What is now the Mass Communication Department evolved in the mid-1980s by combining elements from the speech and journalism programs. Although the most popular degree programs around the country at the time were stressing narrow areas of study and career preparation such as newspapers, advertising, and film, the department founders envisioned a broader training for students that truly encompassed the many elements of mass communication. Students were required to acquire a broad range of skills so as to be prepared for a broad range of jobs – taking courses in everything from advertising to film to broadcasting to print journalism – all the while obtaining a firm theoretical/conceptual grasp of the field through courses such as Introduction to Mass Communication, Mass Communication Law, Persuasion, and Mass Communication History. In addition, students were allowed to choose a minor in order to specialize in a narrower field such as public relations, graphics, or broadcasting.
Through the 1990s, as society’s conception of mass media continued to expand, the department’s requirements met the needs of the students and potential employers. The department’s philosophy continued to be the correct one, allowing students a wide set of options upon graduation.
As the Internet’s influence grew, creating media convergence, the department faculty undertook a major curriculum overhaul, deleting outdated courses and creating new ones to reflect the times. As previously, the faculty believed a wide range of experiences served students more than having them pursue a narrow career option, and students continue to benefit from taking a variety of courses that ground them in the skills they need as well as the theoretical/conceptual background they need.