• Skip to Content
  • Catalog Home
  • Institution Home
  • Graduate Catalog /
  • Annenberg School for Communication /

Communication, PhD

Annenberg is interdisciplinary by design. Members of the faculty and students come from a wide range of backgrounds, including Communication, Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, History, and Law. Students are also encouraged to supplement their Communication courses with those offered through one of Penn’s 11 other distinguished schools. The result is a vibrant intellectual experience that trains students to apply and adapt diverse theories and methods to the cutting-edge communication issues of the twenty-first century.

All doctoral students are fully funded for up to five years, including tuition and fees, health care, teaching and research fellowships, and dissertation research fellowships. All students also receive yearly research and travel funds, allowing them to develop their research and present it at major national and international conferences. In addition to formal classes, students are able to work with faculty on grant-and center-supported projects, attend and participate in frequent colloquia and workshops, and engage in research and learning opportunities around the globe — all designed to enhance their intellectual growth and professional training.

Annenberg alumni go on to productive and fulfilling careers in academia as well as in research-oriented private and public-sector institutions.

The Annenberg Ph.D. program represents a five-year commitment. In addition to satisfactory completion of the core courses, all students are required to take a noncredit proseminar as well as introductory classes in research methods and statistics. In order to progress to dissertation stage, candidates must  complete the following milestones: Qualifications Evaluation, Comprehensive Exams, and Dissertation Proposal and Oral Defense.

For more information: https://www.asc.upenn.edu/academics/graduate-program

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs .

Required Courses 

All Ph.D. students must take at least one separate class with each of at least five different members of the ASC standing faculty. The intent of this is to foster students’ knowledge of a diverse range of approaches to communication.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

​​​​A typical course plan for a student entering the program without a Master’s degree includes these components:

  • Seven semesters of courses, typically three courses per semester
  • A Qualifications Evaluation (see below) at the end of semester 4
  • A dissertation proposal defense in semester 8
  • Dissertation research in semesters 8 through 10
  • Dissertation defense and graduation at the end of semester 10

Program Milestones

  • Qualifications Evaluation  (QE) is a review conducted to ensure doctoral students have the requisite skills, creativity, initiative, and plans to successfully complete their degree, including their dissertation. The QE must be completed at the end of the semester during which the student accumulates 12 classes (at least eight of which must be acquired at Penn) toward the degree, but no earlier than the end of the first year.
  • Comprehensive Exams:  In order to advance to candidacy, become eligible to defend the dissertation proposal and to receive a dissertation research fellowship (DRF), students must successfully pass a comprehensive examination. These exam cover theory, methods and research in the student’s field of expertise. 
  • Dissertation Proposal and Oral Defense:  Before becoming eligible for a dissertation research fellowship and beginning work on the dissertation, the student must submit and defend a proposal for dissertation research to his or her Dissertation Committee. The proposal is a full statement of the research problem, including its theoretical rationale and methodology. 

Print Options

Print this page.

The PDF will include all information unique to this page.

A PDF of the entire 2023-24 catalog.

A PDF of the 2023-24 Undergraduate catalog.

A PDF of the 2023-24 Graduate catalog.

EECS Communication Lab

Thesis Proposal

Criteria for success.

A thesis proposal should allow your audience to understand the topic of your project, the goals of the work, and the expected timeline to completion. To be successful, a thesis proposal should:

  • follow departmental guidelines for thesis proposal content, structure, and formatting.
  • provide necessary background for understanding the work that you propose.
  • answer the Heilmeier questions to concretely explain what you are trying to do and how you will achieve it.
  • include a timeline for the expected remaining work in the thesis, including tasks and dates of completion.

Structure Diagram

As with all communication projects, the right length for a thesis proposal is “however long it takes to convey your message effectively.” While the goal should be effectiveness rather than length, a general rule of thumb is to consider 8-12 pages for an MEng or SM proposal and 10-20 pages for a PhD proposal.

