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Organizational Communication

Organizational Communication (ORCO) prepares students for the future, focusing on dynamics within organizations and communication processes. MTSU students can tailor this interdisciplinary major to match their career interests. The student-focused program helps develop skills in verbal, written, and relational communication; critical and creative thinking; and problem-solving. ORCO majors train for careers in employee communication, special events and fundraising, nonprofit organizations, university student services and alumni relations, training and orientation.

Hands-on learning leads to EXL Scholars

Most courses in the Organizational Communication major are experiential learning courses (EXL). These include hands-on learning projects and count toward  requirements of the EXL Scholars Program that began in 2006. Research shows that students are more engaged in the task when they can learn “by doing.”

ORCO class puts on health campaigns

A new course taught in spring 2013 explores the role of communication campaigns to encourage good health and reduce health risks. Students work on a real health campaign with MTSU's Relay for Life, plus develop their own campaign surrounding a health issue. They also put on an actual health fair for MTSU students.

Students can prepare for careers in employee communication, special events and fundraising, and in corporate and nonprofit organizations. Jobs can be found in organizations and corporations dealing with government, education, health and medical care, charities and public service, museums and the arts, tourism and hospitality, sports communication, and religious organizations.

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • ALSAC St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • Both Hands Foundation
  • Children First, Inc.
  • City of Mt. Juliet
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Emory University
  • Gaylord Entertainment
  • Ingram Content Group
  • Loews Hotels
  • Nashville Zoo
  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Tennessee Performing Arts Center
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Youth Life Foundation of Tennessee

Match this major to your interests

You can tailor the interdisciplinary Organizational Communication major to match your own interests, such as

  • Alumni relations director
  • Assistant executive director of a nonprofit organization
  • Community involvement director
  • Community partnership specialist
  • Corporate philanthropy or foundation grants director
  • Crisis manager
  • Customer relations manager
  • Fund raising director or development manager
  • Grant writing assistant
  • Human rights officer or ethics officer
  • International missions service project coordinator
  • Meeting and conference planner
  • Member services coordinator or director of membership services
  • National seminar planner
  • Ombudsman or corporate mediator
  • Orientation coordinator
  • Patient advocate
  • Recruiter
  • Retention or relocation specialist
  • Special events director
  • Student affairs coordinator
  • Training director
  • Volunteer program director
  • Workplace diversity specialist
  • Youth director

Student Affairs and Student Life for students who want to work for colleges and universities in various aspects of student affairs and student life, including student involvement and leadership, judicial affairs and mediation, student organizations, and student unions and programming. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives information about salaries.

Nonprofit Organizations for students who want to direct non-profit organizations by managing personnel, marketing, fund-raising, event planning, budgeting, strategic planning, coordinating volunteers, and working with boards of directors. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (U. S. Department of Labor) gives information about managers of nonprofit organizations. Be sure to check out the web site of the Center for Nonprofit Management in Nashville.  This web site has job postings for fundraisers, event planners, and other staff for nonprofit organizations in Tennessee. A minor in Management or in Marketing would be beneficial.

Event Planning for students who want to plan events such as ceremonies, celebrations, commemorative events, open houses, reunions, receptions and tastings, weddings, balls, galas, informative events, meetings, retreats, and conferences for nonprofit organizations, corporations, hotels, resorts, and event management firms. A minor in Entrepreneurship is highly recommended if you want to own an event-planning business. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives salary and other information about meeting, convention, and event planners at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131121.htm and at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm.

Fundraising for students who want to coordinate philanthropy activities for corporations, and who want to coordinate fundraising for nonprofit organizations, political interest groups, and political candidates. Students might coordinate such fundraising events and activities as fundraising dinners, silent auctions and sales, marathons, galas and balls, annual fundraising campaigns, membership drives, gift clubs, capital campaigns, and phonathons. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives information about fundraising managers.

Employee Communication for students who want to oversee communication programs for employees, orientation and training, benefits and health fairs, employee recruiting and relocating, conflict management and resolution processes, and special events in corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.  The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives information on training and development managers.

Intercultural and International Organizations for students who want to work in corporations and nonprofit organizations that have an intercultural or international focus. A minor in Global Studies or a foreign language is highly recommended.

