Courses offered in the Department of Communication Studies include surveys of the rhetorical tradition, studies of the history of oratory, analytical courses designed to improve students' critical skills and appreciation of mediated communication, investigation of classical means of persuasion, argumentation and debate, coupled with their modern applications, and courses which seek to develop understanding of contemporary theories of communication. Special topics courses are offered every year, including occasional Maymester classes. Courses of independent study and research are also available.
The Vanderbilt Varsity Debate Program participates in national collegiate competition with consisten success. All Vanderbilt undergraduate students are eligible for membership on the squad.
Twice a year, students of public speaking classes compete for cash prizes in the Franklin K. Houston Speech Contest.
Graduates from this department follow a variety of careers. Many go to law school or schools of management, or do graduate work in communication, history, journalism, or political science. Careers of past graduates include finance, consulting in human resources, admissions officers, development officers, banking, policy analysis, teaching, media directors, systems design and software consulting, public relations, marketing, account managing, video journalism, law, political lobbying, copywriting and free lance writing, news production, brokerage, and real estate development.
An interdisciplinary major, the Communication of Science and Technology, is now available for enrollment. The new program was developed to address a pressing national issue - the need to communicate the results of scientific and engineering research to the American public. The course of study provides a balance between communication/ humanities and science/engineering. Career opportunities for students majoring in the Communication of Science, Engineering and Technology include science journalism, high tech management, public relations, management consulting, engineering and pharmaceutical sales, science policy, public health, and leadership positions in high technology industries. Graduates will also be prepared to enter graduate or professional schools in fields such as medicine, law, journalism, and business.