College of Communication > Faculty & Staff > Faculty Focus > Meet the Program Director: Tim Cole on Relational Communication

Meet the Program Director: Tim Cole on Relational Communication


"Be curious and share."
-Professor Tim Cole, Relational Communication Program Director

On the MA in Relational Communication Program

The Relational Communication program provides students with the knowledge and skills to manage interdependent relationships, in both their personal and professional lives. We cover a wide range of theories and concepts that help students understand how to effectively interact with others in order to achieve their goals. Some of the topics addressed include how to resolve conflict, solve problems, give feedback, express emotions and foster intimacy, just to name a few. The program is not designed for a specific career; rather it provides knowledge and skills that are critical across one’s lifespan and multiple careers.

On the Type of Student Relational Communication Seeks

The most important factor in determining the quality of one’s life deals with how individuals manage their close relationships. Managing interpersonal relationships is also extremely difficult to do. We seek out students who are curious and want to learn more about how to deal with one of life’s most basic questions; that is, how can we best relate to each other in ways that create mutually beneficial outcomes?

Humans, by nature, are highly social creatures. We are looking for students who want to explore in detail how our social and personal relationships work. Regardless of one’s career choice, research consistently shows that individuals who have strong interpersonal skills are highly effective across a wide variety of contexts. Our program is unique in that we provide extensive and detailed knowledge about fundamental interpersonal processes that can be immediately applied in a personal, professional, and/or community setting.

Why our Program is a Unique Place to Study Relational Communication

Students in the program engage the course material in a wide variety of ways, including seminars, class discussions, self-assessments, collaborative projects, presentations, and individual assignments.

Our program provides students who are interested in a career in academia with courses in instructional development, as well as opportunities to do research and teaching. Our program also prepares students with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in careers where interpersonal relationships are critical for success, careers such as management, consulting, marketing, sales, human relations, training and development.

The key strengths of our program are the quality of the faculty​ and our commitment to our students. The faculty in the program are knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects they teach. The faculty also enjoy working with students both in and outside of the classroom.

What Drew Professor Cole to the Discipline?

As an undergraduate I decided to take a class on human communication because it fit my schedule. That course would change my life. I was an engineering major at the time. Engineering seemed like a perfect fit; as a child I always had to understand how things worked. But in that first communication course, I encountered the biggest puzzle of all: How do our relationships work? Because of that course, not only did I change my major, but I eventually earned a PhD in interpersonal communication and have spent the past two decades doing research on close relationships. Best of all, I now get to teach the course that so captured my interest as a student all those years ago.

My primary interests deal with how individuals form attachments, manage interdependence, and how evolutionary processes have shaped how we relate to each other.

Why Do You Teach at DePaul?

I love working at DePaul because it of its culture; it is a fast-paced and highly innovative institution. We are constantly updating the curriculum and trying new approaches to teaching. I feel like I have had several careers, despite working at one institution, because DePaul is constantly on the move.

What Makes Chicago a Special City to You?

The lakefront, my neighborhood feels like a small community, and being in a diverse and pedestrian friendly city.​​​