Undergraduate Major in Communications Systems

The major in communication systems combines the theoretical focus of communication studies with the practical skills of information technology, resulting in a program that prepares students to perform on the cutting edge of modern media systems. This program is flexible, emphasizing the interdisciplinary study and project work that are critical in a rapidly-changing field. With a communications systems background, students can enter the dynamic fields of the information industry, media and communication, management, public policy, and a variety of other corporate and non-profit areas.

Because many courses in the major are taught by working professionals, communication systems students gain both a theoretical foundation in communication studies and technology and learn practical strategies for applying that knowledge in the workplace. The technology challenges facing organizations are nearly always intertwined with communication needs. Individuals with a combination of communication expertise with proficiency with technology are invaluable in almost any professional environment.



About Communication Systems

Communication Systems Major Goals & Curriculum

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:
  • Design and present effective messages, tailored to the needs of an audience
  • Analyze theories of organizational communication and employ rhetorical strategies
  • Demonstrate communication skills needed to effectively work with others individually and in group settings
  • Demonstrate effective leadership skills, utilizing group processes and communication networking in organizations
  • Develop foundational knowledge of technology and information systems
  • Analyze and solve organizational problem by appropriate uses of technology and communication strategies


Students are required to complete 42 units, leading to the bachelor of philosophy in communication (BPhilCom) degree. The degree includes distribution, writing, and elective courses, and the major requirements.

Communication Systems major requirements:
Communication Foundation
  • COMM ST 102 Public Speaking
  • COMM ST 205 Theories of Persuasion
  • COMM ST 220 Theories of Argumentation
  • COMM ST 250 Leadership and Decision Making
  • COMM ST 270 Mediated Communication
Organizational Processes

4 courses:

  • COMM ST 360 Theories of Organizational Communication
  • COMM ST 362 Professional Client Communication
  • COMM ST 363 Bargaining and Negotiation
  • COMM ST 364 Collective Decision Making and Communication in Organizations
Computer Information Technology
  • CIS 130 Tools of the World Wide Web
  • CIS 212 Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming
  • CIS 313 Telecommunications and Computer Networks
  • CIS 317 Database Systems Design and Implementation
  • CIS 345 Information Security

Undergraduate Communication Systems Courses

Explore Undergraduate Communication Systems Courses for descriptions, locations, and schedules. Classes are held on Northwestern's Evanston or downtown Chicago campuses, and meet once weekly in the evening or on Saturdays.

Major in Communication Systems Admission & Transfer Policy

Application to Northwestern University School of Professional Studies bachelor's degree programs is completed online. Once admitted, many students create a shorter path to degree completion by applying transfer credit. View detailed application instructions and transfer credit policies on the Admission & Transfer Policy page.

Communication Systems Tuition & Financial Aid

The School of Professional Studies offers competitive tuition rates for undergraduate courses. The Tuition & Financial Aid page lists current per-course tuition rates in addition to financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

Registration for Communication Systems Majors

Registration for courses opens 8 to 10 weeks before each quarter and is accessed CAESAR,  Northwestern's online student records system. View course registration timelines and instructions on the Registration Information page. 

Career Options for Communication Systems Majors

The communication systems major provides students with effective interpersonal, organizational, intercultural, ethical and media-savvy communication expertise, as well as the practical skills of information technology crucial for work in a broad range of fields related to technology, media and communication. For details, see the Communication Systems Career Options page. 

Find out more about the Major in Communication Systems

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