Undergraduate Program

Advising Information for Media Studies Students

August 2013

General Education Advising
Remember that advisors in the department do NOT advise on the university’s general education requirements.  For that information, you will need to see someone in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Office on the second floor of Zulauf Hall Room 201, or click here for additional information.

Your degree progress is based on the catalog year that you enrolled at NIU. If for some reason you want to change your catalog year, you must go to Registration and Records and they will change it for you. 

COMS Advising
If you want to know about COMS classes, you should speak with an advisorBefore making an advising appointment, here are a few things you must do to be prepared for that appointment.  There are various check-off forms that indicate the courses you should take.  Some of the information has changed as our curriculum has changed in recent years.  Here is the most up-to-date information.

We recommend that you begin at the top of this list completing these courses first.  The first four courses will provide you with a basic introduction to the other courses offered in this area of study:

You MUST take the 6 following courses:
COMS 251 (3)
COMS 252 (3)
COMS 355 (3)
COMS 356 (3)
COMS 455/403/JOUR 480 (3):  These courses are often difficult to get into and require a permit.  The more communication hours you have, the more likely you are to get a permit. Click here for permit information.

COMS 407 (1)
This is a 1 hour practicum and allows you to do a variety of tasks working under a professor.  Some positions allow you to assist in one of our labs while others allow you to assist in a class or work in some other capacity in the department.

Also you MUST take at least 1 course our production curriculum.  Because they are very different, each one is explained below.  Please remember that these courses are very demanding and we do NOT recommend that you take more than one a semester.

Production courses:
COMS 357 (4)
This is a studio production course that includes an introduction to audio production using Pro-tools.  If you want to take Advanced Audio (COMS 449) you must take this course first.

COMS 358 (4)
This is a field production course.  This means that you will use one of our production equipment to shoot video outside of the studio.  You will edit this footage using Final Cut Pro.  In order to take COMS 496M (Shorts production) and COMS 426 Documentary Production, you must have this course first.

COMS 359 (4)
This course covers the technologies and techniques of interactive and multimedia production.

Many of our advanced courses require that you apply for a permit.  Permits are available about 30 days before class registration.  Permits are granted to students who have the most hours towards their degree.  If you are given a permit, you MUST pick up the registration numbers so that you can enroll on MY-NIU.

Frequently students forget to pick up their registration information or they fail to enroll.  When this happens, the unused seats are made available on a first come first served basis on MY-NIU.  If you have additional questions about this process, please see the Undergraduate Office Support Specialist in Watson Hall 209.

You can choose from the electives that are offered during any given semester.  Remember despite what you will see on the lists mentioned earlier, we do NOT offer every course every semester.  You must take 5 courses from the list of possibilities.  This list includes:

COMS 309: Performance in Speech Communication
Multidimensional approach to oral communication. Emphasis on developing effective speech habits: voice production, voice quality, and articulation. Oral communication in speech performance for radio/television, teaching, and other professions where oral performance is particularly important. PRQ: COMS 100. Credits: 3

COMS 357: Introduction to Studio Production
Examination and application of principles of studio production, including articulation of visual and audio media, as well as an introduction to digital editing.  (If not used to fulfill the requirement above) Credits: 4

COMS 358: Introduction to Field Production
Examination of basic theories and principles of video production in the field beginning with an understanding of visual aesthetics and image analysis. Application exercises include still photography, digital image manipulation, video production, and digital editing. (If not used to fulfill the requirement above) PRQ or CRQ: COMS 251. Credits: 4

COMS 359: Interactive Media Production
Technologies and techniques of interactive and multimedia production. Critical readings of interactive media in both CD-ROM and web-page formats and practice in the production process, designing, writing, and producing interactive programs. Emphasis on content design for a variety of applications (i.e. entertainment, education, corporate communication) and platforms (Web page, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM). (If not used to fulfill the requirement above) PRQ or CRQ: COMS 251. Credits: 4

COMS 370: Principles of Advertising
Communicative, persuasive, and social functions. Focus on advertising media, messages, strategies, creative planning, execution, and societal effects.  Credits: 3

COMS 380: Corporate Advocacy and Issue Management
Objectives, development, and implementation of campaigns of public information, image, and advocacy by corporations. Emphasis on corporate image creation, public issue debate, and corporate advocacy advertising. Credits: 3

COMS 419: Communication theory and practices within the context of American politics. Modern campaigns, political communication consultants, issue definition and dissemination, communication strategies of administrative control, and communication within the presidency and within Congress. Special focus on the mass media. Credits: 3

COMS 426 A and B: Advanced Field Production
A. Documentary. PRQ: COMS 358 and COMS 457 and successful portfolio review or consent of department.
B. Narrative. PRQ: COMS 462 or COMS 456C or COMS 456D and successful portfolio review or consent of department.

