Communication, B.A.

Program Code: COMBA_BA

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 9-21
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 45

0-3 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 0-3 credits of GA courses in the Journalism/Media Productions (Multimedia Area).

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Per Senate Policy 83.80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CAS 204Communication Research Methods3
CAS 303Communication Theory Keystone/General Education Course3
COMM 160Basic News Writing Skills1
COMM 251The Nature of Media3
COMM 315Applications for Media Writing3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CAS 212Professional Public Speaking3
or CAS 252 Business and Professional Communication Keystone/General Education Course
CAS 271NIntercultural Communication Keystone/General Education Course3
or COMM 410 International Mass Communications
COMM 242Basic Video/Filmmaking3
or COMM 270 Introduction to Multimedia Production
COMM 494Research Project Courses3
or COMM 495 Internship
Select 3 credits of the following:3
Introduction to Human Communication Keystone/General Education Course
Persuasion and Propaganda Keystone/General Education Course
The Mass Media and Society Keystone/General Education Course
Media and Democracy Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Media Effects Keystone/General Education Course
The Art of the Cinema Keystone/General Education Course
American Journalism: Values, Traditions, and Practices Keystone/General Education Course
Survey of Electronic Media and Telecommunications Keystone/General Education Course
Select 2 credits of the following:2
Newspaper Practicum
Newspaper Editorial Staff
Radio Practicum
Television Practicum
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 15 credits (at least 9 credits at the 400 level) of supporting coursework, from departmental list 115

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Educate students to be problem solvers who are especially strong in oral and written communication.
  2. Encourage students' analytical and creative skills in order that they will be prepared to address a wide variety of challenges in their professional lives.
  3. Prepare students for lifelong productive careers which may include graduate studies, communication professions or corporate leadership.

The COMBA Program stresses core competencies in the following 8 areas: writing, speaking, communication and media theory, proficiency in communication technology, research methods, global and diversity perspectives, practicum skills, and a capstone experience.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



William McLean
Lecturer in Speech Communication
52 Kochel
Erie, PA 16563

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2020-21 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Communication, B.A. at Erie Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
World Language (Level One)4General Education3
General Education3General Education3
ENGL 15*3Quantification Selection*3
General Education3Other Cultures selection3
First Year Seminar1World Language (Level Two)4
100-Level CAS/COMM Additional Course*3COMM 1, 2, 3, or 4*1
 17 17
Second Year
COMM 1601ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D*‡3
General Education3General Education3
General Education3BA Knowledge Domain3
World Language (Level Three)4General Health and Wellness1.5
CAS 100A or 100B3Quantification Selection3
COMM 1, 2, 3, or 4*1CAS 303*3
 15 16.5
Third Year
COMM 3153CAS 204*3
COMM 242 or 270*3CAS/COMM Supporting Course*3
CAS 212 or 252*3CAS/COMM Supporting Course*3
COMM 410 or CAS 271N*3General Education*3
BA Knowledge Domain*3400-Level Supporting Course*3
General Health and Wellness1.5 
 16.5 15
Fourth Year
COMM 251*3BA Knowledge Domain3
400-Level Supporting Course*3COMM 494 or 495*3
General Education3400-level Suporting Course*3
 12 12
Total Credits 121

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Additional Notes

*For the Media Communications Selection, students may select from CAS 101, CAS 175, COMM 100N, COMM 110, COMM 118, COMM 168 or COMM 180.

Career Paths

The B.A. in Communication prepares you for careers in corporate communication, print and broadcast journalism, social media management, advertising, public relations, and media production. You’ll practice your craft by writing, editing, or serving as a photographer for The Behrend Beacon newspaper, or writing, producing, or hosting a show on BVZ Radio or PSB-TV. Penn State Behrend has a comprehensive support system to help you identify and achieve your goals for college and beyond. Meet with your academic adviser often and take advantage of the services offered by the Academic and Career Planning Center beginning in your first semester.


Because it is a diverse and practical field of study, Penn State Behrend Communication alumni pursue a wide variety of careers. Our graduates include public relations directors, account executives, marketing managers, teachers, broadcasters, writers, journalists, pastors, coaches, professional videographers and photographers, and sports information directors.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A B.A. in Communication can be the starting point for graduate-level education in more specialized fields, including journalism, fine-art photography or photojournalism, integrated marketing communication, strategic communications, digital media, communication or media studies, and education at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level.


Professional Resources



170 Irvin Kochel Center
4951 College Drive
Erie, PA 16563