Chicago Communication Colleges with Degree Program Overviews

Feb 18, 2019

The Chicago area has more than a dozen schools that offer communications programs. Learn about the programs, admission info and program requirements for three schools that are within 20 miles of downtown and make an informed education decision.

Chicago Schools with Communications Programs

Students seeking communications programs in Chicago have a plethora of options. This article looks at three schools that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in several areas of communications. Two of the schools are in downtown Chicago; the other is about 35 minutes from the city center. In addition to information about the communications programs these institutions offer, this article features a table of facts that makes it easy to compare these schools in areas such as size, tuition, acceptance rates and graduation rates. At the end of the article is information about other Chicago-area schools with communications programs.

  • The College of Communication at DePaul University, located downtown, offers a wide range of specializations within their bachelor's and master's degree communications programs. Undergraduates can minor in various areas of communications as well.
  • Northwestern University offers communications programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels through the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Department of Communication Studies. Concentrations at this school include health-related topics and general communication offerings. A minor program in human communication sciences is offered, too. Northwestern is 12 miles from downtown Chicago.
  • The other downtown school profiled here, the University of Illinois at Chicago, offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in communications in addition to a minor option.

Comparison of Schools

The following table offers facts about these schools in various important areas. Prospective students can use this information to arrive at an informed decision about their education.

DePaul University Northwestern University University of Illinois at Chicago
School Type Four-year, private non-profit Four-year, private non-profit Four-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017) 22,769* 22,008* 30,539*
Campus Setting Large city Small city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $39,010* $52,678* $13,704 in-state; $26,560 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017) 96%* 61%* 84%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 72%* 9%* 77%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 84% for full-time students, 33% for part-time students* 98% for full-time students* 80% for full-time students, 42% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (Students beginning in Fall 2011) 71%* 94%* 57%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

DePaul University

DePaul University offers students a myriad of communications programs and specialties. More than 1,600 undergraduate and 180 graduate students attend DePaul's College of Communication, placing it among the school's fastest-growing departments.

Communications Minors

At DePaul, students can minor in communication and media, communication studies, intercultural communication, relational communication or Latino media and communication. To complete a minor, students must complete at least six courses in their area of study. Specific coursework varies between programs. For example, the communication studies minor includes a communications methods course, a presentation skills requirement and four courses from a pool of communications coursework. The intercultural communication minor includes public speaking or performance of literature, intercultural communication and four courses from a selection that includes cultural and symbolic criticism, gender and communication and global communication.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media

Each of the five communication bachelor's degrees at DePaul begins with a common core of three classes, providing an introduction to mass and human communication and an overview of intercultural communication. The communication and media major includes a presentation skills course, a media analysis requirement and additional communication and media electives. Students in all communications majors can also gain credit by completing an internship.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

The BA in Communication Studies covers written and verbal skills and teaches students to communicate effectively in many settings. Students must choose a methods course from a selection that includes research methods, fieldwork, cultural and symbolic criticism and communication methodology. A presentation requirement must also be completed. The remaining coursework for this major is comprised of electives that cover topics in intercultural, organizational or relational communication, media, communication methods or presentation skills.

Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication

The organizational communication major at this school prepares students to communicate effectively in business settings. Courses combine theory and practical experience. Students must take organizational communication and business communication. Six additional courses in the major area and two courses from any communication discipline must also be chosen. Organizational communications electives cover a range of topics including public relations, research, communication methodology, presentation and workplace communication skills.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media

The BA in Communication and Media helps students develop an understanding of practices in multiple communication fields. This program offers a concentration in Latino media and communication. All students in this major must take a media analysis course. The remaining major courses are comprised of a presentation skills course, two electives from within the communications department and two from outside the department, and four courses from among those in media literacies, cinematography, television production, sound design and editing.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Technology

In this program, students will find a main focus on digital technology. Among the four required courses are those in digital writing and digital media skills. Other classes are taken in areas of professional skills, social media, cultural impact, and communication, technology and ethics.

Combined Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts

Students with a record of academic success are eligible for an accelerated Bachelor and Master of Arts program. Majors are offered in health communication, communication and media, public relations, journalism and digital communication, and media arts. These programs take five years to complete and include three courses that count towards both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. To be admitted, students must apply for graduate admissions, have a 3.5 GPA in major courses and earn junior standing. Each program requires a thesis or comprehensive examination for completion.

