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Ph.D. in Communication Studies

The Ph.D. program in Communication Studies is intended to qualify students to teach and conduct research in instructional communication, interpersonal communication, mediated communication, health communication, and organizational communication, among other courses, at the university level. Students who are accepted into the Ph.D. program in Communication Studies are awarded an assistantship for the first year that is renewable for the second and third years of the program. 

Students who are admitted into the Ph.D. degree program in Communication Studies are expected to have a laptop computer that they can use in their courses.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a Ph.D. in Communication Studies should be able to:

1. explain, synthesize, and critique the primary Communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts associated with the Communication Studies discipline;

2. convey expert knowledge of the Communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts that comprise their primary and secondary areas of study;

3. independently design, conduct, and interpret original Communication-based research using quantitative research methods suitable for conference presentations and professional publication;

4. create a programmatic line of research to guide future Communication-based research endeavors and projects;

5. select and use effective instructional communicative behaviors across a variety of teaching and training situations;

6. develop their writing, analytical, and research skills needed for success as a professional in the field of Communication Studies; and

7. commit to the profession through activity in professional associations and service to the department, university, and community.

Program Timeline

The Ph.D. degree program in Communication Studies is a 57-hour program (39 hours of coursework, 18 hours of dissertation research) designed to take three years of full-time study, including summer terms. Students complete their coursework during the first two years of the program (i.e., Year 1 Fall semester, Year 1 Spring semester, Year 1 Summer term, Year 2 Fall semester, Year 2 Spring semester, Year 2 Summer term). Upon completion of coursework, students will take and defend a comprehensive examination (i.e., Year 2 Summer term) before writing and defending a dissertation prospectus (Year 3 Fall semester) and writing and defending a dissertation (no later than Year 3 Summer term). 

Ph.D. Courses

At the Doctoral level, students will be engaged in both the mastery of Communication Studies as well as the development of a line of scholarly inquiry. Our Ph.D. students are expected to become broadly versed in the field while specializing in two areas of research. Students in the program enroll in courses at the 600-level or above, including a mix of theory, methodology, and seminar courses. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 is required for graduation.

Learn more about Ph.D. courses

Ph.D. Dissertations

For scholars, the dissertation represents one’s first independent research as part of a career-long line of research inquiry. It is during the dissertation process that the Doctoral candidate makes a substantial contribution to the field through a rigorous analysis of a novel research concept. While not a requirement, many dissertations eventually find their way into scientific journals and other publications. The dissertation is a process consisting of both a written document and an oral defense.

Read more about past Ph.D. dissertations