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The Department of Communication Studies, which is one of the top-ranked departments of its kind in the nation, is a center for the exploration of rhetorical, social, and aesthetic dimensions of symbolic exchange. It has three closely related missions: to offer effective education for a large number of undergraduates, to provide graduate training, and to serve as a national and international leader in research and production in a center of communication specialties.

History of the Department

The Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa traces its roots back to the Department of Speech, which became an autonomous department in 1920. Originally focused on elocution and debate, the department quickly added faculty and courses in drama and theatre, as well as audiology and speech disorders, becoming the Department of Speech and Dramatic Art in 1929. 

Throughout its history, the Department has served as an interdisciplinary hub for innovative teaching and scholarship, spawning the Department of Theatre Arts, the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, and the Department of Cinematic Arts over the years. Today, the Department continues this tradition of innovation in its curriculum, its research, and its collaborations across the campus and the world.

Communication builds worlds.



Department of Speech formed

1921  First MA degree awarded in Speech to Vera Alice Paul, MA thesis, “The Characterization of the Comedy Element in Fifty Widely Used High School Plays”

Name changed to Department of Speech and Dramatic Art

1930 first PhD degree awarded to William Norwood Brigance, PhD dissertation “Historical and Critical Study of the Life and Speeches of Jeremiah Sullivan Black”.
1950 Samuel L. Becker hired as instructor; he would go on to chair the department from 1968-1981 before retiring in 1994.
1980 Name changed to Department of Communication & Theatre Arts.
1983 Department moves to its current location.
1986 Department of Theatre Arts becomes and autonomous department; Communication & Theatre Arts renamed the Department of Communication Studies.
1993 Communication Studies building named for Samuel L. Becker

Department of Communication Studies
105 Becker Communication Studies Building
Business hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
Phone: 319-335-0575
Fax: 319-335-2930

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