Speech Communication

The study of speech communication is the study of human symbolic behavior in many forms. Speech is the oldest academic discipline, (tracing its roots to Aristotle), and one of the most modern in its concern with interpersonal relationships. First taught in the schools of ancient Greece from about 450 B.C., speech communication retains value because of its practical nature.

Communication helps us form relationships, allows cultures to evolve, encourages understanding among people; in short, communication is the thing that makes us human. Without it, we would perish. The study of speech is based on the assumption that one’s ability to communicate in an effective manner is vital to successful human interaction.

Four major areas are included in the speech discipline, each of which focus on unique characteristics of particular situations. Interpersonal communication includes the study of symbolic behavior in dyadic, two person, relationships. Group communication concentrates on the small group of three to seven persons. Organizational communication examines the effects that organizational structure and membership have on human communication. Rhetoric and public address is the study of discourse and its role in shaping public perceptions and practices. All areas emphasize effective oral and written communication.

A broad and diverse speech communication program is available at Idaho State University. In the classroom students study rhetorical theory and criticism, public address, interpersonal communication, small group communication, conflict management, public speaking, argumentation and persuasion. Students gain insight into the effects of public address on history and an understanding of such leaders as Adams, Lincoln, and Roosevelt; Kennedy, King, and Reagan; Hitler, and Churchill.

Students may emphasize one of two different areas in their major: general communication or organizational communication. A minor program is also offered in each area. With the general study of speech communication, the student examines all aspects of the discipline in a variety of contexts. An organizational communication emphasis focuses more closely on the context of formal organizations.

Many studies have shown that an ability to communicate effectively is a prerequisite for success in almost all careers as well as social situations thus, practical public speaking skills and diverse communication experiences are facilitated in two laboratories: the speech practicum and internship programs. In the ISU Symposium Program (part of the practicum), students gain practical experience by speaking to community audiences. Interns have been placed with the Forest Service, the ISU Alumni Association, the ISU Public Relations Office, the LDS employment office and others.

After Graduation

More and more employers are beginning to realize how crucial it is to hire employees with liberal arts backgrounds who have good communication skills. Speech communication is one of the most flexible liberal arts degrees a student can earn. Study of this discipline allows students to develop their critical thinking skills and to adapt their abilities to a wide variety of employment opportunities.

Speech communication majors and minors are employed in such diverse areas as hotel management, personnel training, advertising, technical communication, insurance adjusting, teaching, politics, higher education administration, paid speech-writing, political consulting, radio and television broadcasting, the ministry, public relations, business, and a host of others. The American Bar Association highly recommends speech courses for a pre-law program and many former ISU students are practicing law.


As of fall 1994, students may take Math 140 (Math and the Modern World) or Math 177 (Language of Math) with Math 51 (Developmental Algebra), or equivalent, to satisfy the math general education requirement.