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College of Arts & Sciences

Office of Dean - College of Arts & Sciences
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg PA 17257
cas@ship.edu  
www.ship.edu/cas
(717) 477-1151

Department of Human Communication Studies

313 Dauphin Humanities Center
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA
(717) 477-1732
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Undergraduate
Office of the Provost
OM 308
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1371
provost@ship.edu 

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The School of Graduate Studies
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
Phone: (717) 477-1148
Fax: (717) 477-4016
GradSchool@ship.edu

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Human Communication Studies

The Human Communication Studies program helps students develop critical thinking skills, discover and practice a cultural sensitivity, and facilitate future marketability.

Human Communication Studies at Ship

Communication is a learned skill, one that encompasses verbal and nonverbal messages, as well as listening and understanding. The academic endeavor of Human Communication Studies allows students to fully understand, and better shape, human interaction in all facets of professional and personal lives. As defined by the Association for Communication Administration (1995), Communication Studies focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The field promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication.

The human communication studies program at Ship boasts strong mentorship between advisors and their advisees. A faculty advisor guides each student through the class selection process, discusses career objectives, and offers feedback on coursework. In other words, advisors help students prepare for the future.

Because human communication is, and always will be, a vital component to life’s path, students find personal applications for the skills, techniques and strategies offered in each course. When students can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to their own lives, knowledge becomes real and dynamic. This major combines the understanding of theoretical aspects of human communication with practical application of the same. Students form bonds with fellow majors as they work together to improve their communication skills.

Faculty in the program represents a healthy diversity of cultural and theoretical perspectives and places classroom teaching as their number one priority.

Admission and Degree Requirements

To prepare for this major, students should find opportunities to present their ideas to others by speaking before audiences or working in groups to solve problems. It is also important to improve writing skills because those skills are critically linked to the student’s ability to communicate orally and these skills are, in turn, critical for success in the extensive research projects they will explore throughout their academic career.

So, do well in the college writing class, a required pre-requisite for this major. Take three years of the same foreign language in high school so that the university language requirement is fulfilled. Develop an awareness of, and interest in, all aspects of the world. A vital curiosity hones a student’s ability to process and communicate information. Become aware of the differences among people and how those differences may work toward harmony rather than contention.

Majors must complete 36 credits in the discipline (21 core credits and 15 elective credits). The core courses help students develop an understanding of the process of human communication. More importantly, students who actively participate in these courses increase their communication competence.

A partial list of course titles include:

  • Human Communication Theory
  • Intergroup/Intercultural Communication
  • Small Group Communication
  • Public Speaking
  • Interviewing
  • Rhetorical Criticism
  • Organizational Communication
  • Computer-Mediated Communication

In addition, courses are available in resolving conflict, interpersonal communication, African-American communication, gender and communication, identity communication, workplace training, and others.

Our faculty is always involved in discovering the needs of our students and constructing courses to fill those needs. Class sizes are small enough for personal contact with faculty and our curriculum stresses critical and creative thinking, interaction, student involvement, service-learning, and projects that reflect real-life situations.

Careers in Communication

Survey after survey of employers and placement specialists identifies high-caliber written and oral communication skills as the most important qualities desired in a job applicant. All careers involve human interaction and require the ability to process information and communicate it in oral or written form. Sensitivity to the diversity within and among audiences, such as employees within an organization or customers served by that organization, is also vital to communication competence. Therefore, a cross-cultural approach to communication is emphasized to prepare students for the global marketplace, which is significantly more culturally diverse than ever before in history.

Our graduates report that they are working for major companies in management, sales, human resources, higher education (admissions and student services), marketing, public relations, insurance, training, and various other leadership and service positions. They go on to graduate school, law school, and professional training schools. Some even own their own businesses providing such widely different services as financial planning, executive placement, graphic design, and communication consulting services. Using internships and academic minors as a way of preparing for a particular career, Human Communication Studies majors continually find themselves competitive in almost any career choice, due to their ability to adapt quickly to changing markets.

Because job choice is almost unlimited, the job outlook is always good. As the American economy has switched to a more service-oriented one, the demand for employees with communication skills has increased. Even when there is a downturn in the economy, human communication studies graduates can adapt because their information processing skills make them more flexible and trainable. Additionally, developing an awareness of cultural differences allows for agile adaptability to a culturally diverse world.

Get Involved

Although internships are not required of all majors, many students earn credits while working in business or industry outside the classroom environment. The internship provides the career focus necessary to apply the communication skills acquired. Students have completed a wide variety of internships locally and around their hometowns during the school year or in the summer. Interns have worked for legislators, government agencies, radio, television, publications, banks, manufacturing companies, nonprofit organizations, law firms, entertainment industries, insurance companies, large corporations, and small businesses.

The Alpha Gamma chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, a national honor society sponsored by the National Communication Association, is one opportunity for students to get involved in campus life. The Communication Club facilitates students’ scholarly and extracurricular interests by providing a venue to enhance their interaction with peers and professionals in the field, and the student chapter of the Pennsylvania Communication Association provides scholarly opportunities and contact with professionals in the field.