Communication: Data & Network Science, BA

General Communication 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. Communication 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 14-credit 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 Communication Undergraduate Advising Team.

See separate details on requirements for a Communication major concentration or the Communication and Public Service program.

Communication students with a concentration complete the 14-credit major curriculum, including a total of 5 courses required to complete a concentration. Of the 5 courses required to complete a concentration, 3 courses are COMM courses, and 2 courses are non-COMM elective courses. A list of approved COMM Data and Network Science concentration courses can be found on the Annenberg School for Communication website. Non-COMM elective courses require pre-approval from a member of the Communication Undergraduate Advising Team. Students may only complete one concentration.

In addition to concentrations, the Communication 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, 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 course and GPA requirements as a condition of application to the major. Students may submit the application for the major after enrollment in the third required course. Meeting these requirements is not a guarantee of admission to the major.

The deadline for declaring the major, declaring a concentration, changing a concentration, and/or removing a concentration is the last day to add a course in the students' final semester.

  1. Completion of at least two of the following introductory core survey courses:
    COMM 1230Critical Approaches to Popular Culture1
    COMM 1250Introduction to Communication Behavior1
    COMM 1300Media Industries and Society1
  2. Completion of a third Communication 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
Introductory 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
Concentration - Data & Network Science
COMM concentration specific courses - Intermediate1
COMM 1000:2999 (Attribute ACDN)
COMM concentration specific courses - Advanced 32
COMM 3000:4999 (Attribute ACDN)
COMM Electives - Intermediate 43
COMM 1000:2999
COMM Electives - Advanced 52
COMM 3000:4999
Approved Non-COMM Electives 6,7,83
Select up to three non-COMM electives related to the Comm major
Total Course Units34

Students may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For exceptions, check the Policies Governing the Sector Requirement.


Visit the Annenberg School for Communication website for a list of approved Research Method courses.


With department permission, COMM 3091 or COMM 4997 may be counted as one of the concentration-specific course requirements.


Study abroad and study away courses are normally assigned the numbers COMM 2985 or 2995. Students can complete up to 3 COMM 2985 or 2995 courses toward their COMM major.


Students with a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA can elect to enroll in the yearlong 2 CU senior thesis course sequence, COMM 4797 and COMM 4997.


At least 2 of the 3 non-COMM elective courses must be related to the student's concentration. 1 of the 3 non-COMM elective courses must be related to the General Communication major but is not required to be related to the student's concentration.


Additional COMM courses may be substituted for non-COMM electives.


All non-COMM elective courses must be pre-approved by the Comm Undergraduate Studies Program.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.