Interpersonal communication

Bachelor of arts University of Missouri-St. Louis
Connected yarn with pushpins.

Get started with UMSL

Apply here


If you seek to inspire, innovate or drive change, you need a message. It can’t be wishy-washy, vague or open to interpretation. The right words guide others to take the desired actions, be it something as simple as completing a task on the job, taking a stand for a cause or transforming an organization’s structure through morale. At the heart of every message is interpersonal communication. Beyond the words, tone, nonverbal signals, implication and intent all help convey a message to your audience and form the social glue behind leadership and collaborative relationships in the workplace.

Whether for sending a memo to employees or a press release to the national stage, interpersonal communication skills help with building trust from one-on-one interactions to getting an entire group to gel and work together toward a single goal. The University of Missouri-St. Louis’s Department of Communication and Media realizes how vital these skills are. To help you strengthen these competencies and pursue numerous message-crafting career opportunities, we offer an interpersonal communication emphasis for students enrolled in the online bachelor of arts in communication program. 

We believe that all words have purpose and strive to define the science behind them—how messages come together, the effect delivery plays and the audience’s perception and reaction. In line with our department’s mission, the online BA in communication stands on a foundation of theory and research and explores how these factor into creativity, intent and action. Through core courses covering all key communication disciplines, you’ll learn to develop messages that make an impact and gauge audience interactions to inform, influence or entertain with your words.

The interpersonal communication emphasis takes this a step further. You’ll explore how communication affects personal and professional relationships and discover how related theories apply to complex, real-world scenarios. Your skills equip you to become a mouthpiece for an organization, diffuse conflict, manage team collaboration and enhance interpersonal relationships. 

Beyond analyzing the methods behind the message, our faculty members actively participate in or direct influential research. They bring their advancements and insights into the classroom to help you envision real-world applications of concepts even before you start your internship or practicum experience.

Quick facts

Official name

Bachelor of arts in communication with an emphasis in interpersonal communication


University of Missouri-St. Louis

Program type

Bachelor's degree

Academic home

College of Arts & Sciences | Department of Communication & Media

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


Transfer credit hours


Transfer estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Communication professional talking to colleagues on a laptop.

Career prospects

No workplace can succeed without communication and collaboration. By studying interpersonal communication, you’ll sharpen your ability to navigate all types of human interactions in a range of contexts while learning when and where to deploy specific messages or techniques. In preparation for a career influencing group and one-and-one relationships, you’ll:

  • hone your verbal and nonverbal communication skills in the context of leadership, relationships and social influence;
  • dissect the anatomy of a message, from its myriad of cues to how words are received and interpreted; 
  • become a more persuasive communicator able to structure a narrative to generate a desired audience outcome;
  • learn to assess situations and audiences to implement relevant, effective communication strategies and improve relationships with colleagues, clients and loved ones; and
  • be able to adapt your message and approach to different cultures and perspectives.
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
median salary

What can you do with an interpersonal communication degree?

Countless industries benefit from employees possessing effective interpersonal communication skills. If you’re wondering what you can do with this degree, ask yourself where you see yourself making a difference. Are you interacting with clients, or broadcasting a message to the press? Do you see yourself shaping a large, multinational corporation from within, or giving a niche industry a voice? Will you be pioneering a new product or service, or will you be persevering on behalf of other people?

Once you have a clear frame of reference, the interpersonal communication emphasis opens the door to a career as a:

  • non-profit professional/community affairs liaison;
  • meeting and event planner/activity director;
  • human resources, employee relations and benefits coordinator;
  • recruiter;
  • interpersonal consultant;
  • career counselor;
  • hotel and hospitality manager;
  • fundraising manager;
  • sales manager;
  • labor relations or mediation manager;
  • publicist or public relations professional;
  • motivational speaker; or
  • advertising professional. 

Reflecting demand for professionals with interpersonal communication skills, figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics identify 4% growth for media and communication occupations through 2029. 

Program structure

Ready to dedicate yourself to the finer points of human relationships and messaging? Students enrolling in UMSL’s online bachelor’s in communication program complete a minimum of 120 credit hours, of which 36 go toward your major. You’ll elevate and expand your knowledge of all communication strategies through 21 credit hours of core courses and devote at least 15 credit hours toward your emphasis area. 

Among these two sections, you’ll accelerate toward your desired career with an internship or practicum related to your emphasis area. Whether in an agency, organization or another environment, you’ll engineer messages for specific audiences while gleaning insights from and building connections with experienced professionals. 

The online bachelor’s in communication requires no on-campus visits. The typical student takes six classes per semester to earn their degree in four years.

Course work includes

As you progress from the core to your emphasis area, you’ll take courses in:

  • health communication, covering interpersonal, organizational and mass media methods for interacting with patients, factoring in diversity, providing human resources and public relations support and responding compassionately during times of crisis;
  • small group communication to solve problems and make more informed decisions; 
  • the theories, techniques, forms, applications and function of persuasive communication;
  • communication within an intimate relationship;
  • the role of gender in public, mass, interpersonal and dyadic communication; and
  • the science and research behind interpersonal communication. 

Review the descriptions for all courses available.


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

4 years

Typical course load

4-6 classes per semester


The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Faculty spotlight

Suahn Cho.

Dr. Suahn Jang Cho's research focuses on normative influence in health communication (e.g., behavioral adoption and behavioral intentions) in domestic and international contexts. Her secondary research focus is communication variables, including communication efficacy and avoidance, in events that increase uncertainty in close relationships. Dr. Cho's work has been published in leading journals, including Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Health Communication, and Communication Quarterly. Dr. Cho's teaching focuses on Interpersonal Communication and Social Influence.

Suahn Cho, PhD

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Communication & Media