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Communication Studies
Effective Communicators, Ethical Advocates

TEDxChapmanU - Lisa Sparks - Smiling Can Save Your Life

Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., is a highly regarded teacher-scholar whose published work includes more than 100 research articles and scholarly book chapters and is the Founding Director of Graduate Studies, M.S. Health and Strategic Communication and Chair of Communication Studies. She is also the author and editor of more than ten books in the areas of communication, health, and aging.

Sparks is the Foster and Mary McGaw Endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences at Chapman University and directs the Master of Science graduate program in Health and Strategic Communication at the university. She also serves as a member of the Chao Family/NCl Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, Program in Public Health. Her research goal is to understand and create evidence-based health messages that effectively change health behavior resulting in better health outcomes.

See more of Dr. Sparks here as she discusses "Health Literacy & Inspiration to NAC Students" at the last Chapman Visiting Scholars Series lecture of 2012-2013.

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»Welcome to the Communication Studies Department!

Comm Students L-R: Madison Kline, Tracy Silagi, Stephanie Argyres, and Victoria MorseThe faculty of the Department of Communication Studies is a dynamic mix of researchers, teachers, thinkers and practitioners. We make communication theory come alive for students in our classrooms as we discuss the implications of exciting research about human communication that is conducted in our discipline, and through the use of cases and discussions grabbed from the headlines and our own experiences.

The B.A. in Communication Studies emphasizes a broad evidence-based communication approach to creating shared meaning and understanding of messages in interpersonal, health, instructional, intercultural, organizational, persuasive, group, mass, social media and technologies, as well as public speaking contexts. The goal is to effectively train students to learn how to engage in rigorous application of communication theory and research that translates into application and practice in a variety of settings from non-profit organizations to corporate environments, and government organizations.

There are six areas of study in the Communication major: interpersonal/family, emerging technologies and digital media, health communication, organizational communication, mass communication, and intercultural communication.

The curriculum is designed to facilitate student mastery of theory and research, to enhance communication skills, and to enhance student preparation for a variety of careers or graduate study. The communication major is not designed as a training program in advertising, journalism, production, or public relations; but it provides a theoretical foundation in the broader discipline of communication studies.

By design, the courses in the curriculum tend to cluster into several different areas of study. These areas represent important foci in the communication discipline and are areas in which the Department’s faculty possess special expertise. It is suggested that students may specialize in one of these areas or may design individual programs of study by choosing other combinations of electives that best meet their needs and career objectives and tailor their academic experience.

The B.A. in Strategic and Corporate Communication emphasizes an evidence-driven approach to advance an organization's mission, services, and vision through persuasive messaging. This approach involves a rigorous application of communication theory and practice. The goal is to train students to gather evidence relevant to organizational or corporate goals, design and communicate effective messages, and analyze the data associated with the outcomes. Students will learn to deploy theory-driven strategic messages in organizational and corporate settings, including for–profit, not–for–profit, and government organizations. The competencies obtained apply to a broad variety of industries and settings.

Outside of the classroom, we give students plenty of opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world performance and professional settings. Some of these activities include the Speech Team, Chapman Radio, Lambda Pi Eta (Communication Studies Honors Society), and our internship program. Our faculty is committed to working with students to design independent study opportunities to create a personalized education experience. Independent study allows our students, to acquire knowledge and experience in any of our faculty’s areas of specialization, including communication and relationships, organizational communication, communication on the global business stage, mass media, and culture.

The Department of Communication Studies is committed to maintaining an academic and social environment in which students may develop into inquiring thinkers who communicate productively in society. We do so by exposing students to theories and research emanating from the communication discipline and by providing them with opportunities to apply their knowledge and practice communication principles in varied settings. Students learn and practice the skills important for developing and sustaining high quality, ethical relationships in personal, professional and global contexts.

+-Communication Studies Department First Annual Video Contest

videoDo you love making videos? Are you passionate about Chapman? And most importantly, do you want your work to be featured on the Department of Communication Studies website home page for an entire year?

If so, we are looking for students just like you! The Communication Studies Department is holding our first annual video contest, aiming to find students who can produce a YouTube video, featuring the Department and the Communication Studies and Strategic and Corporate Communication majors.

Any video should highlight the six possible pathways of study in the Communication Studies major, which include: interpersonal/family communication, emerging technologies and digital media, health communication, organizational communication, mass communication and intercultural communication and the fact that the Strategic and Corporate Communication major focuses on applying strategic communication techniques in specific types of organizational settings including for-profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations. Most importantly, don’t forget to mention our award winning faculty!

This is a Communication Studies Department video after all, so if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please communicate with Dr. Michelle Miller-Day at for submission details.  All entries must be submitted by Friday, May 1, 2015.

+-Intern in Australia or New Zealand!

Communication internships available for you!

Are you looking for a valuable internship experience to help boost your resume? Here is an opportunity you can't pass up!

Click here to find out more about internships that can provide valuable professional training while living in a foreign country, allowing you to improve on skills such as problem solving, independence, and critical thinking.


+-National Organizations

The National Communication Association advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. Learn More ...

The Western States Communication Association is a non-profit 501 c (3) organization. The Association's purpose is to unite people in the Western States who have an academic, lay or professional interest in communication and who want to promote their mutual educational interests. Learn More ...

+-Communication Studies Alumni in Action

Stephanie Robbins graduated with her BA in Communication Studies from Chapman in 2007,  and completed her MA and Ph.D. in Communication at UC Santa Barbara.  While studying interpersonal communication and new media at UCSB, she won the Top Masters Thesis award from the Interpersonal Communication Division of the International Communication Association in 2011.  Her dissertation is entitled “The Confidant Response Model: Examining the Impact of Structure on Response Decisions for Recipients of Distressing Disclosures.”  She is currently beginning her first semester as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Communication Studies in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.