Profile of Communication Departments (HDS 3)
Findings and Trends
- Among communication departments that were granting degrees in 2012, total enrollment in undergraduate courses was 686,330 in fall 2017 (with an average enrollment of 897.2 per department).2
- On average, communication departments awarded 72.8 bachelor’s degrees per department in the 2016–17 academic year. Students also completed an average of 34.4 minors per department.
- Total enrollment in graduate-level communication courses was 65,690 in fall 2017 (with an average enrollment of 85.9 per department). The average number of students pursuing an advanced degree in communication was 56.6 per department that granted such degrees.
- Communication departments employed 11,710 full- and part-time faculty members fall 2017, with an average of 15.3 faculty members per department. Forty-five percent of these faculty were either tenured or on the tenure track (the smallest share among the disciplines included in the survey).
- Thirty-six percent of the faculty in communication departments were employed part-time, which was the largest share found among the disciplines included in the survey (the share for all disciplines combined was only 23%).
- Thirty-six percent of communication departments hired a new permanent faculty member for the start of the 2017–18 academic year—a statistically significant decline from 2012–13—but 48% of the departments (one of the larger shares found in the survey), had a faculty member come up for tenure in the previous two years
- Women constituted 55% of the faculty members in communication departments in fall 2017. Half of tenured faculty members were women, compared to 58% of faculty members on the tenure track and 58% of those off the tenure track.
- While 93% of communication departments provided research support for their full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 75% offered such support for full-time nontenured or non-tenure-track faculty, only 19% offered such support for part-time faculty.
Supporting Student Careers
- Communication departments stand out among the disciplines included in the survey for their positive views about the career services at their college or university. Sixty-eight percent of the departments rated the services “good” or “very good” for their students, as compared to just 8% that rated the services “poor.”
- Thirty-seven percent of communication departments also had a professional program (such as journalism or teacher credentialing), making it the discipline most likely to have such programs.
Engaging the Digital
- Thirty percent of communication departments had one or more faculty members specializing in the digital humanities, but only 21% offered seminars on digital methods for research and teaching.
- 2Students who enrolled in more than one course in the discipline are counted in each course in which they enrolled. The same is true for the graduate course enrollment values given below. Medians for all “per department” quantities mentioned in this section are available in the corresponding data tables (please see the Appendix, Part B).