A degree in communication and rhetorical studies (CRS) provides a solid foundation to build your career and the skills to adapt professionally in evolving industries.

Admission Requirements

Balance and flexibility make CRS a great major for the 21st century. We offer a balance between “big picture” conceptual courses and “hands-on” practical skills courses. So, in CRS you can study the ways that ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle conceived of persuasion and citizenship and study the most effective means to deliver a public speech.

Few people will remain in the same career field throughout their professional lives, and most people will find that their own personal interests and ambitions will take them through a wide variety of professional and civic activities. But wherever you go and whatever profession you undertake, the core skills involved in the CRS program will help: the ability to listen, think critically, organize information, lead groups, and advocate for yourself and others.


Areas of Emphasis

The department offers a bachelor of science (B.S.) in communication and rhetorical studies, which requires 120 credits. The program is design to have flexible framework, providing a broad educational foundation and the flexibility to pursue your own interests and needs.

View official major requirements.

In your first year, a series of program workshops complements your coursework with guest speakers and forums on a variety of topics relevant to the first-year experience. These topics include adapting to college life, time management, internships, study abroad, dual majors and minors, career development, and community service, as well as an interactive alumni panel, where you meet returning alumni representing a variety of career paths.

Each area of interest listed below demonstrates how your CRS degree can be tailored to prepare you for a particular career or profession.

Education
Business and Industry
Political Communication
Media and Entertainment
Public Affairs and Advocacy
Law/PreLaw

A teachers gives a lecture in a room full of young students.

Education

Education in virtually any context and setting—schools, universities, corporations—calls for clear and compelling communication skills. Whether you plan to work in a classroom, in university administration, fund-raising and development, or corporate training, you’ll gain vital skills through such courses as Rhetorical Criticism, Empirical Methods of Communication Research, and Applied Communication Research. Dual majors and related minors that you could pursue include education and English and textual studies. Possible career fields include teaching/scholarship, university administration, corporate education, and development (fund-raising).

Portrait of a professional businessman standing in an office with colleagues in the background.

 Business and Industry

Communication careers in private business and industry demand an intimate understanding of organizational and group dynamics as well as sophisticated presentation and leadership skills. With CRS, your coursework could include Small Group Communication, Leadership, Managing Diversity, Nonverbal Communication, Communications in Organizations, and Presentational Speaking, among others. Dual majors and related minors that you could pursue include management, marketing, and information management. Possible career fields include advertising, diversity management, corporate-wide communications, event planning/coordination, and meeting management.

A young teenager with a vote sign.

Political Communication

The art of political communication calls for advanced persuasion and argumentation skills and the ability to communicate complex information in a way that is both accessible and respectful. If you’re interested in pursuing public office or working as a political staff member, speech writer, analyst, activist, or consultant, you might choose courses in Political Communication, Managing Diversity, Rhetoric and the Public Sphere, Speechwriting, American Public Address, Women’s Political Discourse, and Persuasion. Dual majors and related minors that you could pursue include political science, policy studies, sociology, or public communications. Possible career fields include legislation, political campaign management, speechwriting, political activism, political staff management, issues advocacy, and political analyzing or consulting.

A woman operates a camera at a hot-air balloon festival.

Media and Entertainment

Careers in creative fields require a mastery of both interpersonal and group communication. Your CRS courses might include Performance Studies, Small Group and Organizational Communication, and Rhetoric of Film. Dual majors and related minors that you could pursue include music industry, English and textual studies, and various offerings through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Possible career fields include creative production or promotion of media entertainment, management of creative talent, music/concert promotion, talent agency specialization, and talk radio/television.

A woman with a loudspeaker advocating for animal rights.

Public Affairs and Advocacy

Excellent communication skills are fundamental in positions involving representation. You’ll likely be crafting official messages for businesses and organizations or working for and/or with communities, families, or individuals. Just a few related CRS courses include Communication and Community, Managing Diversity, Rhetoric and the Public Sphere, and Leadership/Stewardship Communication, which can help you in pursuing this direction. Each focuses on preparing you to craft persuasive arguments and statements and will also facilitate your ability to work effectively on behalf of people and causes. Possible career fields include public or government relations, fund-raising, issues advocacy, consumer affairs, social/human services, and grant-making/writing.

House of representatives at work.

Law/CRS as Pre-Law

The capacity to grasp complex information, speak persuasively, and harness the power of speech is essential to those hoping to enter the field of law or work as an issues advocate. As a student interested in these fields, your academic work in CRS could include courses in Public Advocacy, Presentational Speaking, Nonverbal Communication, Argumentation, Advanced Argumentation, Rhetoric and the Public Sphere, Persuasion, and a seminar in legal communication. Dual majors and related minors that you could pursue include political science, policy studies, and English and textual studies. Possible career fields include a legal career (pre-law focus), jury selection consulting, and issues advocacy.

The program in communication and rhetorical studies can also be considered as preparatory to law schools. Syracuse University’s College of Law also allows seniors who are admitted to its school to consider the credits of the first year in the Law School as general elective of a student’s undergraduate studies (up to 30 credits). For more information about this possibility, please contact our pre-law advisor, Professor Lynn Greenky, at  or 315.443.1268.


Beyond the Classroom

In addition to learning about new cultures and perspectives, studying abroad allows you to develop your confidence and communication abilities, make your resume stand out, gain interpersonal skills, become more independent and self-sufficient, and learn to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Communication and rhetorical studies students also can pursue exciting learning opportunities within the United States.

Study Abroad

Communication and rhetorical studies is taught in London, England, and Madrid, Spain, through Syracuse University Abroad. This experience helps you develop appreciation for language in an intercultural setting.

You can study abroad for a semester, a summer, or a year through SU Abroad without interrupting your degree program. Studying abroad, especially in non-English-speaking countries, can enhance your foreign language skills. Approximately 40 percent of all SU students spend time abroad.

SU Abroad offers many additional study abroad locations through the World Partners Program. Some of these include Australia, Costa Rica, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, and Russia. World Partner programs in Africa include options in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania.

Study Opportunities Within the U.S.

Communication and rhetorical studies students also can pursue exciting learning opportunities within the United States.

Political Communication: Inside the D.C. Beltway

For students interested in politics, CRS offers a unique Maymester course in which students deepen course materials and discussion through travel to Washington, D.C., to experience political communication in action. In recent years, students have met with presidential and congressional speechwriters and communication directors; White House communications staff; community relations and public affairs officers at the Department of Defense, State Department, and Supreme Court; communication directors for the Republican and Democratic National Committees; lobbyists; and communications officers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Political Communication: Inside the D.C. Beltway is sponsored through the generous gifts of Paul Leibowitz ’84 and Richard McAuliffe ’90.

Syracuse University Los Angeles (SULA) Semester

Students interested in entertainment careers have the opportunity through the SULA program to spend a semester in Los Angeles taking course work with industry professionals and gaining hands-on experience through internship placements.