Communication Studies Program

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About Communication

Your graduation is only a few clicks away Build a Career from the Single Most Important Activity of Your Life

Just think for a moment about the number of hours you spend talking with friends and family, listening to the radio, watching TV, and surfing the Web. It doesn't take long to realize that communication is probably the most important activity in your daily life. Through the process of communication you influence others, build relationships, and make sense of the world around you.

Our program is devoted to enhancing your understanding of this important part of your daily life. We strive to help you to become better skilled in communication — from face-to-face and in small groups, to public settings, through radio and television, and even on the Internet. In the end, you'll learn "how" and "why" communication works, on your way to building a career in this wide-ranging field.

But just what is communication?

Communication is Everywhere

Communication is vital to the survival of society. It is the basis by which we share our existence. It is the means through which we form relationships, help and entertain each other, persuade and influence each other, and convey information to each other.

As human beings our means to communicate have evolved beyond the spoken and written words expressed on an intimate level. We send words, sounds, images, and moving pictures over the air (radio/telephone/television/microwaves), through printed material, with cables, and out into space and back (satellites). Our desire to communicate has grown so rapidly that we even created a special electronic space (cyberspace) to advance the process.

And even with all of this infrastructure and technology, the communication process sometimes breaks down. The information doesn't reach its intended target. Noise can distort the process. Or possibly the message wasn't very well crafted to begin with. It is for all of these reasons (and more) that people specialize in the field of communication.

What are the Three Pillars of Communication?

The study of Communication rests on three strong foundations:

  • Rhetoric & Public Address.
  • Human Dynamics & Culture.
  • Media Studies.

Rhetoric and public address grew from the teachings of the ancient Greeks (Plato, Aristotle, and others) and is critical to the function of today's political and legal systems. Human dynamics & culture focuses on the ability of individuals, groups, and cultures to relate to each other. Mediated communication includes advertising, news, and entertainment dissemination involving the crafting of messages through technologically created distribution systems. Radio, television, and most recently the Internet provide the high tech conduits for today's modern communication messages.

Communication is Messages & Meaning

Communication impacts our lives on a daily basisStudents, parents, and teachers alike are often curious about what communication studies really is. You might have these same questions. In a formal sense, "the field of communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The field promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication."

Now, that might sound like a mouthful at first! But in simpler terms, this means that whether you are online, or talking face-to-face, or in a group, or attending a speech, or watching TV, or listening to the radio — messages and meanings are being conveyed and interpreted. Our department provides a comprehensive look at the theories behind, and the practice of, message sending in ALL of these settings!

The more you understand about the process of communication — about people, their cultures, and their use of media — the better the practitioner of communication you can become. Being a "practitioner" of communication takes many forms.

Students in the communication studies department study topics necessary for:

  • Audio recording & production;
  • Broadcast journalism;
  • Digital media production;
  • Public speaking & speechwriting;
  • Radio production & management;
  • Sales (account executives);
  • Television production & management;
  • Web & multimedia design;
  • and so much more.

With such a wide field of study, the opportunity for specialization is often what attracts people to this discipline. If is for this reason that our program offers such specialization (see Communication Overview). Careers in the field of communication can be the focus of your study — or it can be the means to catapult you into other areas like law or politics.

To find out more specific career types, please visit Career Choices in Communication.


Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

For more information about communication studies programs at SUNY Plattsburgh, or to arrange a campus visit, please contact

Timothy Clukey, Chairperson
Office: Yokum Hall 111A
Phone: (518) 564-4290

Department of Communication Studies
SUNY Plattsburgh
Yokum Hall 103B
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-2681