The mission of the Department of Communication is to teach communication that nurtures inclusive civil discourse, critical thinking, and cooperative solutions in a diverse world. We provide a strong liberal arts foundation and applied communication skills that enable our graduates to succeed in a wide range of business, education, government, non-profit, and professional careers. Many graduates also go on to pursue advanced degrees in communication studies, law, business, various human service professions, and other fields.
The Department of Communication offers a Bachelor of Arts in communication with courses in interpersonal and small group communication, organizational communication, mass communication, intercultural communication, communication technologies, research methods, ethics, rhetoric, persuasion, public speaking, and debate. An emphasis is placed on effective oral and written communication, as well as critical thinking, across the curriculum. The department sponsors student clubs and activities that encourage learning beyond formal classes. A nationally recognized program in debate and forensics is offered as well as service learning opportunities and supervised internships. Qualified students are also given opportunities to serve as instructional assistants in the Fundamentals of Speech program.
Education students may choose a communication major designed for the elementary level.
ANNA EBLEN (1986) Chair and Professor. BA, Duke University; MA, University of West Florida; PhD, University of Oregon.
MICHAEL KARLBERG (1997) Associate Professor. BA, University of California; MA, PhD, Simon Fraser University.
EE LIN LEE (2005) Assistant Professor. BA, MA, Western Michigan University; PhD, University of New Mexico.
TARA PERRY (2005) Assistant Professor. BA, Western Washington University; MA, PhD, Washington State University.
KAREN ROHRBAUCK STOUT (2000) Associate Professor. BA, University of Puget Sound; MA, University of Montana; PhD, University of Utah.
RAE LYNN SCHWARTZ-DUPRE (2006) Assistant Professor. BA, University of Vermont; MA, Wake Forest University; PhD, University of Iowa.
JIANGLONG WANG (1989) Professor. BA, Fudan University; MA, PhD, Northwestern University.
STEVEN G. WOODS (2001) Associate Professor. BS, MA, Kansas State University; PhD, Florida State University.
CARMEN WERDER (1984). BA, MA English, Western Washington University; PhD, English, University of British Columbia.
Becoming a Communication Major
Students wishing to declare a major in communication must have completed 90 credits, 12 to 15 of which have been completed at Western Washington University with a GPA of 2.5 or above. Students must submit a portfolio to the department (see below) in order to be admitted through a competitive selection process.
Admission to the major will, in part, be determined by the number of applicants and their qualifications in any given quarter. Cumulative grade point average (GPA) will be one of the major criteria for admission. In most quarters, the average GPA of successful applications is above 3.0. Other factors considered by faculty when selecting communication majors are writing samples, work and service experiences with diverse populations, reference letters, and seniority at WWU.
Before applying to become a Communication major, students must:
Once the above courses have been completed, students can submit a portfolio of their work on or before Monday of the fourth week of fall, winter and spring quarters. The faculty will then review the portfolios and announce the names of successful applicants before the end of each quarter. Students are allowed to make a maximum of two application attempts.
The portfolio will include the following items:
- Transcripts of all college work completed to date
- A letter of intent to major in communication
- A résumé including course of study, work experience, recreational and avocational activities, internships, awards and honors, and public service activities
- Two samples of the student’s collegiate writing assignments including best research paper or class project
- Three letters of recommendation from employers, teachers, or supervisors
- A proposed program of study which includes a statement indicating a chosen minor or a self-designed minor. (A self-designed minor is comprised of at least 25 credits and is acceptable only when the student has a clear educational goal that cannot be met within existing minors on campus. Requests to pursue a self-designed minor must include a written statement prepared by the student indicating the rationale for the self-designed minor and the courses selected.)
Once admitted, communication majors whose cumulative GPA falls below 2.5 risk losing their major status. They will be warned of the risk in their first quarter below 2.5 and may be dropped from the major if their cumulative GPA is not 2.5 or higher in the subsequent quarter.
A student seeking to complete a BA degree with a communication major within a four-year time span should complete the following courses by the start of his/her junior year. Major omissions from this list will make it difficult to complete this degree within two additional years.
- COMM 101 or COMM 235 (with a B- or better)
- (with a B- or better)
- One of the following: COMM 235 ; HIST 398 ; LIBR 125, LIBR 201 ; PSY 301 (with a C or better grade)
- Two or more 200 or 300-level communication courses that are open to all undergraduates: (Intro to Mass Media) will also count toward a COMM major and can be taken at this stage).
- Substantial progress in General University Requirements (GURs), including courses with substantial writing components (see portfolio writing sample requirements).
- (Research Methods in Communication) should be taken by the student as soon as possible once a student is accepted into the department.
Undergraduate Degrees and Programs
Communication — Elementary, BAE