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​Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Enjoy the flexibility to craft a major that is uniquely your own, focusing on your individual interests.

You’ll combine courses from VPA and other Syracuse colleges to achieve a comprehensive understanding of communication in contemporary society – from interpersonal relationships to organizational networks, public and political interaction, and cultural exchanges.

The core skills you develop will serve you well no matter what career path you decide to take. The program’s focus on active listening and critical thinking leads to enhanced skills in information gathering and organization, group leadership, and advocacy for individuals and groups.

I feel fortunate to be in the spaces I am, to work on the projects I’ve worked on. I’ve really made a difference, and I know that I can do anything that helps other people.

—Markova Casseus '16, Communication and Rhetorical Studies

About VPA

Home to the visual and performing arts at Syracuse, VPA supports the creative process and professional development. The College is divided into seven areas: the School of Art; the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies; the School of Design; the Department of Drama; the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music; the Department of Film and Media Arts; and the Department of Creative Arts Therapy.


Sample courses for communication and rhetorical studies majors include:

  • Concepts and Perspectives in Communication Studies
  • Concepts and Perspectives in Rhetorical Studies
  • Public Advocacy
  • Foundations of Inquiry in Human Communication
  • Critical Research and Writing

View official major requirements.

Practical Experience

CRS majors usually take a combination of VPA and Arts & Sciences courses, but those who choose to pursue a second major, an additional minor, or spend a semester abroad, have greater flexibility to enroll in courses offered outside the College of Arts and Sciences umbrella. Up to 57 credits of the 120-credit degree program may be taken in other areas of study.

The CRS space in Sims Hall has been renovated for CRS majors to use classrooms designed for video capture and speech replay. A space is also available for meetings, events, and other uses.

Study Abroad

Broaden your perspective and enhance your resume with an international experience through Syracuse Abroad , with more than 100 programs in 60 countries. You can enjoy a semester, a summer, or a year abroad without interrupting your degree program.

Past Communication and Rhetorical Studies majors have gone abroad to Beijing, Florence, London, and Madrid, and to World Partner programs CEA Prague, Tel Aviv University, University College Dublin, and the University of New South Wales.

Summer programs of interest include Intercultural Communication (London), and Media, Film, and Pop Culture (Madrid).

An intensive two-week course called "Communication and Rhetorical Studies in D.C." explores political image making in everything from campaign advertising to lobbying to public diplomacy and policy-making. The first week is spent in Syracuse, and then students travel to Washington, D.C. to meet experts and compare current practices with prevailing scholarship.

Life After Syracuse University

As a VPA graduate with a major in communication and rhetorical studies, you can explore such careers as:

  • Advertising, marketing, and public relations manager
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • News analyst or correspondent
  • Human resources manager
  • Public policymaker
  • Communications manager

You can also pursue graduate training in such areas as communications law, communications, public relations, graphic design, digital journalism, and management. Recent graduates of the program have attended some of the top graduate schools in the U.S.