Health Care Organizations for students who want to coordinate training sessions for employees, oversee health fairs and health education efforts, coordinate volunteer and fundraising activities, and plan special events for medical centers, nursing homes, other health care facilities and offices. A minor in Health Care Services may be beneficial.

Arts Organizations for students wanting to work in nonprofit museums, house museums, art galleries, and for symphonies and theatres. A minor in an arts discipline and two internships with arts organizations are strongly recommended. One internship should focus on technical, stage management, or performance areas, and the second internship should focus on management within an arts organization. You must learn about the art form and how to talk to artists, as well as learn how the arts organization operates.

The Department of Communication Studies and Organizational Communication offers a major in Organizational Communication.  Additionally, the department offers a concentration in Communication StudiesBoth programs lead to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

Definition of Organizational Communication.
Although many students say their major is "ORCO," the actual title of the major is Organizational Communication. Every student in the Organizational Communication major should be able to describe their major in about 20 seconds. Here is the description from the U. S. Department of Education:

A program that focuses on general communication processes and dynamics within organizations. Includes instruction in the development and maintenance of interpersonal group relations within organizations; decision-making and conflict management; the use of symbols to create and maintain organizational images, missions, and values; power and politics within organizations; human interaction with computer technology; and how communication socializes and supports employees and team members.

The interdisciplinary major in Organizational Communication requires 33 hours  (11 courses) and an 18-hour cognate. A minor is not required, but many students choose to earn one. Students may tailor the major to their own interests, choosing courses in business, entrepreneurship, sociology, psychology, mass communication, and other areas. Students may take some or all courses online.

Undergraduate minors in Communication Studies and Organizational Communication are available.

Organizational Communication, B.S.

Communication Studies and Organizational Communication 
615-898-5601
Sharon Smith, program coordinator
Sharon.Smith@mtsu.edu

The 33-hour major in Organizational Communication offers students preparation for careers in employee communication, special events and fundraising, and corporate and nonprofit communication. Opportunities for professional growth and networking are offered through IABC, the student chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

An 18-hour cognate must be chosen (see advisor for cognate list). Students will have approximately 28 hours in electives and may also choose a minor to fulfill some of these hours; however, a minor is not required.

Required Courses (33 hours)

  • COMM 2300 - Interpersonal Communication

    3 credit hours

    Introduces fundamental theories and principles for communicating effectively with others in everyday relationships. Topics include development of self-concept, perception, verbal and nonverbal communication, conflict negotiation, romantic relationships, and diversity.

  • ORCO 3340 - Interview Communication  ORCO credit hours  OR

    ORCO 3340 - Interview Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as COMM 3340.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. A critical study of professional interviewing techniques for employment, recruiting, counseling, persuasion, and appraisal.

  • COMM 3340 - Interview Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as ORCO 3340.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. A critical study of professional interviewing techniques for employment, recruiting, counseling, persuasion, and appraisal.

  • COMM 3220 - Small Group Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: COMM 2200 or COMM 2300 or permission of instructor. Exploration of theories of group dynamics through practical application. Study of verbal, nonverbal, leadership communication, and group decision making.

  • PSY 4380 - Group Dynamics  PSY credit hours  

    PSY 4380 - Group Dynamics

    3 credit hours

    The functioning of groups. Includes development of group structure, group conflict, cohesion, social influence, leadership, group productivity, group decision making, and growth groups. Classroom activities are supplemented by group projects that may require some out of class meetings.

  • ORCO 3240 - Introduction to Organizational Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. An overview of organizational communication theories and processes examined through a hands-on approach. Includes communication networks, teamwork, leadership and power, information technology, crisis communication, and organizational trends.

  • ORCO 3250 - Organizational Communication in Communities

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Theories and techniques involving communication between organizations and their constituencies. Identification and analysis of communication involving corporate philanthropy and fundraising, fundraising events, volunteers, image, and grant writing. Possible topics include health organizations, art organizations, and nonprofits.

  • ORCO 4200 - Multinational Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. A critical study of multinational organizations and the expatriate experience, including analysis of organizational preparation and employee training.

  • ORCO 3245 - Women, Leadership, and Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as LEAD 3245.) Communication behaviors and issues unique to women in leadership positions in gendered organizations. Activities and discussions designed to develop critical-thinking skills, broaden perspectives, adapt decision-making skills to the professional environment, and develop professional relationships.

