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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

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. 

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. Recently, Professor Peggy Kendall received an award for top paper at the Central States Communication Association, and Professor Ripley Smith was awarded an Edgren Scholarship to conduct research among those experiencing homelessness. 

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students majoring in the department


students presented at regional conferences in the past 7 years

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