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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication


Before declaring the major, students must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in one of the following:


COMM 106

COMM 108

Students interested in declaring the major should apply via Axess and meet with the student services administrator in Building 120, Room 110A, during scheduled office hours. Students are required to take at least 60 units (approximately 12 courses), not counting statistics, to complete the major.


The undergraduate curriculum is intended for liberal arts students who wish to develop an understanding of communication in society, drawing on the perspective of the social sciences. Undergraduates majoring in Communication are expected to become acquainted with the fundamental concerns, theoretical approaches and methods of the field, and to acquire advanced knowledge in one or more of the sub-areas of communication: institutions, processes, and effects.

While the department does not attempt to provide comprehensive practical training at the undergraduate level, the curriculum provides a diverse range of internship opportunities including professional print journalism, some of which are funded by the department's Rebele Internship Program.

The department is committed to providing students with analytical and critical skills for future success in graduate programs, professional schools, or immediate career entry.

The major is structured to provide several levels of study: a core curriculum, intended to expose students to a broad-based understanding of communication theory and research, and a number of intermediate-level options and electives. Majors also have the opportunity to do advanced research in the form of senior projects and honors theses.

All undergraduate majors are required to complete a set of core communication courses which include COMM 1A, Media Technologies, People, and Society (5 units) or COMM 1B, Media, Culture, and Society (5 units); COMM 106, Communication Research Methods (5 units); COMM 108, Media Processes and Effects (5 units), and COMM 120, Digital Media in Society (WIM, 5 units). Core courses are usually given only once each year.

The department also requires completion of or concurrent registration in an introductory statistics course (STATS 60 or PSYCH 10) prior to registration in COMM 106, Communication Research Methods, in preparation for courses in methodology and advanced courses in communication processes and effects. It is recommended that this be done as soon as possible so as not to prevent registration in a course requiring statistical understanding. The statistics course does not count toward the 60 units to complete the Communication major.

In addition to the core courses and the statistics requirement, undergraduate majors select courses from the areas described below. Many of the courses require core courses as prerequisites. Majors select a total of four area courses, taking at least one from each area.

Area I: Communication Processes and Effects—Area I emphasizes the ways in which communication scholars conduct research in, and consider the issues of, human communication. These studies aim to provide expert guidance for social policy makers and media professionals and include the following courses: COMM 160, 162, 166, 168, 169, 172, 326.

Area II: Communication Systems/Institutions—Area II considers the roles and interaction of institutions such as broadcasting, journalism, constitutional law, and business within communication and mass communication contexts and includes the following courses: COMM 104, 116, 117, 120, 125, 131, 136, 140, 147, 182.

Options—The Communication curriculum is designed to provide a theoretical base that can be effectively applied to numerous environments. The potential options listed below are not required, but are examples of how to focus interests.

  1. Communication Technologies—
    1. Department of Communication (COMM):

      COMM 120. Digital Media in Society

      COMM 166. Virtual People

      COMM 169. Computers and Interfaces: Psychology and Design

      COMM 172. Media Psychology

    2. Affiliated department offerings (elective credit toward the major):

      CS 105. Introduction to Computers

      CS 106A. Programming Methodology

      CS 147. Introduction to HCI

      CS 201. Computers, Ethics, and Social Responsibility

      CS 247. Human Computer Interaction: Interaction Design Studio

      STS 101. Science, Technology, and Contemporary Society

  2. Communication and Public Affairs—
    1. Department of Communication (COMM)

      COMM 125. Perspectives on American Journalism

      COMM 136. Democracy and the Communication of Consent

      COMM 160. The Press and the Political Process

      COMM 162. Analysis of Political Campaigns

    2. Affiliated department offerings (elective credit toward the major)

      POLISCI 123. Politics and Public Policy

      PSYCH 75. Cultural Psychology

      PSYCH 167. Seminar on Aggression

      PSYCH 180. Social Psychology Perspectives on Stereotyping and Prejudice

      PUBLPOL 104. Economic Policy Analysis

      PUBLPOL 194. Technology Policy

  3. Media Practices and Performance—
    1. Department of Communication (COMM)

      COMM 120. Digital Media in Society

      COMM 125. Perspectives on American Journalism

      COMM 131. Media Ethics and Responsibility

      COMM 160. The Press and the Political Process

    2. Affiliated department offerings (elective credit toward the major)

      AFRICAST 148. Media, Art and Social Changes in Africa

The remainder of the 60 required units may be fulfilled with any elective Communication courses or cross listed courses in other departments.

To be recommended for the B.A. degree in Communication, the student must complete at least 60 units (approximately 12 courses) in the department. No more than 10 units of course work outside of the department, transfer credit, or Summer Session credit may be applied to meet department requirements. Communication majors must receive a letter grade for all Communication courses unless they are offered only for satisfactory/no credit (S/NC), and must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 (C) in courses towards the major. Only courses with a grade of C- or above count towards the major.


The honors program provides undergraduates the opportunity to undertake a significant program of research in an individual professor/student mentoring relationship. The aim is to guide students through the process of research, analysis, drafting, rethinking, and redrafting, which is essential to excellence in scholarship. Working one-on-one with a faculty adviser, seniors earn 15 Communication units, culminating in an honors thesis. In order to be eligible for the honors program, interested majors must have: (1) successfully completed both a research methods and statistics course, (2) selected an adviser, and (3) submitted an application to the department by the end of their junior year. An application may be picked up outside Room 110, Building 120.

Students are expected to make steady progress on their honors thesis throughout the year. Students who fail to submit a satisfactory draft in Autumn Quarter will be dropped from the program.

A final copy of the honors thesis must be read and approved by the adviser and submitted to the department by the eighth week of Spring Quarter (exact date to be arranged). It becomes part of a permanent record held by the department. Honors work may be used to fulfill communication elective credit but must be completed and a letter grade submitted prior to graduation. A student failing to fulfill all honors requirements may still receive independent study credit for work completed, which may be applied toward fulfilling major requirements.

The designation "with honors" is awarded by the Department of Communication to those graduating seniors who, in addition to having completed all requirements for the Communication major:

  1. complete an honors thesis
  2. maintain a distinguished GPA in all Communication course work
  3. are recommended by the Communication faculty.

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