The main components of a thesis proposal are:

  • title and abstract,
  • introduction that motivates the proposed work,
  • related and/or preliminary work, and
  • proposed future work, including a timeline to complete that work.

There should also be a references section that contains all necessary citations. The following diagrams provide examples of potential thesis proposal organizations and their relative size. Note that the section headings as well as the size and ordering of the sections may be flexible.

Always be sure to follow the most up-to-date department guidelines.

MEng/SM Proposal

communication phd proposal

For MEng thesis proposals, the MIT EECS guidelines for MEng thesis proposals suggest that these documents should be between 1500-2500 words.

For SM proposals, the MIT EECS guidelines for SM and PhD thesis proposals indicate that the research plan should also include a list of principal equipment and facilities needs and the places which will supply these needs.

PhD Proposal

communication phd proposal

For a PhD thesis proposal, it is important to think about how the work that will go into your thesis ties together. What is the main idea that your work supports?

A thesis proposal serves as a contract between you and your thesis committee. The document should demonstrate the feasibility and merit of your proposed project and clearly define the work you will have to accomplish to complete your degree. This assures your committee that you have agreed to an acceptable level of research and protects you against future attempts to increase your workload. For this reason, it is advisable to have a thesis proposal written and signed relatively early in the degree process.

Thesis proposals also provide an opportunity for you to sharpen your research by stepping back and looking at the big picture. By carefully planning your research, you will focus on the most important questions and the most effective ways to answer them.

Analyze Your Audience

The primary audience of your thesis proposal is your thesis committee (for SM and MEng students, the committee is simply your advisor), who will serve multiple roles: they are coaches who support your success and gatekeepers who ensure that degrees are only granted for sufficient quality of work. In their role as coaches, committee members want to know that your project is feasible and worth pursuing and that you are prepared to undertake it. In their role as gatekeepers, committee members want to see that your project showcases mastery of a subject and solves an important and novel problem.

In the future, other students may also read your proposal as a reference to build on your work or use it as a model for their own. Therefore, your proposal should include both a concrete description of your work and the necessary background to understand the topic.

Answer the Heilmeier Questions

Before you start writing your thesis, consider the main motivations of the work and your approach. One great way to start brainstorming for your thesis proposal is to answer the Heilmeier questions for your own work.

In the 1970’s, the director of DARPA (George Heilmeier) developed a list of questions, known as the Heilmeier Catechism , to produce and select productive research proposals. To outline the content of your proposal, start by answering the following questions:

  • What problem needs solving? What are you trying to do?
  • How is it done today? What are the limitations of the current practice?
  • What is new in your approach and why do you think it can succeed?
  • Assuming you are successful, what difference does it make? Who cares and why?
  • How much time/money/risk will it take?
  • How will you (periodically) measure success?

You have many available resources for answering the Heilmeier questions. Start with your research advisor; they can point you to the most relevant literature, help identify productive research directions, and refine your plan for feasibility and scope. Other group members as well as past papers and theses from your group may also be able to help.

Emphasize your contribution

A thesis proposal should emphasize the problem and proposed work. Try to spend about 25% of your proposal on background and 75% on what you propose to do and a timeline to completion.

communication phd proposal

Include a timeline for completion

A timeline is a required component of almost any project proposal and should show that you have thought through the overall project goals and how to achieve them in accomplishable steps. The timeline should be granular enough to be meaningful (typically, a few months at a time) but not so granular to be vulnerable to small perturbations. Your timeline should allow your advisor or another evaluator to determine credibility, feasibility, and worthiness of the project steps.

Demonstrate creativity while maintaining credibility

In any research proposal, there is a tradeoff between risk/reward, and credibility. Low risk projects, like obvious, simple extensions of previous work, tend to be very credible; it’s clear that you can do them. They also tend to be low reward. Projects that are very ambitious and have huge rewards tend to be unbelievable and impossible for a single grad student. A successful proposal involves balancing the two: find a problem that you can probably solve that demonstrates creativity, initiative, and understanding.

