 105 and MCL 106
Arabic I and IIARBC 101 and ARBC 102
Armenian I and IIMCL 111 and MCL 112
French I and IIFREN 101 and FREN 102
German I and IIGER 101 and GER 102
Latin I and IILAT 101 and LAT 102
Spanish I and IISPAN 101 and SPAN 102

Major Requirements

SPEE 101Principles of Speech Comm3
COMM 220Survey of Mass Communication3
Required Core Area I
COMM 366Public Comm and Culture Stdies3
Required Core Area II
Select 2 courses from each of the following focus areas:18
Public Relations and Organizational Culture Focus (CAPR):
Public Relations Principles
Communication Research Methods
Professional Communication
Social Media for PR
Health Communication
Topics in Communication
Principle of Organization Comm
Public Relations Campaigns
Prof Communication Ethics
International/Intercultural Communication and Global Culture Focus (CAIG):
Communication Research Methods
Topics in Communication
Critical Media Studies
International Communications
Gender and Media Studies
Gender and Globalization
Interpersonal Communication
Public Advocacy and Democratic Culture Focus (CAPA):
Comparat. American Identities
Health Communication
Critical Media Studies
Gender and Media Studies
History of American Journalism
Public Argument and Advocacy
Argumentation and Debate
Persuasion & Social Movements
Small Group Communication
20th Century Public Argument
Focus Area Specialization/Production Specialization
The remaining hours can be taken in either Option A or Option B below:6
Option A – Focus Area Specialization:
Select two additional courses from any of the focus areas above 1
Option B – Media Tools Specialization (CAMP):
Select two courses in the area of media production:
Media Design & Animation
Advanced Reporting
Copy Editing
Media Performance
Media Productn for Metro Comm
Feature Writing
Online Reprting,Rsrch,Writing
Audio Production
Digital Film & Television
Interpretive Journalism
Investigative Reporting
New and Emerging Media
History&Theory of Documentary
Advanced Media Production
Comm Design for Web & Mobile
Script-Writing Workshop
Must be an upper level course from any CASL discipline (excluding Communication and Speech, and MATH 385, MATH 386,MATH 387).3
Required Experiential Education
Humanities Internship, Co-Op, or Senior Thesis 23
Total Credit Hours39

(i.e., Public Relations and Organizational Culture CAPR); International/Intercultural Communication and Global Culture (CAIG); Public Advocacy and Democratic Culture (CAPA)). These can be taken in a particular focus area or distributed across focus areas.


On-the-job experience gained through an internship or-co-op is invaluable for students of any major. Because of this, all Communications students are required to participate in an internship, co-op or senior thesis. Many new college graduates lack the “soft skills” that employers seek. Communications graduates at the University of Michigan-Dearborn will have a distinct advantage. There is a seminar component to both the internship and the co-op.

The senior thesis is for students who have prior communications industry experience and would like to relate their experience to the theory and practice of communications without having to spend time in the field.


  1. A maximum of 63 hrs of COMM and SPEE may count toward the 120 hrs required for graduation.
  2. At least 15 of the 27 upper level hours in the COMM major must be elected at UM-D.

Minor or BGS/LIBS Concentration

A minor or  concentration in Communication consists of fifteen hours of approved upper-level courses in COMM/SPEE. Of the fifteen hours, three hours must be in a Speech course. In addition, students must complete the two prerequisites listed below to obtain a minor or area of focus in Communication.


COMM 220Survey of Mass Communication3
SPEE 101Principles of Speech Comm3
Total Credit Hours6

Public Relations Certificate

The public relations certificate requires the following courses:

COMM 260Public Relations Principles3
JASS 2015Fundamentals of Journalism3
COMM 300Communication Research Methods3
COMM 360Social Media for PR3
COMM 460Public Relations Campaigns3
COMM 477Prof Communication Ethics3
Total Credit Hours18

Notes Regarding PR Certificate Program:

  1. A minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and a minimum of twelve earned hours completed at UM-Dearborn are required for admission to the program.
  2. A maximum of nine credit hours may simultaneously count toward the PR certificate and toward the Communication major.
  3. A maximum of two transfer courses (six credit hours) may count toward the PR program.
  4. A minimum 2.0 GPA in the courses counting toward the PR certificate and minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA are required at the time of graduation and/or posting of the certificate.

