Professional Communication Courses

Professional Communication Courses

Learning Outcomes

What do students learn to do in the professional communication program?
Communicating effectively is the essence of the professional communication major and minor. Learning outcomes guide students as they develop, integrate, and demonstrate key abilities in analysis, communication, problem solving, and valuing in decision making. When professional communication students graduate, they will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes in multiple courses:

Theoretical Grounding to apply disciplinary models, frameworks, and theory in diverse environments.

Rhetorical Sensitivity to consider audience, context, and purpose when designing and delivering messages.

Strategic Versatility to draw upon a range of discipline knowledge and experience when solving communication problems.

Creative Productivity to implement imaginative strategies and employ technological expertise when producing purposeful communications.

Ethical Responsibility to apply professional standards and to act with integrity when making decisions.


PCM 101 Introduction to Professional Communication 3 credits
This engaging foundational course sets the stage for communication studies. The student explores discipline theories and processes as she considers communication career fields such as training and consulting, public relations, human resources, broadcast journalism, advertising, corporate communication, and the nonprofit sector.

PCM 130 Writing: The Editing Process 3 credits
This course emphasizes clarifying and developing thinking in order to write clearly and completely for a variety of audiences, purposes, and formats. The student learns to tailor and edit her writing to refine her message(s) and to develop her own voice and style.

PCM 170 Visual Communication 3 credits
In this course the student explores the dynamic dimensions of visual communication. She becomes a more informed consumer, critic, and creator of visual messages as she hones her graphic design skills and defines her individual style. She learns and applies effective design principles while creating print projects using sophisticated industry-standard page layout, digital imaging, and illustration software.

PCM 200 Public Communication: Principles and Practice 3 credits
The student learns the dynamic art, science, and skills of public performance. She considers classic and contemporary theories, and she applies diverse strategies to enhance how she connects with audiences. Through a range of speech opportunities, she gains poise and confidence as a public speaker.

PCM 230 Influence and General Semantics 3 credits
From Aristotle's Rhetoric to the way that vigilante hate groups recruit and retain members, language and symbols have a huge impact on individuals and cultures. In this course, the student examines the interaction among language, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior using established and emerging theories in persuasion and general semantics.

PCM 300 Advanced Writing: Professional Applications 3 credits
Blogging, writing for the web, journalism, and generating ad copy are styles and formats that any communication student should add to her skill set. In this course, the student builds on what she learned in PCM 130, Writing: The Editing Process. In addition to developing a refined awareness of and sensitivity to various audiences and purposes, she begins to create her own professional writing portfolio.

PCM 320 Advanced Media Studies and Multimedia Production 3 credits
In this course the student examines the cultural power of media in societies. Concurrently, she continues to build and refine multimedia production skills to support her future communication career. She learns to conduct a media study grounded in theory, to create an instructional research presentation, and to produce well-designed digital video.

PCM 383 Internship Seminar 3 credits
The student develops the ability to apply classroom learning to a concrete work situation and at the same time develops her skills in reflecting on and conceptualizing learning that comes from work experience. Emphasis is also placed on developing the ability to assess oneself as a key ability in "learning how to learn" from any work experience.

PCM 480 Critical Issues and Ethics in Contemporary Communication 3 credits
In this upper-level course the student examines and applies professional standards and ethical principles to decision making in complex situations. The student applies communication theories and research as she demonstrates refined writing and presentation skills by analyzing a case study. She then engages the class in a spirited discussion of "the right thing to do." An interview assignment focuses on communication ethics and professional responsibility in the workplace.

PCM 486 Communication Theory and Research 3 credits
This course emphasizes deeper understandings of major theoretical perspectives and research methods in the communication discipline and profession. The student examines how communication research informs professional practice and how professional practice informs communication theory. Her work supports and prepares her for project management, grant writing, and/or graduate school.

PCM 499 Professional Practice Seminar 3 credits
In this capstone course, the student synthesizes her learning across the curriculum as it informs her specialty area and/or career goals. Refining previous or current projects as exemplars of her work, she constructs a professional portfolio and resume that reflect her development. She develops her professional network by recruiting a practitioner to access her portfolio. She also explores ethical issues and considers her own professional responsibility in planning career directions and strategies.


PCM 325 Media Management and Production: Online Radio 3 credits
In this course the student works with all aspects of Alverno Inferno Free Radio (AIFR). She gains experience in digital audio production, independently produces weekly programming and live broadcasts, and contributes to the marketing and management needs of the team. Students in the course are fully responsible for the operation of AIFR.

