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The Department of Communication advances the study and practice of communication across a range of contexts, including interpersonal interaction, public discourse, mass media, and digital media. Our research and teaching enhance critical awareness of communication’s role in an increasingly global society.
The Department of Communication was established in 2002 through the merger of the Department of Speech Communication and the School of Communications. Rooted in humanistic, critical, and social science traditions, the Department emphasizes teaching, research, and service in multiple areas including communication technology and society, global communication, journalism, rhetoric and critical studies, and interpersonal interaction. Faculty, staff, and students work across these domains as part of an inclusive scholarly community.
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. 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. We encourage our undergraduates to think globally by studying with our faculty in Italy and Spain. Undergraduates also gain experience through our Olympia Legislative Reporting program, 1:1 mentoring, internships, community partnerships, our honors program, and through doing independent and directed research.
The Department’s graduate programs include a combined Master of Arts and PhD in Communication, a Communication Leadership Master’s program with emphases in Digital Media or in Communities and Networks, and a Master of Communication in Native Voices. The Master of Arts and Doctorate of Philosophy 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. The Native Voices Program is a center where students, faculty, and independent producers create documentaries and media research that contribute to the understanding and support of indigenous peoples.
- 671 Undergraduate majors
- 6 Master of Arts/PhD students
- 180 Communication Leadership students
- 487 Bachelor of Arts degrees
- 5 Master of Arts/PhD degrees
- 63 Communication Leadership degrees
*July 2017-June 2018
Recent Major Student Awards
- $160,000 in undergraduate scholarships
- Outstanding Dissertation Award, National Communication Association
- National Science Foundation Dissertation Award
- UW Business Plan Competition Champion
- Bonderman Fellowships
- Husky 100
- Society of Professional Journalists Awards
- 8 Professors
- 7 Associate Professors
- 4 Assistant Professors
- 2 Principal Lecturers
- 2 Senior Lecturers
- 10 Lecturers
- 1 Artist in Residence
- 10 Emeritus Faculty
- 37 Affiliate Faculty
Faculty Awards & Honors
Communication faculty are recognized nationally and internationally for their excellence in teaching, research, and service. They include a co-founder of WIRED; a support/ writing/research group for female faculty at the UW; and a director of the Science, Technology, and Society Studies Graduate Certificate Program. Among others, our faculty members hold these honors:
- UW Distinguished Teaching Awards (8)
- President-Elect of the International Communication Association (ICA)
- International Communication Association Fellows (3)
- Pulitzer, Grantham, and Polk Awards for Outstanding Journalism
- Editorship, Public Opinion Quarterly
- 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 International Communication Association, National Communication Association, 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
- Clarion Award, Association for Women in Communications
- 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
The Department is home to two research centers. The Center on 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 Communication and Civic Engagement explores communication processes and media technologies that facilitate positive citizen involvement in politics and social life.
Faculty are working on large scale projects, including Collaborating Against Human Trafficking, dedicated to finding constructive paths through multilevel tensions between cross-sector organizations; and the Sustainability Action Network, a resource center intended to create “solutions for economy, environment, and democracy,” which provides online and in-person support for coalition-building projects between student organizations.
Our faculty members have received research support from numerous public and private organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, Ford 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 16,000+ 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, monthly newsletters, 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
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Fact sheet last updated: December 2018