COMM 220     Survey of Mass Communication     3 Credit Hours

Course covers historical, economic, theoretical and research foundations of various mass media of communication: newspapers, magazines, radio, television and others. Includes study of the functions of media, and their creative and destructive potential in society. Textbook study and critical analyses of media products: advertisements, news stories, TV programs. (F,W).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

COMM 260     Public Relations Principles     3 Credit Hours

Explores how public relations, as an area of communications management and production, can contribute to an organization's success. Provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of public relations, including: history and contemporary professional status of the public relations practitioner; role of public relations as a management discipline; major areas of public relations work, including media relations, public affairs, issues management, lobbying, organizational relations, development; techniques of public relations production - planning and presentation - with attention to the uses of specific tools available to practitioners, i.e., news releases, brochures, multimedia, Internet communications, special events. (YR).

COMM 290     Communications Practicum     3 Credit Hours

COMM 290 (Practicum) provides introductory instruction and practice in a number of practical communications skills, with the field and focus changing each time the course is offered. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

COMM 300     Communication Research Methods     3 Credit Hours

Gives detailed view of landmark research studies in the field. Acquaints students with logic of research inquiry, design and analysis, including questions of validity, reliability, causation, etc. Imparts basics of various research methods used in the communication field, such as survey interviews, depth interviews, focus groups, content analysis, and rhetorical analysis. Students design and conduct at least one study in communication, individually or in groups. (F,W).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280 or CPAS with a score of 40

COMM 306     Comparat. American Identities     3 Credit Hours

This course will confront and complicate the following key questions: what does it mean to be an American? What is American culture? Participants in this course will respond to the questions central to the American Studies field by reading and discussing historical, sociological, literary, artistic, material culture, political, economic, and other sources. Students will use this interdisciplinary study to examine the multiple identities of Americans - as determined by factors such as gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. While emphasizing the diversity of American culture, participants will consider some core values and ideas uniting America both in historical and contemporary society. Students will be invited to seek out and share fresh narratives of the American experience.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 317     Case Studies in Tech Writing     3 Credit Hours

COMM 317 offers both practical and conceptual studies in technical writing and is open to non-technical as well as technical students. The course offers in-depth treatment of the communication problems and various document designs common to technical writing professionals. Instructional format includes lectures and discussions based on case material derived from actual events, followed up by preparation of written documents. Topics include document design, language barriers, and the role of the technical documents in product liability. (F,W,S).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior or Graduate

COMM 340     Professional Communication     3 Credit Hours

Course covers essential skills of professional written and oral communication within the organization; the purpose, process, and problems of professional communication; the influence of organizational structure; audience analysis; the writing and editing of reports (formal and informal, including memo reports) and of professional correspondence; the preparation of graphics; and the planning and delivery of oral presentations. May count toward Communications minor. (F,W,S).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior or Graduate

COMM 360     Social Media for PR     3 Credit Hours

This course explores the emerging social media technologies and studies their application in contemporary PR practice. It examines the nature and role of social media in organizations and explores technologies including blogs, Microblogs, collaboration tools, podcasts, viral video, social bookmarking, mobile platforms, and other evolving technologies.

Prerequisite(s): COMM 260

Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman

COMM 364     Writing for Civic Literacy     3 Credit Hours

In Writing for Civic Literacy, students will study how politicians, the media and critical citizens use language to engage with the broader community. Students themselves will learn to use language to become more active, well-informed citizens. They will study rhetorical awareness, audience analysis and persuasive writing techniques and put those lessons to use in community settings. They will perform community service at agencies of their choosing and use those experiences as objects of analysis, researching the social context in which those agencies operate and writing analytically about the agencies. Further, students will synthesize classroom lessons and real-world experience by executing writing tasks for and with the agencies (these tasks might include editorials for the local press, informational webpages and fundraising materials).

