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Immersion in CMST


Beginning with the class of 2023, all Vanderbilt undergraduate students are required to complete an immersion experience. Students in the class of 2022 are encouraged, but not required, to complete an immersion experience. Full details about Vanderbilt Immersion can be found here. 

As the guidelines state, your immersion experience needs to follow at least one of four pathways: Civic & Professional, Creative Expression, International, or Research. Because the immersion experience is self-designed, you can create the immersion experience you want, combining courses, projects, and initiatives from around the university.


Nevertheless, you might want some direction in the planning process. This page is for those of you who are interested in combining an interest in communication with your immersion experience.

Why communication? Media, politics, law, business, medicine, technology, gender, sexuality, race, and more—communication intersects with many areas of inquiry that can make for exciting immersion experiences. Below are just some possibilities for linking immersion with communication studies at Vanderbilt.

If you still have questions after reading over the information below, contact Jeffrey Bennett (Department Chair), Isaac West (Director of Undergraduate Studies), or any CMST faculty member.


Components of Immersion

The experiential phase of immersion may be fulfilled with a combination of Vanderbilt course credits and/or approved immersion activities. This process can occur over the course of more than one semester and can include summer and paid work. Immersion activities can include an internship, leadership in events or organizations on campus, the creation of a documentary film, work on a political campaign, and much more.

Students interested in communication should think broadly about the many immersion experiences that can connect with communication studies.

A student interested in civic engagement could work with a local nonprofit organization that serves disadvantaged communities, followed by a presentation about this experience.

A student interested in digital storytelling could create a documentary video and offer a public screening.

Below are additional ways students interested in communication could choose to complete their immersion experience. The list is far from exhaustive, and you are encouraged to come up with your own immersion plan. But the information below might help spark your creativity.



Are you interested in broadcast journalism? Advertising? Marketing? Corporate consulting? Start-ups? An internship might be an excellent opportunity for you to develop these interests. 

Over the years the Department of Communication Studies has overseen countless internships in fields related directly or indirectly to communication. Public relations, sports communication, brand marketing, graphic design, media production, and publishing are just a handful of examples. Internships are a great way to pursue your passions, discover possible careers, and gain hands-on professional experience outside the university. 

For more on internships and how they might intersect with immersion, contact Courtney Travers, Director of Internships for the Department of Communication Studies.


Media, Film, & Digital Technology

If you’re interested in journalism, film and television production, social media, and similar areas, the Department of Communication Studies can offer valuable resources.

In addition to participating in an internship, students interested in media can participate in any number of Vanderbilt-sponsored programs. Vanderbilt Student Media, which is responsible for the Vanderbilt Hustler, Vanderbilt Television, and much more, offers students a range of hands-on experiences related to production and content creation.

Another option is to participate in the Vandy-in-Hollywood summer internship program. If you’re interested in a career in the entertainment industry, or even if you just want to spend a summer in Hollywood, this is an excellent opportunity. What’s more, participation in Vandy-in-Hollywood can be combined with Communication Studies courses related to film, television, and media production to constitute an immersion experience.



Participation in debate has long been an immersive activity, with debaters becoming deeply involved in constructing arguments, researching evidence to support those arguments, and organizing those arguments into persuasive positions.

Debate offers several possible immersion opportunities. Students interested in pursuing debate as their immersion experience should contact Vanderbilt Debate Faculty Members.


Professional Communication

If you’re hoping to pursue a career in any kind of corporate or professional setting, communication will be essential to your success. The Department of Communication offers several courses that can give you the tools to be a better communicator in whatever industry you work.

Numerous CMST courses can combine productively with internships and other experiences related to business, civic and professional organizations, nonprofits, consulting, finance, and more.


Public Speaking & Oratory

Even with the tools of digital communication at our fingertips, the art of oratory remains as important as ever. In addition to taking courses related to the art of oratory in CMST, you can complete an immersion project by participating in public-speaking events around campus. One such event is the Frank K. Houston Public Speaking Contest. Another is the Vanderbilt chapter of Toastmasters International. There’s also TEDx Vandy, which is a great way for students with a passion for public speaking and big ideas to influence their fellow Vanderbilt students. 


Civic Engagement & Advocacy

Politics, public engagement, and community organizing are fundamentally communicative endeavors. The Department of Communication Studies offers a wide range of courses for students who want to fulfill their immersion requirement by engaging fellow citizens on issues that affect us all.

For your internship experience, you could combine different CMST courses with volunteering in a political campaign, working with a local nonprofit, interning in the public defender’s office, or leading a Vanderbilt student organization devoted to advocacy and engagement.


Study Abroad & Intercultural Communication

Study abroad is a great way for students to create a novel, exciting immersion experience. If you study abroad and are interested in communication, you can enroll in courses related to the media, language, and culture of your host country. You can also take a course on Intercultural Communication, which provides a revealing perspective on the problems and possibilities of communicating across cultural divides.

Completing some kind of immersion project on top of studying abroad allows you to pair the study of communication with the international pathway of the immersion requirement.


Interdisciplinary Immersion

Law, politics, medicine, health, media, social movements, business, history—Communication Studies teaches courses related to all of these areas. But so do other department on campus.

With Immersion Vanderbilt, students are not only able but encouraged to experiment with interdisciplinary immersion experiences.

If you’d like to discuss the interdisciplinary potential of immersion, just let us know.

These are just some of the options for linking your immersion experience with the study of communication. If you’d like to learn more, contact Jeffrey Bennett (Department Chair), Isaac West (Director of Undergraduate Studies), or any CMST faculty member.