For a pdf copy of the syllabus, click here.

COM 3401 Business and Professional Communication Sample Syllabus

PLEASE NOTE: The information below is intended to give you an approximation of the course, but it may not accurately reflect your particular section. Assignments, policies, etc. may be out-of-date here. For correct, up-to-date information, please refer to the syllabus provided to you by your instructor. This syllabus is subject to change.

Course description:

Principles of communication within organizations. Topics and activities include organizational communication and communication theory, group problem solving, resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and formal presentations.

Required Textbook:
Business Communication for Success. (2015). By Scott McLean. ISBN 13: 978-0-9823618-5-6.

This is an Open Educational Resource (free electronic textbook). It is on the Blackboard Site; the Open Lab Site, or available for download here:
Note that the City Tech Bookstore will not be carrying this textbook.

Literacy Requirement

This course requires strong, college-level English literacy skills. You will be required to read, write, speak, listen to and understand English beyond a high school level. Students not meeting these basic literacy requirements are strongly urged to reconsider taking this course.

Technology Requirements

As a hybrid course, COM 3401 will be taught both in person and online. Familiarity using a web browser and easy access to a computer with high speed internet is required. This course requires the use of CUNY Portal, Blackboard, Open Lab and a City Tech email address. All of these electronic resources are available on the “Quick Links” drop down menu of the City Tech Homepage ( You must go through the process of registering for each of these no-cost internet services.

This course requires the use of Microsoft Office Software, available to you for FREE as a CUNY student. To download:

  1. Sign in to your email account at
  2. Click on the “Settings” icon in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Office 365 settings” in the drop‐down menu.
  4. Click on “Software” on the settings page.
  5. Select your language preference (below the install button).
    -Click on Install Now.

Please note that online meetings are “asynchronous,” meaning that you are NOT required to be online during the scheduled date and time that week. You are only required to complete the weekly assignments at some time BEFORE our weekly meeting.

Please note that these technology requirements are not negotiable. Students who fail to meet technology requirements will likely receive a grade of F in the course.

Technology Support

These days the professional world depends on electronic communication. City Tech is committed to helping students master email, Blackboard, Open Lab, Microsoft Office and other digital communication tools.
iTec is where students can get assistance with their technology needs. Here is their contact information:
iTec, Room G601, (718)254-8565

Welcome to Business and Professional Communication!

Communication is the number one skill employers look for in potential employees. This course is geared towards gaining an edge in your career through a better understanding of communication, especially for work. Your Professor is here to serve you and help build confidence and hope. The goal of this course is to develop your professional communication skills and knowledge. We create cover letters and résumés that stand out from the crowd, simulate successful interviews, and give professional multimedia presentations. The goal is to support your career goals and help you achieve a sustainable, satisfying work life.

Why this course may be different from what you are used to:

The best way to get better at communication is by doing it. Many college courses involve passively receiving information from lectures and the text book, then restating them on an exam for a grade. This class involves that, but more. Namely, you will be making presentations and actively participating in class discussions and role-playing exercises. Shy and reticent students will be gently but firmly nudged outside of their comfort zone to become more vocal in class and groups. Non-participation is not an option.


Two Impromptu Speeches
Impromptu speeches are presented with little or no preparation. They provide an opportunity to think on your feet and get comfortable speaking in front of others. Students are selected at random to present 2 to 4-minute speech on a topic of the Professor’s choosing. Impromptu Speeches are not scheduled, so it is important that you are present during each class. Graded as Complete/Incomplete.

Online Discussions
Each week questions are posed on the Blackboard Discussion Board. The questions are based on the readings, things we discuss in class, and they may contain links to articles and videos. Write about one page in response, and respond to others responses too. In your response, please pose a least one discussion question that others can respond to. In these responses, you are encouraged to share about your interests and life experiences. Spelling and grammar mistakes detract from your grade. After posting your response, each student is expected to write a paragraph in response to others posts (in the comments section). Graded as Complete/Incomplete.

On Blackboard, you will find a link to Quizzes. These quizzes are 40-50 multiple choice and T/F questions for each chapter. You can take the quiz 3 times. Your highest score will be used. Note, these quizzes are open-book. Students who don’t complete each quiz by the stated deadline will get a grade of zero. No make-up quizzes.

Cover Letter
Each student will submit a one-page cover letter applying for a (real) job posting. Use job search websites (provided) to find a job, and then save the job description webpage as a “pdf” to submit along with your cover letter. You should read the job description closely and refer to it in the letter. In the letter, you need to persuade your potential employers that you are the right candidate for the job, and how your unique experience and skills will benefit the company, based on the job description. Model cover letters will be provided, and the required format should be closely followed. If you are not satisfied with your grade, you may revise your cover letter according to the Professor’s suggestions and resubmit it for regrading. Please include the words “REVISED” at the top of the page for the revised cover letter.

