Reese Phifer

Communication Studies

Cooperation, negotiation, and mutual understanding are the cornerstones of successful interpersonal relationships in work, the family and the community. In the Department of Communication Studies (COM), students develop an integrated skill set in oral and written communication that will prepare them to be skilled communicators in personal, civic and professional roles.

As a COM student, you will participate in civic affairs with the critical skills necessary to evaluate social issues, express opinions and assume positions of responsible leadership in a democratic society.

Communication Studies


A total of 120 hours is required for graduation, 33 hours of which must be in upper-division courses (at the 300- or 400-level). The major requires the completion of a minimum of 36 hours in COM courses, along with the successful completion of a minor in another field of study, usually 18-21 hours.

Distance learning students can complete this program entirely online through UA Online.

Areas of Study

Through the selection of elective courses, Communication Studies majors may choose to emphasize one of the following focused areas of study.


  • Communication & Culture
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Rhetoric & Political Discourse

You do not have to select a focused area of study for your elective coursework, but we encourage you to plan your program of study with the guidance of your academic advisor.

Rhetoric and Political Discourse


Rhetoric is the study of the effective use of discourse. With this emphasis, you will develop skills in critical thinking and argument, analyzing construction and presentation of public messages. You also study the role of rhetoric in initiating or sustaining change –social, political, or cultural change.

Those interested in careers in the political arena should find this emphasis particularly helpful.

Interpersonal Communication


With this emphasis, you will focus on knowledge and communication skills vital for understanding how to interact effectively in interpersonal settings within families, social groups, or among friends, as well as with others in business, within professional organizations or small groups.

Those with career goals in human services may benefit from this area.

Organizational Leadership


With this emphasis, you will develop communication leadership skills for small groups and organizations and strengthen professional communication skills, with an emphasis on ethics and diversity.

Those with career goals for positions of leadership in business and other professions should find this area of courses beneficial.

Communication & Culture


In these courses, you will study the diversity of human communication in a wide variety of contexts and forms. You will develop an understanding for navigating communication choices in the larger social world, both within and across cultures.

Those who seek to have careers involving human resources or community services may find these courses to be of interest.



A Communication Studies minor requires 18 hours of coursework in the department and at least six hours of upper-division courses (at the 300- or 400-level).

A grade of C- or higher is required in all Communication Studies (COM) courses counted toward the minor.


A minor in Leadership Communication is a 18 credit hour minor designed to focus on courses that foster both understanding and development of leadership communication skills.

This minor combines the application of communication theory with practical skills.


An online COM minor, focusing on interpersonal and organizational leadership, is also available.

Students complete a foundational course and select a series of elective online courses to prepare themselves for the various communication challenges that characterize our rapidly changing world.

Master’s Program

The Master of Arts in Communication Studies is a two-year, theory-based program designed to promote understanding of the functions of human communication. Students in the program learn to analyze, manage and assess communication in oral, written and visual forms.


The Accelerated Masters Program offers students the opportunity to earn both a BA and MA in Communication Studies in five years. For the highly motivated and high achieving student, this program offers several distinct advantages:

  • Faster, more economical plan of study than earning the two degrees separately
  • Richer undergraduate degree experience, fewer unrelated core courses and more courses in the major
  • Stronger mentoring relationship with the faculty
  • Greater opportunity to develop understanding of the field in preparation for doctoral work

Upon admission to the Graduate School, the student will be allowed to take graduate-level courses and begin a program of study leading to the Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies.  AMP students in Communication Studies are allowed to count up to 10 hours of coursework dually, toward both the BA and the MA.

To qualify, you must have 91 semester hours with a 3.3 GPA or better.


All C&IS undergraduate students receive academic advising through Tisch Student Services. You should meet with their academic advisor at least once per semester to review your academic progress, degree requirements and involvement opportunities.


C&IS empowers students to write, speak, design, film and explore through scholarships and awards.

Get Involved

Alabama Forensic Council

The Alabama Forensic Council is The University of Alabama’s award-winning competitive speech and debate program.


Get recognized for your hard work, creativity and service.


Get real-world experience in a field that matters to you.

The Speaking Studio

Learn to clarify and craft effective messages, cultivate dynamic delivery and calm your public speaking anxiety.  

Student Organizations

Sharpen your skills and expand your circle.

Experiential Learning

The department coordinates experiential learning opportunities for its majors through enrollment in COM 490: Field Experiences in Communication Studies.

To apply, complete the eligibility form below and submit it to the departmental coordinator, Dr. Caroline Parsons.

Honor Societies

Lambda Pi Eta

Juniors and seniors in communication studies with cumulative undergraduate grade point averages of at least 3.0, 12 semester hours in communication courses, and have minimum grade point averages of 3.25 in those courses.

Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha

A national honor society for individuals who have excelled in forensics and maintained distinguished academic records.

Speak-off Competition

The Speak-Off Competition is held in the fall semester and is open to all students enrolled in COM 123 Public Speaking. The winner is awarded the Oscar Newton Public Speaking Prizeand first, second, and third place winners receive cash awards.

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Office: Reese Phifer 203
Hours: 8 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.; Monday – Friday
Phone: 205.348.5995