Communication: Data & Network Science, BA

General Comm Degree Description:  

Communication is an interdisciplinary field that draws from the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The undergraduate Communication program focuses on the theoretical, critical, and empirical examination of fundamental communication systems, institutions, processes, and effects. Comm majors gain deep insight into how communication shapes our individual and collective social, political, economic, and cultural lives; both historical and contemporary, local and global. Our majors learn and employ a range of theories and research methods, including quantitative approaches such as survey research, experiments, content analysis, and computational science; and qualitative approaches such as historical, textual and discourse analysis, focus groups, and ethnographic fieldwork. In doing so, they produce scholarship that is rigorous, relevant, and multi-modal. 

The major in Communication is granted by the College of Arts and Sciences, but the major curriculum is designed, administered, and taught by the Annenberg School for Communication. 

Majors may complete an optional concentration. Effective Fall 2020, Communication concentrations are as follows: Advocacy & Activism; Audiences & Persuasion; Culture & Society; Data & Network Science; and Politics & Policy. Alternatively, students may also choose to enroll in the Communication and Public Service (ComPS) program. Students interested in pursuing one of these concentrations or ComPS should should make an appointment to meet with a member of the COMM Undergraduate Advising Team.

See separate details on requirements for a Communication major concentration or the ComPS program.

COMM students with a concentration complete 14 courses for the major, including a total of 5 courses are required to complete a concentration (three of which are COMM courses, two of which are non-COMM elective courses). A list of approved COMM concentration courses can be found here.  Non-COMM elective courses require pre-approval from a member of the  COMM Undergraduate Advising Team. Students may only complete one concentration.

In addition to concentrations, the Comm curriculum also offers opportunities for thesis researchindependent studyinternshipsstudy abroad, and public service (through the Communication and Public Service Program).

Data & Network Science 

Courses in this Concentration focus on the role and analysis of data, complex systems, and networks in digital communication. Through this concentration students will gain an understanding of the role of digital media and social networks in disseminating information and influencing the communications, attitudes and behaviors of social groups. Students have the opportunity to learn computational social science techniques to support research in this area, including social network analysis and methods from data science (information visualization, social media collection and quantitative data and textual analysis) using various tools and programming languages (Python and R).  Sample courses include:  Computational Text Analysis for Communication Research; Communication in the Networked Age; Understanding Social Networks; The Impact of the Internet, Social Media, and Information Technology on Democracy; and Social Networks and the Spread of Behavior. 

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 34. Double majors may entail more course units.

Students must meet the following minimum requirements prior to acceptance into the major.

  1. Completion of at least two of the following introductory courses:
    COMM 123Critical Approaches to Popular Culture1
    COMM 125Introduction to Communication Behavior1
    COMM 130Media Industries and Society1
  2. Completion of a third Communication course. Students may submit the application for the major after enrollment in the third course.
  3. Cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher in all University of Pennsylvania courses.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Core Survey Courses
Select two of the following:2
Critical Approaches to Popular Culture
Introduction to Communication Behavior
Media Industries and Society
Research Methods Course
Select one:1
Quantitative Research Methods in Communication
Or, Research Methods course from the approved list. 2
Elective Courses
Select five COMM specific courses. 3,4,55
Select one elective course from a department outside of COMM. The course must be related to the COMM major. 61
Concentration - Data & Network Science
Select three COMM specific courses from the approved concentration list. 7, 83
Select two elective courses from a department(s) outside of COMM related to the concentration. 92
Total Course Units34

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2020 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.