Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Requirements for the Major

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies must complete a 42 unit program consisting of 32 units of breadth area requirements, a 2-unit capstone course, and 8 units of electives. There are eight breadth area requirements:

  1. Communication Diversity
  2. Group and Organizational Communication
  3. Interpersonal Communication
  4. Language and Social Interaction
  5. Performance Studies
  6. Public Communication
  7. Research Methodology
  8. Rhetoric and Political Communication.

Students must successfully complete a GWAR (Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement) class within their first eight upper-division units in the major. Preferably the GWAR should be one of the breadth area courses that have been designated to meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). Presently, the GWAR courses in Communication Studies that simultaneously meet a breadth area requirement and GWAR include: COMM 321 GW, COMM 444 GW, COMM 448 GW, COMM 502 GW, COMM 504 GW, COMM 522 GW, COMM 534 GW, COMM 561 GW, COMM 562 GW. Once the GWAR is met, students may not take a second GWAR course in the major nor can they take a non-GWAR version of the course they used to meet this requirement. Failure to complete this requirement will result in an advising hold. After the first 8 units in the major have been completed, students are ineligible to continue until their GWAR requirement is complete. 

Students must enroll in COMM 670, Senior Seminar in Communication in their last semester.

With advisor approval, up to 8 units of lower division transfer courses may be counted toward the major as elective units. A maximum of 8 units may be counted toward electives within the major, from any combination of Projects Teaching Communication (COMM 685), Internship (COMM 695), and/or Independent Study (COMM 699). None of these three courses, COMM 685, COMM 695, COMM 699 can be repeated for credit in the major. Any course that is used to fulfill the GE Areas A and B4 requirements (formerly GE Segment I) cannot be counted within the major; however, COMM 150 and ENG 214, or equivalent courses, must be completed as pre-requisites to enrollment in any breadth area course in the COMM major.

Communication Studies (B.A.) — 42 units

Breadth Area Requirements (32 units)

Select eight of the following (i.e., one course from the options listed for each breadth area):
Communication Diversity
COMM 503Gender and Communication4
COMM 504Communication and Masculinities4
COMM 525Sexual Identity and Communication4
COMM 541Critical Approaches to Culture and Communication4
COMM 543Dialogues Across Differences4
Group and Organizational Communication
COMM 521Group Discussion4
COMM 522Organizational Communication4
COMM 531Conflict Resolution4
COMM 532Interviewing Methods in Organizational Settings4
COMM 533Communication and Empowerment in Organizations4
COMM 537Leadership Communication4
Interpersonal Communication
COMM 502Interpersonal Communication4
COMM 512Nonverbal Communication4
COMM 515Family Communication4
COMM 527Health Communication4
COMM 534Mediation Theory and Practice4
COMM 544Communication and Aging4
Language and Social Interaction
COMM 561Social Semiotics4
COMM 562Discourse in Interaction4
COMM 563Conversational Analysis4
Performance Studies
COMM 352Women and Words4
COMM 362Introduction to Oral Interpretation4
COMM 363Oral Interpretation of the First Person Voice4
COMM 364Oral Interpretation of Children's Literature4
COMM 496Special Studies in Communication and Social Criticism (Aesthetic Communications Criticism)4
COMM 697Advanced Performance Study4
Public Communication
COMM 351Public Speaking4
COMM 365Argumentation and Debate4
COMM 366Persuasion4
Research Methodology
COMM 661Communication Research Strategies4
COMM 662Communication Criticism4
COMM 663Qualitative Methods in Communication and Performance4
COMM 664Research Methods in Language and Social Interaction4
Rhetorical and Political Communication
COMM 302Communication and Social Process4
COMM 341Rhetorical Theory4
COMM 440Political Communication4
COMM 444Rhetoric of the Media4
COMM 445The Rhetoric of Terrorism4
COMM 448Rhetoric of Ecology4
COMM 449The Rhetoric of Criminality and Punishment4
COMM 461Issues in Free Speech4

Capstone (2 units)

COMM 670Seminar in Communication Studies2

Electives (8 units)

Students may select any 8 units of elective coursework in communication studies, given the stipulations listed above under, “Requirements for the Major.”

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least 12 units of complementary studies outside of the primary prefix for the major. (Note: Students may not use an alternate prefix that is cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major.)

Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the complementary studies requirement. Additional ways to complete complementary studies for students in the communication studies major is completion of 12 units from one of the following:

  • Partial completion of a second major, minor, or certificate in courses other than COMM, and not cross-listed with COMM.
  • A single language other than English.
  • A CSU or SF State supported study abroad program. (With advisor approval, some or all of the units taken as part of study abroad may be counted toward units in the major.)
  • In one subject (prefix) other than COMM and not cross-listed with COMM.

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major advisor about how transfer units and/or SF State units can best be applied to this requirement in order to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

B.A. in Communication Studies Roadmap

This link opens the 2015 - 2016 roadmap in a new tab.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Communication Studies

California legislation SB 1440 (2009), mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation, and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals sixty units and includes completion of all lower division GE and at least eighteen units in a specific major. Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and is continuing in this major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab and displays

  • How many lower division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. As described above, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3 and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlines below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.