Communication studies

Communication studies

Central communication studies majors obtain a broad education that prepares them to take their place in the career world. Majors are working in diverse fields such as social and mass media, public relations, marketing, management and human resources, nonprofit services, healthcare, politics and law. Award-winning faculty are experts in the field whose connections help students reach their goals, including internships and jobs. Communication studies students develop skills in critical thinking, writing and speaking for a variety of audiences in the contexts of interpersonal, intercultural, public and mediated communication. 

Nearly 100% of majors are employed, in graduate school or completing service within a year of graduation
  • 51% of communication studies majors either study abroad or participate in the Chicago Semester or Washington, D.C., intern program
  • 100% of majors complete at least one internship or pre-professional experience before graduation

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Analee Gray ’06, marketing assistant, Northwestern Mutual, Des Moines
  • Jacob Dreyer ’11, public information director, Christian Opportunity Center, Pella
  • Ashley Pedersen ’13, account manager, Aerotek, Des Moines
  • Anna Leavenworth ’13, brand marketing coordinator, The Des Moines Register
  • Holly Osborn ’13, health and sports writer, 303 Magazine, Denver
  • Anne Youngman ’14, marketing project manager, Pearson, Iowa City
  • Molly Neil ’15, leasing agent, Hubbell Realty Company, Des Moines
  • Emily Friedricks ’15, project manager, Webspec Design, Des Moines


Central offers a variety of communication-related student groups and activities, including: Theater Central; CAB (Campus Activities Board); SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment); SOS (Student Orientation Service); Admission Office Ambassador; Student Senate; and Mock Trial. 

Connect with the communication studies department on Facebook for other news and events.

Holly Osborn

Holly Osborn

Holly Osborn ’13 is volunteer coordinator for Von’s Vision and a writer for 303 Magazine in Denver.

Read More

Graduate Placement

A major in communication studies is great career preparation and an excellent foundation for graduate study.  Our majors have gone on to grad programs in the following fields:

  • Communication studies
  • Business
  • Mass communication and journalism
  • Law
  • Student development
  • Communication sciences and disorders
  • Higher education
  • Environmental education


All communication studies majors complete at least one internship or pre-professional experience. Students have completed internships in a variety of organizations locally, nationally and internationally, including:

  • Media representative intern at White House, Washington, D.C.
  • Social media expert for nonprofit, Chicago, Ill.
  • Naturalist, Jasper County, Iowa
  • Event planning associate at Pella Opera House
  • Marketing intern at Fit for Sport, London, England
  • Public relations intern at Pella Regional Health Center
  • Program assistant at the Iowa Council for International Understanding, Des Moines
  • Special event coordinator, radio station, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
  • Marketing intern at Iowa Events Center, Des Moines

Courses & Faculty

From the ins and outs of public relations to the keys to effective public speaking, communication studies prepares students with the skills they will need for the future. 

Communication studies students examine the process of creating messages, meaning and relationships in a broad array of contexts. Students are first introduced to theoretical concepts that enhance their skills and understanding of communication in interpersonal, intercultural and public settings, as well as in contemporary media. Advanced students examine communication related to professional engagement and ethics, global sustainability and media citizenship.  

Learn more about communication studies in the course catalog.

Communication studies photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Shelley-Jean Bradfield, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, interest areas include global media cultures, feminism and gender studies and the construction of identities in the media
  • Dennis Doyle, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies, interest areas include interpersonal communication, communication ethics and performance studies
  • Brett Labbe, Lecturer of Communication Studies
  • Linda Laine, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies, interest areas include communication in organizational, intercultural and health contexts

Sample Schedule

First year
  • Communication in Everyday Life
  • Introduction to Communication Theory
  • Public Speaking
  • Performance Studies
  • Core courses and/or electives
Sophomore year
  • Interpersonal Communication 
  • Evaluating Contemporary Media
  • Intercultural Communication 
  • Communicating Health & Illness
  • Communication Research & Writing
  • Core courses and/or electives
Junior year
  • Digital Media Discourses
  • Public Relations 
  • Environmental Communication 
  • Internship in communication studies
  • Study abroad
Senior year
  • Negotiating Organizational Cultures
  • Communicating Spiritual Ecology
  • Media Criticism
  • Senior Seminar in Communication Ethics
  • Internship in communication studies

The Central Difference

Curriculum for Career Flexibility

The career world is changing so rapidly that we prepare students not just for their first job, but for the job they will have several years after graduation, one that possibly doesn’t even exist yet. To achieve this goal, students are exposed to an intentionally broad-based curriculum focusing on concepts and oral/written skills sought by employers. Further enhancing flexibility, students often complement a major or minor in communication studies with a wide variety of programs, such as business, psychology, political science, arts or athletics/health.

Experiential Learning

Communication students complete both internships and applied projects embedded in courses. These opportunities enhance theoretical learning and provide interactions with people in a variety of settings, so students acquire experience and skills employers are seeking. Recent experiential learning opportunities have included:

  • Planning and promoting an event for a local non-profit organization
  • Analyzing corporate websites for sustainability messages
  • Managing an organization’s social media
  • Interviewing immigrants about their experiences

Emerging Media Citizenship

Acknowledging that students are highly engaged in social and digital media, communication studies provokes them to think intentionally about their media citizenship. Specifically, students reflect on consuming and producing media messages that construct identities, cultures and social inequalities.  

Exploring Civic Engagement

Communication studies includes a focus on local and global civic engagement, examining the role of citizen voices and public forums, social movements, strategic campaigns and risk communication. The Senior Seminar in Communication Ethics explores the intersections of personal decision-making with the needs of one’s relationships, community and society. Other advanced communication courses closely examine the inherent tensions in our desire for interdependency and social justice.  

Learn More

Want to find out more about communication studies at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.