  • ORCO 3500 - Strategic Communication in Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Organizational communication and its relationship to employees, leadership, corporate culture, diversity, change, and innovation. Possible topics include work-life balance and organizational identity.

  • ORCO 3650 - Conflict and Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. The role of communication in conflict management/resolution between or among individuals and groups. Examines workplace violence, fraud, mediation, grievances, substance abuse, and discrimination.

  • ORCO 3750 - Organizational Communication Analysis

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Critical analysis of organizational communication using survey research and other methods including studies of content, readability, readership, information dissemination, and organizational effectiveness.

  • ORCO 4500 - Senior Capstone in Organizational Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Practical application of tools and theories prevalent in the field of organizational communication involving an audit of organizational communication and culture and a consulting project.

  • ORCO 4210 - Applied Organizational Projects  ORCO credit hours  (3 credit hours)

    ORCO 4210 - Applied Organizational Projects

    1 to 3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department. Practical experiences in actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus. Students will apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a supervised setting. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits. Pass/Fail.  

  • ORCO 4220 - Internship in Organizational Communication  ORCO credit hours  (3 credit hours)

    ORCO 4220 - Internship in Organizational Communication

    1 to 3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department.  Practical experience in applying coursework to actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus, in a supervised internship program. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits.

Curriculum: Organizational Communication

Curricular listings include General Education requirements in Communication, History, Humanities and/or Fine Arts, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Social/Behavioral Sciences categories.

Students majoring in Organizational Communication must complete the General Education requirements. The following is a suggested pattern of study. Consult with an advisor before each registration.

Freshman

 

  • ENGL 1010 - Expository Writing  3 credit hours  (Comm)

    ENGL 1010 - Expository Writing

    3 credit hours

    The first General Education English course. Emphasis on learning to adapt composing processes to a variety of expository and analytic writing assignments. Minimum grade of C- required for credit.

  • ENGL 1020 - Research and Argumentative Writing

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: ENGL 1010. The second General Education English course. Emphasis on analytic and argumentative writing and on locating, organizing, and using library resource materials in the writing. Minimum grade of C- required for credit.

  • COMM 2200 - Fundamentals of Communication

    3 credit hours

    Principles and processes of effective public oral communication including researching, critical thinking, organizing, presenting, listening, and using appropriate language. Emphasis on informative, persuasive, special occasion, and extemporaneous (impromptu) speaking. Counts as part of the General Education Communication requirement.

  • COMM 2300 - Interpersonal Communication

    3 credit hours

    Introduces fundamental theories and principles for communicating effectively with others in everyday relationships. Topics include development of self-concept, perception, verbal and nonverbal communication, conflict negotiation, romantic relationships, and diversity.

  •  Humanities and/or Fine Arts (2 prefixes) 6 credit hours
  • Mathematics 3 credit hours
  • Natural Sciences 4 credit hours
  • Electives 6 credit hours

Subtotal: 31 Hours

 

Sophomore

 

  • ENGL 2020 - Themes in Literature and Culture  3 credit hours  (Hum/FA) OR

    ENGL 2020 - Themes in Literature and Culture

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. Traces a specific theme or idea through a number of literary texts that reflect different historical and cultural contexts. Subject will vary.

  • ENGL 2030 - The Experience of Literature  3 credit hours  (Hum/FA) OR

    ENGL 2030 - The Experience of Literature

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. The reading of a variety of literary types which illuminate themes and experiences common to human existence.

  • HUM 2610 - Foreign Literature in Translation

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. Representative works of French, German, and Hispanic authors in English translation. No foreign-language proficiency required. Carries General Education credit.

 

  • ORCO 3240 - Introduction to Organizational Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. An overview of organizational communication theories and processes examined through a hands-on approach. Includes communication networks, teamwork, leadership and power, information technology, crisis communication, and organizational trends.

  • Social/Behavioral Sciences (2 prefixes) 6 credit hours
  • Natural Sciences 4 credit hours
  • Cognate course 3 credit hours
  • Electives 6 credit hours

 

Choose 6 hours from:

  • HIST 2010 - Survey of United States History I

    3 credit hours

    Survey of the political, economic, social, cultural, and diplomatic phases of American life in its regional, national, and international aspects. HIST 2010 discusses the era from the beginning to 1877. HIST 2020 discusses the era from 1877 to the present. These courses are prerequisite for all advanced courses in American history and satisfy the General Education History requirement. HIST 2010 is NOT a prerequisite for HIST 2020.

