UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Social Sciences
4101 Social Sciences and Media Studies Building
Telephone (805) 893-4479
Undergraduate Advising: commadvising@comm.ucsb.edu
Graduate Advising: comm-gradadvising@ucsb.edu
General E-mail: comminfo@comm.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Tamara Afifi


The study of communication focuses on how people construct, use, and interpret messages across multiple channels and types of media to inform, persuade, manage, relate, and influence each other within and across social contexts and cultures. Students trained in the communication discipline find employment in a wide range of local, state, national, and global organizations in professions ranging from the media industry, law, education, and social services to management in profit and nonprofit organizations.

Globalization, increased interconnectedness, new communication technologies, and changing social values are reshaping patterns of social interaction, home and work experiences, domestic and international politics, and economic activity. The department’s three core areas, interpersonal and intergroup, organizational, and media communication, respond to these changes in many ways.

Undergraduate Program

Communication is one of the fastest growing areas of study among UCSB’s undergraduate students. The communication program offers an array of courses across three primary areas of interest: interpersonal/intergroup, media, and organization communication. The major emphasizes the understanding of communicative events—their psychological, social, and philosophical implications and aspects—the development of knowledge in these areas, and the use of empirical and critical tools for assessing the impact and quality of message transmission. Mass media effects, new communication technologies, interpersonal relationships, communication policies, nonverbal, health, group, organizational, global, and intercultural communication are just a few areas in which faculty members in UCSB’s Department of Communication are teaching and conducting research. Although the implications of media production and distribution are emphasized within the curriculum, the department does not provide instruction in production processes.

Senior Honors Program

Qualified majors will be sent an invitation letter to participate in the department’s senior honors program (Communication 180, 181A-B) during spring quarter of their junior year. Students must have achieved junior standing with a minimum overall and major grade-point average of 3.5 at time of application. Applicants must complete 12 upper-division major units by the end of their junior year, in order to be admitted into the program. Eligibility requirements are subject to change. All interested transfer students should contact the undergraduate advisor early in their first quarter. Students admitted into the program enroll in a thesis preparation seminar in the fall of their senior year, and then work directly with a faculty mentor throughout the senior year to complete an in-depth project culminating in a senior thesis. Students successfully completing the program will graduate with Distinction in the Major.