Video production based on application of appropriate theories and aesthetics for documentary or narrative production. Projects utilize digital editing, audio track mixing, digital video camera(s), and locations as needed. Because a significant portion of the course grade is based on student collaborative work. 

Credits: 3

COMS 436: Advanced Post-Production
Aesthetics and techniques of digital nonlinear video editing including the aesthetics of continuity editing, montage editing and editing the narrative, as well as the techniques of nonlinear editing. Because a significant portion of the course grade is based on student team projects.  PRQ: COMS 357 or COMS 358, or consent of department.  Credits: 3

COMS 446: Designing for the Interned
Conceptualization of appropriate design criteria for an attractive and efficient Internet site. Techniques for site construction. Appropriate software used for image manipulation and page construction and design. Not open to B.F.A. studio art majors.  PRQ: COMS 359 Credits: 3
COMS 449: Production of radio programs or other audio projects of a complex nature, emphasizing recording, editing, and mixing techniques. Because a significant portion of the course grade is based on student team projects. PRQ: COMS 357 and successful portfolio review, or consent of department. Credits: 3

COMS 449: Advanced Audio Production Credits 3

COMS 454: Transnational Communication and Media
Crosslisted as JOUR 454X. Study of the development, structure, functions, and control of international communications media systems and activities as they affect world relations. Credits: 3

COMS 456 C and D: History of Film
C. Before 1950
D. After 1950
Each topic may be taken once. 

Credits: 3

COMS 457: the Documentary Tradition
Theories, techniques, history, and criticism of the documentary. Credits: 3

COMS 459: History of Broadcasting
Crosslisted as JOUR 459X. History of radio and television broadcasting in the United States from its inception to the present. Credits: 3

COMS 460: Television Theory and Criticism
Major theoretical and critical perspectives for analysis of television. Credits: 3

COMS 462: Film Theory and Criticism
Major theoretical and critical perspectives for analysis of film. Credits: 3

COMS 463: Advanced Studio Production
Production of studio-based programs utilizing multiple cameras in a live or live-on-tape format. Because a significant portion of the course grade is based on student team projects.
PRQ: COMS 357 and successful portfolio review, or consent of department. Credits: 3

COMS 465: Computer Mediated Communication
Critical investigation of computer-mediated communication technologies, including but not limited to the Internet, cyberspace, and virtual reality. Examination of economic, social, political, and philosophical aspects of technology as well as practical experience with computer-based communication and information systems. Credits: 3

COMS 466: Narrative Scriptwriting
Focus on structure, development, and execution of a 100-page narrative fiction script for media. Creativity, critical ability, and discipline in writing stressed. PRQ: COMS 355.
Credits: 3

COMS 469: Interactive Media Production II
Advanced technologies and techniques for creating Web-based interactive multimedia. Theories of media integration and interaction design, development of practical skills with Web-based production technologies beyond basic HTML (i.e., CSS, ASP, XML, Flash, and JavaScript), and creation of several interactive projects for e-commerce, education, and public service applications. PRQ: COMS 359 or consent of department. Credits: 3

COMS 470: Campaign Strategies and Development
Development and presentation of public communication campaigns to include advertising, promotion, publicity, and corporate advocacy for business, public service, and political endeavors. Because a significant portion of the course grade is based on student team projects. PRQ: COMS 370 or COMS 380 or JOUR 335. Credits: 3

COMS 491: Methods of Research in Communication
Research in communication with emphasis on methodology. Methodological focus varies. Course requires a research paper or project.
PRQ: Junior standing and COMS 252. Credits: 3

COMS 496M:
May be repeated to a maximum of 6 semester hours when topic varies. Credits: 3

COMS 497:
Junior and senior declared communication studies majors, minors, and approved others only. May be repeated. No more than 3 semester hours may be included in the major. No more than 6 semester hours may be included in the baccalaureate degree. Not available for credit to students having credit for ILAS 390. May not be taken concurrently with ILAS 390. S/U grading. Credits: 3-9 Students must take 3 credit hours in this course

COMS 498:
A. Non Production
B. Media Production
Directed study and research. Each topic may be repeated to a maximum of 6 semester hours. 

Credits: 1-3

You can check your own progress through your major by going to MY-NIU and looking at your degree progress report.  We have also developed an online advising tool to help you track your progress through the COMS major.

Once you have read this, visited the associated links, if you still need to see your advisor, at least you will be prepared for a productive and meaningful conversation.