Program Overview

The Department of Communication offers  programs leading to the Ph.D. degree.  The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 60 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree plus a research tool (minimum six credits, for a total of 66 credits) plus credits for the dissertation. Plans of study conforming to specific program requirements are prepared individually in consultation with faculty advisers.

Applicants to the graduate program should meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School and should have a good undergraduate background in communication or expect to take additional coursework without graduate credit or, in some cases, with credit.

Applicants are required to submit a writing sample of a minimum of 1,500 words, preferably a research report but other forms of writing are acceptable, as well as 3 letters of recommendation.

The graduate program in Communication treats communication as a primary social process. Faculty study communication practices at the levels of culture, media, and representation; individuals and groups; and institutions and social structures. Their work often takes place at the intersections of these levels, and attends to a range of channels, including face-to-face communication and digital, broadcast, and other forms of media. Faculty members are active researchers and skilled teachers and supervisors whose perspectives and methods bridge the social sciences and the humanities. They develop connections between theory and practice in order to advance knowledge in the field, to promote informed public debate, and to teach students how to think critically as citizens in a democratic society. They are committed to making their teaching and research accessible beyond the academy, as a force for understanding and sustainable social change.

The central goals of the graduate curriculum are to develop competence in observing, describing, comparing, interpreting, and critiquing communication practices; to develop an understanding of the history of communication and its policies, institutions, and culture; and to develop knowledge of communication theory, philosophy, methodology, and research.

Faculty research areas include, for example, technologies of communication and the nature of social institutions; social interaction and the construction of identities, relationships, emotion, and culture; communication and the environment; intercultural communication; communication and cultural production; media effects; film studies; cultural politics; rhetoric and performance; teaching and learning as communication processes; the concept of communication in the history of ideas; communication and globalization; communication policy and regulation; and feminist, ethnic, and queer studies in communication.

Graduate students may focus their programs on different areas of the discipline depending on individual interest and circumstance. Ph.D. students are required to develop a research tool in relation to their research interests and in consultation with their guidance committees.

Courses: The department’s course offerings implement a three-level curriculum. The base of the curriculum is a three-course core consisting of a survey of concepts and theories of communication and both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. At least one additional foundations course in the student’s primary area is also required. The center of the curriculum consists of 600- and 700-level courses; and at the apex are 800-level topical seminars that study particular subjects in depth. The purpose of this curriculum is to educate students who will be expert in their area of concentration, can locate their field of study in the context of alternative theoretical options and research procedures, and can account for their theoretical and methodological decisions.

Consistent with our understanding of graduate study, many of the most important courses are topical seminars (offered at the 600, 700, and 800 levels), the content of which varies from semester to semester. Recent offerings include: Class Cultures; Communication and Culture;  Issues in Information Technology; Critical Pedagogy; Information Society; Cultural Theory of Stuart Hall; Cultural Industries in Latin America; Documentary Film; Ethnographic Approaches in Communication; Experience, Identity and Interaction; Feminist Film Theory; Gender and Communication; Global Culture and Communication; Intercultural Communication; Media Effects; Media Historiography; Mediation; Music, Culture and Communication; Political Economy of Media Industries; Politics of Popular Culture; Politics of Sexual Representation; Postmodernism and Media; Film Theory; Cultural Discourse Analysis; Media Literacy; Introduction to Semiotics; Asian Popular Cinema; Field Research in Cultural Studies, American Rhetorical Theory; Performance Ethnography; Food Cultures. For a more complete description of available courses, please consult the current semester schedule or the departmental Graduate Handbook.