College of Arts and Sciences
Communication Department


  • Revised November 2013


    The Beginning
    The Mission Statement
    Major Degrees Offered

    Student Resources and Activities

    handbook cover

    Passion          Perception          Performance

    The Beginning

    The disciplined study of Communication is rooted in the Greek Agora—the marketplace for trade and ideas where citizens gathered to be free of the oppressions of palace and temple. They debated public policies and shared stories. They learned to value openness and differences, rule of law, and most importantly freedom of speech. They questioned, investigated, savored conversations, and created stories that came to be measured by their facts or by their appeals to reason or emotion.


    Sitting beside the stoa, they engaged in trade and networked new communities. From this history arises the mission of the SU Communication Department.


    The Mission Statement

    As communicators, all of us are part of an ongoing conversation. We live in a social world shaped and continually remade through communication practices. The messages we send and receive from others do far more than transmit information or express feelings: they shape attitudes, build and modify relationships, and even change the course of history. The mission of the Communication Department is to foster the practice and study of communication to inform and transform society for the better. We seek to prepare students for more meaningful professional and social lives, fostering in them the abilities and desire to make a difference with their communication and readying them for roles as journalists, advocates, and constructive community members.  Read the entire mission statement at this link.

    A Jesuit education in communication requires practical abilities, intellectual understanding, and a commitment to using communication skills to transform society and promote social justice. Toward that end, students and faculty work together to improve our Performance, Perception, and Passion.


    Performance: To prepare and present effective, responsible messages, whether those messages take the form of news stories, speeches, comments at meetings, or casual conversations.

    Effective communicators meet these performance criteria:

    • employ systematic, strategic, and ethical approaches to the process of designing messages and competently produce and present those messages.
    • develop skills in listening, interpretation, and evaluation are important ingredients in effective performance.
    • gather appropriate information to understand the issues about which we communicate.

    We aim to enhance student and faculty performance in oral, written, and visual communication, with professional level performance offered to those who seek it.


    Perception: To effectively interpret and understand communication situations and challenges. Understanding principles of communication and the role of news and other mass media in society help us make sense out of how communication works, and we believe that such understanding is a necessary precondition to the effective practice of journalism, advocacy, and communication within a community.

    Effective communicators meet these perception criteria:

    • understand the diversity of ways of communication and how communication institutions and processes impact culturally diverse groups and their relative abilities to influence society as a whole.
    • understand and learn from how the communication practices of advocates, journalists, and community-builders have influenced and shaped societies and institutions.

    From the collection of such knowledge comes the ability to make informed, meaningful, and ethical choices about messages.


    Passion: being committed and willing to use communication skills to improve society. We are not satisfied with providing either intellectual enrichment or skills alone, but are dedicated to the goal of preparing students to be agents of positive social change through their practice of communication. We want Communication Department graduates to be ready and willing to make a difference: journalists who use their role to hold the powerful accountable and give voice to the voiceless, advocates who effectively argue for their beliefs in service of social justice, and community members who thoughtfully and cooperatively help to shape a tolerant, engaged, and more just society.

    At the heart of communication is the moment of connection between communicator, audience, and idea. Whether orator, journalist, co-worker, advocate, or friend, all communicators face the challenge of constructing messages that effectively and ethically communicate important ideas in ways that make those ideas publicly effective. In the myriad of such moments that occur every day, our social world is continually remade. Communicators need the skills, knowledge, and courage to grasp those moments when they are presented and use them to advance the interests of society as whole. Effective communicators can and will make a difference in those moments. With these very real consequences of communicating in mind, and in the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, the Communication Department is ultimately committed to promoting the positive transformation of society.

    Major Degrees Offered:

    Communication Studies BA: students develop effective oral and written communication skills along with vital research skills that will serve them well regardless of their future career path. Our majors go on to graduate school or careers in diverse fields ranging from marketing, real estate, corporate communication and communication consulting to development aid work and nonprofit advocacy. Learn more here.

    Journalism BA:  students take classes that teach them the basics of writing and reporting and that help them develop the breadth of knowledge they will need to thrive in various media environments. Learn more here.

    Strategic Communications BA: students are prepared for careers in public relations, advertising and related, fast-growing fields. Special emphasis is placed on preparing students to lead projects for social change in their communities. Learn more here.

