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

Undergraduate Communication Majors FAQ



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. However, the department emphasizes three areas of research and teaching: Interpersonal and intergroup communication, media and digital communication, and organizational and group communication.

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 have the option to repeat a course (if it is offered again) 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)?

UCSB courses cannot be applied to your major your pre-major requirements if taken for P/NP. This includes courses taken through EAP or other UC campuses. Note: If you have already satisfied the minimum 40 upper-division unit requirement for the major, then you can choose to take any additional 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.

I took a Comm Major Elective course at UCSB, a Comm course at another university/UC program (such as UCDC), or a Comm course abroad or with UCEAP. How do I apply the credit toward my major requirements? Will the grade(s) transfer?

To apply a UCSB Comm Major Elective (such as PSY 102) course toward the Upper-Division Comm major requirements:

  • Submit a Petition for Degree Requirements to apply the course toward your major requirements. Comm Major Elective courses can be found on our major sheet. The grade earned will factor into your UC GPA. You cannot submit the petition prior to completing the course.

To apply a non-UCSB course toward the Upper-Division Comm major requirements, the following conditions must be met:

  • The UCSB Office of Admissions must evaluate the course level as “upper division”. Note that all courses taken at a community college transfer as lower-division level courses, so these can never be petitioned for upper division major credit. UCEAP courses can be upper or lower-division. To check the level of a UCEAP course prior to taking it, consult the UCEAP General Catalog to ensure it is upper-division. All courses from other UC campuses numbered 100-199 are upper-division. If you've already taken the course, you can find the course level in your "Course History" in GOLD. 
  • The Department of Communication must approve the course content as appropriate for the communication major. A database of EAP courses that have been Pre-Approved for Communication Major credit can be found here. Consult the Comm Department Advising Office for approval of non-EAP courses.

The grade earned will only factor into your UC GPA if the approved course was taken at a UC institution or through a UC program (such as UCEAP, UCDC, etc.).

If there is a non-UCSB course that you'd like to apply toward major credit that has not been pre-approved by the department already, it is a good idea to have the course reviewed by submitting the course syllabus to our Syllabus Review Form PRIOR to taking the course so you know in advance whether or not it will apply toward the major requirements. If you have already taken the course, you can submit additional course information (lecture topics, reading list, research papers, assignments, etc.) to the form in addition to the syllabus. Your submitted materials will be sent to a department faculty member for review. For both prior-to and after-the-fact approval, allow several weeks for the review decision. Once the course review is finalized, we will reach out to your UCSB email to inform you of the review decision.

Once a course has been approved by the department for upper-division Comm major or Comm major elective credit, and you have completed the course, and the letter grade and Upper-Division course level appears in your Course History in GOLD, you must submit a Petition for Degree Requirements to apply the course toward your major requirements. You cannot do this prior to completing the course.


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 academia into the workplace. For more information, click here. 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 a faculty sponsor to participate in COMM 199 Research Assistant or COMM 199 Independent Study? 

The Undergraduate Advising Office does not typically 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 reach out to a faculty member or graduate student whose research sounds interesting or similar to their own interests and inquire about the prospect of gaining a research assistant position or independent study sponsor. Students may have heard a professor or TA talk about their research during a prior class, or they may visit the People section of our website (here) to read more about what each faculty member and graduate student's research focuses on. Once the student has found a faculty sponsor, they can submit a research proposal form to the Comm Advising Office to verify your eligibility and receive an approval code to enroll in the course.