Communication Studies


About Undergraduate Degree FAQ

On this page, we will answer five of the most important questions asked by undergraduate students in our department. We also have some additional documents that will be useful to you as you begin your program in our department. These include advising sheets listing the major requirements for the B.A. program, a department application to the major, and the University Change of Major form. These forms can be requested from the department and the last two documents are especially important as they must be completed before we can process your change of major.

1. How Do I Change My Major to Communication Studies?

Some students enter CSUN, either as first-time freshmen or transfer students, with Communication Studies as their declared major. The majority of our students, however, change their major to Communication Studies after entering CSUN, and therefore, have to complete the following administrative process.

There are five steps to changing your major to Communication Studies:

  • Complete the Department Application to the Major (included in this packet). The Department Application helps us serve you by providing the department with your contact information as well as a brief summary of your academic background and objectives. The Department Application is also the document we use to initiate your student file in the department.
  • Complete the University Change of Major Form (included in this packet). The University Change of Major Form is needed for the Office of Admissions and Records to recognize your status as a Communication Studies major. On this form, you will need to list your Option selection precisely, both by name and SIMS Code. The proper name for the B.A. program is “Departmental Major” and the SIMS Code is 129365.
  • Get a University DARS Report. A DARS Report is an advising document that lists both the requirements you will need to fulfill to graduate and the courses you have completed to meet these requirements. A DARS Report may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Records or from our department office. You must present a photo ID to obtain a DARS Report and you must allow for 24 hours of processing time for the DARS report.
  • Schedule an appointment with the department Chair or Undergraduate advising Coordinator. The Department of Communication Studies accepts new majors during the third week of Spring or Fall semesters. Contact the department office for the precise deadlines. During this period, students wishing to change their major to Communication Studies need to meet with either the Department Chair or the department’s Undergraduate Advising Coordinator. Again, the department office will assist students in scheduling these appointments.Submit completed paperwork to the department office for processing.
  • The final step in declaring Communication Studies as your major is submitting the Department Application, your DARS Report, and your signed University Change of Major form to the department office. Once you submit these forms, the department will create a student file for you and forward your change of major form to the Office of Admissions and Records.

2. How Do I Choose a Class Schedule?

Developing a semester class schedule can be a challenge in our department. Right now there is extensive demand for Communication Studies courses and this often results in classes filling up quickly. Still, with a little perseverance and careful planning, almost all of our majors make good progress toward their degree each semester. Here are some general guidelines that will help you build a better semester class schedule.

Take required courses as soon as they are available to you. The B.A. program in Communication Studies consists of three different sets of requirements: core requirements, divisional requirements, and electives. These different requirements reflect different ranges of choices available to students. Students must take all core courses; students are given limited choices among a small set of divisional courses; and students are given greater choices among a relatively large set of elective classes. As you are building your class schedule, you’ll want to take required courses as soon as you can get them. If you begin your major by completing all your electives courses, you will find it much more difficult to build a class schedule in later semesters, as you will have far fewer courses to choose from.Another good reason to take required courses as soon as they are available to you concerns the way in which the department schedules classes. In an effort to accommodate as many different student schedules as possible, the department rotates all course offerings. One semester a course may be on a MWF schedule; the next time it is offered, the course will be on a T TH schedule; and the time after that, the course will be scheduled in the evening. Thus, if you can only take courses in the evening or on MWF, for example, it may be several semesters before a course is available to you again.

Consider off-hour sections. Like any other service offering, demand for courses varies depending on when the courses are scheduled. The peak demand hours for courses in our major are: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on MWF; 9:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on T TH; and 7:00 p.m. to 9:45 in the evening. If you can take classes at other times—earlier in the morning or in mid-to-late afternoon—you will find these classes easier to get, either through TTR or through “crashing” the course. Other ways to avoid peak-hour demands include taking classes on Saturdays, on-line, or during winter and summer sessions.

Remember that all upper-division Communication Studies courses count as electives. As you look over the advisement sheet, you will note that many Communication Studies courses are listed but that some others are not. Some students assume that only courses listed on the option sheet will count toward their major, but this assumption is incorrect. Any upper-division Communication Studies course will count in the electives section. This includes not only traditional lecture-discussion courses, but also internships, service learning courses, and directed activities. Considering these courses will give you more choices in building your class schedule.

Investigate ways of improving your TTR date. Students in many university service programs receive priority registration in recognition of their contributions to the campus community. These include: University Ambassadors, members of the U.S.U. Board, Health Center student volunteers, registration workers, and members of the CSUN forensics team, among others. Such programs not only serve the campus and provide valuable leadership opportunities, they may also improve your ability to get classes through TTR.

Apply for graduation on time. Another way to improve your TTR date, at least in your last semester, is to make sure that you file your Undergraduate Graduation Application on time. The deadline for filing this form is roughly thirteen months prior to your anticipated graduation date. The specific deadline is listed each semester in the schedule of classes. If you file your Undergraduate Graduation Application before the deadline, you are assured that TTR will recognize your status as a graduating senior and will give you priority over students of other class standings.

