Focus on Societies

National Communication Association

In November 1914, 17 speech teachers formed the National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking (NAATPS) when they broke away from the National Council of Teachers of English. With this break from English, the founders of this new learned society, now called the National Communication Association (NCA), declared that the study and teaching of communication was distinct from other disciplines, deserving of its own institutional and intellectual disciplinary home within the context of American higher education.

Over the next century, their vision flourished; communication is now firmly established as a course of both undergraduate and graduate study in colleges and universities throughout the United States and around the world. At its foundation, the academic discipline of communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meaning within and across various contexts; NCA’s mission is to advance this discipline as it studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry.

NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA is the largest learned society in communication, with a membership of educators, practitioners, and students in every state, as well as many international members.

NCA hosts an annual convention that attracts more than 5,000 attendees each year and includes more than 1,200 programs and meetings that provide opportunities for communication scholars to present their research and to pursue professional development possibilities.

NCA publishes 11 academic journals that present the latest research in the discipline and showcase diverse perspectives on a range of scholarly topics. All NCA members are provided electronic access to current and archived issues of the journals. Additionally, NCA regularly disseminates data about the communication discipline, including reports on the state of the discipline, annual job market analyses, communication program databases, and briefs on a number of topics ranging from average faculty salaries to the value of the communication major. NCA’s Career Center helps students and scholars meet the challenges of pursuing and securing academic positions in communication by providing an outlet for institutions who are posting employment positions and a source for scholars who are pursuing new career possibilities.

NCA organizes and sponsors programs that serve to engage public and professional audiences with current and emerging communication topics. Ongoing programs include the Institute for Faculty Development, a one-week program that helps communication faculty remain current with emerging and ongoing issues in theory and research; the Doctoral Honors Seminar, an intensive seminar that allows advanced graduate students to interact with distinguished researchers for discussions on current topics and research within the discipline; the Committee of International Discussion and Debate (CIDD), an international debate tour that promotes international understanding and the practice of communication through discussion and debates between students from the United States and other nations; and the NCA Chairs’ Summer Institute, which offers department chairs a targeted and informative series of panel discussions and interactions to assist them in their administrative responsibilities.

NCA also helps disseminate communication scholarship broadly through regular media outreach and a robust social media presence. The association publishes a quarterly magazine, Spectra, and a regular electronic newsletter. The association is active on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Finally, NCA advocates for public policy that supports the professional efforts of communication scholars. NCA staff visit Capitol Hill offices yearly, often with partner organizations (ACLS, NHA, COSSA), as part of an effort to support funding for humanities and social sciences research and other research/educational priorities.

For more information on the National Communication Association, visit