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 280

COMM 365     Health Communication     3 Credit Hours

Provides skills necessary for creating, interpreting, and critically evaluating messages about issues related to health and illness and encouraging active participation in healthcare. Examines theory and research regarding messages related to physical, mental, and social well-being from interpersonal, organizational, and mass communication approaches. (W, YR)

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 366     Public Comm and Culture Stdies     3 Credit Hours

This gateway course provides the theoretical and methodological foundation to embark on the study of three key interrelated spheres of communication: Public and Organizational Culture, Public Advocacy and Democratic Culture, and Intercultural Communication and Global Culture. Students will have the opportunity to examine salient societal issues within each of the major areas, and explore connections between the different areas. Through a variety of class exercises and both individual and collaborative projects, the course will help students to acquire an analytical and practical "toolkit" enabling them to function effectively as communicators in culturally diverse organizations and civic contexts.

COMM 381     Postwar European Cinema     3 Credit Hours

The course will concentrate on a series of films from various European countries with a focus on the socio-political issues, historical events and cultural preoccupations that have defined and also challenged European societies from WWII to the present. Zeroing in on the construction of European identities, the course will analyze and compare modes of narrating national, class, racial, sexual and social differences in different European nations. Themes such as memories of war and the Holocaust, new conflicts, class, immigration, women's rights, gender, and East-West relations will be addressed. The course will thus privilege a cinema that offers a "recit," a story. Particular attention will be given to discourses on otherness and on the ways in which film culture has reflected, reinforced, reshaped and, in some instances, contested Europe's past and current dominant ideologies, and identities. Readings by cultural historians and analysts will provide the context for an understanding of the films. The course will conclude with a discussion of the possible existence of a specific postwar European Cinema.

Can enroll if Class is Freshman or Sophomore or Junior or Senior

COMM 390     Topics in Communication     3 Credit Hours

A course in nonfiction narrative that focuses on memoir writing, emphasizing technique. Students will read book-length examples by Azar Nafizi, Nelson Mandela, Frank Conroy, Mar Karr, Susanna Kaysen, Frank McCourt, Ann Patchett and Joan Didion, examining these books as models for writing.

COMM 397     Communications Thesis     3 Credit Hours

A thesis project that is the culmination of the Communications major. Students will choose the project area and write a thesis (40-50 pages) under the direction of a Communications faculty member. The thesis option is available only to students with substantial practical experience in the communication field, and requires the approval of Communications faculty.

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 398     Independent Studies-Comm     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Readings, supervised practice, or analytical assignments in Communications, determined in accordance with the needs and interests of those enrolled. May count toward Communications minor. (F,W).

COMM 420     Critical Media Studies     3 Credit Hours

Course presents various critical approaches to the study of the media. Perspectives include political economy, cultural studies, critical theory of the Frankfurt school and feminism. Through readings and first hand analysis of the media students will delve deeply into the institutional underpinnings, content, use and reception of media. There will be special emphasis on how broader economic, cultural and technological changes influence our experience of media in everyday life as creators, citizens, audiences and consumers.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 422     Language and Popular Culture     3 Credit Hours

This course provides an overview of popular culture theories and communication models along with research methods. It offers an accessible, in-depth presentation of popular culture including music, film, television, magazines, comics, animation, and advertising in the US and the beyond. The main focus of the course is to highlight the functions of language, particularly, dialects, accents, and foreign languages, in producing and consuming local and global pop culture texts.

Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 430     International Communications     3 Credit Hours

Course examines the relationship between globalization and communication from various vantage points such as cultural imperialism, global media flows, and hybridity theory. Students use these theoretical approaches to understand how people in particular locations experience, adapt, resist and modify globally circulating aspects of media, popular culture, news and information. Through critical responses to readings, class exercises, individual and team projects, students also explore how global pressures and changes influence the way people understand and project their identities, buy and sell communication as a commodity, negotiate borders, and create social change.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 442     20th Centry Public Argument     3 Credit Hours

This class is a survey of American public address in the 20th Century. Students will examine and critically analyze several of the most significant speeches and rhetorical movements of the last one hundred years. Through lectures, discussions, and analysis of speeches and other artifacts, we will focus on the relationship between rhetoric and history, and how theories of rhetorical action help us appreciate the role of discourse in the effective functioning of a democratic system. Students will learn to utilize several critical perspectives as a means of understanding both historical and contemporary political discourse. (W).