Master of Arts in Digital Communication and Media Arts

The Master of Arts in Digital Communication and Media Arts at DePaul teaches students to use contemporary technology for professional communications. Students can choose from a digital communication track or pursue a media art track through the College of Computing and Digital Media. Students begin with core coursework in their concentration area and take communication electives. To complete the program, students must complete a technical competency course, pass a comprehensive exam and complete a final thesis or project.

Master of Arts in Health Communication

The MA in Health Communication helps students develop specialized communication skills that can be used in healthcare, public policy, patient advocacy and other areas of the medical and health industry. Core courses cover health communication introduction and communication, health disparities and culture. Students must complete electives from within the health communication discipline and additional elective courses that may come from any communications discipline. To complete the program students must pass a final exam or submit a final thesis.

Master of Arts in Communication and Media

The communication and media master's program offers four concentration options: organizational, multicultural, relational and media and cinema studies. Students in all concentrations must complete core courses that cover cultural context communication, organizational communication and research methods. Four courses in the student's concentration area and five additional communication and media electives fulfill course requirements. A comprehensive exam or thesis must also be completed.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University offers a wide array of communications programs through its Communication Sciences and Disorders and Communication Studies Departments. Opportunities range from minors to PhD programs.

Minor in Human Communication Sciences

This school offers an undergraduate minor in human communication sciences that can enhance therapy or health majors and teach students about the physical and mental principals of human communication. Students must take seven courses in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, including neurobiology of communication. Typically, students select three basic courses from offerings that include anatomy and physiology, phonetics, language development and functional neuroanatomy. Three additional clinically related courses round out the minor and may include audiology, special education, dysphasia, diagnostic procedures or hearing impairment.

Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies

The communication studies program at Northwestern allows students to customize their major by exploring many facets of communication through elective coursework. Students begin by taking core courses in their freshman and sophomore years that cover public speaking, persuasion, mediated communication and seminars. The student chooses remaining communication requirements. BS degrees are most common for communication studies degrees, but BA degrees are also feasible.

Bachelor of Science in Human Communication Sciences

The bachelor's in human communication sciences is offered through the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and includes specializations in audiology and hearing science, speech and language pathology and learning disabilities. This program is made up of science and clinical coursework.

Master of Science in Communication

The MS in Communication is a one-year program that allows students to select relevant elective courses that build upon a communication core. In the custom leadership program, required courses include change management, management and ethics, leveraging networks and leading collaboration. Elective courses cover a wide range of topics and may include leadership and decision-making, visual communication, public persuasion and strategic communication management. The hybrid leadership program is an online/on-campus program that teaches students how to use data to make decisions, leverage networks and understand concepts in information design and collaboration. Both programs require completion of a capstone course.

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Students interested in academic or research careers may choose to pursue a PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders. The communication sciences and disorders program is research intensive and requires laboratory work, and pre-candidacy courses cover applied statistics, research ethics, research methods and scientific writing. Students must also design and defend a research project, pass a qualifying examination and complete a dissertation. Students complete core seminars that frame the program, then select additional courses, prepare a dissertation and conference with faculty members to complete their program.

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is located in central Chicago and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in communications.

Minor in Communication

An 18-credit minor in communication is available to students who want to enhance a degree in another focus area. Student must complete courses in introductory communication, interpersonal communication, communication technologies, media and two elective courses. Minor courses require a grade of C or better.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication

UIC's bachelor's in communication program contains six core courses that cover an introduction to the major, a survey of human communication, a technology course and two courses covering research methods and analysis. Students must also take 15 credits of communication coursework and a seminar in culture and communication or media and communication. Communication majors may choose to minor in a related liberal arts field.

Master of Arts in Communication

The Master of Arts in Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago allows students to follow an examination or thesis course of study and choose form interdepartmental concentrations in gender and women's studies, Latino studies and survey research methodology. The thesis option suits students wishing to pursue further education or work in research, while the exam option is designed for individuals seeking managerial communication credentials. The program can be completed in 1-2 years and requires courses in communication research, electives and seminars.

PhD in Communication

Students who hold a master's degree in a communication field can pursue a PhD in Communication at the University of Illinois Chicago. A specialization is required and can be chosen with the help of faculty. Students must complete a preliminary exam and a dissertation to complete the program. The same interdepartmental concentrations found in the master's program are offered in this doctoral program.

Other School Options

Loyola University Chicago is about eight miles from downtown Chicago and offers both undergraduate and graduate communications programs. Northeastern Illinois University is 11.9 miles from downtown and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in communication, media and theatre.

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