Two students in relaxed conversation with a professor.
Program Overview

Communication Studies

Develop agency in writing, speaking, and digital communication.

Photo credit: Mike Crupi

Universally Relevant, Uniquely Tailored

Communication Studies is the critical analysis of all types of communication–written, digital, verbal and non-verbal, and the whole of media. Students in this field study how people use messages to generate meanings within and across contexts.

A major in Communication Studies equips you with the knowledge to be an ethical producer and thoughtful consumer of various forms of communication. As a Communication Studies major, you will develop critical skills for oral, written, and digital communication, and you will use these skills to craft messages that engage effectively with audiences in a variety of contexts. You’ll learn how to critically analyze and evaluate communication practices and examine the contexts in which communication occurs.

In addition to the Communication Studies major, the Department of Writing and Communication offers a minor and oversees the Journalism Integrative Concentration.

Planning to change the world? Study communication.

Communication and media studies relate closely to the issues of social and cultural change. To fully participate in and influence the world around you, you must learn to think critically about communication processes and practices, and you must acquire skills to communicate effectively.

This field is essential for addressing the biggest challenges of the 21st century: from the resurgence of fascist regimes to climate and public health crises exacerbated by disinformation campaigns. Facing these challenges will require the ability to both analyze communication strategies and to deploy them effectively.

9 courses required for the Communication Studies major

Finding a Calling in the Writing Associates Program

After graduating from Oberlin in 2022, Ryo Adachi began a full-time position in Oberlin’s Writing Associates Program, which works with students to hone their writing and speaking skills.

40+ writing associates are eager to collaborate with students

Journalism Concentration

This program equips students to navigate a fast-changing media and news landscape. You’ll explore the different sectors of nonfiction storytelling, from newspaper and magazine reporting to radio production, documentary filmmaking, and digital narrative.

A student speaking at a panel.

Undergraduate Research


Third-year student Dan-Ha Le investigated human and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to providing writing assistance to college students. The results of the project will inform ethical AI design choices.

Featured Courses

WRCM 110

Public Communication

Students will gain skills needed to construct and deliver effective speeches that cultivate engaged participation in public life. In this practice-oriented course, students will develop effective writing and speaking techniques through classroom discussions, activities, and assignments. Students will follow an audience-centered approach to speaking, persuasion, and rhetoric to develop speeches and presentations based upon their own socio-political interests.

Taught by
Cortney Smith
WRCM 310

Indigenous Rhetorics: Native American Narratives of Survivance

This course explores the narrative methods used to address historical and contemporary Native American issues. Engaging with a variety of texts (including novels and films), students will undertake discourse analysis, theoretical interventions, close textual reading, and visual analysis of Indigenous narratives to examine the possibilities of a rhetoric of survivance.

Taught by
Cortney Smith
WRCM 201

Writing in the Sciences

A course designed for students interested in developing their composing/revising skills for writing in natural science and mathematics disciplines or interpreting science topics for readers of general science issues.

Taught by
Cortney Smith
WRCM 320

Community News Reporting

In this course, students undertake advanced projects of pitching, researching, writing and producing news stories about the Oberlin town community. Ethical treatment of sources, balanced and contextualized reporting, verification of facts and multiple modes of producing will be stressed.

Taught by
Jan Cooper

Student and Alumni Profiles

Although the Communications Studies major was formally created only recently, Obies have a long history of working—and making waves—in communication-related fields.

A Voice for the Voiceless

Sydney Allen ’19 built upon her Oberlin writing and communication experience with a 2-year fellowship in Indonesia. Now she is an international advocacy journalist, shining a spotlight on underrepresented regions of the world.


From Oberlin to The Atlantic

English major and former editor in chief of the Grape, Luke Fortney ’18 earned a prestigious fellowship at the Atlantic after completing multiple rounds of interviews.


Exploring Human Rights on 3 Continents

As a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow, writing associate Darius Butler ’24 traveled between Washington, D.C.; Cape Town, South Africa; and Dublin, Ireland, to learn from the legacies of social justice giants who made global footprints.


What does Writing and Communication at Oberlin look like?

A writing associate helping a student at a table in the main library.

Peer writing associates guide students early in the writing process by helping to clarify prompts and assignments, brainstorm ideas and topics, and develop research strategies.

Photo credit: Matthew Lester
A writing associate helping a student.

“Our writing center helps students negotiate the various contexts they find themselves in, and to have agency to make informed choices about what they’re doing,” says professor Laurie McMillin, director of the Writing Center.

Photo credit: Pang Fei Chiang ’19
Two students recording a podcast in a classroom.

As part of professor Jan Cooper’s winter term project “Podcasting Oberlin News,” students were introduced to the history of the emerging podcasting industry and then charged with creating their own podcast episode.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay
Three student panelists at a symposium.

The Oberlin Review hosted a symposium featuring alumni panelists now working for The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, and Think Progress.

Photo credit: Yvette Chen

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

A campus quad at dusk. Students walk along a path in front of an illuminated building.
Photo credit: Abe Frato