Earn your degree in communication with a concentration in rhetoric and public discourse at UM and prepare to expand your ability to persuade and motivate — in speech and in writing.

Our in-person and online classes grow your understanding of conceptual, historical and practical public discourse, and pique your interest in a major or minor in climate change studies, environmental studies, history, political science, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

We add hands-on learning that applies your knowledge outside the classroom, with opportunities to witness the use of rhetoric and propaganda around the world. The result? You’re well positioned to pursue an advanced degree or career in law, politics and public advocacy.


internships sponsored each year for communication majors


years that people have been practicing and studying rhetoric in the western world


concentrations within the communication studies degree program

What can you do with a communication studies degree?

A communication studies degree provides a solid foundation for a rewarding future. Some students have gone into law; others have worked for media companies and public relations organizations, while another serves in the Montana State Legislature. One of our graduates was recently one of 16 women nationally to be selected for the American Bar Association’s Ms. JD National Fellow.

What is rhetoric and public discourse?

Rhetoric is commonly deployed in government, politics and public relations. It’s the art of persuasion in conversation, in speeches and publications. With a rhetoric and public discourse degree under your belt, you have the ability to influence and create change.

Communication jobs

Communication studies jobs, with a focus in rhetoric and public discourse, include:

  • Public relations
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Public advocacy

Rhetoric and public discourse salaries

According to Zippia, graduates in speech communication and rhetoric — also known as rhetoric and public discourse — make on average $61,302 annually. The top 10 percent earn over $89,000, while the bottom 10 percent make less than $41,000 annually.

That’s good news for graduates, as there’s a great deal of room for growth in this space.

We estimate that graduates of our bachelor’s degree in communication earn an average of $68,946 annually.

Experiential learning in the rhetoric and public discourse program

There’s perhaps no better way to “dig in” and immerse yourself in communication studies than to participate in internships, service learning and research and study abroad opportunities. They’re all yours for the asking at the University of Montana.

Internships and community service learning for communication majors

Every semester and each summer, we offer an internship program that lets students get practical experience. Students are free to propose ways to engage their communication studies knowledge in the community or within an organization.

Many of our courses also include service learning components. Our Research Methods course, for instance, works with the Humane Society of Western Montana to connect their key messages with community stakeholders.

Study abroad opportunities in the rhetoric and public discourse program

Nearly every year, we offer study abroad opportunities, particularly for rhetoric and public discourse majors interested in studying propaganda in Central Europe. Learn more about study abroad opportunities at UM.

Career development in the communications degree

UM puts you at the “head of the class” with strong research and advocacy skills that help you thrive in a wide variety of occupations. You also learn how to identify points of commonality and conflict among various positions on an issue, and use those to bridge differences and strengthen your own arguments — invaluable abilities in the workforce and in the world.

Networking and professional development in the rhetoric and public discourse program

Our talented and respected faculty not only disseminate valuable information to students but also serve as mentors — providing guidance on a career path that will serve you and your community well.  You can also find networking and professional development opportunities through a wide range of student organizations that are popular with communication majors on campus:

  • The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE)
  • The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA)
  • Pi Kappa Delta
  • Net Benefits
  • The Council of Forensic Organizations
  • The Commission on Presidential Debates
  • Lambda Pi Eta (LPH)

Explore classes for rhetoric and public discourse

It all starts with an introductory course in theories of rhetoric, then onto advanced courses in public speaking and argumentation, rhetorical criticism, and the rhetoric of environmental and feminist social movements.

The course titled “Communication, Consumption, and Climate Change” has been named the best class at UM by some students. Here, you’ll examine ways we’re persuaded to embrace consumer culture. You can also delve into “The Rhetoric of US Women’s Activism,” “Feminisms and Film,” and a course titled “Propaganda in Context: Nazis and the GDR,” which includes a 3-week tour to Central European cities, including Berlin, Munich, Prague, Warsaw and Krakow.

View all classes for the bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and public discourse.