A résumé is an attractively presented list of your jobs or internships, education, and other information. Like the cover letter, your résumé should be tailored to fit the specific job description. The résumé should fit on one page. Sample résumés will be provided, and you should follow the required format closely. Like the cover letter, you can revise the résumé and resubmit for a better grade. Please include the words “REVISED” at the top of the page for the revised Résumé.

Mock Job Interview
Here we pretend you are at a real job interview. You answer questions based on your résumé, cover letter and job description. Bring printed copies of your cover letter, résumé and job description, for classmates who will spend 15 minutes interviewing you. The roles will then reverse, allowing each person to serve both as an interviewer and interviewee. This is great practice for a real interview. It helps if you dress as you would for a real interview. Graded as Complete/Incomplete.Those who show up to class without a printed copy of the job description, cover letter and résumé receive Incomplete.

Final Presentation/Oral Exam
This semester you will be researching a topic, creating a speaking outline and PowerPoint presentation, and finally, delivering a well-organized, argued, and polished presentation (6-8 minutes only). This will be your oral examination in this class. You need to speak extemporaneously, meaning, not read off a manuscript, word for word, but delivered in a conversational style with plenty of eye contact.

In the presentation, teach the Professor and classmates about your major and profession (or the profession you want). You choose the topic, in collaboration with the Professor, who must approve it. Your topic must have something to do with your profession and communication on the job. You need to conduct research about your chosen field using the internet, library materials and/or in-person interviews. You establish credibility by displaying sincere interest in your topic and sharing your own professional and academic experiences.

Topics may include (but are not limited to): what you have learned in the course of your education and professional experience; communication problems and solutions in your profession; the impact of communication technologies; fast growing careers; personal branding; professional opportunities for multilingual speakers; globalization; migration, or your entrepreneurial business plan. Other topics from the news, textbook and the Blackboard Discussion Board will be considered. Names will be drawn out of a hat to assign presentation dates. The final presentation will be evaluated on the following components:

  • Outline: You will compose a speaking outline, containing your entire speech, submitted on Blackboard. The outline should be around 3 to 5 pages, closely following the outline template and sample outline provided. The instructor will be commenting on your outline and returning it to you in order to incorporate corrections and suggestions. You may revise the outline according to the suggestions provided and resubmit for a chance at a better grade. Right after your Final Presentation you must hand in a printed copy of the Outline. 3-5 outside sources are required, cited in three places
    • In a “Work Cited” section at the end of the outline;
    • “In-text” (with author or title and year in brackets) whenever you mention a fact obtained through research. For example, (Jones, 2015);
    • Finally, you should mention your source of information out loud in your speech.
  • Oral Presentation: When you give your speech/final presentation, you will be graded on three criteria:
    • Content: This is what’s in your speech. Did you support your claims with evidence? Was it well organized? Did it have all the right parts, like Intro, Body and Conclusion? Interesting facts and stories? Etc.
    • Delivery: This is how you gave the speech. Did you speak clearly and loud enough to be heard? Did you make eye contact with the audience? Did you appear to be well prepared and rehearsed? Etc.
    • Outline: Does your outline conform to the assignment? Is it clearly organized? Is it free from spelling and grammatical errors? Did you cite your sources correctly?

Each presentation will be followed with audience questions. Those speaking more or less than a minute outside of the 6 to 8-minute requirement will not receive a grade higher than C. Students must present on assigned date and time. If you don’t show up on your assigned day you get an F on this assignment.

  • Presentation Power Point: Your presentation will contain visual aids, using PowerPoint. Your professor will be looking for interesting, pleasant pictures accompanied by minimal text. Charts and graphs are great as long as they are easy to read and you can explain them clearly. Each slide can have up to three bullet points, maximum. Slides with too much text are NOT acceptable! The slides must complement your oral presentation and not distract from it. Reading off the slides is not allowed.

Peer Evaluation
During Final Presentations, those in the audience will complete a one-page evaluation form for each presentation. The two evaluation criteria are content (words and visuals) and delivery (preparation, voice, eye contact, etc.). You are expected to make numerous comments about the strengths of the presentation as well as where there is room for improvement. Superficial comments such as “good job” or “eye contact ok” are unacceptable and will not receive credit. Your handwriting/ printing must be clearly legible. Graded as Complete/Incomplete.

