Students at the Empire State Plaza

Doctor of Philosophy


Program of Study


Select an area of concentration to focus your studies and develop substantive expertise. The PhD in Communication has three main tracks:

  • Health communication
  • Organizational communication
  • Political communication

Beyond these concentration areas, you have the ability to customize your sequence or conduct research across multiple fields in areas such as interpersonal/intercultural communication and new technology.

A minimum of 60 credits as follows:

Core Courses

Theory Courses

  • Communication Theory
  • Persuasion/Message Design and Social Influence
  • Additional theory course

Methods Courses

  • Communication Research Methods
  • 2 additional quantitative and/or qualitative methods courses

Breadth Courses

(6 credits)

You should become familiar with one or two other fields of study within communication beyond your concentration. Sample courses:

  • Theories and Research in Public Organizational Communication
  • Interpersonal Interaction 
  • Culture and Communication
  • Theories and Research in Political Communication
  • Introduction to Health Communication

Substantive Area

(15 credits)

You will work with your faculty advisor to define your substantive area. Fields of study:

  • Interpersonal/intercultural communication
  • Organizational communication
  • Political communication
  • Health communication
  • Communication technologies

Cognate Area

(9 credits)

Your advisor will help you select courses in or outside the department related to, or supportive of, your substantive area.

Guided Research Project

(6 credits)

This is typically a two-semester commitment during the third and fourth semesters of study. An MA thesis completed elsewhere does not necessarily exempt you from the guided research project requirement; this will be determined during approval of your Plan of Study. If you have completed a guided research project during your MA coursework at the University at Albany, you may transfer the credits. Internship practicum credits from the MA in Communication cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.



(6 credits)

Electives inside and outside of the department, including independent studies, as advised. Sample courses:

  • Understanding Data in Strategic Communication
  • Communication and Public Health
  • Mass Media Effects in Political Communication
  • Organizational Culture
  • Digital and Social Media in Strategic Communication


You will participate in regular research discussions with faculty during the academic year until your coursework is completed.

Qualifying Exam

You will take one qualifying exam comprised of three areas: One in methods, two in substantive areas as defined in consultation with the qualifying examination committee.

Research Tool

Demonstrated competence in use of one research tool relevant to your area of specialization. The research tool requirement may be fulfilled with a reading knowledge in one appropriate foreign language, or competence in one special methodological area.

Teaching Tool/Pedagogy Requirement

Fulfill this requirement by successfully engaging in a real teaching experience, such as teaching a course or playing a major role in assisting in the teaching of a course, under the supervision of a faculty member in the department.


Complete a dissertation presenting original research, guided by a committee comprised of at least three faculty members, one of whom will serve as chair.


Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Alyssa Morey at [email protected].


Throughout the program, you will participate in regular research discussions with faculty mentors. These proseminar conversations will deepen your understanding of your selected research track.

A faculty member will also guide you through an independent research project. Your research project can relate closely to one of three major areas of study - health, organizational and political communication - or tie multiple areas together.

Doctoral in Communication students have conducted research in areas including:

  • How social media can engage citizens, serve as a means of direct communication between lawmakers and constituents, or inform the public about health initiatives.
  • Techniques to relieve emotional distress, particularly in first-responders with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • How organizations interact with their own communities, and how organizations take on the role of citizens and leaders in their communities.

In addition, you will have the opportunity for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. Our students have had their work published in journals such as the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, Management Communication Quarterly and American Journal of Sexuality Education.



Dr. Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz having a discussion with two UAlbany Communication students
Career Outcomes

A sound understanding of communication methods, theories and challenges can prepare you for a career in media, writing and editing, public relations and public policy. 

Potential job titles for professionals with a PhD in Communication include:

  • Professor or assistant professor
  • Public relations director
  • Communication researcher
  • Technical writer
  • Communication director
  • Content strategist
Professor Muriel E. Scott with students
Professor Muriel E. Scott earned her PhD at UAlbany and is now an associate professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Winona State University in Minnesota.
Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: February 1 
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: February 1 
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE test scores
  • Statement of Goals
  • Writing Sample

Letters of Recommendation

Letters should come from university faculty with whom you studied, preferably more senior, permanent faculty. Letters from employers or work associates do not provide information about your ability as a student. If you have been out of touch with faculty with whom you studied and cannot supply letters from academic sources, you should contact the Communication department’s Director of Graduate Studies for advice.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should inform the Admissions Committee about what you hope to gain from studying Communication at the graduate level. In particular, your statement should be informative about:

  • How you expect graduate studies in Communication to be relevant to and supportive of your plans and goals after your receive your degree
  • What you hope to learn as a graduate student and how that will benefit you
  • What it is about the UAlbany program in particular that led you to apply here

 Applicants are kindly asked not to utilize AI assistance or automated writing services when constructing the personal goals statement. This statement is a vital component of an application, offering an opportunity to showcase your authentic voice, motivations, and unique experiences. The admissions committee values your genuine aspirations and personal connection to our program. Please let your own thoughts and words convey your passion and suitability. AI-assisted writing tends to be recognizably formulaic, making it difficult for the review committee to feel confident in recommending admission.

Writing Sample

Your writing sample should demonstrate your ability to analyze and reason about the claims and thinking presented in others’ texts, and to write arguments supporting your claims. Papers that summarize or evaluate or dispute others’ work but do not analyze it, are less helpful to the admissions committee in discerning your ability to do the kind of writing required in our classes. Press releases or other professional writing, or creative writing, generally do not reveal abilities relevant to the kind of writing you would be asked to do in our classes.

You can submit a sample of writing you did in the past that presents an analysis and argument about materials you read. This may have been written to fulfill a class assignment or a work-related report or recommendation. If you have a writing sample of this kind, please include it with your application, adding an explanation of the assignment or task you were fulfilling.


You can write a new essay to submit with your application in response to the following assignment: In an essay of 700-1,000 words, provide reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the argument that David Bohm is making about communication in his short essay "On Communication".

Note: In submitting your writing sample, you are guaranteeing that it is entirely your own work, both in regard to the content and the actual writing. If you are admitted to the program, and it is later found that your writing sample was not original work created solely by you, that would be grounds for dismissal from the program.


GRE Scores

GRE scores are required with all PhD applications. We look for a minimum score of 1,000 combined (old paper-based scoring) or approximately 300 combined (new computer-based scoring).



All international applicants must submit TOEFL or IEFLTS scores except for those who have earned BA or MA degrees in English-speaking countries. In general, the minimum TOEFL score required for admission to our graduate program is 580 (paper-based total), 237 (computer-based total) or 93 (internet-based total). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0.


For questions about application materials and procedures, and application status, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at [email protected].

Special Notes

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the perspectives, research methodologies, historical development and values of the field of communication, and understanding of the communication discipline’s relationship to other academic disciplines.
  • Analyze and synthesize theory and research related to one or more of the fields of study represented within the Department’s PhD program.
  • Apply knowledge of theory and research to the generation of appropriate research questions and to the collection and analysis of data designed to answer research questions related to your field of study.
  • Demonstrate skills in course design, classroom teaching and evaluation of student performance through exams/papers.