The program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree is designed to prepare qualified students for college and university teaching and for careers in communication research. The program emphasizes communication theory, research methods, and the application of knowledge in the field to identify, analyze and propose solutions for communication problems. The program requires at least three academic years of full-time study and research or the equivalent over a longer period beyond the baccalaureate.
Students entering the program with a Bachelor’s degree (having not yet earned a Master’s degree) are required to take a minimum of 60 credits, distributed as follows below, along with successful completion of a qualifying exam and a dissertation. Items in A1 below should be completed within the first two years of the program.
Doctoral students are required to complete a plan of study indicating a projected pathway to a program specialization and cognate, to be determined in negotiation between each student and his/her advisory committee.
A. Required Coursework The core, substantive area, cognate area, electives, and independent research project add up to 57-63 credits minimum. A minimum of 60 credits is required for the program.
1. Core Courses (24 credits)
Consists of 3 theory courses and 3 methods courses
a. Theory courses (9 credits)
Communication Theory (Com 502)
Persuasion/Message Design and Social Influence (Com 503)
Advanced Theory (Com 702)
b. Methods courses (9 credits)
Communication methods (Com 525)
2 additional quantitative or qualitative methods courses*
*Qualitative methods may be satisfied with Qualitative Research Methods
(Com 580), Field Research Methods (Com 587), Conversation Analysis
(Com 585), Qualitative Research Techniques (Soc 535), and Field Methods in Ethnology (Ant 608). Quantitative methods may be satisfied with Research Methods (Soc 509), Intermediate Stats (Soc 522), Multivariate Analysis
(Soc 609), Survey Design and Analysis (Soc 626), Empirical Data Analysis
(Pos 517), Regression Analysis (Pos 518), and Advanced Statistical Methods
c. Breadth Courses (6 credits)
This requirement ensures that students become familiar with 1 or 2 other
fields of study in the communication discipline beyond that represented by
the substantive area. Courses fulfilling this requirement are designated by
the Director of Graduate Studies, selected from courses such as:
Theories and Research in Public Organizational Communication (COM 551),
Interpersonal Interaction (COM 575), Culture and Communication
(COM 577), Theories and Research in Political Communication (COM 520),
Introduction to Health Communication (COM 560). (Note that these
courses may not be double counted to fulfill other requirements.)
2. Substantive area (15-18 credits, with a minimum of 15 credits inside
The substantive area will be defined in consultation between students and
their faculty advisers. Fields of study historically associated with the
discipline of communication and represented in this department are:
interpersonal/intercultural communication, organizational communication,
political communication, health communication, and communication
3. Cognate area (9 credits)
The cognate area consists of coursework related to or supportive of students’
substantive areas, consisting of courses in or outside department; courses
are selected in consultation with students’ doctoral advisors.
4. Independent Research Project (3 credits)
This project is to be completed in the 4th semester, under the guidance of a
faculty member in an independent study.
5. Electives (6-9 credits)
Electives inside and outside of the department, including independent
studies, as advised.
B. Other Program Requirements
1. Proseminar (Participation required until coursework is completed; not credit
These are weekly research discussions with faculty during the academic
year; participation is expected until the student completes coursework.
2. Three qualifying exams: 1 in methods, 2 in specialty areas
Three qualifying examinations, 1 in methods, 2 in substantive areas as
defined in consultation with the qualifying examination committee. The
qualifying exams can be initiated as early as the 5th semester (or when
required methods courses are completed) but should be completed by the
end of the 7th semester (or 1.5 years past Master’s level coursework).
Students who fail a qualifying exam or portions of an exam may retake the
entire exam or that portion with deficient work. Students who do not pass
the qualifying exams on second attempt will not be allowed to continue in
the Ph.D program. Students will remain eligible to complete the master’s
3. Research Tool
Students must demonstrate competence in use of one research tool relevant
to the 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.
Foreign language skills are tested by appropriate examinations. Research
tool options not involving foreign languages are satisfied by passing
appropriate courses, as advised by the chair of the committee, with a
grade of B or better.
4. Teaching Tool Requirement
Students fulfill this requirement by successfully engaging in a bona fide
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. Students will generally complete this
requirement by fulfilling the duties of a teaching assistantship, although
other options will be available.
Doctoral students will complete a dissertation presenting original research,
guided by a committee comprised of at least 3 faculty members, one of
whom will serve as chair. The chair generally should be selected from
faculty members in the Department of Communication. Other members
of the committee will be selected by students in consultation with
C. Other Program Information
1. Advanced Standing and Waivers
Of the 60 credits required for the degree, 30 credits must be completed at
this university. Students who have completed graduate work in our M.A.
program or elsewhere may apply for advanced standing credits. Students
may receive up to 30 credits of advanced standing, and this credit may or
may not include credit for required courses. It also is possible for students
with or without a master’s in communication to receive advanced standing
for one or more courses in a related discipline.
A waiver is granted when the faculty committee deems that students have
satisfied a specific requirement by some means other than taking the
required course. It does not carry credit.
2. Admission to Candidacy
Students are admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
upon the following:
(a) Satisfactory record in course study
(b) Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement
(c) Completion of the University residence requirements
(d) Satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination (both methods and