American University School of Communication

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School of Communication
AU SOC2c lo.jpg
Established 1893 as Department of Communication. 1984 becomes School of Communication. Independent of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1993
Type Private
Dean Jeff Rutenbeck
Academic staff
50 full-time[1]
Students 791 (undergraduate)/337 (graduate)
Location Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Campus Urban
Nickname SOC

The School of Communication at American University is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The school offers five undergraduate majors: communication studies, print/broadcast journalism, public communication, visual media, and foreign language and communication media (jointly administered with the College of Arts and Sciences). Interdisciplinary degrees in communication, legal institutions, economics, and government (CLEG, which is housed in the School of Public Affairs), and multimedia design and development (which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences). The school offers several advanced degrees: Master of Arts (M.A.) in Media Entrepreneurship, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film and Electronic Media, M.A. in Film & Video, M.A. in Game Design (offered jointly with the College of Arts and Sciences), M.A. in Producing for Film & Video, M.A. in Journalism & Public Affairs (Print/Broadcast/Interactive), M.A. in Strategic Communication, M.A. in Political Communication (offered jointly with the American University School of Public Affairs), M.A. in International Media (offered jointly with the American University School of International Service), and a 3-year Ph.D program in Communication Studies.



SOC's journalism and public communication programs are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). SOC's faculty teach courses ranging from web design to Race, Ethnic and Community reporting. SOC's Investigative Reporting Workshop offers additional expertise.

Undergraduates get the basics in web, writing and reporting and work up to courses that could include ethics, law, health reporting and advanced reporting.

Graduate programs specialize in investigative, international or broadcast journalism. A Master's degree can be earned through the weekday 11-month program or the weekend Interactive Journalism program that takes 20 months of Saturday-only classes.

Film and media arts[edit]

SOC's film and media arts program is a member of CILECT, the international association of film and television schools. Faculty include Emmy, Oscar and Sundance award-winners, such as Russell Williams (sound engineer). Students' thesis projects have gone on to win Student Academy Awards and CINE Eagle Awards.

USA Today named SOC’s film and media arts program in a top ten list of “America’s best colleges for a major in film”, highlighting the school’s combination of in-depth classes in film, cinematography, editing and production with hands-on experience to help students refine and master professional and technical skills.[2]

The program also includes the opportunity for students to work on real projects for real clients, setting up careers, establishing credible industry connections, and earning a degree all at the same time.[3] On average, graduates of the program earn an average starting salary of $39,000, improving to a average mid-career salary of $67,000.[4]

Public communication[edit]

The American University's Public Communication degree program teaches how to target an audience, how to create a compelling message, how to write persuasively, in a world of new media and new technology. SOC's Public Communication alumni include speechwriters, press secretaries, media strategists, crisis communicators, Hollywood agents, sports marketers, public diplomacy experts, nonprofit leaders, advertising executives, and public relations professionals.

Communication Studies[edit]

The Communication Studies division offers interdisciplinary degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, and are intended for students seeking a broad-based, intellectually challenging course of study.

The undergraduate program in Communication Studies is a liberal arts-oriented major that draws on the strengths and attributes of the School’s journalism, public communication, and film and media arts curricula. The International Media master’s program is a partnership between the School of Communication and the School of International Service, providing a combination of communication theory, media production skills, and academic research techniques to equip students for professional leadership positions in international and global communication. The Ph.D. program in Communication is an accelerated, interdisciplinary curriculum designed around the intersections of media, technology, and democracy.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Jarrett Bellini, American writer and humorist
  • Jim Brady, Editor-In-Chief, Digital First Media
  • Patrick H. Butler, President and CEO, Association of Public Television Stations
  • Alisyn Camerota, Anchor and Correspondent, Fox News Channel
  • Lorraine Cichowski, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Associated Press
  • David Drobis, Chairman Emeritus, Ketchum, Inc.
  • Barry Josephson, President, Josephson Entertainment
  • Susan Zirinsky, Executive Producer, CBS News and 48 Hours
  • Michael Kempner, President and Chief Executive Officer, The MWW Group
  • Rick Leventhal, Senior Correspondent, Fox News Channel
  • Barry Levinson, writer, Director, and Producer, Baltimore Pictures
  • Giuliana Rancic, Host, E! News

Academic Centers[edit]

American University Center for Social Media[edit]

CSM studies ways to use media as tools for public knowledge and action. It focuses on social documentary films and on the public media environment. In addition to hosting film festivals, conferences and working groups, it maintains a website that serves as a clearing house of resources for filmmakers, activists and scholars.

Investigative Reporting Workshop[edit]

The Investigative Reporting Workshop undertakes investigative reporting projects for multimedia publication or broadcast in collaboration with others, and will serve as a laboratory “incubator” to develop new models and techniques for conducting and delivering investigative journalism.

Center for Environmental Filmmaking[edit]

The Center, led by Professor Chris Palmer, trains film makers to create films and new media that are effective at producing conservation and that are entertaining and ethically sound.

Foreign Correspondence Network[edit]

Photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, artist-in-residence and Emmy winner Bill Gentile - who has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Nicaragua connects SOC alumni working in more than 30 countries.


Main article: Current

The university School of Communication is the steward of Takoma Park, Maryland-based newspaper "Current" and its web site "Current" has published continuously since 1982 under the stewardship of WNET.


Media Production Center[edit]

The Media Production Center is a digital HD production facility, containing thirteen digital video editing suites, three digital radio production suites, two multi-format AV-enabled classrooms, a computer based newsroom featuring Associated Press' ENPS, a 40'x40' three-camera television studio and a media production equipment checkout room.[5]

Ed Bliss Broadcast Newsroom[edit]

The Ed Bliss Broadcast Newsroom is configured with the Electronic News Production Service, a newswire application, and 19 networked Windows computers.

Digital Video Editing Suites[edit]

The Mac based Digital Video Editing Suites are equipped with Final Cut Pro Studio, Avid Media Composer, Sony HDV VTR and digital media production applications.

Radio Editing Suites[edit]

The Radio Editing Suites are equipped with a Mac based audit workstation running Adobe Audition, professional quality microphones, digital and analog playback machines and a professional radio mixing board.

Media Production Equipment Checkout Room[edit]

The Equipment Checkout Room offers professional level film and video, sound and lighting equipment packages.

Photography Lab[edit]

The Photography Lab gives students access to cameras, from 35mm SLR film to large format cameras. The photography facilities also include a darkroom with 15 enlargers to produce film based prints as well as a Mac based digital advanced imaging lab.[6]

McKinley Hall renovation[edit]

McKinley is the new home of the American University School of Communication. The renovated McKinley Building includes a Media Innovation Lab, the 145-seat Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater, 10 specialized classrooms, multi-purpose learning spaces, office and work space for approximately 100 faculty and staff, and six computer labs supporting digital imaging, online content creation, motion graphics, multichannel audio, and full HD video editing. and a rooftop terrace.[7]

Other programs[edit]

Discover the World of Communication[edit]

SOC's summer program for high school students interested in learning more about communication and journalism.

Classroom in the Wild[edit]

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking's runs outdoor workshops around the world, including Florida, the Chesapeake Bay, Alaska, and Costa Rica. Students camp out and learn how to meet the sometimes extreme challenges of natural history field production, including how to prepare and organize a shoot, use filmmaking equipment, record sound, and shoot footage to make a compelling and engaging story—all with minimal environmental impact.

External links[edit]