About Us


The Cathy Hughes School of Communications (CHSOC) is the third largest of Howard University's 14 schools and colleges. For more than 50 years the school has trained media and communication professionals through premier programs such as public relations, advertising, audio production, journalism, media management, film and television, legal communication, and communications graduate programs. CHSOC graduates are known at the local, national and global levels for their leadership with and across diverse communities through communication research, professional practice, innovation, job creation, social justice, and service via cutting-edge knowledge, skills and technology.

The CHSOC has a legacy of excellence demonstrated by its track record of graduating the most Black communications professionals; a growing reputation as the place for the best students who wish to study communications; and an active and engaged Board of Visitors, which assists the school with fundraising efforts. The CHSOC grooms' students in an environment that promotes high expectations, demands rigorous study, introduces innovative learning experiences, exposes students to outstanding media professionals, and offers them opportunities to participate in programs that illustrate the profound impact true leadership in communications can have on society. A large percentage of our alumni are distinguished journalists, broadcast professionals, academicians, and clinicians.

Critical to the School’s culture of excellence is its success at maintaining a cadre of outstanding full-time and adjunct professors who are renowned for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy winners, Fulbright recipients, ASHA Fellows, prominent researchers, renowned authors, award-winning journalists and other media and communications professionals. The CHSOC was founded in 1971 and led by Dean Tony Brown, and it was named in honor of Cathy Hughes in 2016. Under Dean Brown, the School established one of the first annual career fairs that continues to help industry managers interview and hire young Black media professionals. The School’s birth coincided with the debut of the Howard University’s commercial radio station, WHUR-FM. Student-run radio station, WHBC-AM, was established in 1974. Under the second dean, the late Dr. Lionel Barrow, PBS-affiliate WHMM-TV (now WHUT-TV) began broadcasting in 1980, and it continues to serve as a training ground for students. In 1982, the School moved into the C.B. Powell Building; in 2021 the CHSOC relocated to a renovated, temporary location, the MET Building, 300 Bryant St., NW.

Under the third dean Dr. Orlando Taylor, the Walter Annenberg Foundation’s $2 million endowment created the Annenberg Honors Program. ACEJMC accredited the Department of Journalism, and the Department of Radio, Television and Film in 1986. In 1993, Dr. Jannette Dates became the fourth dean, serving until 2011. Time Warner invested $2 million to establish the Time Warner Endowed Chair, while the Hearst Foundation endowment supports the residencies of distinguished visiting journalists. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Chukwuka Onwumechili served as interim dean.

In 2013, Dr. Gracie Lawson-Borders became the fifth dean. The year was filled with renewed energy with the launching of new degree programs following the university PCAR (President’s Commission on Academic Renewal) initiative and the restructuring of the school. The new undergraduate departments of Media, Journalism and Film (MJFC) and Strategic, Legal and Management Communication (SLMC), as well as the graduate departments of Communication, Culture and Media Studies (CCMS) and Communication Sciences and Disorders (COSD) were established.

In 2014, Linda Johnson Rice donated more than $2 million to launch the John H. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. In 2017, the Academic and Administrative Program Prioritization initiative included the launch of a university-wide assessment study to determine how well academic programs aligned with Howard University’s mission and goals. As a result, the CHSOC was designated a Strategic Investment program in 2021, resulting in a pledge of additional program resources.


Our Mission, Vision and Core Values

Mission Statement. The mission of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications is to prepare graduates to exercise global leadership within and across diverse communities, locally, nationally and globally through communication research, professional practice, innovation, job creation, social justice and service via cutting-edge knowledge, skills and technology. The mission is aligned with the mission of Howard University. It is a mission founded and grounded in ethics, academic freedom, the disciplined and rigorous pursuit of knowledge, a commitment to social advocacy and social justice, and a responsibility for leadership in the complex and multifaceted field of communications, as both academicians and professional practitioners.

Vision Statement. The School is multidisciplinary, committed to being an academic, applied professional and research program of the first rank. We prepare students for leadership in a changing, technology driven and communication-focused society. We seek to establish and maintain institutional linkages both nationally and internationally which extend and strengthen the visibility and impact of the School across the professional and academic community. Consistent with the historical and steadfast mission of Howard University, the School acts to promote liberation from social justice, including systemic racism in the United States and abroad.

Core Values. In addition to the core values embraced by the University, the Cathy Hughes School of Communications is committed to excellence in all aspects of our professional and academic life. Both in principle and in practice, we are committed to respect for and elevation of the inherent dignity of all human beings. In this regard, we value and commit ourselves to a life of human service and to maintenance of the highest ideals of ethical integrity.

Changes in programs

In 2020 Craig Newmark Philanthropies donated $2.5 million to support the journalism program. In 2021, Knight Foundation invested $5 million to establish Knight Chair in Race and Journalism chair, with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones serving as the inaugural Chair. An additional $20 million was pledged for founder Hannah-Jones to launch a Center for Journalism and Democracy, to focus on training and supporting aspiring journalists in acquiring the historical, analytical and technical expertise needed for exemplary investigative reporting.

In addition, in 2022, the University announced plans to construct several state-of-the-art multidisciplinary academic buildings, including the Center for Fine Arts and Communications to house the CHSOC and the College of Fine Arts.


Strengths of the program

We consider our strength is in providing a rigorous academic program, internships and experiential experiences for our students. We have a faculty that traverses the ranks from assistant to full professor, many have professional media backgrounds and active scholarly production in noted journals including our, Howard Journal of Communication.  We have alumni dispersed around the country in prominent communication and media positions from CNN to ESPN to CBS, FOX, Google, Edelman and Saatchi and Saatchi.

We believe the rigor and preparation in our academic programs prepare students well for media and communications professions. Our annual Career and Internship Fair held each fall continues to attract top organizations and students from neighboring universities. The job fair plays a pivotal role in placement of our students in conjunction with faculty and the Center for Career and Professional Success.

We continue our focus on providing students with emerging technology to develop their skills and preparation for the industry. Our Tech Center houses all of our audio and broadcast equipment that students use for course work and projects. We have seven computer labs, and we have Studio A that is used for teaching, training and broadcast production. Our Auditorium/Screening Room West (SCRW) is also used for teaching, production and screening.