Core Courses | Independent Studies | Courses Outside Vanderbilt
CMST 1002. Introduction to Communication Studies.
Theoretical foundations and practice of human communication. Argument and advocacy; public address; and critical analysis of media and culture.  (HCA)
CMST 1111. First-Year Writing Seminar.
Independent learning and inquiry in an environment in which students can express knowledge and defend opinions through intensive class discussion, oral presentations, and written expression. May be repeated for credit once if there is no duplication of topic, but students may earn only up to 3 credits in any 1111 (115F) course per semester of enrollment.
[3; maximum of 6 credits total for all semesters of 1111] (AXLE credit category varies by section)
CMST 1500. Fundamentals of Public Speaking.
Theory and practice in speaking before an audience. Problems of preparation, content, organization, language, and delivery are treated.  (HCA)
CMST 2100. Argumentation and Debate.
A course in the practice of debate examining argumentation theory. Emphasis on forms of reasoning and use of evidence in debate.
Prerequisite: 1500 (100).  (HCA)
CMST 2110. Persuasion.
The theory and practice of persuasion with particular emphasis on speech composition, the use of language and its relationship to oral style, structure, and the relationship of structure to the process of speech preparation.
Prerequisite: 1500 (100).  (HCA)
CMST 2120. Business Communication.
Theory and practice of communication in relation to organizations and business with application to leadership, values and ethics, organizational communication theory, and organizational conflict.
Prerequisite: 1500 (100).  (HCA)
CMST 2800. Rhetoric and Civic Life.
Public discourse and the duties and prerogatives of citizenship. Theory, models, and criticism of rhetoric and oratory in their deliberative, forensic, and epideictic settings.  (HCA)
CMST 2950. Rhetoric of Mass Media.
A study of the nature, effects, reasons for the effects, ethics, regulation, and criticism of contemporary mass media communication. Political causes, news reporting, commercial advertising, and similar sources of rhetoric are included.  (HCA)
CMST 3000. Rhetoric of the American Experience, 1640–1865.
A critical and historical examination of the methods and effects of public debate and other attempts to influence the attitudes, affective response, and behavior of the American people. Attention to the rhetorical features of selected issues and speakers from colonial times through the Civil War.  (US)
CMST 3001. Rhetoric of the American Experience, 1865–1945.
Critical and historical examination of the methods and effects of public debate and other attempts to influence the attitudes, affective response, and behavior of the American people. Attention to the rhetorical features of selected issues and speakers from 1865 to 1945.  (US)
CMST 3002. Rhetoric of the American Experience, 1945–Present.
Critical and historical examination of the methods and effects of public debate and other attempts to influence the attitudes, affective response, and behavior of the American people. Attention to the rhetorical features of selected issues and speakers from 1945 to the present. Serves as repeat credit for students who completed 294 section 3 in fall 2009.  (US)
CMST 3100. Rhetoric of Social Movements.
The role of communication in the creation, development, and function of social movements. The analysis of specific rhetorical acts. The study of the arguments, patterns of persuasion, and communication strategies of selected social movements.  (US)
CMST 3110. Women, Rhetoric, and Social Change.
Reform rhetoric of American women from 1790 to 1920. Historical influences on women’s social activism and emergence on the public platform; rhetorical issues facing women speakers. Rhetorical strategies used by them as advocates for education, labor, abolition, temperance, and the Woman Suffrage Movement.  (US)
CMST 3120. Rhetoric of U.S. Religion.
American religious discourse in historical and contemporary contexts. Religious traditions and influential rhetorical texts. Significant religious controversies. No credit for students who earned credit for 294 section 1 in fall 2013.  (US)
CMST 3140. Communication and the First Amendment.
Examination of principles, interpretations, and controversies related to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Emphasis given to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. No credit for students who earned credit for 294 section 1 in spring 2015.  (US)
CMST 3150. Law, Media, and Society.
Historical and contemporary studies of legal controversies and their mediation through print, television, film, and emergent media. Practices and politics of advocates involved in legislation and legal reform. No credit for students who have earned credit for 3890 section 01 offered Fall 2016.  (HCA)
CMST 3200. Social Media and Everyday Life
Social media as assemblage of forms and communicative practices that create sociality in everyday life. Global and ethnographic perspectives. Not open to students who earned credit for 3890 section 1 in spring 2019.  (P)
CMST 3600. The Rhetorical Tradition.
