Communication … no ‘S’

As a communication major, there is one small thing that drives me insane. No, it is not the daunting task of surviving rhetoric or how everyone claims this is an “easy” major. No, no, what really drives me bonkers is when people say they are communications majors.

For the record, if you are studying communication here at Christopher Newport, you are a communication major! Not a communications major. The addition of a single little S is very important, and this is how I discovered why:

“(Communication) with an ‘s’ refers to the technical transfer of information (e.g., radio, fiber optics). This is why cable companies have an s on the end. Without an ‘s’ refers to the study of message exchange, interpretation and analysis. This is why the title of your degree and our department do not have an ‘s.'”-Professor Todd Lee Goen. 

So there you have it folks, straight from the communication god himself, Professor Goen.

At CNU, we are not studying the technical transfer of information. The Communication Department website has the following quotes on its welcome page:

“Here, in the Department of Communication, we offer a broad, liberal arts education which encompasses all aspects of communication. When you select communication as your major, you will acquire an understanding of the processes we use to relay our messages to others.”


“As a major in our program, you might decide to examine — or even challenge — politics, social policy, ethics and tradition. Since communication is dynamic, always changing, we invite you to be an important part of this evolution. Our program will provide you with the opportunity to grow and develop as a skilled communicator. In today’s challenging world, we offer that valuable springboard for success.”

We study the processes, the relationships of communicating. Through interpersonal, media, oral or rhetorical practices, we learn communication.

If you’re a communication major, you might be having a mini meltdown at this point (like I did when I first found out about the details of my major). Don’t fret! It wasn’t until I had Goen for Interpersonal Communication in the fall of my sophomore year that I learned this. You have now been enlightened! You can speak of your major correctly without having people chuckle. Make sure your resumes and LinkedIns reflect this, too.

Go out and share your new-found knowledge with the world!

After learning of this key difference, I dove into a world of mind-blowing, life changing, shocking subjects and theories. I’ve even considered dropping my government major – that’s how great I’ve found communication to be. I love this field of study so much I give it the respect to correctly label myself as a communication (no ‘s’) major.

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