Communication Studies is one of America’s oldest and most-respected departments in its discipline, a nexus of innovation at a university renowned for excellence in writing and communication.

The mission of the Department of Communication Studies is to explore the central role that communication and media play in shaping our relationships, institutions, and societies. Our department teaches skills that prepare students for a variety of workplace settings and to serve as innovative scholars, engaged citizens, and visionary leaders in their communities.

Why Iowa?

The unique composition of Iowa’s department, which spans the humanities and social sciences, is rare compared to other institutions in the U.S., which means our students graduate with a rich understanding of the ways that communication matters. They enter the professional world with the tools necessary to identify what is at stake in communication encounters that range from interpersonal exchanges and conflict resolution to media messaging and political speeches. This nuanced understanding of communication, which is often taken for granted, uniquely positions our students to have a positive and productive impact on their relationships, workplaces, and the world.   

Our faculty includes award-winning professors who bring their passion and expertise to the classroom and have been honored by respected organizations such as the National Communication Association, Rhetorical Society of America, Central States Communication Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Students are engaged with top-level faculty members and leaders in the communication field, from their introductory courses to the smaller capstone courses they typically take as seniors.


Writing and communication have been at the center of the University of Iowa’s educational mission for a century; in fact, one of the preeminent scholars to help establish the field of communication studies, Wilbur Schramm, was the first director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1936-1941 before his focus moved to social science and mass communication. 

Today’s Department of Communication Studies began in 1920 as the Department of Public Speaking before being renamed later to Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1925 when Edward C. Mabie was appointed head of the department, laying the foundation for what would become a renowned theatre program at Iowa. Over the first half of the twentieth century, the department evolved by incorporating new technologies such as radio and television into its curriculum and it served as an interdisciplinary hub for innovative teaching and scholarship at UI—spawning what today are nationally respected programs in Theatre Arts, Communication Sciences & Disorders, and Cinematic Arts.

Today, Communication Studies continues this tradition of innovation in our curriculum, research, and collaboration, across our campus and around the world.

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students currently majoring in Communication Studies

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