    Requirements for Communication Dept. Majors

    foundation classes2

    Internship Credits

    (CMJR 495) are typically earned in an on or off-campus professional settings such as newspapers, magazines, public relations agencies, online publications, broadcast stations, etc. For the Journalism Major, the internship must be off campus. All majors require supervision by both a communication professional and a faculty member with expertise in the particular area of the internship (e.g. journalism, communication studies, strategic communications). Internship credit may be earned at the rate of one-to-five credits per quarter, enabling you to either spread your experience over several quarters or condense it into a single quarter. Internships are graded Credit/Fail, but we do some letter grade internships.  See your advisor for more information.

    How credit restrictions and Internships requirements apply depend upon your major. For full details on practicums and internships for your communication track (Communication Studies, Journalism, or Strategic Communication) see your adviser and talk with the individual faculty member who would supervise your internship.To access the full Student Internship Handbook from the College of Arts and Sciences, including the necessary forms for submitting an internship request, go Here.

    Practicum Credit

    Practicum credits are granted for work at on-campus student media, supervised by student editors with faculty serving as advisers. Generally practicum credits (CMJR 280-282, CMJR 380-382) are earned at the rate of one credit per quarter. Practicums are letter-graded: A, B, C, etc. An example of practicum credit in journalism would be working for Seattle University’s radio station, KSUB, and our newspaper, “The Spectator.”

    Getting Academic Help

    Every student is assigned an academic adviser who can:

    • help you develop an educational plan that considers your academic background, career plans, and course prerequisites;
    • provide information about university programs, policies and procedures;
    • assist you in evaluating your progress toward your goals;
    • answer questions about transfer credits, subject to final review by the Registrar’s office;
    • refer you to appropriate sources if he or she does not know the answer to your questions;
    • help you initiate various processes, such as having transfer courses re-evaluated

    Remember: Your academic adviser gives you suggestions. It is your responsibility to insure that you enroll in the correct classes, fulfill the appropriate prerequisites, and proceed smoothly toward graduation. You can do this by:

    • familiarizing yourself with the degree requirements, registration deadlines, and university policies and procedures detailed in the Bulletin of Information, the Student Handbook, and the information on SU Online.
    • reviewing your Program Evaluation and other records on SU Online periodically.
    • contacting your adviser during pre-registration advising week. Don’t wait until the last minute to seek advising. When possible, see your adviser to review your file during the quieter times of the quarter, rather than waiting until registration time.
    • taking the initiative to meet with your adviser periodically.

    Department Advisors

    Freshman/Sophomore/Transfer Adviser
    (Communication Studies & Strategic Communication)

    CMST Junior/Senior Advisers

    JRNL Advisers

    STCM Junior/Senior Advisers

    Journalism Internships Advisor


    Getting Academic Help

    Student Resources and Activities

    Communication Department Online Information Group

    The department maintains an on-line information and discussion group as one way of keeping in touch with majors and minors. Notices of departmental events and available internships, as well as news about communication or reflections about the field, are posted regularly. To join this group, simply inform the department administrative assistant of your account address. Postings to the group should be addressed to

    Debate Club
    The Communication Department sponsors the student Debate Club. Students who participate in the program study and prepare competitive speeches and engage in debates both on and off campus.  The team routinely travels to regional and national competitions each academic year and has 15-20 active participants. Students in the program have won more than 100 regional and national awards. Also students may also enroll in Debate (CMJR 353.01) for 1 credit and the course times and places are arranged by Dr. Melissa Franke. The team has also become increasingly active in the world circuit. For information contact Dr. Melissa Franke,

    Public Relations Student Society of America
    The PRSSA seeks to cultivate a favorable and mutually advantageous relationship between students and professional public relations practitioners.The SU chapter of this national organization --11,000 students nationwide-- aims to foster:

    • understanding of current theories and procedures of the profession
    • appreciation of the highest ethical ideals and principles
    • awareness of an appropriate professional attitude
    • appreciation of Associate Membership in PRSA and eventually accredited membership.

    For information, contact adviser Caitlin Ring, at

    The Spectator
    The Spectator is the student online and print publication for the university. Each year numerous Communication majors work for the Spectator, building their portfolio and earning academic credits. (See the section of this handbook on Internships and Practicums for information about earning credit on the Spectator).
    The paper is advised by a faculty member from the department, Dr. Sonora Jha. For more information about working on the Spectator for academic credit, contact her at