Development of rhetorical concepts from classical Greece to the present. Significant rhetoricians and texts. The impact of context on rhetoric.  (HCA)
CMST 3620/3620W. Communication, Culture, and Critique.
Application of methods of rhetorical analysis to the practice of criticism. Critical perspectives to be explored include those of Burke, Leff, Lucaites, Fisher, Osborn, Griffin, Campbell, and Jamieson.  (HCA)
CMST 3700. Politics and Mass Media.
Impact of mass-mediated communication on U.S. electoral politics. Pragmatic and ethical influences on the dissemination of information to voters during campaigns.  (HCA)
CMST 3710. Cultural Rhetorics of Film.
Film as rhetorical response to historical and cultural change. Filmic treatment of historical trauma; related genres, such as horror and melodrama.  (HCA)
CMST 3720. Communicating Gender.
Dominant modes of communicating gender ideology. Effects on policy, politics, and popular culture. Includes theories of rhetoric, gender, sexuality, race, and social class.  (P)
CMST 3730W. Communication, Culture, and Consciousness.
The relationship between the primary means of communication in a culture and its influence on knowledge and subjectivity. Orality, literacy, print, electronic and digital communication.  (P)
CMST 3740. Rhetoric of Medicine and Health.
Cultural construction of medicine and health through narratives, metaphors, and bodily practices. Case studies in art, ethics, activism, and public controversy. No credit for students who have earned credit for 3890 section 1 offered spring 2016.  (P)
CMST 3800. Communication and Media Studio.
Theory and practice of media making. Core concepts in communication studies. Student-designed projects aimed at influencing public discourse. Prerequisite: 1500.  (HCA)
CMST 3840. Directed Readings.
Supervised reading and writing in a selected field of the discipline under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Consent of both the faculty supervisor and the director of undergraduate studies required. Normally open only to majors in communication studies. May be repeated for a total of 6 credits in 3850 (289) and 3840 (290) combined, but students may earn only up to 3 credits per semester of enrollment. [3; maximum of 6 credits total for all semesters of CMST 3840 and 3850] (No AXLE credit)
CMST 3850. Independent Study.
A research project in rhetorical criticism to be arranged with the individual instructor. Designed for students who have taken either 3000 (220) or 3001 (221). May be repeated for a total of 6 credits in 3850 (289) and 3840 (290) combined, but students may earn only up to 3 credits per semester of enrollment.
[1-3; maximum of 6 credits total for all semesters of CMST 3840 and 3850] (No AXLE credit)
CMST 3890. Selected Topics in Communication Studies.
May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic. Students may enroll in more than one section of this course each semester.  (No AXLE credit)
Per A&S guidelines, independent studies must be rigorous, scholarly, and sufficiently different from existing courses. Moreover, they are available only in rare situations. In general, only students who are in the second semester of their senior year and have already completed the vast majority of CMST requirements are eligible for independent study.
Even when students are eligible, they must still satisfy other requirements. Students must secure a communication studies faculty adviser as well as approval from the A&S Dean’s Office. Ultimately, independent study requests are at the discretion of CMST faculty.
Read more about independent studies.
Courses Outside Vanderbilt
The Department of Communication Studies often receives requests from current Vanderbilt students hoping to receive credit for courses taken at other universities (e.g., summer work elsewhere). Such courses need to follow university transfer credit policies.
Additionally, as a rule, the Department of Communication Studies does not approve current Vanderbilt students to receive credit for taking public speaking (or a similar course) at another university. There are several reasons why:
- Learning public speaking is rigorous, and many colleges and universities are unable to match the standards of instruction at Vanderbilt.
- Many colleges and universities offer public-speaking courses with large class sizes, which do not allow for the kind of personalized instruction offered at Vanderbilt.
- Large class sizes also entail too few or too brief speeches during the term.
- At Vanderbilt, public-speaking instruction is standardized on persuasive policy speeches, giving students several opportunities to develop cogent arguments about public affairs; public speaking at other colleges and universities often gives persuasive policy short shrift.
Because of these reasons, current Vanderbilt students should not seek transfer-credit approval for public speaking taken at another college or university.
The best way to gain approval for coursework elsewhere is to compare course descriptions and syllabi at the pertinent college or university with course descriptions provided by Vanderbilt’s Department of Communication Studies. The more closely a course description or syllabus from elsewhere aligns with Vanderbilt CMST courses, the more likely a student is to receive transfer-credit approval.
Questions about the approval process for communication courses elsewhere? Contact the CMST Director of Undergraduate Studies.