About the School

In the Northwestern University School of Communication, we are proud to offer students an education that combines a solid foundation of intellectual skills and a broad knowledge of the arts and sciences with in-depth training in professional skills. Our comprehensive and interdisciplinary programs prepare students to lead in the arts and culture, scholarship, politics, health care, and business. Our faculty and alumni are leaders in their fields, whether they are award-winning directors and writers, theatre and media historians, media artists, or scientists researching human communication processes. Their research is used as the basis of further study in their disciplines; their creative endeavors light up screens and stages around the world.

The School of Communication is led by Barbara J. O'Keefe, Annenberg University Professor, Professor of Communication Studies, and Dean. Dean O'Keefe earned her A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. in Speech Communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She held faculty positions at Wayne State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Northwestern in 2000.  Her research has explored the role of developmental processes, training, and technology in improving the effectiveness of communicators and communities.  She has studied the development of communication skills across the life span as well as the role of computing technologies—most recently networked computing—in helping people improve their skills and collaborate more effectively.

Other administrators of the School include Associate Dean of Administration and Finance Rick Morris; Associate Dean of Research Jane Rankin; Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Advising Sally Ewing; Associate Dean of Graduate Programs D. Charles Whitney; Office of External Programs, Internships, and Career Services Director Heather Trulock, and Office of Communications Director Lori Rader-Day.

Our history

The School of Communication's vibrant programs have their history in the art of elocution and oratory. In 1868, Robert McClean Cumnock began teaching a course in elocution at Northwestern University; within ten years, a certificate program in elocution was offered, serving as the founding of our school's offerings. In 1891, the School of Oratory was founded. In 1921, the School is renamed the School of Speech, and in 2001, renamed again the School of Communication to better reflect the broad array of subjects studied here. Today, the School has more than 1,200 undergraduates, 700 graduate students, and 170 faculty members, and six majors in five departments.