Include details and preliminary results in your plan

Thesis proposals should do more than merely promise to “investigate” something.  Your proposal must describe how you plan to accomplish your goals, why you think those approaches will be successful, and why you believe these approaches have been overlooked or unsuccessful before. Initial experiments, calculations, or simulations can be crucial to convincing the proposal readers that your project will be successful.

MIT EECS affiliates can make an appointment with an EECS Comm Lab Fellow to get feedback on their proposal at any stage.

Resources and Annotated Examples

Meng thesis proposal example 1.

Thesis proposal submitted by MIT EECS MEng student 1 MB

MEng thesis proposal example 2

Thesis proposal submitted by MIT EECS MEng student 2 MB

UCLA Communication

Communication College of Letters and Science Graduate Degrees

The Department of Communication offers Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree in Communication. We do not offer a terminal M.S. in Communication. Students can earn their M.S. while completing the requirements for a Ph.D. All graduate students entering the Department of Communication at UCLA are expected to complete the Ph.D.

Check out our recent video about the new program  here .

Doctoral Degree

Faculty Advisor:

  • Academic advising for graduate students in the department is primarily conducted on an individual basis by a student’s faculty advisor because, beyond basic requirements, each student’s program of study is unique. The role of the faculty advisor is to assist the student with a plan of study, to oversee the student’s progress during the pursuit of the PhD and to supervise the student’s research activity that culminates in the written dissertation. Moreover, the faculty advisor will help students identify funding opportunities, including relevant fellowships for their area of research.

Vice Chair:

  • The Vice Chair oversees the Communication graduate program as well as graduate student life more broadly. The Vice Chair is directly involved in the annual student progress reviews, as well as the department TA assignment processes. Moreover, if a student feels they need to talk to a faculty member other than their advisor and/or outside of their dissertation committee, the Vice Chair is ready and able. They also welcome more general questions, comments, and concerns related to the program.

Graduate Advisor:

  • The Graduate Advisor is here to assist students with all sorts of academic, administrative, and financial questions. Of course, this includes academic requirement advising, ASE inquiries, enrollment questions, as well as student funding and university policy clarifications. Students are also encouraged to conceive of the graduate advisor as a resource guide for the department and to the larger university community. If a student has a question or issue but doesn’t know where to start or whom to ask, the graduate advisor is here to help!

Department Manager:

  • The Department Manager is here to assist students with questions pertaining to Rolfe Hall facilities requests, space planning, and other building-related issues. They also oversee the Communication Department schedule of academic courses each quarter. Moreover, the Department Manager is the point of contact for student researcher (including GSR) hiring questions.

The Communication PhD program has three broad subareas of study- Communication and Cognition; Political Communication; Computational Communication . For more information on each area, as well as the Communication faculty member affiliation to those areas, please visit the Research Areas page on our department website.

The normative time to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree is five years (15 quarters). Advancement to candidacy (ATC), including written and oral qualifying examinations, must be completed by the end of the fourth year, with normative time to ATC at 3 years (9 quarters). Maximum time to degree will be seven year (21 quarters), with extension granted by petition for an eighth year if necessary.





The official Communication PhD Program Degree Requirements are listed in a single-page format on the UCLA Graduate Division website . Sections four through fourteen of this handbook will elaborate on each requirement in varying degrees of detail. If students have any questions or need clarification on specific requirements, they should contact the Communication graduate advisor.

communication phd proposal

Coursework and Registration Requirements:

The expected course load is 12 units per quarter, meaning students must register for at least 12 units every quarter, even if they’ve completed the program coursework requirement. However, if needed, the minimum course load may be adjusted downward by petition with the approval of the student’s committee chair and the department chair. Students must be registered and always enrolled unless on an official leave of absence.

