National Communication Association

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National Communication Association office in Washington, D.C.

The National Communication Association (NCA) is a not-for-profit membership-based scholarly society founded in 1914. NCA’s mission is to advance Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry.

NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

NCA’s office is located in Washington, DC.


NCA’s history reflects shifts in the priorities and interests of Communication scholars, researchers, and professionals, and its name changes over time illustrate the association’s nearly 100-year evolution.

National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking (1914-1922)
The association was founded in 1914, when 17 speech teachers formed the National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking (NAATPS). Their focus on public speaking and persuasion remains fundamental to the discipline of Communication to this day. James M. O’Neill (University of Wisconsin) served as the association’s first president. The first convention, hosted in Chicago in 1915, attracted 60 members and featured 16 presenters. Annual dues were $2.00; the convention cost just $1.00. NAATPS launched its first journal, The Quarterly Journal of Public Speaking, within a year of its founding. In 1917, the publication’s name changed to Quarterly Journal of Speech Education, and “Education” was dropped in 1928. It has retained that name ever since.

National Association of Teachers of Speech (1923-1945)
With its membership increasing to 910 and its focus broadening to reflect the diversity of its membership, NAATPS changed its name to the National Association of Teachers of Speech (NATS) in 1923. By 1934, NATS membership topped 2,000. That year, the association began publishing Speech Monographs (now titled Communication Monographs). During this period, Communication scholarship shifted toward a focus on Rhetoric. Both Rhetorical Theory and Criticism came under the purview of speech teachers and researchers, as the discipline of English took a new-found interest in literary criticism. The discipline also was influenced by the social and intellectual climate of the time. From the late 1920s to the 1940s, for example, the field of Speech sought to integrate contemporary thought into its teaching and research. Some of the most prominent influences came from the psychology theories of Sigmund Freud and social adjustment theories of John Dewey. Speech scholars focused on the study of personality and its relation to speech, envisioning the classroom as a laboratory for personality improvement.

Speech Association of America (1946-1996)
In 1946, the association again changed its name to the Speech Association of America (SAA) and officially incorporated under this name five years later. In January 1952, SAA launched its third quarterly publication, Speech Teacher (now Communication Education), which was geared toward the classroom teacher. And in 1970, the organization chose a new name: the Speech Communication Association (SCA). The SCA grew rapidly over the next two decades. A key part of this growth was expansion of member services, including the development of new publications to address changes in the field. These included Journal of Applied Communication (now the Journal of Applied Communication Research) (1973), Critical Studies in Mass Communication (now Critical Studies in Media Communication) (1984), and Text and Performance Quarterly (1989). SCA also expanded its conference and awards programs.

National Communication Association (1997-present)
In 1997, having matured into an organization that addressed “all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication,” the association changed its name to the National Communication Association (NCA). In 2001, the association launched the Review of Communication and then in 2008, launched the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. In 2012, NCA’s annual Free Speech Yearbook became a journal, First Amendment Studies. During these years, NCA significantly expanded its member services (see section below).

Today, NCA maintains its proud tradition as a leader in the Communication discipline, boasting a membership of more than 7,000 Communication departments, educators, practitioners, and students from every state. The association looks forward to its centennial celebration in 2014.

Nancy Kidd, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the National Communication Association.[5]

Disciplinary activities[edit]

Direct Member Services
NCA works to support its members through a variety of teaching, research, scholarship, and professional development resources and opportunities.

Teaching & Learning and Research & Scholarship NCA’s website features a variety of resources for members including:

  • The Virtual Faculty Lounge, which includes sample syllabi and assignments, interviews with master teachers, essays on pedagogy, and more. The web-based space also includes NCA’s Wikipedia Initiative, which encourages teachers to incorporate projects with communication-related Wikipedia pages into their course plans. Through a partnership with NBC Learn, the association provides members with access to more than 12,000 stories from the NBC News Archives.

  • Funding 101, which includes a list of grants received by Communication scholars, a video on successful grant-seeking that features scholars from the discipline and program officers from diverse funding sources, a proposal review service for first-time grant-seekers, and more.

  • The Research and Publication Guide, which makes available to members relevant information about conducting and publishing research, including: research preparation (planning a research project, working with IRB boards, finding funding); publishing results (deciding where to submit your manuscript for publication, reading and understanding reviewer comments, responding to editorial decisions); and the changing landscape of scholarly publishing (journal Impact Factors, open access and copyright issues, book publishing).

Professional Development NCA also supports its members through various professional development opportunities and resources, including:

  • NCA Career Center : The NCA online Career Center enables those in the Communication discipline to search for position by browsing job openings based on location, job title, and area specialty. The Career Center also includes job search tips, and information about the various careers one can pursue with a degree in Communication.

  • Funding Opportunities: NCA sponsors competitive funding opportunities for members ranging from projects that advance the discipline of communication to funds that support the study of emerging democracies.

  • Chairs’ Corner: Designed specifically for department chairs, this area of the NCA website includes institutional data, information on accreditation, department management resources, and more.

  • Data About the Discipline, which includes a series of user-friendly data reports that are useful to member Communication faculty, students, and administrators. This includes data on Communication programs, jobs in the discipline, and program review and evaluation, and more.


  • The NCA Annual Convention: NCA hosts an Annual Convention every November, where approximately 5,000 Communication scholars, professors, students, and professionals gather to connect and share their research. The convention is held over four days and includes more than 1,000 panel discussions, paper presentations, lectures, and other programs. The NCA Annual Convention is the largest gathering of individuals in the Communication discipline.

  • Other Sponsored Conferences: In addition, NCA host and/or sponsors programs and other meetings that examine a variety of communication topics for specific member groups. These include an annual Institute for Faculty Development (also known as the “Hope Conference”), a Chairs’ Summer Institute, a Doctoral Honors Seminar, a newly created Undergraduate Honors Conference, a Summer Conference on Argumentation (also known as the Alta Conference), and the Committee on International Discussion and Debate.

Through Routledge/Taylor & Francis, NCA publishes 11 academic journals:

NCA’s quarterly magazine, Spectra, features articles that are relevant to communication scholars, teachers, and practitioners. In addition to guest articles exploring career development, external representation of the discipline, funding, higher education/disciplinary trends, pedagogy, public policy, publishing, and other topics of interest, Spectra also includes announcements from the Association and job advertisements.

External Relations Public Programs
NCA organizes and participates in a number of programs that engage public audiences in current communication issues. Recently, NCA partnered with the Newseum Institute, co-sponsoring two public programs—one exploring the 2012 presidential debates, and the second on the anniversary of the March on Washington. Both were held at the Newseum in Washington, DC. NCA also co-sponsors Free Speech Week, and sponsors a booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which is held in Washington, DC.

Public Advocacy
NCA engages in two types of work related to public policy and advocacy. First, the association advocates for federal funding for social science and humanities research. Second, NCA advocates for issues related to the professional interests of members, such as letters to members of the Senate, encouraging support for the federal research and development budget of the National Science Foundation The association has endorsed several public policy statements on topics relevant to the Communication discipline and higher education more broadly.

Media Outreach
NCA regularly disseminates media advisories and press releases that provide access to NCA member experts and highlight new communication research covered in NCA’s journals.


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