  • HIST 2020 - Survey of United States History II

    3 credit hours

    Survey of the political, economic, social, cultural, and diplomatic phases of American life in its regional, national, and international aspects. HIST 2010 discusses the era from the beginning to 1877. HIST 2020 discusses the era from 1877 to the present. These courses are prerequisite for all advanced courses in American history and satisfy the General Education History requirement. HIST 2010 is NOT a prerequisite for HIST 2020.

  • HIST 2030 - Tennessee History

    3 credit hours

    The role of the state in the development of the nation. May be used to satisfy one part of the General Education History requirement.

Subtotal: 31 Hours

 

Junior

 

  • COMM 3220 - Small Group Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: COMM 2200 or COMM 2300 or permission of instructor. Exploration of theories of group dynamics through practical application. Study of verbal, nonverbal, leadership communication, and group decision making.

  • PSY 4380 - Group Dynamics  PSY credit hours  

    PSY 4380 - Group Dynamics

    3 credit hours

    The functioning of groups. Includes development of group structure, group conflict, cohesion, social influence, leadership, group productivity, group decision making, and growth groups. Classroom activities are supplemented by group projects that may require some out of class meetings.

 

  • ORCO 3245 - Women, Leadership, and Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as LEAD 3245.) Communication behaviors and issues unique to women in leadership positions in gendered organizations. Activities and discussions designed to develop critical-thinking skills, broaden perspectives, adapt decision-making skills to the professional environment, and develop professional relationships.

  • ORCO 3500 - Strategic Communication in Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Organizational communication and its relationship to employees, leadership, corporate culture, diversity, change, and innovation. Possible topics include work-life balance and organizational identity.

 

  • ORCO 3650 - Conflict and Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. The role of communication in conflict management/resolution between or among individuals and groups. Examines workplace violence, fraud, mediation, grievances, substance abuse, and discrimination.

  • Cognate courses 6 credit hours
  • Electives 9 credit hours

 

  • ORCO 3250 - Organizational Communication in Communities

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Theories and techniques involving communication between organizations and their constituencies. Identification and analysis of communication involving corporate philanthropy and fundraising, fundraising events, volunteers, image, and grant writing. Possible topics include health organizations, art organizations, and nonprofits.

  • ORCO 4200 - Multinational Organizations

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. A critical study of multinational organizations and the expatriate experience, including analysis of organizational preparation and employee training.

Subtotal: 30 Hours

 

Senior

 

  • ORCO 4210 - Applied Organizational Projects  ORCO credit hours  (3 credit hours required) OR

    ORCO 4210 - Applied Organizational Projects

    1 to 3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department. Practical experiences in actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus. Students will apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a supervised setting. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits. Pass/Fail.  

  • ORCO 4220 - Internship in Organizational Communication  ORCO credit hours  (3 credit hours required)

    ORCO 4220 - Internship in Organizational Communication

    1 to 3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department.  Practical experience in applying coursework to actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus, in a supervised internship program. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits.

 

  • ORCO 3340 - Interview Communication  ORCO credit hours  OR

    ORCO 3340 - Interview Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as COMM 3340.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. A critical study of professional interviewing techniques for employment, recruiting, counseling, persuasion, and appraisal.

  • COMM 3340 - Interview Communication

    3 credit hours

    (Same as ORCO 3340.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. A critical study of professional interviewing techniques for employment, recruiting, counseling, persuasion, and appraisal.

 

  • ORCO 3750 - Organizational Communication Analysis

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Critical analysis of organizational communication using survey research and other methods including studies of content, readability, readership, information dissemination, and organizational effectiveness.

  • ORCO 4500 - Senior Capstone in Organizational Communication

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Practical application of tools and theories prevalent in the field of organizational communication involving an audit of organizational communication and culture and a consulting project.

