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Undergraduate | In-Person

Public Advocacy, BA/BS

You have the power to improve the public good with communication skills learned at Belmont.

Why Major in Public Advocacy? 

Belmont's Public Advocacy major challenges students to use communication responsibly and effectively in order to enact positive social change.

The purpose of this interdisciplinary program is to prepare students for lives and careers focused on the use of communication to improve the public good. This purpose reinforces our Belmont commitment to prepare students to be diverse leaders of purpose, character, wisdom and transformational mindset, eager and equipped to make the world a better place.

Equipping students with communication skills aimed at creating and sustaining social change requires, in addition to personal communication skills, a deep understanding of historical and cultural roots of our current situation. Consequently, at its core, Public Advocacy is situated at the nexus of the liberal arts and professional action.

Public Advocacy is about creating change and requires skills in audience analysis, message development and use of communication tools. Because there is significant potential for use of these skills and understandings for personal gain and power, this program will emphasize ethical choices, integrity, service and humility.

What You'll Learn 

  • Audience analysis skills
  • Effectively develop messages
  • Utilize communication tools to drive social change
  • Gain a deep understanding of historical, political and cultural roots of current day events
  • Conduct research

Career Possibilities

  • Nonprofit Administration Management
  • Grant Writing
  • Fundraising/Development
  • Volunteer Coordination Program Coordination
  • Event Coordination
  • Media Analysis/Planning
  • Creative Directing Writing/Editing
  • Public Opinion and/or Information Research
  • Community Affairs
  • Campaigning
  • Legislative Assistance
  • Lobbying
  • Government Program Administration
  • Legislative, Executive, or Judicial Services

Program Details


The public advocacy major leads to either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. It requires 128 hours of coursework:

  • BELL core requirements: 53 hours
  • Major requirements (including 6 hours of electives): 30 hours
  • Minor requirements: 18 hours
  • General electives: 27 hours

See All Program Requirements

Courses You'll Take

Public Advocacy majors are required to take core courses in:

  • COM 1040 Yesterday’s Times

This course deepens understanding of the political and cultural contexts of contemporary public communication by identifying, researching and cataloging current issues of public importance. Public Advocacy majors must take this 1-credit course three times in different semesters.

  • COM 2200 Persuasion

Provides advanced skills in the development of messages that aim to influence human behavior, attitudes and values.

  • COM 2040 Public Advocacy

As an introduction to practices of public advocacy this course improves understanding of the connections between public audiences and message content. As an ethical public communicator you will improve your appreciation of the responsibilities inherent in attempts to impact public perception and understanding.

  • PRL 2820: Public Relations Design and Production

This course equips students with the knowledge and technical skills to conceptualize, design, produce and manage various print and digital media that are commonly used in public relations programs and campaigns. 

  • COM 1940: Communication Tools

This course is an introduction to software and technology used for creating, understanding and presenting messages used by communicators in professional environments.

  • PRL 3180 Public Relations Research

This course examines the roles and techniques of research for effective public relations theory building, decision making and accountability/reporting. Among the topics explored are the research process, background/secondary research, identification of publics, environmental scanning/monitoring, qualitative and quantitative methods, content analysis, in-depth and focus group interviews, surveys and experiments.

  • COM 3210 The Rhetoric of Social Movements

This course will analyze the persuasive strategies and tactics employed by agitators and the establishment they seek to change. It explores the nature and types of social movements and the rhetorical requirements, obstacles and needs of leaders and followers within the movement. Activists from social movements, both past and present, will visit the class to answer questions about their participation in social protest.

  • COM 4040 Public Advocacy Practicum

This external practicum in public advocacy provides significant experience with an organization engaged in advocacy for the public good. This practical experience enhances your vocational objectives and is normally taken in your final year of college.

In addition, students choose 6 credit hours from the following elective courses:

  • COM 3220 Environmental Communication

This course explores communication about the environment as it occurs in public discourse, primarily in the United States. Students will explain, analyze, critically judge and generate environmental messages which take into account the complexity and challenges of contemporary communication settings.

  • HIS 2020 The American Experience Since Reconstruction

This course is a survey of the political, social and economic history of the United States since the Reconstruction Era. Themes include industrialization and its impacts, the changing role of the federal government, the rise of the United States as a world power, the complexities of American nationalism amidst persistent regional identities, the applications and implications of American’s racial and ethnic attitudes, and diverse cultural responses to the changes of the modern era.

  • HIS 4330 American Thought and Culture Since 1865

This course examines American intellectuals from the Civil War to the present–their lives, ideas and respective cultural milieus. Major historical themes include the impact of Darwin’s Origin of the Species and the Civil War on American thought; the responses of artists and intellectuals to mass market capitalism, large scale industrialization and various mechanisms of modernity; the influence of European thinkers and emigres on American thought; and the decline of the public intellectual as a factor in American cultural life. In addition, the course explores the differences and complementarities in American intellectuals’ approaches to these themes and problems from various standpoints, among them, “technical” philosophy, social criticism, political thought, literary criticism, aesthetics and philosophies of science.

