Communication: Communication & Public Service, 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) programStudents interested in pursuing one of these concentrations or ComPS 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

A list of approved COMM Communication and Public Service program 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 studyinternships, study abroad, and public service (through the Communication and Public Service Program).

Communication and Public Service

A Communication major with a focus in Communication and Public Service (ComPS) program offers students a special program that combines individual research opportunities with hands-on experience in the public arena. Classes, seminars, internships, field experiences, and individual research projects provide students with opportunities to meet and learn from current and former officeholders, journalists, and public servants who have been leaders in government and civil society. The program is closely matched to the undergraduate Communication major, and like the Communication major, ComPS students must complete 14 courses.

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 an approved list. 2
Communication & Public Service (ComPS) Requirements
Core ComPS
Select One:1
COMM 3230Contemporary Politics, Policy, and Journalism
COMM 3950Communication and the Presidency
Additional ComPS Courses
Select two COMM elective courses from the approved list 5,62
Capstone Thesis 7
COMM 4797Honors & Capstone Thesis1
COMM 4897COMPS Capstone Thesis1
Elective Courses
Select three COMM specific courses 3,43
Select three elective courses from a department(s) outside of COMM related to the concentration. 83
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 the approved Research Method courses.


1 of the 3 COMM elective courses must be 3000 to a 4999 level.


Study abroad and study away courses are normally assigned the numbers COMM 2985 or COMM 2995. Students can complete up to 2 COMM 2985 or COMM 2995 courses toward their COMM elective requirements. 


A list of Communication and Public Service courses can be referenced on the Annenberg School for Communication website.


1 COMM 2985 course can count toward the ComPS requirement, but must receive prior permission before enrollment.


All ComPS students are required to complete a yearlong 2 CU senior thesis course sequence, COMM 4797 and COMM 4897. See information below regarding receipt of honors.


Only 1 of the 3 non-COMM elective courses may be at the introductory level. All 3 courses must be related to the ComPS program and pre-approved by a member of the Communication Undergraduate Advising Team.


A capstone thesis project is completed over two semesters during the senior year. 1 CU is earned in each semester. Students choose the topic of the capstone thesis from a range of public policy or public service issues, and work with a thesis advisor for the entire year. Students who achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher and earn an A- or higher on their project will graduate with honors.


The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2022 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.