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About Communication Studies

A broad discipline encompassing the social sciences, humanities, liberal arts, and performing arts. For more information review State of the Discipline.

What Areas of Communication Studies Are Available in UNCW’s Department?

There are many specialty and sub-discipline areas of communication studies represented in our curriculum.

  • Primary areas are:
    • Health Communication
    • Integrated Marketing Communication (PR/Advertising)
    • Intercultural/Interracial Communication
    • Interpersonal Communication
    • Media Studies
    • Media Production
    • Organizational and Group Communication
    • Performance Studies
    • Public Speaking
    • Rhetoric and Communication Theory
    • Small Group

Our mission statement states:

"Above all, our primary purpose is to provide our majors an undergraduate degree program in which the philosophy, practice, criticism, and study of communication are emphasized and balanced. Specifically, we seek to integrate application with theory."

See the full Mission Statement.

You have the flexibility to customize your degree program based on aspirations for graduate study and professional career paths.
Graduate study options at the Masters and Doctoral levels are available in discipline specialty areas represented in the department. Options will vary based on your goals so talk to your advisor about what opportunities might be out there for you and check out these helpful links.

Check out Why Study Communication? for more information on the professional outcomes of a Communication Studies degree.

Degree Audit & Graduation

To run a degree audit, follow these instructions:

  1. edu > MySeaport > Degree Works > Enter
  2. Your audit will appear

For hard or digital copy to share with advisor:

  1. Click on Print/Save PDF
  2. Click on the Print Icon > Save as PDF (do not choose save as Adobe PDF)

To run a what-if audit, follow these instructions:

  1. edu > MySeaport > Degree Works > Enter
  2. Your current audit will appear
  3. Click on What If in the navigational menu to the left of your degree audit
  4. Under “Select your primary area of study”
    1. Change catalogue year to the year you started at UNCW,
    2. Ensure Level = Undergraduate; College = College of Arts and Sciences; Degree = Bachelor of Arts
    3. Major – choose Pre-Communication Studies
      1. (no concentration)
    4. Minor – add if you have a minor
    5. Click Process What-If
      1. Review the audit

For hard or digital copy to share with advisor:

  1. Click on Print/Save PDF
  2. Click on the Print Icon > Save as PDF (do not choose save as Adobe PDF)
For a new major you will need to know the school the major is in, type of degree, and concentration if new major requires a concentration.

Only you can determine what is "on time" for you. Your degree audit will tell you how many hours you still need to reach the 120 hours minimum needed to graduate. If you have changed majors or transferred with many hours you will need to double check the number of hours you need to meet degree and program requirements.

To graduate from UNCW you will need to complete University Studies courses, Major courses, and general electives/minor/double major courses. Sometimes completing all of these will require more than 120 hours if you have transferred, changed majors or not been efficient with your chosen courses.

Your degree requires 120 hours. If you have been efficient in completing University Studies and your major, you may still have hours left to reach 120. These "general elective" hours can be used any way you choose.

You may be able to pursue a minor or take additional hours in the major or simply explore topics of interest that align with your personal or professional interests. It is sometimes possible, with instructor permission, to take such an elective class pass/fail if it is an area of interest but you are concerned about making a good grade.


According to the College of Arts and Science Advising Mission statement, it is your responsibility as an active learner to review your audit and come to advising with a proposed schedule. It is your advisor's responsibility to review your audit and offer you advice. In short: it's your degree!

During the pandemic, contact your advisor via email to see how and when they are offering office hours. The entrances to the COM offices are currently locked so you won't be able to informally "drop by" to see if your advisor is in. Faculty phone numbers are posted outside of the main office to call to see if your advisor is in however, most faculty members are not physically in the office at this time. Email is the best way to communicate with your advisor during this time.

You will be sent an advising email around mid-October and mid-March respectively that will contain instructions to follow for pre-registration advising. Follow these instructions to have a successful advising appointment.

At this time, the Department of Communication Studies is not using Starfish to schedule advising appointments.

A pre-requisite is a course that must be completed before you may take the course. For example, COM 280 is a pre-requisite to COM 380 and COM 382.

A co-requisite may be taken at the same time as the course. For example, COM 232 is a co-requisite to COM 334 and COM 338. When registering, sign up for the lower-level, co-requisite class FIRST and then register for the other class.

A class may be listed as a pre or co-requisite. This means you may take the course before or at the same time as the course. COM 232 is a pre/co-requisite to COM 334 and COM 338.

If you are currently enrolled in a pre-requisite course, and you meet all other requirements such as PCOM or COM Status, you can register for the next course at the time of registration. However, if you drop or fail the pre-requisite course you will be dropped from the other course.

Taking more than 18 hours is not recommended, but if you would like to petition to take more than 18 hours follow these steps to apply.

If you have at least a 3.5 overall GPA, complete the application.

