Communication is an ancient field of study, tracing its roots to the Golden Age of Greece when Aristotle studied rhetoric, the art of persuasion. Citizen participation in politics was at the heart of Greek democracy and the power of the spoken word was key to participation.

 During the 20th Century, communication inquiry began to broaden beyond its traditional focus to include knowledge gained from psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other contemporary fields of study.  Scholars examined the effects of communication on attitude formation, interpersonal relationships, group decision making, and organizational behavior.  Meanwhile, the introduction of radio, television, and film further expanded the scope of the discipline. 

Today, students and faculty consider issues involving gender and communication, multiculturalism, ethics, health communication, media and public policy, and other current topics.  Understanding the process of communication is as important to our democracy as public speaking was for the ancient Greeks. 

 The bachelor of arts degree in communication provides comprehensive knowledge about the nature of communication, the symbol systems by which it functions, the environments in which it occurs, its media, and its effects.  Employing critical and empirical approaches, the program spans the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts.

The bachelor of arts in media studies focuses on understanding, creating, and exploiting various social and participatory media through a program of integrated courses in media writing, criticism, and production.  Our goal is to graduate literate, capable, and responsible media professionals. 

The Communication and Media Studies Department also offers three minors: the minor in cinema studies, the minor in communication and media studies, and the minor in audio and video production. New for the Fall 2016, the Department will offer a minor in public relations.

News & Events

Dennis Gilbert Wins 2016 Donald Harward Faculty Award
Dennis Gilbert, Lecturer in Media Studies, has won the 2016 Donald Harward Faculty Award from the Maine Campus Compact. The Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence recognizes faculty who integrate community or public service into the curriculum and who work to institutionalize service-learning. Award recipients have shown clear evidence of reflection, community benefit, reciprocity with community partners, and a commitment to advocating for service-learning and/or community action on campus and beyond.
Colin Mader, Maine Association of Broadcasters Award 2016. Photo by Colin Mader
Colin Mader was selected as one of two Maine Association of Broadcasters Award recipients for the Spring 2016 semester. Concerning Mader, Professor of Media Studies David Pierson said, "I have no doubt that Colin will become a noteworthy filmmaker. Colin is serious, passionate, and very talented with a keen eye for visual storytelling. I'm looking forward to seeing his work in regional and national film festivals. "
Sokhean J Ouk by Kristen Kopper
The faculty teaching Media Studies courses had the honor of selecting two recipients for the Maine Association of Broadcasters Award this past fall. The Maine Association of Broadcasters provides funding for an outstanding Media Studies major interested in pursing work in the broadcasting field post-graduation. Sokhean “Jonny” Ouk was one of these esteemed recipients. He is pursuing a degree in Media Studies with minors in Communication Technology, and Audio and Video Production. His website can be found at

Communication plus Leadership Studies

Students in Communication may begin working towards a Masters in Leadership Studies while still an undergraduate. Students pursuing this option focus on bachelor degree requirements during the first three years, a mix of bachelor and graduate requirements in the fourth year, and exclusively graduate requirements in the fifth year. To follow this program, complete the 4 + 1 concentration form. Check with your advisor and on the Leadership Studies website for further information. Some Leadership Studies courses may count towards your Communication degree, check with your faculty advisor on this option.

Public Relations Minor

Public Relations

The Communication and Media Studies Department offers a minor in Public Relations. The Public Relations minor provides students with an introduction to this area and other related professions (e.g. marketing and social media). Check for courses for Fall 2016 that count towards this minor.



The Cinema Studies Minor

The Circus poster with Charlie Chaplin

The Cinema Studies minor offers students a multidimensional understanding of film as form of art, product of industry, and mode of communication. The program can serve as a base of knowledge for students intending to enter careers in the media, as a foundation for further study, and/or as the opportunity to gain deeper insight into one of the most culturally significant media of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  For more information, contact Matthew Killmeier.

Communication and Media Studies Production Tour

Take a video tour of some of the production courses offered by Media Studies professors and instructors in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at USM. Thank you to Sokhean Jonny Ouk for producing this video.

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