Students Interacting

The Department of Communication is committed to rigorous, relevant scholarship that speaks to public challenges and promotes social progress. We foster and teach equitable and ethical communicative practices in an intellectually diverse, innovative, and interdisciplinary environment. As an interdisciplinary, multifaceted department, we bring together scholars from a variety of backgrounds to offer a wide array of approaches to communication research and pedagogy.

Established in 2002 through the merger of the former Department of Speech Communication and the School of Communications, the UW Communication Department is rooted in humanistic, critical, and social science traditions. It includes academic emphases on communication technology and society; rhetoric; journalism studies; communication and difference; political communication; interpersonal communication; and organizing and structures.



Undergraduate majors


Undergraduate study in communication at the University of Washington has four foundations: communication literacy, communication inquiry, theory and concepts, and community engagement. We teach our students to think critically, respect diversity, and communicate effectively. We work actively to enroll a diverse set of students in our courses and in the major. Students come from all over Washington and even the world to study, and almost half of our majors are students of color.

Our courses cover important traditions in communication alongside contemporary practices. The Journalism and Public Interest Communication (JPIC) program trains students in the production of engaging, rigorously reported storytelling to help communities of all kinds discern truth from misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda. Innovative teaching abounds, such as delivering speeches in the middle of Red Square on the UW’s Seattle campus, partnering with community organizations on projects of civic engagement, and integrating new media technologies into course content and assignments. Our undergraduates learn to think globally by studying with our faculty in Italy and Spain, gain experience through our State Government Communication program, 1:1 mentoring, internships, our honors program, and through doing independent and directed research.

The Department’s graduate programs include a combined Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Communication, and a Communication Leadership master’s program with emphases in Digital Media, Communities and Networks, and Communication Leadership. The M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication prepare students to conduct original, innovative research on how communication manifests in a wide range of social domains. Communication Leadership is a graduate program that offers a cutting-edge curriculum and pioneering professional faculty to train purposeful storytellers, inclusive community-builders, and effective, ethical advocates for people and ideas.


Autumn 2020

  • 589 Undergraduate majors
  • 45 Master of Arts/PhD students
  • 232 Communication Leadership students

Degrees Awarded

July 2019-June 2020

  • 843 Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 11 Master of Arts/PhD degrees
  • 73 Communication Leadership degrees

Recent Major Student Awards

  • $161,000 in undergraduate scholarships
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award, National Communication Association
  • Emerging Scholar Award, National
  • Communication Association
  • National Science Foundation
  • Dissertation Award
  • Berkman Center Fellowship
  • Ford and Sloan Foundation Grant
  • Mozilla Open Science Fellowship
  • UW Presidential Dissertation Fellowship
  • UW Graduate School Distinguished
  • Thesis Award
  • UW Graduate School Distinguished
  • Dissertation Award
  • UW Business Plan Competition Champion
  • Bonderman Fellowships
  • Husky 100
  • Society of Professional Journalists Awards


Communication students in a television studio during the Department’s annual Career Exploration trip to New York City.
Communication students in a television studio during the Department’s annual Career Exploration trip to New York City.

Autumn 2020

  • 11 Professors
  • 2 Associate Professors
  • 4 Assistant Professors
  • 1 Teaching Professor
  • 4 Associate Teaching Professors
  • 2 Assistant Teaching Professors
  • 8 Part-time Lecturers
  • 2 Artists in Residence
  • 10 Emeritus Faculty
  • 59 Affiliate Faculty

Faculty Awards & Honors

Communication faculty are recognized nationally and internationally. Their honors include:

  • UW Distinguished Teaching Awards (8)
  • Past President, International Communication Association (ICA)
  • Past President, World Association for Public Opinion Research
  • Vice President, American Association for Public Opinion Research
  • Pulitzer, Grantham, and Polk Awards for Outstanding Journalism
  • Editor, Public Opinion Quarterly
  • Editor, Oxford Bibliographies in Communication
  • Co-Editor, Acting With Technology series at MIT Press
  • Leslie A. Baxter Early Career Award, National Communication Association (NCA)
  • Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research, The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research
  • Washington State Professor of the Year, Carnegie Foundation
  • Public Relations Society of America PR Professional of the Year
  • Outstanding Professor Award, National Speakers Association
  • Hillier Krieghbaum Under-40 Award for Outstanding Career Accomplishments, by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (2)
  • Outstanding book, monograph, and article awards from ICA, NCA, Society of Professional Journalists, American Forensic Association, American Political Science Association, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • General Research Symbiont Award
  • AEJMC’s Basket Mosse Award
  • Clarion Award, Association for Women in Communications
  • David Swanson Award for Service to Political Communication Scholarship, ICA and American Political Science Association

Faculty Fellowships

  • The Center for Advanced Study in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • The German Marshall Memorial
  • Thomas J. Watson
  • Ford Foundation
  • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
  • Knight Science Journalism
  • Pew Internet & American Life Project
  • The Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research
  • The Center for Information Technology Policy
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University
  • ACLS/Mellon Scholars & Society Fellowship


Communication faculty have a robust and diverse research agenda. The Department houses two research centers. The Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity is committed to building a more equitable world, in which our words, imagery, and attention are infused with understanding, respect, and justice. The Center for Journalism, Media and Democracy explores communication processes and media technologies that facilitate positive citizen involvement in politics and social life. Faculty and students in the Family Communication and Relationships Lab study the complex dynamics of family communication in a variety of contexts. The Community Data Science Collective is an interdisciplinary research group made up of faculty and students in the Department as well as participants from elsewhere in academia and industry.

Our faculty members have received research support from numerous public and private organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Annenberg Policy Foundation, Army Research Organization, Seattle CityClub, Microsoft Research, Imago Dei Foundation, Namaste Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, among others.


The Department’s 17,000+ living alumni include political and civic leaders, entrepreneurs, lawyers, journalists, authors, corporate and nonprofit specialists, educators, and entertainment industry success stories. Nine alumni share 13 Pulitzer Prize wins. A small number of alumni are honored annually through the Department’s Hall of Fame and Alumni of Distinction Awards. The Department integrates its alumni into its educational and outreach activities through an Alumni Board, newsletters, our Mentoring Program, classroom visits, and a year-long Career Kickstart program of professional development opportunities. We also maintain close partnerships with local, national, and global organizations whose core values align with those of the Department and the University of Washington.


Department of Communication
Box 353740
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2660


last update: March 2021