If you have between a 3.0 and 3.49 overall GPA, you will need a recommendation from your advisor.

You may take two (2) classes in each summer session. Think about the number of hours you will be working during the summer. Two classes is four (4) hours of classes each day, plus 2 hrs. of homework and class preparation.

You should also look at your overall graduation timeline and factor in Fall and Spring course loads as well. You may take no more than 16 hours across both summer school sessions.

Deciding to complete a minor is a decision only you can make for yourself. If you have 18-21 hours of general electives left to complete, a minor is one way to fulfill these hours. Look carefully at the required and elective courses for the minor rather than just the title of the minor to help you decide.

When thinking about which minor to complete, consider how a given minor will help you pursue your personal and professional goals and aspirations. Look at the list of minors for your catalogue year.

Did you earn a C or higher? Grades below a C do not transfer.

If you earned a C or higher, are the classes listed under general electives and given 001 credit. If yes, review UNCW course descriptions and find the course you believe matches the course you took. Email the following to Ms. Bulger: the syllabus for the course from your former institution, the UNCW course number, and your argument why they are equivalent.

At a minimum you need two 400 level courses. COM 400 – Discipline Capstone and one additional COM course at the 400 level.

You may take additional COM 400 level courses. You need nine (9) hours of COM additional course work at the 300/400 level.

Seanet contains the most up-to-date information on class availability. Make sure that you look at the correct semester.

Within University Studies you need to review the language carefully within each area.

Within the COM Studies major, courses for the COM Core do not double dip with courses for the COM Additional requirements.

COM Courses do not double dip between COM and the Journalism minor.

COM Courses do double dip within other minors. Review each minor description to confirm.

Yes, if you meet eligibility requirements. Learn more about internship requirements

COM Studies classes taken internationally typically transfer back to UNCW as COM 294, COM 394, COM 494. These designations generally help students who also want to take our versions of similar classes. Students planning to study abroad should work with Dr. Pullum on equivalencies.

If the course is outside COM you will need to work with the host department to determine equivalencies. For example, talk to the chair of the history department if the course is a history course.

View the transient study form

While your parents may have your best interest at heart, they are not qualified as academic advisors in our program. You will need to be sure you meet the prerequisites and understand that students in our program with more hours completed register before you do.

It is important to stay flexible when registering for classes. We will work with you to get classes that are truly required in the program.


For spring courses, you will register around the first of November. Advising occurs in October.

For summer/fall courses, you will register around the first of April. Advising occurs in March.

Students register in this order:

  • Super Seniors, Athletes, Honors, Students with Disabilities, Veterans
  • Seniors
  • Juniors
  • Sophomore
  • Freshman

While COM 200 is a prerequisite for many classes in the major, it is not the only prerequisite for some classes. Certain sub-disciplines like IMC and digital media have additional prerequisites for their upper level course work.

Courses may also be restricted to COM Studies majors. Your status does not change to COM Studies until you earn a B or better in COM 200, and your request to declare COM Studies as a major is approved.

For all classes you can check their course description, and learn pre-requisite and co-requisite classes by clicking on the blue CRN number in the course search or by using course descriptions.

While there is no guarantee you will be added to the class, if you have the pre-requisite or co-requisite courses you may contact the professor listed in Seanet to see if they can add you to the class. Be polite and concise in your request and be patient about receiving a response.

General Questions

If you feel that there is an error in an advisor's response or that there is a strong argument for an exception, you may arrange to talk to Dr. Olsen or Ms. Bulger. Prepare for that meeting by having a current degree audit and related documentation ready for review.

Contact your advisor to discuss your options. If you believe your best option is to withdraw from the semester, read about your options.

If the emergency requires your professors to be notified of your absence, please reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students.

The Office of the Dean of Students is focused on you as a student and your success at UNCW. Their mission is to provide "students, faculty and staff a range of resources that support student success by promoting the critical importance of civility, self-accountability, responsible decision-making and building community."

The Dean's office within a college is focused on the departments within that college. But both offices work together to help students navigate significant disruptions. If you are experiencing general challenges you should start with the Dean of Students. If you have specific academic challenges, you should start with your advisor and together you may reach out the Dean of CAS.

The first step is to speak directly with your instructor. If you are unable to satisfactorily solve the problem, you will need to follow the instructions provided in the catalogue.

If the language is the same language you took in high school, you will need to reach the 201 level in that language to complete that requirement. This will be indicated on your audit under World Languages and Culture.

If you choose a language different from what you took in high school you only need the 101 and 102 courses.

If you did not take a language in high school you will need to take 101, 102 and 201 in the same language.

Yes, if you have transferred less than 64 hours from a community college to UNCW. You must complete a transient study from available on MySeaport before taking the courses. You must still meet UNCW's requirements for WLC.

See additional information on World Languages and Cultures requirements.