Prerequisite(s): SPEE 101

COMM 450     Principle of Organization Comm     3 Credit Hours

Course examines how communication networks function in organizations. Purpose: to provide an organizational context and conceptual framework for the practice of professional writing and speaking skills. Writing projects include a research report, a case study, and several shorter papers, practical and analytical, on assigned topics. Students cannot receive credit for both COMM 450 and COMM 550. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): COMM 340 or COMM 360 or COMM 440

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 455     Gender and Media Studies     3 Credit Hours

The course will focus on several feminist approaches used in understanding the media and attempting to create social change through the media. The role of media in the definition and reproduction of gender-based hierarchies and in the renegotiation of gender boundaries will both be explored. To this end, both mainstream and women's media will be examined. The course will take a multicultural and international perspective, incorporating concerns of class, race, ethnicity, and nation as these intersect with the study of gender and media. Mainstream and alternative media will be analyzed through readings, films, case studies, in-class collaborative exercises and longer term projects. News, entertainment, and advertising genres will be examined in a variety of media such as the printed press, television, video, film, and the Internet. (W).

Prerequisite(s): WGST 275 or WGST 303 or ANTH 275 or PSYC 275 or SOC 275 or ANTH 303 or PSYC 303 or SOC 303 or HUM 275 or HUM 303 or WST 275

Can enroll if Class is Sophomore or Junior or Senior
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

COMM 460     Public Relations Campaigns     3 Credit Hours

Focuses on strategies and tactics involved in planning and implementing a public relations campaign. Extends and refines skills acquired in earlier, prerequisite course work by incorporating management, production, and writing within a four-stage model for planning and action. This model provides a framework for role-playing, case study work, and projects done for evaluation by public relations professionals at local firms. The semester's portfolio of finished communications and "mock-ups" - including planning materials, news releases, brochures, newsletters, Internet communications, video and audio scripts - should demonstrate command of entry-level, professional abilities as a public relations campaign manager and producer. (YR).

Prerequisite(s): COMM 260 and (COMM 360 or COMM 440)

COMM 464     Contemporary Rhetorical Theory     3 Credit Hours

An examination of contemporary rhetorical theories through study of representative practitioners and related developments in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, communication, and composition and rhetoric. Students may not receive credit for both COMM 464 and COMM 564.

Prerequisite(s): COMM 201 or COMM 220 or COMM 290 or ENGL 230 or ENGL 200 or ENGL 231 or ENGL 232 or ENGL 233 or ENGL 235 or ENGL 236 or ENGL 237 or ENGL 239 or ENGL 240 or ENGL 250

Cannot enroll if Class is Graduate

COMM 466     Arguing Feminism: Rhetoric     3 Credit Hours

An introduction to the work of major twentieth century feminists working in rhetoric and related fields. Students examine recurring themes of language, meaning, ethics and ideology, and practice writing strategies which address rhetorical and ethical concerns central to feminist/academic writing. (OC)

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280 or CPAS with a score of 40

Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman

COMM 477     Prof Communication Ethics     3 Credit Hours

An examination of professional communication ethics in the organizational context, focusing on important issues, problems, and concepts. This course is designed to help students become conscious of the role of values in a wide range of professional communication situations; to locate organizational behavior in an ethical framework based on considered definitions, standards, perspectives, and criteria for evaluation and analysis; to consider individuals as well as organizations as moral agents in a changing and complex universe; and to analyze topical cases on emergent issues in communication ethics. Some sample topics: ethics in decision-making and conflict-resolution; privacy and confidentiality; sexual harassment; whistleblowing; the "engineering" of consent; corporate image and ethos; issues in documentation, record-keeping, and technology; "issues management" and corporate responsibility; groupthink; obedience and personal responsibility; employee socialization. Students cannot receive credit for both COMM 477 and COMM 577. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): COMM 340 or COMM 360 or COMM 440 or COMM 450

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

COMM 481     Gender and Globalization     3 Credit Hours

Mass media, politics, and academia are full of references to globalization, and a future "world without borders." This interdisciplinary course considers the implication of globalization for women's lives, gender relations, and feminism. Topics covered include the global factory, cross-cultural consumption, human rights, global communications, economic restructuring, nationalism, and environmental challenges. Rather than survey international women's movements, this course explores how globalization reformulates identities and locations and the political possibilities they create. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): ANTH 303 or HUM 303 or SOC 303 or PSYC 303 or WGST 303

Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman or Sophomore
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate
Can enroll if College is Arts, Sciences, and Letters


An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally