"I can say without question that my decision to come to OU-COMS was the best of my professional life. The main reason for this conclusion is the people who make up the department. From faculty to fellow students to staff, the people in COMS genuinely cared for me personally and professionally. I made some of my best friends at OU and these people will be my colleagues for years to come."

~David Novak (Ph.D. 2006)
Assistant Professor, Erasmus University  Rotterdam

About our Program

The School of Communication Studies (COMS) is a part of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. From Ohio University’s beginning, courses have been offered in logic, persuasion, and rhetoric. These courses, present in the early 1800s, were the beginning of what would later become the School of Interpersonal Communication and currently COMS. Public speaking became part of the curriculum at Ohio University in 1907. Over the years, public speaking was housed in what was then known as the School of Oratory. Courses in oratory were designed to improve public speaking skills necessary to express views and persuade others. During these formative years a number of associations and awards were centered around the School of Oratory and the art of public address, such as The Triangular Debate League, the Oratorical Association, and The Brown Prize in Oratory.


In 1960, the School awarded its first doctoral degree in communication.  In 1962, Ohio University offered the first undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication. Since the establishment of the organizational communication degree most every communication department across the nation offers courses in organizational communication. In 1967 the department was officially named Interpersonal Communication (InCo). When the department was named InCo, the International Communication Association division of interpersonal communication was not yet in existence. Instead, the name was chosen because interpersonal communication indicated the study of communication between two people, in small groups, and in public settings. InCo applied more broadly to departmental studies than names such as rhetoric, speech, or human communication. Still heavily rooted in rhetoric and public speaking, Ohio University’s School of Interpersonal Communication was the first place the name appeared as an academic discipline.


The School of Interpersonal Communication became part of the newly formed College of Communication in 1968, along with Schools of Journalism, Hearing and Speech Science, and Radio-Television. Ohio University was home to one of the first degree granting Colleges of Communication in the nation.


In 2003 the School of Interpersonal Communication changed its name to the School of Communication Studies (COMS). Reflecting the wide variety of specialties represented in the department, COMS emphasizes three primary research areas: relating and organizing, rhetoric and public culture, and health communication. These areas combine existing research areas while adjusting to the contemporary trends in the communication discipline.


The School of Communication Studies is home to a number of well known faculty members, and an internationally prominent PhD program. While recent departmental changes reflect the changing communication discipline, we are committed to being an international leader in the discipline.