Ph.D. in Mass Communications

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Doctoral education in the College of Communications is committee-driven and highly flexible. Each program plan is tailor-made to meet the individual needs of the doctoral candidate while maintaining the high standards and expectations of the College and The Graduate School.

Typical Requirements

The number of credits that a committee might require for a Ph.D. in mass communications varies, depending primarily on the prior academic preparation of the doctoral candidate. The requirements below are for someone entering the program with a master’s degree in communications.

  1. Minimum of 36 credits of coursework in communications and related areas combined
  2. Fulfillment of the language/research skill requirement
    (Normally an intermediate knowledge of a foreign language or 12 credits of research methods or a cognate area outside of the College.)
  3. Minimum of 20 credits (of the 36 credits above) in communications-related coursework
  4. No more than six credits of independent study (596). (Normally 596 should not be used for work directly related to thesis research and writing. 600-level credits should be used for that purpose.)
  5. A minimum course load for a half-time Graduate Assistant is 9 credits per semester. Six to 9 credits during the first two summers is recommended.

Degree Completion Time

This is the equivalent to two years of full-time study, including summers, before the comprehensive examination.

Other Specific Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

  1. Both semesters (fall and spring) of the Mass Communications Proseminar COMM 501.1 and 501.2
  2. One semester of COMM 590 Colloquium
  3. A minimum of two research methods courses, at least one of which must be COMM 506 or COMM 511
  4. The seminar in Communications Curriculum and Pedagogy (COMM 502) or other pedagogy course
  5. A qualifying exam within one year of entry into the program
  6. Completion of The Graduate School residency requirement: two semesters (not including summer) of full-time study after the candidacy examination and before the comprehensive examination
  7. A written and oral comprehensive examination after the completion of course work
  8. A written dissertation proposal presented at a meeting of the candidate’s committee
  9. A Ph.D. dissertation
  10. An oral examination in defense of the dissertation
  11. Submit bound dissertation to college graduate office

Important Program Plan Elements

Although there are few specific requirements, all doctoral program plans should strive to include the following important elements while leaving the specific categorization of coursework to the discretion of individual committees:


Summative survey of the various ideological, theoretical and methodological traditions in mass communication scholarship.

Research Methods

A minimum of two research methods courses, at least one of which must be COMM 506 or COMM 511.


Define an area of concentration and develop a focus.

Exploration and Integration

Inclusion of coursework and influences beyond the area of specialization, with implications to the primary research focus

Related Coursework

Research Skill Requirement

Proficiency in applying an appropriate set of tools for studying mass communications and familiarity with other methodologies used in the field.

Language Requirement

Intermediate knowledge of a foreign language, an equivalent research skill, or cluster of related courses outside the major.


Completion of a dissertation that makes a significant contribution to advancement of knowledge in the field.


Conceptual knowledge of and practical preparation in pedagogy in communications along with supervised experience in college teaching.

Full Degree Requirements