3. What is expected of me as a student?

The Department of Communication Studies prides itself in being a community, reflecting both a diversity of backgrounds and interests and a common set of goals and values. Accordingly, we expect our students, faculty and staff to be good department citizens. In your role as a student, this involves four specific responsibilities:

Be an active learner. Students are expected to be active learners. This entails coming to class on time and prepared, asking for clarification when needed, answering questions asked by the instructor and other students, handing in all assignments, and doing your best work at all times. If you do all of these, you will not only advance your own education, you will also improve the learning environment for all the students and faculty in our department.

Uphold high ethical standards. Students are expected to uphold high ethical standards, especially as they relate to issues of academic honesty. Our department is committed to academic honesty as a value and is aggressive in pursuing disciplinary action against violators of the university policy. This policy is described in detail in both the University Catalog and the schedule of classes. You should be familiar with this policy and follow it closely. If you have any questions about what may or may not constitute plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty, please ask any faculty member for clarification. Your commitment to the integrity of your coursework will further contribute to the positive learning environment we seek to maintain in our department.

Be a supportive and respectful colleague. Students are expected to be supportive and respectful colleagues. This entails helping others, being polite and patient, honoring the rights of others to voice their viewpoints, respecting their opinions, and exercising good manners. There are many pressures on students, faculty and staff. It is important we remember our commitment to each other as fellow members of the department.

Become involved in department activities. The department offers a wide variety of co-curricular activities, including the forensics team, the reader’s theatre program, the Aronstam department library, and our service learning programs and courses. Students are expected to contribute to the department by participating in these programs or by attending their events. If your involvement in the department is limited to your coursework in your classes, you will be shortchanging both yourself and the department.

4. When Do I Need to Meet with an Advisor?

Students are free to select any full-time faculty member of the department as an advisor and may change advisors at any time. As noted above, the department office can provide you with a list of faculty and their office hours. On this list, full-time faculty are designated with a double asterisk (**). Students with special needs or problems may be referred to the department’s Undergraduate Advising Coordinator or to the College of Arts, Media, and Communication Student Resource Center.

If you follow your B.A. program requirements precisely, you may not need much advising. However, we recommend that you consult with an advisor once a semester to ensure that you are making good progress toward your degree. If you make errors in following your B.A. program requirements, these errors can generally not be remedied after the fact. Therefore, it is to your advantage to pursue regular advising.

Also note that, although the Department of Communication Studies does not require that students receive advising before registering for courses, other programs or offices of the university might. Student athletes, disqualified students, and students receiving certain scholarships are examples of students who may be required to receive advising.

5. How Do I Graduate?

There are ten requirements you need to fulfill before you can graduate from CSUN. These requirements are described in detail in the University Catalog, but here we will present a brief summary. In order to graduate, you must:

Complete General Education (G.E.). General Education may be completed by taking coursework at CSUN, community colleges, or courses corresponding to CSUN G.E. courses taken at other colleges and universities. If you took a significant portion of your general education coursework at a community college, you should ask your community college if they can certify completion of all or part of CSUN’s G.E. plan. This may reduce the total number of units needed to complete your G.E. requirements.

Complete nine units of upper division General Education from at least two different sections (A-F) of CSUN’s General Education program. Even if you are fully certified in general education from a community college you must complete nine units of upper division G.E. coursework. Upper division G.E. courses are courses that are included in CSUN’s G.E. plan and that are 300- or 400-level courses. These courses must come from at least two different sections of CSUN’s G.E. plan.

Complete Title V, American Institutions. You must complete coursework in U.S. history, U.S. government, and California state and local government. Courses fulfilling these requirements may also fulfill other G.E. requirements.

Pass the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE). You may take this exam at any time after reaching 56 units and having passed the lower division writing requirement. You must take the exam no later than the semester in which 90 units are completed.

Complete the major. You must complete all major requirements as described on your option sheet and your DARS report.

Earn a minimum of 120 total units. All units taken at or accepted by CSUN for university credit count toward your total units. Courses below the university level do not count (at CSUN, these courses have numbers beginning with “0″). Also, courses that are taken more than once count only once, unless additional credit is explicitly permitted for the course. See individual course descriptions in the catalog for details.

Earn at least 40 upper division units. All upper division units taken at or accepted by CSUN count toward this requirement. Typically, the completion of the major and the upper division General Education requirement satisfy this requirement.

Meet CSUN’s residency requirements. A minimum of 30 units must be taken at CSUN in order to earn a degree from CSUN. Of these 30, 24 must be upper division, 12 must count toward the major, and 9 must count toward General Education.

Meet CSUN’s grade point average requirements. Each student must have a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in all units that count towards the bachelor’s degree. In addition, each student must have a 2.0 average in all units taken at CSUN and in all upper division units that count toward the major.

Be an applicant for graduation the semester in which you graduate. Your Undergraduate Graduation Application should be filed with the Office of Admissions and Records roughly thirteen months prior to your anticipated graduation date, but no earlier than the semester in which you will reach senior standing (90 units). The form requires a faculty advisor’s signature and a fee for processing.