About the Department

CMS Staff

About Our Department

In the Department of Communication Studies, we learn about communication in human relationships. We study communication in relationships that are as intense as marriage and families, as large as political communities, and as involving as the workplace. Our students go out into the world prepared to think about how communication works in a wide range of contexts, and they are ready to improve communication wherever they may find it.

Our History

Communication Studies has been an organized department since Edwin Shurter started a Department of Public Speaking in 1899, He served as chair from 1899-1923. In 1910 Shurter organized the Texas High School Debating League, which was the foundation for the University Interscholastic League, an organization that promotes competitions for high school students in such areas as literature, mathematics, music, public speaking, spelling, and sports.

Documents indicate that in 1965, the School of Journalism, what by then was known as the Department of Speech, and a newly formed Department of Radio-Television-Film became the three departments officially organized as the School of Communication. In 1979, the School of Communication became the College of Communication. At official ceremonies in April 1982, the three buildings comprising the communication complex were named the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. Originally housed in the Department of Speech Communication, a separate Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders was established in 1998. In the late 1990s the department was renamed as Communication Studies.

Today, the Communication Studies Department has approximately 600 undergraduate majors and nearly 200 minors, 70+ graduate students, and over 30 full-time teaching faculty.

Our Students

We offer both a Communication Studies major and minor, and our majors can choose from three tracks: corporate communication, interpersonal communication, and political communication. Students can supplement a flexible set of course options with internships, opportunities to work with our teaching and research faculty, and various student clubs/events—including our award winning speech and debate programs. Upon leaving The University, our majors enter the teaching, corporate, and public service ranks ready to take what started here and use it to change the world.

Our graduate students are scholars from across the globe who are pursuing a masters or Ph.D. These students conduct original research, frequently teach and/or assist undergraduate classes, and participate actively in various scholarly events. Many of our students publish scholarly articles and most deliver papers at professional conventions. Our students take a wide range of research-related positions in industry, government, and higher education. We have also started a new stack-able certificate program for master’s students in Strategic Communication.

Our Reputation

We are a department widely-recognized for excellence. The 2019 National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates noted we produced more doctorates in the field of Communication than any other university. Two very recent publications have listed us as the top program in placement of doctoral students in the field. The final year of the NCA doctoral program reputational study rated our program as having Top 8 specializations in Rhetoric, Political Communication, Interpersonal/Group Communication, Communication and Technology, Critical/Cultural Communication, and Organizational Communication.

In addition, our current faculty include:

  • 4 National Communication Association (NCA) Distinguished Scholars
  • 7 International Communication Association (ICA) Fellows
  • Winners of ICA and NCA awards such as the NCA Diamond Anniversary Book Award, Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, Knapp Award for Interpersonal Communication, Wallace Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award, Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education, Douglas Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, the Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award, The Frederick M. Jablin Award for Outstanding Contributions to Organizational Communication, and several others.
  • Current or past Presidents of the National Communication Association, International Communication Association, International Association for Relationship Research, American Society for the History of Rhetoric, Association for Communication Administrators, International Society for Gesture Studies, Organization for Research on Women and Communication, Cross-Examination Debate Association, Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association, and the International Association for Public Participation
  • Current or past Editors of Quarterly Journal of Speech, Human Communication Research, Communication Education, Media Ethics, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, the Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, and the International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication (as well as multiple books, book series and special issues of journals).

Department Administration

2504A Whitis Ave. (A1105)
Austin, TX 78712-0115
Phone: 512-471-5251
Fax: 512-471-3504
Email: commstudies@austin.utexas.edu

Craig R. Scott, Ph.D.

John T. Jones, Jr. Centennial Professor
Department of Communication Studies Chair
CMA 7.112, 512-232-1714
Email: craig.scott@austin.utexas.edu

Stacey Sowards, Ph.D.

Department of Communication Studies Associate Chair
CMA 7.144A
Email: stacey.sowards@austin.utexas.edu

Jennifer Betancourt

Assistant Director of Administration
CMA 7.112, 512-232-4880
Email: jenbet@austin.utexas.edu

Lisa Moseley

Sr. Administrative Associate
CMA 7.112, 512-232-4878
Email: lmoseley@austin.utexas.edu

Saúl Palomo

Administrative Associate
CMA 7.112, 512-471-5251
Email: saul.palomo@austin.utexas.edu

Graduate Program Office

René Dailey, Ph.D

Graduate Advisor
CMA 7.142A, 512.471-4867
Email: rdailey@austin.utexas.edu

Jennifer Porras

Senior Academic Program Coordinator
CMA 7.110, 512-471-1942
Email: commstudiesgrad@austin.utexas.edu

Undergraduate Office

Schedule An Appointment

Academic Advising
DMC 2.600, 512-471-1553