  • PSC 2200 American Political Institutions

The focus of this course is on Congress and the Presidency, the political branches of American government and the bureaucracy. As an introduction to the sub-field of American politics, the course will study these institutions in greater depth through looking at the approaches the discipline takes toward them. In studying these three institutions in greater detail, it will also investigate how they interact to create public policy.

  • PSC 3210 State and Local Politics

Government in the United States is a complex interaction between federal, state and local levels. This course focuses on the state and local levels, their ability to set policy or influence federal policy, as well as the opportunities and means for citizens to influence the policymaking process through them.

  • REL 3520 Faith and Justice

An introduction to a theology of justice in the history of Christian thought, to theories of justice in the Western intellectual tradition, to contemporary practices of justice and the issues which initiated them, and the contemporary components of social change that draw up on the rich tradition of justice grounded in Christian faith.

  • Belmont IJM is a chapter of International Justice Mission, the world's largest anti-slavery organization, based out of Washington DC. Students work to raise funds and awareness about the issues of slavery and human trafficking around the world, pray as a community for the freedom of all people and mobilize students and the Nashville community to advocate for those who do not have a voice or a chance to protect themselves.
  • Student Government Association: SGA positively impacts Belmont University, to the best of their ability, by collaborating between students and administration, supporting student organizations, fostering character and abiding by the Christian standards set forth by Belmont University. Through this, SGA will enable students to have an impact on Belmont and the surrounding community that will outlast themselves.
  • Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL): an annual legislative session conducted by college students from across Tennessee that provides students with an opportunity to learn about the Tennessee state government and to express their opinions on state issues. This model legislature convenes in the State Capitol for four days and consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives, which debate bills that are produced wholly by the students.
  • College Democrats: Belmont College Democrats is a student organization centered around diversity celebrating, community building, robust discussion, civic activism and the exploration of political ideology.
  • College Republicans: Belmont College Republicans encourages whomever considers themselves to have conservative values or beliefs (or none at all) to come out and see what they are all about. Their focus is to spread the true meaning of what it is to be a Republican, and they hope to straighten out some misconceptions. We hope to form a community of students who enjoy discussing their political opinions, creating a healthy amount of political awareness on campus.
  • United Nations Association at Belmont University: The United Nations Association is a nationwide organization with a mission to educate, advocate and inspire on behalf of the United Nations. What makes our chapter unique is our concerted effort to serve locally and inspire globally in accordance with the 17 sustainable development goals released in 2016. Our chapter will host knowledgeable global leaders to educate us on global issues. We will also host monthly meetings and volunteer opportunities based on the sustainable development goals we are passionate about as an organization. Please join us and learn how to serve as a global leader and local leader!
  • Belmont Pre-Law Society: This organization is dedicated to educating students on trial advocacy and social justice, all the while giving them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in law school. Our goal is to build a community of ambitious students who are invested in helping members of the student body reach informed decisions about their futures. We aim to promote general interest in legal processes and professions by hosting engaging speakers from different areas of the legal field and organizing a diverse series of information sessions, LSAT preparation workshops, volunteer opportunities, networking programs and social events. Additionally, we are affiliated with the American Mock Trial Association and sponsor two competitive mock trial teams that compete numerous times each year. Through our pre-law programming and participation in collegiate mock trial, we hope to enhance student preparedness through providing the tools and resources necessary to effectively navigate the law school admissions process.
  • UNICEF Belmont: UNICEF’s mission is to promote the rights and well-being of every child. This organization carries out various activities to meet the needs of children in developing countries. This organization is designed to educate, fundraise and raise awareness and will fundraise for UNICEF each semester.
  • Belmont Ascend: The organization's main goal is to create a diverse community, foster a global mindset among all Belmont students, develop cross-cultural fluency and prepare Belmont graduates to lead on a global scale. In collaboration with Center for Global Citizenship, Ascend student organization will sponsor monthly series, including global summit, global executive spotlight, townhalls, global experiences, volunteering in the community and opportunities to engage with students from other countries.
  • Tower Creative Communications is the nationally affiliated, student-run strategic communication agency at Belmont University. Established in 2006 as a professional development initiative of Belmont’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Tower Creative strives to deliver excellent communication strategies and tactics to meet actual needs, solve real problems and, ultimately, advance their clients’ missions. The agency welcomes a diverse group of student associates—from any major or minor—with knowledge and skills in public relations, marketing, management, audio/video production, graphic design, photography, social media management, web design and writing. Working together, associates sharpen their skills, build their portfolios and bolster their confidence while serving the communication needs of on- and off-campus clients.

Student Testimonial

"The Public Advocacy major at Belmont is an incredible program that I am so grateful to be a part of. The classes are eye-opening and challenge students to put aside biases and see the world through unique perspectives. It takes typical communications courses to a new level by teaching students to think outside the box and use their voices for progress."

Miriam Blake, Class of 2025

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