Class Participation
Your class participation will be graded by taking into account:
1) Your oral participation during class (including asking and answering questions; sharing your own knowledge and work experience during class; sharing your informed opinions on issues being discussed, etc.)
2) Your professional demeanor including your attitude; etiquette; punctuality; paying attention; taking notes and appearing to be prepared and engaged. Treat this class like a job. For more information, see the “Etiquette” section below.

GRADING categories with weights (%)
Impromptu Speeches 10%
Online Discussions 10%
Quizzes 15%
Cover Letter 10%
Résumé 10%
Mock Job Interview 5%
Final Presentation/ Oral Exam (Total of 25%)
• Outline (1st draft) (5%)
• Oral Presentation (graded on Content, Delivery and Outline) 5% each
• PowerPoint (5%)
Peer Evaluations 5%
Class Participation 10%
Total 100%


NOTE: This is is a sample of what might happen in the course of the semester, but it may not correspond to your particular section. For an updated syllabus with correct due dates, see the syllabus with your section number on it as provided by your instructor.

Week Class topics/ Assignments due in bold Homework due following week
1 Syllabus; Introductions; Overview of assignments; Instructions for downloading free Microsoft Office. Discussion Board (About You); Syllabus Quiz; Ch. 1 Quiz; Download Microsoft Office
2 More about Blackboard site; Doing research online; Citing; Plagiarism; Impromptu speeches. Final presentation topics. Discussion Board (Videos); Ch. 2 & 3 Quizzes; Choose Final Presentation topic.
3 Final Presentation topic due. Job Searches; Tailoring your Résumé and Cover Letter to fit the job description; Résumés and Cover Letters assigned; Samples provided. Discussion Board (Find a job); Ch. 4 & 5 Quizzes. Read Ch. 9 on Résumés and Cover Letters. Job description, Résumé & Cover letter due 2/27
4 Résumé, Cover Letter and Job Description due on Blackboard. Final Presentation Outline Assigned; Professor gives ‘model’ presentation and provides sample outlines; Discussion Board (Works Cited); Find 3-5 sources and cite them. Ch. 6 & 7 Quizzes
5 “Works Cited” section due. Dates selected for Final Presentations; Message structure; Visual aids; Group workshops Discussion Board (Interview prep); Ch. 8 Quiz
6 Feedback provided on Résumés and Cover Letters; More on outlines and PowerPoints due next week Discussion Board; Ch. 9 Quiz; Final Presentation Outline and PowerPoint due 3/20
7 Final Presentation Outline and PowerPoint due. Mock Job Interview Assigned; Job interviews; Business attire; Sample Interview questions provided. Discussion Board; Ch. 10 Quiz; Print (revised) Résumés & Cover Letters for next week
8 Mock Job Interviews; Show up dressed for a job interview with a copy of your Revised Résumé, Cover Letter and Job Description Discussion Board; Ch. 11 & 12 Quizzes;
9 Feedback provided on Outlines and PowerPoints. Group discussions Ch. 13 Quiz; Practice Final Presentation
10 Final Presentation workshops; Make up Impromptus Ch. 19 Quiz; Practice
11 Final Presentation workshops; Impromptus Practice!
12 Final Presentations Practice!
13 Final Presentations Practice!
14 Final Presentations Practice!
15 Final Presentations


1. Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view. Students will be assessed on ability to:
•Recognize and be able to use basic reasoning.
•Support arguments with relevant and adequate evidence.
•Identify facts, issues, and problems relevant to the topic.
•Research effectively information required for message preparation.
•Demonstrate competence and comfort with information.
•State intentions and purposes when appropriate.

2. Evaluate evidence and arguments critically or analytically. Students will be assessed on ability to:
•Draw relationships between prior knowledge and the information provided by the speaker.
•Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of inference.
•Identify the types of verbal and nonverbal information.
•Draw valid inferences from the information.

3. Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions.
•Structure a message for effectiveness with an introduction, main points, transitions, and a conclusion.
•Choose appropriate and effective organizing methods for message.
•Identify communication goals.
•Use summary statement(s) in appropriate contexts.
•Outline the key points and sub-points of their spoken message.
•Accomplish their communication goals.
• Select the most appropriate and effective medium for communicating.

4. Identify the information as evidence to support views.
•Assess the credibility of evidence.
•Identify patterns of reasoning and judge the validity of arguments.
•Analyze the information and inferences in order to draw conclusions.

5. Identify and engage with local, national, or global trends or ideologies, and analyze their impact on individual or collective decision-making Students will be assessed on ability to:
• Identify and adapt to changes in audience characteristics.
• Incorporate language that captures and maintains audience interest in message.
• Identify and manage misunderstandings.
• Demonstrate situational credibility.
• Demonstrate competence and comfort with information.
• Recognize time constraints of a communication situation and know how to operate within them.
• Manage multiple communication goals effectively.
• Adapt messages to the demands of the situation/context.

