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Bemidji State offers communication studies degree

Beginning this semester, Bemidji State University will offer a 36-credit communication studies undergraduate degree.

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BEMIDJI — Beginning this spring semester, Bemidji State University will offer a 36-credit communication studies undergraduate degree.

Housed within BSU’s Department of Sociology and Communication Studies, the degree will focus on the study of human communication as it applies to interpersonal, organizational and community settings in an ever-changing world.

“As a discipline, communication studies revolves around human connection and the shared meaning of communication. How do we create messages for each other and how do we understand those messages,” Professor Donna Pawlowski said in a release.

The program first launched as a 21-credit minor in spring 2018 after Pawlowski, who started at BSU in 2013, and adjunct instructor Cindy Nelson began expanding the program.

“Building the program had been a dream of mine since I started at BSU and I am so thrilled to see the full degree up and running,” Pawlowski added.


To date, 13 minors have been awarded to graduates with an additional seven upcoming this spring.

After experiencing exponential growth, Dr. John Perlich joined the program’s faculty in fall 2019. Perlich highlighted the importance of communication skills that employers are seeking when hiring new employees, something the minor and major can address.

“When you look at surveys about what employers want from applicants, the importance of strong communication skills and ability is off the charts,” Perlich said in a release. “We have a market here that no other local college has, and there is a need for people who know how to communicate in the local area.”

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that communication has been the most highly demanded employee skillset for decades and indicated that communication skills are generally associated with higher earnings.

With classes ranging from public speaking to conflict management, Perlich and Pawlowski noted the applicability of the program to numerous other fields and ease of double-majoring.

“We get a lot of criminal justice students who are learning how to do their job the best that they can so they can serve our communities,” Perlich said. “We also get a lot of nursing students, business, psychology and sociology. We have so much support from the campus.”

The program is also home to the Communication Scholars Society, an initiative started in April 2021 to build relationships between students and employers across the state.

The Society meets monthly to explore professional and social communication methods and as well as give students a space to overcome communication anxiety, increase student engagement and discuss career opportunities.


“I always tell my students that it’s not enough to just have a degree and a GPA,” Perlich said. “That’s why I stress to my students about finding opportunities. It’s what you do here in addition to your degree that improves your opportunities to get the job you want.”

More information can be found on the BSU website .

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