President Jonathan Koppell speaks to an audience at a Town Hall.

Fundamentals of Speech Program

General Education Course (CMST101)

The School of Communication & Media plays a vital role in the general education of Montclair State University’s undergraduate students. Our basic communication course entitled Fundamentals of Speech is a requirement for all Montclair State students and should be completed in the first or second year of a student’s academic career.

The Course: In Fundamentals of Speech, students develop an understanding and appreciation of the dynamic nature of the communication process. They also gain substantial experience with message composition and delivery through a variety of presentations. The course focuses on strengthening communication skills, which are frequently referred to as “soft skills” and are absolutely essential for professional success and civic participation.

Professional Success: The ability to speak with confidence, communicate ideas clearly, listen carefully, establish strong interpersonal relations, and work productively in teams will give you a competitive edge in the job market. Verbal communication skills were identified as the top soft skill sought by employers when recruiting college graduates according to the Job Outlook Survey of 2011 (National Association of Colleges and Employers).

Civic Participation: A vibrant democracy also demands that citizens actively participate in public life and have impact on public discussions and policy. Fundamentals of Speech emphasizes the centrality of developing an informed and ethically responsible voice from which such participation can take place.

Critical Thinking: In addition, the course encourages students to be critical evaluators of public communication – from politicians, business and religious leaders, advertisers – in order to make informed decisions in their lives.

The Speech Waiver Challenge Exam:

Students with previous experience and/or advanced competencies in presentational speaking may test out of the Fundamentals of Speech course. The Speech Waiver Challenge Exam is quite rigorous and appropriate only for students who have already taken a similar course, have specific knowledge about the subject matter and have extensive experience in public speaking. Students who test out are still required to make up the three credits with other coursework.

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider if you are an appropriate candidate for the exam. DO NOT schedule the exam during your last semester of study at Montclair State. If you fail the Speech Challenge Exam during your final semester of study, you will have to postpone your graduation.

Students are permitted to complete the speech waiver exam only once. If a student fails the speech waiver exam, they must complete CMST101 or its equivalent at another institution.

The exam is scheduled twice during each academic year, once in the fall and once in the spring semester. Please contact Professor Gai Grannon of the School of Communication & Media ( in early September or late January for information about scheduled dates.

Transfer Credits: If you are a transfer student and have completed a similar course with focus on public speaking, this should be reflected on your transcript. Online courses are not accepted to satisfy this requirement.