Communication (COM) major

The Communication major offers two tracks allowing students to focus on a particular skill set in communications fields: Professional track and Research track. You will learn about the social, cultural, economic, political and historical context within which media operate. The focus is on the full range of communication media - including radio, television, newspapers, magazines, film, advertising, public relations and the Internet - and how it pervades every aspect of our society. Students will study the considerable power that media wield in mobilizing public opinion, in cutting across the boundaries between private and public life and the strong role they play in national development.

You will take a set of foundation and core courses on media history, theory and criticism. You have the option of a Research track or a Professional track. Under the Research track, students take a series of courses in U.S. and international media theory. Under the Professional track, students take a series of courses in either print or broadcast media. Students of both tracks will take additional hours of electives from other majors within IAS or from other undergraduate programs at UW Tacoma. Given the Communication major curriculum, transfer students should anticipate needing two years to complete all requirements.

Professional Track

The Print and Television options of the Professional track take an integrated approach to the study of media criticism and media writing and production. They are predicated on the belief that the development of the practical skills needed to produce and write materials for media outlets such as television, newspapers, magazines and public relations firms is enhanced through a critical examination of cultural products and an understanding of multiple theoretical frameworks. At the same time, the ability to critique cultural products is furthered through the development of practical skills, since this advances an understanding of various factors that influence how media products are developed and distributed.

Research Track

The Research track, through courses on media criticism and methods, media ethics, media law and regulation, media history, political economy of mass media, international and development communication, film studies and cultural studies, provides a critical overview of the political, economic, historic, social and cultural contexts of the mass media. In each course, students are encouraged to interrogate the relationship among media, culture and power, and think critically about the correspondence between processes of media production and consumption. The Research track prepares students for further graduate studies or for careers in media research; the wealth of theoretical courses in this track is an asset to any student interested in Communication theory or practice.


For both tracks, one of the following prerequisite classes will be necessary for declaring a Communication major. A minimum grade of 2.0 is required for the prerequisite course.

Career options

Recommended for careers in print and broadcast writing, reporting and editing, web design and in the rapidly growing and interdisciplinary field of media research.

Student learning outcomes

Through a critical and cultural studies framework that addresses power differentials in society and through a rigorous schedule of courses in media theory and skills, you, as a Communication major, are expected to:

  • Be able to conduct thorough and critical research for both media theory and skills assignments, which is consistent with the LEAP learning outcomes of "Intellectual and Practical Skills" and "Integrative Learning;"
  • Understand and analyze the power of the visual image and the written word and their ability to convey and sustain ideologies of gender, class, ethnicity and orientation, which is consistent with the LEAP learning outcome of "Personal and Society Responsibility;"
  • Understand and analyze the ethical, legal, political and economic contexts of the mass media, which is consistent with the LEAP learning outcome of "Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World;"
  • Understand and analyze the interdependency of global media systems and develop a critical and historical approach to media production and consumption, which is consistent with the LEAP learning outcome of "Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World;"
  • Develop skills to write, edit and produce across varied media platforms, which is consistent with the LEAP learning outcomes of "Intellectual and Practical Skills;"
  • Be prepared for a variety of jobs in mass media such as newspaper and magazine writing, reporting and editing, television and video production and web design.

*** Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP)

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