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The Cathedral of Learning in a drone photograph

About the Department of Communication

Welcome to the Department of Communication. The study of communication has been at the heart of human interaction for centuries. In our current era, it remains a dynamic and vital field, encompassing essential questions about societal communication, civic engagement, and the art of persuasion. Our communication majors embark on a journey that combines the wisdom of classical liberal arts with a keen awareness of the latest media technologies, creating a unique and holistic perspective.

Research Excellence

Our department is grounded in research excellence. Our faculty consistently produce award-winning work in areas such as rhetoric, media studies, argumentation, and public speaking, published in prestigious academic presses and journals. Collaborative partnerships and affiliations with programs like Cultural Studies, Film and Media Studies, Philosophy of Science, Security Studies, Global Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's studies foster interdisciplinary exploration, making our department an intellectually dynamic community.

Our History

Our roots in Pittsburgh's academic landscape trace back to 1794, where students first engaged in orations and debates as part of their coursework at the Pittsburgh Academy. This tradition of teaching classical rhetoric continued into the 20th century, as the school evolved into a modern university at the turn of the 20th century. Pittsburgh professors played a pivotal role in establishing freestanding speech departments across the United States.

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Today, the Department of Communication delves deeply into the analysis of artifacts such as speeches, films, art, public arguments, media technologies, and interpersonal encounters. Our undergraduate major draws from the liberal arts tradition to empower students with skills and knowledge applicable in personal, professional, and cultural contexts. Our renowned graduate program offers individually tailored study plans leading to a PhD degree, with our alumni making significant contributions to academia in respected colleges and universities and other institutions nationwide.

Programs and Opportunities

Within our department, you'll find the William Pitt Debating Union, a co-curricular program that enables students and faculty to engage in public debates, participate in debate tournaments, and conduct debate outreach initiatives. We also offer additional avenues for the practical application of communication skills through our Oral Comm Lab and Speaking in the Disciplines program, accessible to students and faculty across the university.


Our Department affirms the pivotal role of mentoring in professional and other aspects of life, for all of our faculty, staff, and students. We value formal and informal mentoring and support its self-reflective practice, in mentoring dyads, groups, and networks. We strive to practice and facilitate good mentoring relationships to ensure that all department members and their communities grow and succeed.


At the Department of Communication, we are committed to the enduring study of communication's timeless principles, coupled with a dynamic exploration of its modern frontiers. Join us on this journey as we continue to shape the future of communication in a rapidly changing world.