PCM 364 Digital Photography 3 credits
The student learns the aesthetic and technical aspects of producing art-quality digital images. In order to create a quality portfolio of original photographs, she learns how to use the multiple functions of a digital camera, how to work with imaging software, and how to apply theories of aesthetic communication to her work. She also examines historical, social, environmental, and cultural contexts of photography.

PCM 411 Career Search 1 credit
The student learns and applies the most effective process and strategies for a holistic approach to successfully launching her career. Relating knowledge gained through self-assessment (identifying/clarifying skills, values, interests, goals) and career research (Alverno Career Lab, Internet, professional networks), she dynamically engages in decision-making and life work planning. The student professionalizes her resume, and is videotaped interviewing. These skills facilitate entree into her first position upon graduation as well as subsequent transitions as her career progresses.

PCM 421 Digital Journalism 3 credits
As a member of a student community media team, the student learns news gathering techniques, journalistic styles, editing, and how to use digital platforms. She learns various journalistic genres, including news, feature, advocacy, interview, and opinion. She also practices collaborative production that incorporates multimedia sound and imagery to accompany text.

PCM 427 Technical Communication 3 credits
In this advanced-level elective course, the student learns and applies principles of technical writing. While exploring career opportunities, she researches, writes, formats, and edits a wide array of technical information. She completes a technical writing project for a client of her choice. Some examples of previous student projects include employee handbooks, instruction manuals, policy and procedure manuals, computer software and hardware documentation, public health information, and operating and safety instructions.

PCM 437 Fundraising and Grant Writing: Principles and Practices 3 credits
The student explores the history, principles, and theories of philanthropy. Analyzing the values and goals of a nonprofit client, she develops practical skills and identifies resource strategies in such areas as donor relations, volunteer coordination, database management, special-events planning, and grant writing. Case studies and guest speakers help acquaint the student with the variety of approaches used in different organizations, and she completes a semester-long research and grant-writing project as an assessment. In the process, she also examines her own personal and professional commitments and contributions.

PCM 441 Business and Professional Speaking 3 credits
In order to simulate professional presentations in the workplace and larger community, the student learns and applies advanced speaking strategies within a diverse range of contexts. She creates business proposals, reports, training and development workshops, and commencement addresses, using audio and visual technology to clarify and enhance meaning for specific audiences.

PCM 445 Intercultural Communication 3 credits
In this course the student learns theories of intercultural communication and applies them as she explores her own and other cultures. She examines her worldview and cultural assumptions and develops a viable framework for guiding interaction within cross-cultural settings. This course is often accompanied by a short-term international travel opportunity.

PCM 464 Advanced Photo Communications 3 credits
This course builds on the student's experience in A/PCM 364, Digital Photography. The student deepens her aesthetic sensibility and technical expertise through digital image layering and enhancing software. Focusing on her own development as a photographer, she researches the history and influences of photography and creates an in-depth portfolio. She makes connections between her work and her career or community involvement. The course culminates in a public showing of her portfolio.

PCM 475 Digital Video Production and New Media 3 credits
As a video storyteller, the student extends and hones her ability to shape visual content and sound tracks by examining and creating video messages for public or personal use. Through critique and revision, she improves her design and production skills, preparing her for career opportunities in business and creative video, journalism, freelancing, and/or consulting.

PCM 477 Public Relations: Theories and Applications 3 credits
This advanced-level elective introduces the student to the purposes and practices of public relations, its role in organizations and in society, and its potential as a career. Through case examples and other learning strategies, the student studies controlled and uncontrolled media to develop effective communication strategies that reach a variety of publics. She chooses a client for whom she develops a strategic public relations campaign.

PCM 490 Digital Publishing 3 credits
This course provides classroom and computer lab experiences that assist the student to expand and refine her print media communication and desktop publishing skills. She concentrates on synthesizing prior and new communication knowledge to design creative solutions for print media communication.

PCM 493 Interactive Listening 3 credits
Effective communicators, first and foremost, are effective listeners. Only when the student is open to receiving and understanding the viewpoints of others is she prepared to make informed choices. In this course the student develops her ability to discriminate among the multitude of stimuli in today’s media-rich environment. She learns techniques for improved comprehension, studies therapeutic listening approaches, and explores strategies for becoming an effective critical listener.