Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers!) For Comm Majors

Are there any upper division comm courses that I am required to take?  Are there certain career “tracks” or “emphases” in the major, or can I take whichever courses I like?

There are no specific upper division courses that are required, and there are no tracks or emphases.  You may choose any ten upper division comm courses (40 units total) that are offered and/or available while you are at UCSB. The communication department offers a wide variety of courses each academic year, which allows you to shape your curriculum according to your particular interests and goals.

Do I have to get a grade of at least a "C" in order for the course to apply towards my major?

Here are the basic rules for graduation from UCSB:

a) Overall cumulative GPA for all courses taken at UCSB must be 2.0 or higher.

b) Overall cumulative GPA for all courses taken for your major must be a 2.0 or higher at the time of graduation.

So, even grade as low as a "D-" could satisfy your major/general education requirement. You just need to make sure that your cumulative GPA for rules a) & b) above stay above a 2.0. Also, you always have the option to repeat a course in which you received a grade of "C-" or lower so that you can raise your GPA, but as long as you do not fail, the course will apply as units towards your major requirements.

Can I take a course for the communication major P/NP (pass/no-pass)?

No major or pre-major course can be taken P/NP. Note: If you have already satisfied the minimum 40 upper-division unit requirement for the major, then you can choose to take communication courses P/NP. But make sure that you have the minimum requirements satisfied!

Is attendance on the first day required in upper division comm courses? What if I want to crash another comm class at the same time?

If you are enrolled in an upper division comm class and you do not attend the first class meeting (usually lecture), you will be dropped from the class. This also holds true even if you were on the waitlist; you have to attend the first class meeting. Be sure to read carefully the Comm Dept Waitlist Policy and FAQ for detailed information about this and about crashing classes, etc.

If I can’t get the upper division comm classes I need, what should I enroll in?

You will need 60 upper division units in Letters and Science, of which 40 will come from the communication major. That leaves you 20 units (5 classes) that can come from other departments.  Consider taking courses in other departments that might interest you or help you with your career goals.  Or, if you are planning on pursuing a double major or minor, you should fit those courses in as well. Note also that 4 units of your required 40 in communication can come from an “elective” upper division course from another department.  See the Major Requirements for a list of the approved elective courses, as you may wish to enroll in one of these if available.

Can I get upper division major credit for classes I take at another college or university?  Will the grade(s) transfer?

A: The answer depends on the particular courses you take and where you take them. To count an outside course toward the comm major, UCSB first must accept the course for “upper division” units toward graduation. In addition, the Communication Department must approve the course as one that is appropriate for the communication major. Note that all courses taken at a community college are considered lower division level courses, so these can never be transferred for upper division credit. The grade will only transfer if the approved course was taken at another UC institution.

It is a good idea PRIOR to taking any non-UCSB class to bring to the Undergraduate Advising Office (SSMS 4005) as much detailed information about the course as possible, to see if you can get it officially approved in advance. If you have already taken the course, bring the detailed course information (syllabus, lecture topics, reading list, assignments, etc.), and we will review the course. For both advanced and after-the-fact approval, expect the process to take several weeks.

What are “Special Topics” and “Senior Capstone” courses? Do they have prerequisites? How do I find out more information about what will be involved in these classes?

A course labeled “Special Topics in Communication” (Comm 160 series) is usually a one-time offering of a new upper division class that has been created by an existing faculty member, a visiting instructor, or a graduate student Teaching Associate. There are no prerequisites for these courses, but there is a limit on the number of them that you can take (12 units).

“Senior Capstone” classes (Comm 175 series) are small courses for seniors (max enrollment is usually 30) that focus on a specialized topic and usually involve a hands-on research or community project.  Some Senior Capstone courses require that you have first taken another relevant comm course while others do not have prerequisites. These are great courses to “cap off” your communication education with a special, intensive, small-class experience!  You are limited to two courses (8 units) of Comm 175 credit, in order to give more of our students the opportunity to take one of these courses.

The content of each specific Comm 160 and Comm 175 course may not appear in the regular course catalog (see Courses).  However, the Undergraduate Advising Office routinely sends descriptions and other information about these offerings via the comm major listserv and posts their descriptions on our website. 

Can I study abroad with a communication major? Or spend a quarter in Washington, D.C., or Sacramento, CA?

Yes! The Communication Department encourages students to broaden their education through these experiences.  Click here for more information about studying communication abroad. Click here for information about UCSB’s UCDC and UC Sacramento programs.

Remember that for any upper division courses you take outside of UCSB, they must be approved by the Communication Department in order for you to count those courses toward the communication major.

Is there a communication minor?

At this time, we do not offer a communication minor. 

I am interested in a career in _______. What classes should I take for that? How else can get I help with my career plans?

A: Click here for lots of information from the Comm Department about careers, including lists of helpful classes for various careers, as well as information about networking and finding internships.

Can I get upper division comm credit for my internship? My internship employer says that I cannot have the internship unless I am getting credit. What do I do?

The course Comm 191 Applying Communication to Internships in Organizations is typically offered in the spring quarter, and is open to 30 Communication seniors who work as interns for 8-10 hours per week while enrolled in the course. The 4 unit course, which meets for 2 hours each week, draws on students' coursework and analytic skills as they transition from academe into the workplace. For more information, please contact Dr. Charles Mullin. The Department of Communication grants UD Comm credit in conjunction with an internship only to those students who complete Comm 191.

Separately, students can earn one unit of P/NP credit only by enrolling in the Comm 197 Communication Internship course. This course is NOT for UD Comm credit. For additional prerequisite and enrollment information click here.

How can I get involved with the Comm Department? Are there research opportunities for undergrads?

We encourage our undergraduates to get involved in communication research! You can join a professor and graduate students on a research project and get comm credit for your work through Comm 199RA. If you are eligible, you can also become a member of the Senior Honors Program and conduct a year-long independent research project of your own, under the guidance of our faculty.

"How do I find someone to RA for? 

The Undergraduate Advising Office does not keep a running list of faculty members and graduate students who are conducting research and/or looking for undergraduate research assistants at any given time. It is the responsibility of each student to first verify their eligibility in the Undergraduate Advising Office and then reach out to a faculty member whose research sounds interesting to inquire about the prospect of gaining a research assistant position. Students may have heard a faculty member talk about their research during a prior class, or they may look under the People section of our website (here) to read more about what each faculty member focuses on.