6. Articulate and assess ethical views and their underlying premises. Students will be assessed on ability to:
• Demonstrate an awareness of personal, ideological, and emotional biases.
• Demonstrate awareness that each person has a unique perspective.
• Demonstrate awareness that one’s knowledge, experience, and emotions affect listening.
• Use verbal and nonverbal behaviors that demonstrate willingness to listen to messages when variables such as setting, speaker, or topic may not be conducive to listening.
• Identify instances of bias and prejudice in a spoken message.
• Specify how bias and prejudice may affect the impact of a spoken message.

7. Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of a discipline or interdisciplinary field exploring the relationship between the individual and society, including, but not limited to, anthropology, communications, cultural studies, history, journalism, philosophy, political science, psychology, etc. • Students will be able to show how communication is used to:
• Manage and resolve group conflicts effectively.
• Approach and engage in conversation with new people in new settings with confidence.
• Negotiate effectively.
• Allow others to express different views and attempt to understand them.
• Effectively express ideas while respecting others’ rights.
• Convey empathy.
• Understand and value differences in communication styles.
• Exhibit open-mindedness about and receptive of another’s point of view.
• Motivate others to participate and work effectively as a team.
• Understand and implement different methods of building group consensus.
• Set and manage realistic agendas.

Statement on Missed Assignments

Do to the numerous deadlines in this course, late assignments will not be accepted under any circumstance. No exceptions, whatsoever. For assignments you miss, you will receive a grade of zero (F).


You are allowed to miss 2 classes for any reason, without it adversely affecting your participation grade. 3 lates count as 1 absence. A student who is not in a class for any reason is not receiving the benefit of the education being provided. Missed class time includes not just absences but also latenesses, early departures, and time outside the classroom taken by students during class meeting periods. The professor will keep accurate, detailed records of students’ attendance, and will notify students that a WU grade (withdrew unofficially) may be assigned to anyone who exceeds the limit established for a given course or component. Students are responsible for keeping track of their own attendance. When they exceed the maximum permitted missed class time, they should make an appointment to discuss the problem with the Professor.

Academic Integrity at City Tech

“Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.” (NYCCT Academic Integrity Policy).

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Any information you find on the web or at the library or in books must be cited correctly. Any form of plagiarism, intentional or otherwise, will earn you a grade of F for that assignment. Further offenses will result in a grade of F in the course and you will be reported to the City Tech Office of Student Affairs. More information, see the Citation section on Blackboard.


You are expected to turn in original work of high standard. Work will be graded on given criteria as well as on spelling, grammar, and formatting. You are expected to have read assigned material before coming to class and be prepared with some discussion questions. You may be asked to give an Impromptu Speech on the assigned material during class, and the Professor may also ask you questions about the assigned reading during class. Please plan ahead. Professional standards require that all assignments must be submitted by the deadline in order to receive credit. No exceptions will be made.


It is expected that students in this class will conduct themselves with good sense, courtesy, and dignity in all course-related activities. A level of formality is required for this class above and beyond your everyday conduct. This includes your behavior towards other students and the Professor. The following behaviors during class will result in each offender being marked absent for that day:

  • Texting or use of electronic devices
  • Sleeping (or appearing to be asleep) during class
  • Talking while the Professor is trying to get your attention
  • Holding side conversations when somebody else is speaking
  • Long breaks
  • Slouching, eye-rolling, ‘dirty looks’ or other forms of rudeness
  • Any other form of behavior that your Professor decides is inappropriate or disruptive

CELL PHONES, TEXT MESSAGING, MUSIC DEVICES, etc., are prohibited in the classroom. No exceptions. You are encouraged to take notes by hand and transfer them to your device after class if needed. This is to help you avoid the temptation of using your laptop or tablet for other reasons during class. If you have an emergency, politely excuse yourself from the room to use the phone.

Suggested attire

Business casual attire” is preferred. Please, no shorts, gym clothes, old sneakers, caps or hats, headphones, t-shirts, ripped jeans, clothing with logos, or anything else that the Professor deems as unprofessional.

Reasonable Accommodation

Your Professor is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities. Any student who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and to maximize educational opportunities. For more information, contact The Center for Student Accessibility in Namm Hall N-108 or call the Program Manager John Reid Currie at (718)260-5143.

Humanities Department Commitment to Student Diversity

The Humanities Department complies with the college wide nondiscrimination policy and seeks to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment that celebrates diversity in its many forms and enhances our students’ ability to be informed, global citizens. Through our example, we demonstrate an appreciation of the rich diversity of world cultures and the unique forms of expression that make us human.