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Communication studies introduces new specializations

The Department of Communication Studies has introduced several new curricular changes designed to reflect the innovative expertise of the current faculty and better prepare students for future careers and graduate programs in rapidly evolving communication fields.

Communication Studies specializationsStudents pursuing a communication studies major can now choose from five specializations: digital filmmaking and television; emerging communication technologies; health and wellness communication; interpersonal and strategic communication; and mass media and social media.

“The new specializations reflect the expertise of the faculty, the interests of current and prospective students, and the nation’s growing occupational and professional opportunities,” said Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Communication and Professor of Communication Studies Lorna Johnson-Frizell. “We are excited to introduce a new curriculum that will prepare our students for the social and economic challenges today and in the future.”

The digital filmmaking and television specialization, formerly named radio, television and film, offers students the ability to workshop and write their own scripts, operate industry-standard equipment to produce and edit movies with a team of peers, and screen both student and famous masterworks in a theater setting. Department Chair and Professor of Communication Studies Susan Ryan, Interim Dean of the School of the Arts and Communication and Professor of Communication Studies Lorna Johnson-Frizell, and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Matthew Lawrence will oversee the curriculum for this specialization. 

Students enrolled in the new specialization, emerging communication technologies, will explore and investigate how people communicate and connect through various forms of new media technologies such as social media and mobile communication, human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-mediated communication (CMC), “big data,” and augmented and virtual realities (AR, VR). The program offers interdisciplinary courses from a variety of academic disciplines, including journalism and professional writing, interactive multimedia, marketing, information systems and technology, and computer sciences.

Associate Professor of Communication Studies Yifeng Hu and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Eugene Cho, who both teach classes on the use of changing technologies, will teach classes in the new interdisciplinary specialization. 

“This specialization incorporates classes from other majors as well,” Ryan explained. “That’s the beauty of communication studies; it’s a big umbrella that a lot of different areas of communication can fit in.” 

The health and wellness communication specialization, which was introduced last fall, focuses on areas such as COVID-19, climate change, and emerging media technology. 

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Yachao B. Li and Professor of Communication Studies John C. Pollock both lead this specialization, with a focus on instructing students to create their own US or global health and risk communication campaigns and craft original international communication research papers meeting professional standards.

“Students in this specialization will have the opportunity to write, publish and present research,” Ryan said. “They will acquire the skills and experience necessary to be successful in future graduate studies and careers.”

Students who specialize in interpersonal and strategic communication, formerly named interpersonal and organizational communication, can explore careers in crisis communication, public relations, civic engagement and community leadership, organizational development, youth and family advocacy, human resources and executive-level management, organizational development and consulting, and program and project management. 

The specialization in mass media and social media, formerly named public and mass communications, focuses on the world of media convergence and the digital technologies that shape the way media content is produced, distributed, and accessed.

Professor of Communication Studies Paul D’Angelo, who is the main full-time faculty member taking the lead on this specialization, will teach classes in media effects, political communication, and analysis of the news. Within this specialization, students will be able to explore the history, theory, and dissemination of social media. 

Freshman and sophomore students will be able to declare these new specializations, and these changes will not affect current students who are graduating in May 2023. 

“Students  graduating in 2023, who have fulfilled the requirements, will have the option to either have public and mass communications, interpersonal communication, or radio, television and film, or the updated specializations on their transcripts.” Ryan said.

For questions about new specializations in the Department of Communication Studies, please email Susan Ryan (, department chair, or Kay Potucek (, program assistant.

Kelly Stephens ’23


School of the Arts and Communication
Art and Interactive Multimedia Building
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628