Communication & Performing Arts

Courses Offered


Within the Communication & Performing Arts Department, Film Studies courses are popular among students.       

  • Introduction to Film This course examines techniques of film production and explores the relationship between film form and film meaning. You will view films that represent significant movements in the evolution of the medium. You will also learn how to research and write analytical essays about these films.
  • History of World Cinema This course examines the history of the film medium, primarily as an art form but also as a form of communication, in the United States and internationally from its origin in the 1800s to the present, highlighting significant movements in its development. Students view domestic and foreign films as a basis for study.


Journalism is an exciting, rewarding career. The growing journalism program at Madison College contains two tracks:

  • News Reporter/Writer prepares students for careers as news reporters, feature writers, copy editors, and public relations writers. 
  • Visual Journalist prepares students for careers in video journalism, photojournalism, and documentaries.

The Journalism Certificate can be part of a student's course work for the 2-year associate degree in Liberal Arts.  In other words, you could leave Madison College with a Liberal Arts Degree and Journalism Certificate. Students can also earn the Journalism Certificate in conjunction with a 2-year associate degree in programs such as visual communication or photography.

Many journalism students attend Madison College for the sole purpose of taking the Journalism Certificate courses. These “returning students” usually already have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in another field. They apply to the Journalism Certificate program to acquire specific skills that will help them secure employment in journalism or public relations. Students can apply to the Journalism Certificate program and begin to take journalism courses the semester right after they are accepted into the certificate program.

Many other students who take Madison College courses have no intention of working in the media. These students simply want  a "taste" of journalism by taking one or two courses. They might take Intro to Mass Communication, for instance, to better understand the role of media in our society. They might enroll in Feature Writing to learn how to develop magazine stories for publication. They might take Documentary Storytelling to decide if their dream of making a living as a documentary producer is a worthwhile goal. 


Music courses at Madison College provide students with an understanding of the history and theory of music as well as offering various opportunities to perform.  The following options are popular:

  • History of Pop and Rock Music covers the history of popular and rock genres from ca. 1920 to present. It emphasizes music literature, form, style analysis, and social and cultural criticism.

  • Introduction to World Music acquaints students with music from Native American groups, Japan, India and other non-European cultural regions. Besides a strong emphasis on listening skills, course study includes performance participation, readings, film, lecture, discussion, and field trips. No music background is required.

  • Music Theory I  requires literacy in Western musical notation plus understanding of keys, and major and minor scales. Students analyze and compose music in the style of the common practice period. Through the study of melodic and harmonic compositional language, students complete a final composition project exhibiting principles of voice leading.

  • Music Ensembles offer performance credit to students who play in one of our Madison College instrumental performance groups: Madison Municipal Band; Madison College Community Jazz Band; Madison Community Orchestra.

To learn about music-related extra- or co-curricular activities at Madison College, please refer to the Theatre and Music web page.


The ability to communicate effectively is consistently cited as a skill valued by employers. Various communication courses designed to help students develop these essential skills can be found under the heading “Speech” in the Madison College course catalog. 

  • Speech often referred to as public speaking—presents the basic techniques of effective public speaking and listening for students in degree or diploma programs. Students improve their oral communication skills through analysis of purposive listening, preparing and presenting informative and persuasive speeches, and using the group process to discuss issues and solve problems. Speech is offered in the traditional face-to-face format, as a 100% online course, or as a hybrid of the traditional and online formats.

  • Interpersonal & Small Group Communication explores verbal and nonverbal concepts, theories, and practical skills necessary to become competent in interpersonal and small group settings. Students explore dependent, independent and interdependent relationships with others in personal and work-related settings.

  • Argumentation & Debate focuses on the theory and practice of argumentation. On the theoretical level, we seek to conceive the operations of social and personal transformation that can take place during debate. In particular, we focus on the means by which arguments can turn on established bases of authority. These sites of commonplace meaning are not only approached as potential supports for claims, but also as sites in which uncertainty can be created. On the practical level, we interpret, analyze, and counter present-day arguments. We also construct arguments of our own and test them in live debates. Finally, we consider the ways in which the contemporary U.S. government and mass media are actually structured, with an eye to developing pragmatic strategies for effective advocacy.


Courses in this area of study offer  students a wide range of opportunities for both classroom and hands on learning.

  • Introduction to Theatre Students receive training in the understanding, appreciation, and criticism of drama. This course improves students’ abilities as readers and viewers of drama.  Students also learn about drama’s ability to express the deepest and most complex feelings and concerns of human beings as individuals, as family members, and as members of society.
  • Acting 1 This course explores the actor's process in preparing for a role. It covers basic acting principles, including action, objective, obstacles, conflict, beats and being in the moment. It incorporates fundamentals of movement, voice and improvisation essential to the art of acting. Students will examine scripts, do character analysis, maintain actors' journals and perform five graded exercises.
  • Theater Production This course examines the theater, focusing on production and technical roles, started in the Introduction to Drama course. We emphasize the director, set, sound, and lighting design. Students learn through practical participation in a staged production.

As part of the Liberal Arts Transfer Program, our courses are accepted by the University of Wisconsin and many other degree programs.

You can use the Transfer Information System (TIS) for more information about how course credits transfer.

To learn about theatre-related extra- or co-curricular activities at Madison College, please refer to the Performing Arts web page.

Contact us to start achieving your academic and professional goals today.