Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies

The Department of Communication Studies offers the Ph.D. degree in two areas of concentration: Interpersonal, Family, &  Health Communication and Rhetoric & Public Culture. Further, the department’s research and teaching devote particular attention to three cross-cutting scholarly initiatives: Health and Well-Being, Civic Engagement, and Identity and Difference. Students in the program work with prominent scholars and teachers to prepare them for roles in the discipline of communication studies and in our communities. The program size offers the opportunity for close mentoring relationships between students and faculty.

Communication studies students are also presented with a number of professional development activities. Students have the opportunity to attend research lectures by visiting scholars, travel to professional conferences, present scholarly papers, have their work published in regional and national journals.

Approved Specializations

Ethnic Studies, Great Plains Studies, Women's and Gender Studies

Plan of Study

Our program is designed so that full-time students will complete the doctoral degree within three to four years. Full-time students normally complete coursework and take comprehensive exams/orals/dissertation pre-proposal during fall of the third year, advancing to doctoral candidacy (all but dissertation-ABD). Students are expected to complete a full dissertation proposal and meet with their Supervisory Committee soon thereafter, and normally within the following semester.

Stages of doctoral program

Work toward our Ph.D. consists of four stages: (1) coursework and preparing the Program of Study, (2) written comprehensive and oral examination, (3) dissertation proposal, and oral examination, and (4) dissertation research, writing, and final oral examination. Normally a student’s plan of study contains a minimum of 90 hours. In consultation with the advisor and Supervisory Committee, the hours are distributed in the following manner:

  1. 30 credits maximum transferred from Master’s degree

  2. 45 credits minimum of coursework past Master’s degree consisting of:

    (a) 12 credits minimum of Communication Studies courses in a primary area.

    (b) 15 credits minimum of research methods. Students may use transferred courses from their MA program (No. 1 above) to fulfill this research methods requirement. These courses will not count toward the 45 post-MA credits required for the degree. Therefore, if students use transferred courses from their MA program to fulfill the research requirement, they will have to complete additional courses to reach the 45 credit hour requirement.

    (c) Courses within and outside of Communication Studies to establish primary specialization. 

  3. 12 credits minimum of dissertation credits

Note: Completing 1-3 above results in 87 credit hours. The additional 3 credit hours needed to fulfill the 90 credit hour requirement can be completed as additional dissertation credits or with additional coursework.

More information about the Ph.D. program is available in the Graduate Handbook. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Casey Kelly, with any questions.