School and Rankings Information
There are about ten institutions in the Chicago area offering programs in the field of speech communications. Also referred to as communication studies programs, curricula for these undergraduate and graduate degrees encompass a range of topics in communication theory and best practices.
With primary consideration given to each school's national ranking and the degree levels offered, the top three Chicago-area schools with programs in this field are:
- Winner: Northwestern University is a high-ranking institution with the broadest range of communication studies programs; it offers master's and doctoral degrees in addition to an undergraduate major.
- Runner Up #1: DePaul University is another one of the area's nationally ranked universities featuring bachelor's and master's degree programs, though its College of Communication doesn't offer opportunities for doctoral study in the field.
- Runner Up #2: Loyola University Chicago received a higher national university ranking than DePaul, but it only offers a communication studies bachelor's degree.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Northwestern University||DePaul University||Loyola University Chicago|
|Rankings||Ranked the 23rd best value school and 12th overall among national universities in 2013*||134th ranked national university for 2013*||Ranked the 49th best value school among national universities and 106th overall for 2013*|
|Location||Evanston, IL (13.4 miles from Chicago)||Chicago, IL||Chicago, IL|
|School Type||4-year, private not-for-profit||4-year, private not-for-profit||4-year, private not-for-profit|
|Tuition|| $15,040 per quarter (undergraduate, 2013-2014),
$14,460 per quarter (graduate, 2012-2013)**
| $33,390 per year (undergraduate),
$680 per credit hour (graduate College of Communication rate) (2013-2014)**
|$17,750 per semester (undergraduate, 2013-2014)**|
|Speech Communications Degree Levels Offered||Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees||Bachelor's and master's degrees||Bachelor's degree|
|Speech Communications Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012||181***||84***||76***|
|Most Popular Speech Communications Program in 2011-2012||Bachelor's degree (108 awarded)***||Bachelor's degree (57 awarded)***||N/A|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Entering Class||94%***||66%***||70%***|
|Noteworthy||Student-faculty ratio of 7:1***||Offers a 5-year combined bachelor's and master's degree program||Available facilities include a student-run, audio-visual production studio|
Sources: *U.S. News and World Report, **Schools' websites, ***NCES College Navigator.
Winner: Northwestern University
- Undergraduates can join the university's competitive speech team, the Debate Society, or Lambda Pi Eta, the national communication honor society
- Communication Studies Department is home to research facilities including the Social Media Lab and the CollabLab, which is dedicated to the study of group communication
- Qualified undergraduate students can take advantage of mentorship, research, and fellowship opportunities through the Communication Century Scholars program
The interdisciplinary communication studies bachelor's degree program at Northwestern requires 14 units of core communication classes in addition to 31 units of coursework that includes a concentration outside of the department and electives in such areas as speech writing, rhetoric, and mediated communication. Students in the communication studies program are also required to become proficient in a foreign language.
Students who want to pursue a graduate degree in communication studies at Northwestern can complete the Master of Science program in a year, and the courses are offered on Saturdays to accommodate working professionals. Doctoral students can choose from two concentrations that focus on communication from either a rhetorical or social standpoint.
Runner-Up #1: DePaul University
- Internship opportunities are available with nonprofit organizations, marketing firms, and regional theaters, to name a few
- University's career center offers peer and staff advising
- Available student organizations include the Discussion and Debate Society and the Graduate Communication Association
DePaul University offers undergraduate degrees in intercultural, organizational, and relational communication in addition to communication studies. Students pursuing the latter option take courses in communication methods and presentation skills. They also choose five elective courses from an extensive list of options that includes such subjects as debate, workplace communication, and communicating within families. Program requirements culminate in a capstone course that allows seniors to focus on their particular interests.
Students need to complete at least 192 credit hours to graduate with this major. Undergraduate communication studies students have the option of taking 12 hours of graduate-level courses that can be credited toward both a bachelor's and master's degree. Once students complete undergraduate program requirements, they can matriculate into graduate programs in health communication, media and cinema studies, organizational and multicultural communication, journalism, or relational communication.
Runner-Up #2: Loyola University Chicago
- Three Mac labs available for student use
- Students can participate in the university's debate team
- University hosts an online recruiting system for students seeking internships or full-time employment
Students in Loyola's communication studies bachelor's degree program take communication theory courses in areas including persuasion, rhetoric, and interpersonal communication. They also choose from a range of applied communication courses covering topics like persuasive speaking, argumentation, communication within small groups, and conflict management. Altogether, the degree requires 40 credit hours of coursework in the major, including ten hours of core courses in such areas as communication ethics and new media. Students can also take a 3-credit-hour research methods course that may be beneficial for those planning to pursue advanced degrees.