Communication Major

Communication, in one form or another, has been a core part of the social sciences at Cornell since its founding.  Through the study of science, media and technology, students in the Department of Communication are able to examine the rapidly changing communication landscape.  Students in the Department of Communication learn to understand audiences, shape messages, and interact with individuals and technologies.

Communication is a process engaged in by people, between people, and with the aim of influencing people. It happens inside of real social contexts: communities, organizations, teams, nations, societies. It happens with the aid of information technologies that are themselves a product of the social world. Students will gain the theoretical strength and methodological rigor of the social sciences, and get to learn, even take part in, grounded, empirical research about some of the most pressing social issues of the day.  Specific topics that Communication majors study are as diverse as the faculty and students who explore these areas in Communication research projects and courses.

Communication majors participate in academic internships and other hands on experiences including the Interaction Design Lab where students learn how technology can help to enable healthier, more socially connected and reflective living.

The communication curriculum offers students opportunities to experience the breadth of the field and to develop a depth of understanding in a chosen focus area.

Focus areas

  • Communication, Environment, Science, and Health
  • Communication Media Studies
  • Communication and Information Technologies
  • Communication and Social Influence

Employment Fields

  • Advertising & Public Relations
  • Broadcasting, Film, Video
  • Journalism, Publications
  • Technology
  • Entertainment
  • Food Industry Management
  • Business
  • Government
  • Law
  • Research
  • Social Services, Non-Profit

What recent graduates are doing

  • Graduate/professional study in journalism, communication, law, and public relations, education, nutrition,.
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Emerging Media Public Relations Specialist
  • Advertising Associate
  • Educational Leadership Consultant
  • Finance Paralegal
  • Communications Associate
  • Journalist
  • Client Solutions Executive
  • Athlete Marketing Coordinator
  • Real Estate Planner
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Human Capital Management
  • Consumer Market Knowledge Associate
  • Assistant Event Director

Sample Classes

COMM 2450 – Communication and Technology

This course steps back from the bewildering changes in information technology and social media, to ask some fundamental questions about technology and its role in human behavior and society. Topics include the psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication; how design plays a role in the way we interface with technology and collaborate with each other; and the ways in which communication technology is situated inside social and institutional structures and cultural formations.

COMM 2760 – Persuasion and Social Influence

Social influence and persuasion are the most basic and important functions of communication. The course covers characteristics of persuasive messages, message sources, and targets; interpersonal influence; and influence in groups. Special emphasis is given to topics in health, science, risk. This course features interactive lectures, assignments that apply principles of persuasion to real world contexts, and an applied group research project.

COMM 2850 – Communication, Environment, Science, & Health

Environmental problems, public health issues, scientific research -- in each of these areas, communication plays a fundamental role. From the media to individual conversations, from technical journals to textbooks, from lab notes to the web, communication helps define scientifically-based social issues and research findings. This course examines the institutional and intellectual contexts, processes, and practical constraints on communication in the sciences.

COMM 2200 – Media Communication

This course will provide an introductory understanding of media content, industries, policies, research, and effects. Topics include the history of mediated communication, how the media operate, how they affect you and others, how society influences the creation of mediated messages, how messages are psychologically processed, who owns/controls the media, research to date on media content and effects, and an overview of media policy. These topics will be examined through current theoretical and empirical research on mediated communication. In this sense, the course is designed to introduce you to topics that will be covered in depth in the media-related Communication courses here at Cornell.

    More about Communication from the Department