Health Communication Major

The undergraduate major in Health Communication is the first in the State of California and one of only a handful of such programs in the United States. With a base in Communication courses, students majoring in Health Communication study topics such as doctor-patient communication, health communication campaigns, communication in health risk and crisis, and other topics in various contexts. Students also take courses in allied health-related disciplines.

This is a Bachelor of Science degree. Graduates may seek positions in a variety of health-related industries. Some will consider graduate study in one of the fastest growing areas in our field.

Preparation for the Major


Must be taken for a grade. Minimum GPA 2.75 and minimum grade of C required. General Education oral communication requirement (3 units) and six units selected from:

Major Requirements


A minimum of 42 upper division units

  1. Complete the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement by scoring a 10 or higher on the Writing Proficiency Assessment OR by completing RWS-305W with a grade of "C" or higher.
  2. A minor is strongly recommended, but not required.
  3. You must complete a total of 120 units in order to graduate. Always check your degree audit and consult an undergraduate advisor in the School of Communication to ensure you are on track to graduate.

Foundations of Communication

9 units, prerequisite for all 400-level courses:

COMM 300 - Conceptualizing Communication (3 units)
Prerequisite: Admission to a major, minor, or certificate program in the School of Communication. Communication theory, concepts, principles, and practices. Communication as art and process on micro and macro levels, integrates understanding of sources, messages, transmission, and feedback in creating meaning and culture.
COMM 350 - Investigating Communication (3 units)
Prerequisite: Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication.
Study of human communication, from methodological and epistemological perspectives.
COMM 321 - Introduction to Health Communication (3 units)
Prerequisites: Completion of the General Education requirement in Communication and Critical Thinking I.1, Oral Communication or I.3., Intermediate Composition and Critical Thinking; and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.B., Social and Behavioral Sciences required for nonmajors. Open to majors and nonmajors. Health communication topics to include patient-provider communication, health communication campaigns, supportive relationships, and public policy. Research methodologies, theories, and best practices in health communication. Required of all health communication majors prior to 400-level coursework.

Health Communication Courses

(18 units from the following) *Must be completed before taking COMM 495 Capstone

COMM 421 - Health Communication and CBSL (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. How people understand, share ideas about, and adjust to health and illness. Personal, interactional, cultural, and political complexities of health beliefs, practices, and policies in the context of community based service learning project.
COMM 422 - Politics of Health Communication (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. How communicating about health is culturally and politically charged. Contemporary concerns in health communication to include how ethnicity, gender, disability, social class, and sexual orientation inform our understandings of health, fitness, and illness.
COMM 423 - Patient-Provider Interaction (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Primary communication activities organizing medical interviews in clinical settings to include techniques for raising and responding to concerns about life, illness, and disease; implications for quality of care, healing outcomes, and medical education.
COMM 424 - Health, Families, and Communication Relationships (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Influences of institutional, social, and personal relationships on health. Influences of health on development of human relationships, interaction between relationships, health practices, and outcomes.
COMM 425 - Theory and Research in Health Communication Campaigns (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Theory and research on effective health communication campaigns in carious settings to promote healthy lifestyles, nutrition, exercise, health screening, disease, and injury prevention behavior.
COMM 426 - Communication in Health Risk and Crisis (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Role of Communication in preventing, responding to, and coping with community health crises; principles of competent communication in health related risks and crises.
COMM 427 - Health Communication and Cultural Communities (3 units)
Prerequisite: Communication 321. Admission to a major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Diversity of cultural perspectives on communicating health, illness, and prevention. Understanding cultural knowledge patients, families, providers, and communities bring to communicating health.
COMM 428 - Communicating Health and Well-Being at Work (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 321. Admission to major, minor, or the health communication certificate program in the School of Communication. Research and theory regarding communication topics that restrict well-being at work to include stress, bullying, sexual harassment, and injustice. Concepts and trends that alleviate or eliminate stress to include social support, spirituality, and wellness programs at work.
COMM 485 - Communicating Leadership (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Current theory and research in leadership and communication. Understanding yourself, role of leadership, and selection of appropriate communication strategies for leadership.

Investigating Communication

6 units from following - *Must be completed before taking COMM 495 Capstone:

COMM 420 - Quantitative Methods (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Quantitative research in communication. Construction and analysis of surveys and experiments.
COMM 441 - Critical and Cultural Methods (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Central concepts, examples, theories, and experiences of critical studies of communication in culture through cultural, rhetorical, and media literature and cases.
COMM 462 - Ethnography (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Naturally occurring interactions drawn from a variety of communication settings. Primary methods of gathering data include: participant observation, interviewing, document and artifact analysis, and other forms of communication.
COMM 465 - Conversational Interaction (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Sequential organization of naturally occurring conversational practices. Reliance on recordings and transcriptions for detailed examinations of interactants’ methods for achieving social actions and organizing interactional occasions.

Health-Related Preparation

6 units from the following:

GER 360 - Diversity and Aging (3 units)
Prerequisite: Gerontology 101 or completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning IIB, Social and Behavioral Sciences required for nonmajors. Attitudes and cultural values related to aging members of ethnic and minority groups. Influences of class, gender, sexual orientation, economic resources and health on aging process.
GER 370 - Images of Aging in Contemporary Society (3 units)
Prerequisite: Gerontology 101 or completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning IIB, Social and Behavioral Sciences required for nonmajors. Impact of current cultural attitudes and values on images of older persons. Influence of media and advertising in creating views and perceptions of aging. Major myths and stereotypes.
HHS 350 - Applied International Health and Human Services (3 units)
Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.B., Social and Behavioral Sciences. See Class Schedule for additional prerequisites. Examine economic, political, cultural, environmental, health and human services challenges, and variations with respect to disease, mental health, and poverty in a designated non-Western region or country in Asia, Africa, Central and South America.
NURS 350 - Women's Health Across the Lifespan (3 units)
Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.A. Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning. Explores health issues women face across their lives. Focus on developing knowledgeable users of research on causes of and risk factors for health problems. Not applicable to nursing majors.
PHIL 330 - Medical Ethics (3 units)
Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities. Value judgments upon which medicine is based and the ethical issues which medicine faces.
P A 340 - Administrative Behavior (3 units)
Social, psychological, and behavioral theories of organization; concepts of administrative leadership; organization and the individual; emphasis on governmental organizations. Not open to students with credit in Psychology 321.
PH 353 - Human Sexuality and Disease (3 units)
Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.B., Social and Behavioral Sciences. Development of sexual values, attitudes, and behaviors across ages, including evolution and occurrence of sexually transmitted infections worldwide. Focus on biological, medical, psychological, sociocultural, and political factors.
PH 362 - International Health (3 units)
Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.B., Social and Behavioral Sciences. Population dynamics, vital statistics, global disease patterns, and analysis of variations among nations and cultures with respect to health problems and health care services.

Communication Capstone

(3 units; must have completed 300, 350, and required Conceptualizing & Investigating units; and be in last or next-to-last semester prior to graduating)

COMM 495 - Conceptualizing and Investigating Communication (3 units)
Prerequisites: Communication 300 and 350. Admission to a major or minor in the School of Communication. Approaches to conflict communication in international, societal, group, institutional, and interpersonal contexts.