The Department of Communication at UC San Diego began in the early 1970’s as an interdisciplinary undergraduate program within what is now Marshall College. In 1982 it became the first communication department in the University of California system and soon became among the most highly ranked communication departments in the nation and worldwide. The Undergraduate Major in Communication is currently among the most popular at UCSD and the department’s Ph.D. program has gained a special reputation for the innovative scholars it produces. Our faculty boasts two recipients of the prestigious MacArthur “genius awards” as well as numerous awards from scholarly societies and civic organizations.
Communication at UCSD provides broad interdisciplinary training, linking the study of communication to a broad range of social concerns confronting the modern world, both domestically in the United States and globally. These issues are approached with a keen sense of the need to address the potential role of communication in ameliorating pressing problems of cultural diversity and the challenges such diversity poses to solving pressing problems of social and economic inequality. Faculty research and course offerings reflect these commitments by providing students a firm historical understanding of contemporary communications media, ranging from language formation and literacy, to the role of mass media institutions in shaping our political and civic life, to the vast changes wrought in human life by the advent of the digital media that increasingly pervade our everyday lives.
The blend of “critical” and “empirical” traditions in communication scholarship at UCSD provides students with both a firm grounding in contemporary theory spanning the social sciences and humanities, as well as opportunities to apply those theories in the vast array of social, political, commercial, and artistic activities that are central to modern life. Special effort is taken to afford students ample opportunities to gain experience in applying knowledge gained in the classroom to potential areas of employment where communication plays a central role. In addition our Undergraduate Communication Society, which played a central role in the formation of the department many decades ago, has taken a leading role in networking Communication students with each other and alumni and encouraging them to gain field experience and connections to facilitate their later careers.