School of Communications

Communication Science

Learning how and why we communicate, and with what effect

We communicate to produce an effect on one another or on large groups of people. The Communication Science major explores how people use messages to inform, persuade and entertain.

Students apply social science theory and research to contemporary issues in media and professional communications. For instance, media effects research can focus on public opinion, political communication, media and social change, and the framing of public policy issues. Communication Science also can probe the practices, processes and effects that influence attitude and behavior change.

Communication Science students are prepared to launch creative and meaningful careers in roles involving communication research, organizational development, information resources, communications strategy, or going directly to graduate school or law school.

Our accredited school 

With 1,000 students, the School of Communications is home to about 20 percent of Elon’s student body. The school’s goal is to guide students to think, write and produce meaningful information in this digital and global age. The school’s four majors reflect the four purposes of communication in society: journalism (to inform), strategic communications (to persuade), media arts and entertainment (to entertain), and communications science (to discover). Electives are offered in specialty areas such as sports communications, audio recording, photojournalism and documentary film.

Elon is one of 18 private universities in the nation with an accredited communications school, alongside Syracuse, Columbia, Northwestern, American, Hofstra and others.  The School of Communications has over 1,000 students and is ranked third-largest among accredited private colleges and universities and the 46th-largest of the 491 programs surveyed nationwide.

Outstanding faculty

The School of Communications has 60 full-time faculty and staff members, ranging from a Pulitzer Prize recipient who teaches writing courses to 10 faculty members who have received teaching awards for excellence in the classroom. Professors combine years of professional experience with a passion for teaching and a commitment to helping students succeed.

High-tech facilities

Our undergraduate program is housed in the 48,000-square-foot McEwen communications building. Additional teaching and learning spaces are located on the second floor of Powell building to support our graduate program in Interactive Media. Our state-of-the-art facilities include six digital media labs equipped with Mac desktop computers and large screen monitors, two television studios with a centralized control room and engineering bay, 18 advanced video editing suites, a 24-track digital HD recording studio and control room, a digital audio production lab, and a high-definition film screening room with 7.2 surround sound. Students have free access to a large inventory of professional HD camcorders, DSLR still cameras, audio recorders, light kits, microphones, tripods, field monitors, camera dollies, stabilizers, grip equipment, and much more.

Innovative curriculum

Elon’s School of Communications is recognized nationally for its deep and innovative curriculum that emphasizes engaged learning and serving the public good. Students take a majority of their coursework in the arts and sciences. Within the major, communication science students explore the role of media in society, examine legal and ethical issues, get hands-on experience in technological convergence, and learn how to research, write and analyze information through the process of communication inquiry.

Impressive internships

All students in the School of Communications complete one or more professional internships before graduation. The school has a full-time internship director to assist students in securing a quality internship. In recent years, students have been interns or worked in communication research roles at a variety of media and communications organizations in North Carolina and across the nation, including:

  • Disney/ABC Family Network
  • Nielsen Media Research
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Spectrum Science Communications
  • Association of Government Accountants
  • DreamIt Ventures
  • Smith Research
  • Sports Endeavors Inc.

Research opportunities 

Communications students produce undergraduate research of significance, presenting their work at national conferences, United Nations Internet Governance Forums, the Federal Communications Commission, a U.S. Congressional hearing on digital television policy and many other venues.

Student media 

Elon offers many opportunities to participate in student media and organizations, including the Pendulum student newspaper and Pendulum Online, Elon Student Television, WSOE-FM radio station, the Phi Psi Cli university yearbook, the Cinelon student cinema group, and the Live Oak Communications student-run agency.

Campus media have helped elevate the School to a Top 20 national finish in the Hearst Journalism Awards Multimedia Competition. The Pendulum was awarded first place in the nation by the Society of Professional Journalists for Best Affiliated Website for a mid-size institution and was named an Online Pacemaker finalist three times by the Associated Collegiate Press. Students also won first place College Media Association national awards for Best Multimedia Package, Photo Illustration and Breaking News Reporting; and second place for Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper.

Two journalism students participated in the Carnegie-Knight News Foundation News 21 summer program and four students were selected for the Scripps Howard Foundation's 2013 Internship and Scholarship Program. Two students won scholarships from the Radio Television Digital News Association and Elon Local News won a Society of Professional Journalists first place award for Online In-Depth Reporting.

The student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was named Region 2 chapter of the year for the second year in a row.  And the national committee of the Public Relations Student Society of America awarded the Elon chapter a Pacesetter Chapter Recognition award.

Two Communications students have been named national finalists in the Sprite Refreshing Films competition. Students also produced award winning documentary films, including Best Documentary Short in the California Film Awards, and the “People's Pick” award in the North Carolina Campus Compact Documentary Shorts Competition.

Special opportunities 

To get involved right at the start, first-year students can participate in FreshTV, which exposes them in a hands-on way to the wide range of student media opportunities. Later, students can choose to participate in the Elon in LA or Elon in NYC programs, nine-week summer experiences in which students take a course and work 30+ hours a week in an internship related to the entertainment industry.

Fellows program

Students with high academic achievement and media experiences in high school may be selected for the university’s Communications Fellows program. Fellows enjoy exclusive first year experiences, plus scholarship assistance and a study abroad grant. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Web site for more information.

Study abroad

More than two-thirds of Elon students participate in study abroad by the time they graduate – one of the highest percentages in the nation. Communications professors regularly lead study abroad courses to Europe, Asia and Australia, and have led the university’s Costa Rica and London programs.