Coursework requirement for PhD degree:

Students must complete 11 courses (44 units)—of which at least 9 must be 200-level graduate courses—all taken for a letter grade, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. All students are required to take seven core classes + three electives + one TA training class (ANTHRO 495):

  • one communication theory and research course (COMM 200)
  • one research design course (COMM 220)
  • two approved statistics courses, with at least one at the 200 level (e.g., Political Science 200A-D; Psychology 250A-C; Stats 200A-C)
  • three seminars that correspond to the three areas of study (COMM 230; 250; 270)
  • three elective courses from within our department or elsewhere
  • one TA training class (ANTHRO 495).

Any additional elective courses above the 11-course requirement may be taken for a letter grade or S/U grading. Depending on the student’s area of study and prior academic preparation and study, a student may be advised to take other preparatory courses as determined by the faculty adviser.

** It is important to keep in mind that the required stats-sequence courses are not hosted by the Department of Communication. This means there may be seat restrictions applied to the course quotas at the beginning of each quarter. To navigate around this obstacle, students should email the instructor of their respective stats course to request a PTE number. If a student is having difficulty obtaining enrollment, they should reach out to the graduate advisor for assistance.**

All students must complete original research during their first and second years, in the form of a first-year paper and a second-year paper. In general, these two papers will be related to one another, but students may elect to pursue two distinct projects.

At the end of the spring quarter of their first year, students present their research in a written paper and a brief oral presentation to the department’s faculty and graduate students. If original data has not been collected and analyzed by the end of the first year, the presentation must summarize work to date, including a proposal for data acquisition.

At the end of their second year, students present their cumulative research findings in a talk presented to the department’s faculty and students and in a paper. This second-year paper must be approved by the student’s adviser (who will submit a formal grade) and approved by a second reader from the department ladder faculty. The paper should be of publication quality in a top-tier journal in the discipline.

All doctoral students must have a minimum of three quarters as a teaching assistant for courses offered within the department. This training need not be in consecutive terms, but it must be satisfied prior to graduation from UCLA.

Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass university written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations, the University Oral Qualifying Examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee. In addition to university requirements, some graduate programs have other precandidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program.

All committee nominations and reconstitutions adhere to the new Minimum Standards for Doctoral Committee Constitution.

Written Qualifying Examination . Students will complete a written examination in the form of a comprehensive paper, the contents of which must be approved by their adviser and one additional department faculty member that will comprise the Qualifying Subcommittee. This paper need not be directly related to the first-year paper and second year paper, although a majority of students are likely to maintain continuity in the topic herein. In general, this paper should include a substantial review of research in the student’s area of specialization. The written examination is due by the end of the seventh quarter.

Written Dissertation Proposal and Oral Examination . 

The written dissertation proposal requires a presentation of the student’s proposed dissertation research. The proposal should include the background and significance of the area of research, the project’s goals, and the methods and tests used to address those goals. Prior to the approval of the written proposal, a doctoral committee must be established that will oversee the proposal and administer the dissertation proposal oral examination (satisfying the requirement of the University Oral Qualifying Examination). The committee is made up of the faculty advisor, at least one additional department faculty member, a third faculty member either from within or outside the department, and a fourth member that must be from outside the department. The written proposal must be approved by the end of the third year (ninth quarter) by the student’s primary advisor unless an extension is granted by the doctoral committee and approved by the department chair.  The examination committee judges the feasibility and worth of the research project and the student’s ability to undertake it in the form of pass/fail/retake (eligibility for one retake is at the committee’s discretion). The committee also may recommend changes in the research design.

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

A final oral defense of the dissertation is required. A student is not considered to have passed the final oral examination with more than one “not passed” vote, regardless of the size of the committee. In the event that this occurs, the student may schedule a second oral defense of the dissertation.

The academic year annual review process begins with each student writing a progress review and submitting it to the department around the first week of June. The finished self-review should be sent to the Faculty Mentor, Vice Chair, and Graduate Advisor. It will consist of a 1-page summary of the student’s academic and professional progress, along with a pdf of the student’s up-to-date CV. The 1-page summary should include:

  • List of all courses taken with grades included (for Spring quarter, put your expected grade).
  • Summary of the research projects you are currently engaged in, including your first-year project, and any other research activity.
  • Other accomplishments, awards, and any concerns or additional notes you would like us to know about.

