Apr 20, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Communication Studies

Associate Professor: Martinez (Chair)
Assistant Professor: Baugh
Visiting Assistant Professors: Bailey

Communication Studies is an interdisciplinary major with opportunities to take a variety of Communication courses offered at Davidson, particularly in the subfields of mass communication, intercultural communication, and rhetoric as well as courses in other interdisciplinary fields. Communication Studies is one of the oldest liberal arts disciplines and the modern study of communication has expanded to include critical and social scientific approaches to a diverse array of symbolic forms, including not only speech but also interpersonal and intercultural communication, mass media, and new digital technologies.

Major in Communication Studies (A.B. Degree)


The interdisciplinary major in Communication Studies requires 10 courses including two foundational communication courses (COM 101 and COM 201), a methods course, a total of six elective courses, and a capstone or thesis project that serves as the culmination of the major. Students interested in pursuing the one-semester capstone will complete the major with 10 courses, and students pursuing the two-semester thesis will complete the major with 11 course credits. The two required courses provide a breadth foundation of knowledge pertaining to the discipline of Communication Studies. These courses must be taken at Davidson College and cannot be applied as transfer credits from another institution.

I. Required Courses (2)

  • COM 101 - Principles of Oral Communication 
  • COM 201 - Introduction to Communication Studies 

II. Methods Course (1)

The methods course should be completed no later than the fall semester of the senior year because the methods course informs the senior capstone and thesis planning. Students must choose from the following approved list of methodology courses that fulfill this requirement:

• COM 202 - Methods in Rhetorical Criticism
• ANT 372 - Visual Anthropology
• SOC 390 - Qualitative Research Methods
• PBH 250 - Methods in Health & Research

• ECO 105 - Statistics and Basic Econometrics
• MAT 104 or 105 - Introduction to Statistics
• POL 182 - Introduction to Political Science Research Methods
• PSY 300 - Research Design and Statistics: 2*
• SOC 201 - Social Statistics
• SOC 391 - Survey Methodology
• SOC 392 - Quantitative Data Analysis
Note: PSY 300 is the second in the two-part statistics course sequenc

III. Elective Courses (6)

• Four courses from the Courses Within Communication Studies list below.
• Two courses from the Courses Outside Communication Studies list below

IV. Capstone or Thesis (1 or 2)

  • COM 495 - Capstone 
  • COM 496 - Thesis I (Fall)
  • COM 497 -  Thesis II (Spring) 

The capstone is a one-semester project. The thesis spans two semesters. Those majors who meet the GPA requirements are eligible for honors if they pursue the thesis option. See the next section about earning honors and high honors.



To qualify for honors at graduation, a student must: • have a 3.5 GPA or higher in the major • have a 3.2 or higher overall GPA • elect to pursue a senior thesis 4 If a student meets the requirements for honors, they may be eligible for high honors upon successful completion of a senior thesis that earns an A- or higher grade.


  • No more than two courses at the 100-level may count towards the major.
  • No more than one independent study course may count towards the major.
  • A maximum of two courses may count towards both the COM major and a second major or minor. 
  • No more than two courses taken from an institution other than Davidson may count towards the major. Once the Registrar has granted transfer credit, students may petition the Communication Studies department to approve transfer courses for the major
  • Careful course planning is important to all Communication Studies majors, particularly those who plan to study abroad.

Minor Requirements

The interdisciplinary minor in Communication Studies requires six courses as follows:

  • COM 101 - Principles of Oral Communication
  • COM 201 - Introduction to Communication Studies
  • Four elective courses chosen from the list of courses. 

        To maintain the interdisciplinary integrity, at least two of the four electives must come from the Courses Within Communication Studies and two must come from the Courses Outside Communication Studies listed below.

  • No more than one course may count toward a student’s major and the Communication Studies interdisciplinary minor.
  • Only one course may be transferred from another institution.
  • Only one independent study course may be included in the interdisciplinary minor.
  • No courses taken Pass/Fail may be applied to the minor.

Rationale for Course Numbering

100-level courses in Communication Studies are entry-level courses that do not require any previous college coursework in Communication and are open to all students, especially first- and second-year students. The main 101 course regularly offered is COM 101: Principles of Oral Communication, which is required of both majors and minors and capped at 16 due to the performative nature of the course (each students gives a minimum of 4 graded speech presentations).

200-level courses in Communication Studies focus on a specific topic area and may be structured as a survey of that topic area or as a broad introduction to a particular subfield under the broad umbrella discipline of Communication Studies such as media, rhetoric, and intercultural communication.

300-level courses in Communication Studies are typically advanced elective courses that include a depth focus on Communication Studies and relevant interdisciplinary theory and research that informs the trajectory of the depth focus. These courses are geared towards majors and minors. Though any student is welcome to pursue a 300-level Communication Studies course and there are no prerequisites, a previous course in Communication Studies at Davidson is often helpful.

400-level courses: COM 495, the senior seminar capstone course, and COM 496 and COM 497 (thesis independent research) are the only 400-level courses offered in Communication Studies and they are limited to senior Communication Studies majors only.

Courses Outside Communication Studies

Outside electives complement the study of interactive, dynamic human communication of interest to Communication Studies students and/or address any of the following contexts: non/verbal; interpersonal; intercultural; mass, social, or digitally mediated; organizational and rhetoric.

*Note: It is possible that courses not currently listed below may count as outside electives upon approval by the Chair of Communication Studies.

For the major or minor, choose two electives from this list.