  • Cognate courses 9 credit hours
  • Electives 7 credit hours

Subtotal: 28 Hours

 

Total hours in program: 120

 

Academic Map

Following is a printable, suggested four-year schedule of courses:

Organizational Communication, B.S., Academic Map 

Dr. Mary Beth Asbury
Assistant Professor
marybeth.asbury@mtsu.edu

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Lindsey M. Bier
Lecturer
lindsey.bier@mtsu.edu

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Debra Boyd
Instructor
debra.boyd@mtsu.edu

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Bethany Hoppe
Instructor
bethany.hoppe@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Yang Kim
Associate Professor
yang.kim@mtsu.edu

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Lori Kissinger
Instructor
lori.kissinger@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Jessica Kratzer
Assistant Professor
jessica.kratzer@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Janet K. McCormick
Associate Professor
janet.mccormick@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Xiaowei Shi
Assistant Professor
xiaowei.shi@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Sharon S. Smith
Associate Professor | Interim Department Chair
sharon.smith@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Elizabeth Stephens
Assistant Professor
elizabeth.stephens@mtsu.edu

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L'Oreal Stephens
Lecturer
LOreal.Stephens@mtsu.edu

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Pierre Vincent, Esq
Lecturer
pierre.vincent@mtsu.edu

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Organizational Communication

ORCO 3050 - Listening
3 credit hours

(Same as COMM 3050.) Explores the function and impact of listening in workplace and other relationships. Includes analysis, interpretation, and application of effective listening skills.

ORCO 3240 - Introduction to Organizational Communication
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. An overview of organizational communication theories and processes examined through a hands-on approach. Includes communication networks, teamwork, leadership and power, information technology, crisis communication, and organizational trends.

ORCO 3245 - Women, Leadership, and Communication
3 credit hours

(Same as LEAD 3245.) Communication behaviors and issues unique to women in leadership positions in gendered organizations. Activities and discussions designed to develop critical-thinking skills, broaden perspectives, adapt decision-making skills to the professional environment, and develop professional relationships.

ORCO 3250 - Organizational Communication in Communities
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Theories and techniques involving communication between organizations and their constituencies. Identification and analysis of communication involving corporate philanthropy and fundraising, fundraising events, volunteers, image, and grant writing. Possible topics include health organizations, art organizations, and nonprofits.

ORCO 3340 - Interview Communication
3 credit hours

(Same as COMM 3340.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. A critical study of professional interviewing techniques for employment, recruiting, counseling, persuasion, and appraisal.

ORCO 3500 - Strategic Communication in Organizations
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Organizational communication and its relationship to employees, leadership, corporate culture, diversity, change, and innovation. Possible topics include work-life balance and organizational identity.

ORCO 3650 - Conflict and Organizations
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. The role of communication in conflict management/resolution between or among individuals and groups. Examines workplace violence, fraud, mediation, grievances, substance abuse, and discrimination.

ORCO 3750 - Organizational Communication Analysis
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. Critical analysis of organizational communication using survey research and other methods including studies of content, readability, readership, information dissemination, and organizational effectiveness.

ORCO 3800 - Introduction to Arts Management
3 credit hours

(Same as THEA 3800.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Management of a not-for-profit arts organization. Topics include organizational design, strategic planning, budgeting, marketing, and fundraising within the context of a visual or performing arts organization. Guest lecturers from regional arts organizations. Projects and discussion for individual interests in various arts disciplines. Laboratory hours required and/or crew requirement.

ORCO 4000 - Topics in Organizational Communication
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. An in-depth study of a special topic which is significant in organizational communication literature and/or practice. May be repeated for a maximum of nine credits.

ORCO 4200 - Multinational Organizations
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. A critical study of multinational organizations and the expatriate experience, including analysis of organizational preparation and employee training.

ORCO 4210 - Applied Organizational Projects
1 to 3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of department. Practical experiences in actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus. Students will apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a supervised setting. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits. Pass/Fail.  

ORCO 4220 - Internship in Organizational Communication
1 to 3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of department.  Practical experience in applying coursework to actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus, in a supervised internship program. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits.

ORCO 4450 - Directed Study in Organizational Communication
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Intensive, independent study to pursue research in a specified area which is significant in organizational communication literature and/or practice. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.

ORCO 4500 - Senior Capstone in Organizational Communication
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Practical application of tools and theories prevalent in the field of organizational communication involving an audit of organizational communication and culture and a consulting project.

ORCO 4850 - Development for Arts Organizations
3 credit hours

(Same as THEA 4850.) Prerequisite: Junior standing or permission of instructor. Development of not-for-profit arts organizations. Focuses on comprehensive approaches to fundraising. Includes not-for-profit arts organizations, board structures, and the terminology and tools of the fundraising profession. Ideal for future artist, not-for-profit manager, or those interested in fundraising. Laboratory hours required.

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