Students’ progress will then be collectively evaluated by all ladder faculty with an analysis of progress toward the degree, as well as specific areas that require improvement, if applicable.

The student’s mentor(s), in conjunction with the Vice Chair, will then write an official performance evaluation letter which will be distributed by the Graduate Advisor to each student over the summer.

First-year Paper Committee

  • A student’s faculty committee for their first-year paper is a committee consisting of one member- the student’s faculty advisor . It is the sole responsibility of the faculty advisor to read, review, and approve their student’s first-year paper.

Second-year Paper Committee

  • A student’s faculty committee for their second-year paper consists of two members- 1.) their faculty advisor, and 2.) an additional Department of Communication ladder faculty member . Students cannot use department lecturers or adjunct faculty members as their second reader, it must be ladder faculty.

Written Examination Committee (3 rd year, 7 th quarter)

  • A student’s faculty committee for their Written Examination has the same structure as their second-year paper committee. It consists of 1.) their faculty advisor, and 2.) an additional Department of Communication ladder faculty member . Similarly, students cannot use department lecturers or adjunct faculty members as their second reader, it must be a ladder faculty member. But it can be a different ladder faculty than the second-year paper, if desired.

Written Dissertation Proposal and Oral Examination Committee (end of 3 rd year)

Dissertation Committee (4 th year, n-1)

  • The written dissertation proposal and oral examination committee will likely – primarily for the sake of continuity – remain intact and serve as your Dissertation Committee, with perhaps a minor adjustment in composition here or there. But the structure is the same for both.
  • A student’s committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members . The chair must be a ladder faculty member of the Department of Communication with a >0% appointment. The second member can be a 0% joint appointment in the Department of Communication. The remaining two members can be ladder faculty from either within or outside of the department and can be from a department outside of UCLA. At least one member of the committee must be from outside of the department . Additional committee composition requirements not specified above must adhere to the UCLA Minimum Standards for Doctoral Committee Constitution . The Communication PhD Program adheres to the UCLA guidelines and policies for constitution of doctoral committees developed by the Graduate Division as published in the Standards & Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA . Students should consult both their faculty advisor and the department graduate advisor prior to assembling their committee

1.) Comm PhD first-year paper_coversheet

– The first-year paper requirement can be marked as complete once the student submits a PDF of their finished paper in combination with the signed cover sheet. Both documents should be submitted to the graduate advisor. A single PDF format is preferred.

2.)  Communication_PhD_second-year paper_coversheet

– The second-year paper requirement can be marked as complete once the student submits a PDF of their finished paper in combination with the signed cover sheet (two faculty signatures are required). Both documents should be submitted to the graduate advisor. A single PDF format is preferred.

3.) Communication_PhD_written qualifying exam_coversheet

– The written qualifying exam requirement can be marked as complete once the student submits a PDF of their finished paper in combination with the signed cover sheet (two faculty signatures are required). Both documents should be submitted to the graduate advisor. A single PDF format is preferred.

4.) Communication_PhD_Degree Checklist- Full Degree Pathway

– The degree checklist does not need to be officially submitted to the department. However, students are encouraged to use it as a resource to aid in the tracking of their own progress throughout the PhD program.

5.) Communication_MS Capstone_coversheet

– This is the appropriate coversheet if a student would like to use their second-year paper as a capstone for the purpose of receiving the optional Comm MS degree. The Comm MS version of the second-year paper can be marked as complete once the student submits a PDF of their paper in combination with the signed cover sheet (three faculty signatures are required). Both documents should be submitted to the graduate advisor. A single PDF format is preferred.

Not required.

