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The relational communication emphasis involves the study of interpersonal, family, and other forms of communication including dyadic and group relationships—and the development of skills that fulfill requirements for a wide variety of careers and personal aspirations.

Why should I study relational communication?

This emphasis covers interpersonal, small group, intercultural, and international communication by helping students develop the ability to persuade, initiate, and maintain relationships, communicate nonverbally, listen, build empathy and trust, and manage conflict. All of these are critical to effective leadership, training, and service.

The flexible curriculum for the relational communication emphasis is designed for students who are very sure they “like working with people”—and are open to how they do that. Graduates leave equipped to embark into numerous areas of employment as well as graduate work.

What can I do with this degree?

The relational studies emphasis prepares students for numerous career opportunities involving working with people in organizations and nonprofits, ministry, and the services. Possible career fields include:

  • Ministry
  • Sales
  • College admissions counseling
  • Employee relations
  • Community education
  • Career counseling
  • Conflict mediation
  • Hospital-patient relations
  • Social and human services

This degree is an exceptional preprofessional path for students interested in graduate school. Many students have obtained fully-funded graduate assistantships and have gone on to programs in:

  • Communication
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Seminary
  • Marriage and family therapy

This degree pairs well with minors in gender studies and leadership studies.

What skills will I develop?

  • Research methods
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Public speaking
  • Intercultural communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Group communication
  • Communication analysis

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in the R.E.A.L. Experience—a program specifically designed to help you gain the relevant, hands-on experience employers desire—so that when you graduate, you’ll be as impressive in practice as you are on paper.

What unique experiences or opportunities will I have?

Engage in hands-on learning

All students majoring in communication studies with a relational studies emphasis complete an internship in communication. Your internship will be tailored to your specific area of interest—providing real-world, applicable experience in the field. 

Study intercultural communication abroad

Study abroad on Europe Term—a department-led semester overseas designed to help communication studies majors gain intercultural skills firsthand. Live and study at Schloss Mittersill, a castle in Austria, with a group of your peers, among many other exciting European destinations. The semester incorporates a variety of core required courses for the communication studies major to apply directly toward your degree.

Learn from experienced professors

Our professors are accomplished scholars and have been recognized for their excellence both at Bethel—receiving awards for teaching and service—and externally. Most recently, Professor of Communication Studies Peggy Kendall was asked to be a plenary speaker at a 2018 international conference in Poznan, Poland.

Academic Plans and Course Catalog

See plans


students majoring in the department


students presented at regional conferences in the past 7 years

Recent News

Changing Worlds by Fighting Child Hunger

December 17, 2020 | 9 a.m.

Upcoming Events

MAY 6 2021

COMmentor Night with Alumni and Communication Studies Department

6:30 p.m. Alumni Lounge

A chance for Communication studies students be able to listen to many alumni share about their journey in the professional career world.

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