Admitted PhD students will receive a comprehensive funding package for up to 5 years. Our typical funding offer includes one or two years of fellowship funding (stipend, registration fees, and if needed, domestic student non-resident tuition for the first year), three or four years of teaching apprenticeships (TA) positions, which usually include fee remission , and potentially extramural fellowship and/or graduate student researcher (GSR) opportunities.

Academic year (October-June) fellowship stipends are comprehensive and are ordinarily scheduled for the first, and sometimes fifth, year. In some instances, first-year students with teaching experience may be offered a TA position. Students will also receive a minimum of $6K summer support (July-September) in the form of a fellowship during the summer of their first year. In summer years 2-4, the department will assist students in identifying a source of funding, most commonly in the form of a TAship, GSRship, or fellowship; sometimes a combination of two or more of these sources will comprise the summer funding package.

For each academic year of TA support (typically years 2-5), the department will offer a TA position at 50% (20 hours per week). If a faculty member offers a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) position for one or more of these years, the GSR position will satisfy/replace the departmental support commitment. Students are encouraged to review TA salaries  for a nine-month, half-time appointment and  GSR salary scales . Under certain circumstances, TAs and GSRs qualify to have a large portion of their mandatory registration fees (including medical insurance premium) paid by the university and in more limited circumstances, GSRs may qualify to have 100% of non-resident tuition paid. For more information on UCLA’s academic apprentice personnel positions, salary rates, remission rates, and policies go to the Academic Apprentice Personnel Manual .

It is important to note that the department funding guarantee does come with some strings attached .

To remain eligible for the standard funding package described above, via fellowship, TAship, or GSRship, students must meet and maintain the following conditions:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Satisfactory time-to-degree progress
  • Enrollment in at least 12-units per academic quarter, unless an exception has been granted
  • Not exceeding 20 working hours or 50% FTE per week (across all UCLA jobs), unless an exception has been granted
  • Applying for UCLA fellowship opportunities as directed by the department
  • International students must maintain valid visa and work authorization status
  • U.S. citizens must apply for California residency prior to year 2 in the program

Primary types of graduate student funding:

  • Fellowship funding
  • Fellowships are a desirable form of PhD student funding. Being supported on a fellowship usually affords the student more time and a greater degree of freedom to focus on their research. Additionally, being awarded a competitive fellowship is an outstanding honor to list on a CV or resume.
  • There are three primary internal UCLA fellowships that students are required to apply for- the GSRM, the GRM, and the DYA. Applications are due usually in the beginning of February.
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (GSRM) Fellowship
  • Graduate Research Mentorship (GRM) Fellowship
  • Dissertation Year Award (DYA)

Beyond the required internal fellowship opportunities, there are many external fellowships that students should strongly considering applying for as well. A few of the major ones are:

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship ; http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2004/nsf04615/nsf04615.htm . Check their website for deadlines. Application deadline for social sciences is generally in early November.
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program
  • Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Program for Minorities . UCLA campus application deadline is in September. For exact date please contact  [email protected] . Last year the deadline was in November.
  • Google PhD Fellowship Program ; https://research.google/outreach/phd-fellowship/ . Internal UCLA application deadline is generally in mid-August.
  • Fulbright U.S. Student Program (IIE)
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program at the Department of Education . Check their web site for deadlines.  Application deadline is generally in early October.
  • The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans . Application deadline is November 1st.
  • The Social Science Resource Council
  • Center for the Study of Women Fellowships and Grants

In addition to the above well-known fellowships, there are many other extramural agencies that provide full and partial fellowships for graduate students. We strongly urge our applicants and continuing students to seek out external funding opportunities and apply for every fellowship for which they are eligible.

The UCLA Division of Graduate Education has an online database of extramural funding opportunities called GRAPES available at: https://grad.ucla.edu/funding .  The GRAPES database catalogs over 600 private and publicly funded awards, fellowships, and internships and allows searches by field, academic level, award type, award amount, and other criteria. In addition, there are directories of extramural support that can be found at most university libraries.  You can find a list of these directories at: http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/asis/entsup/extramrl.htm .

  • Teaching Apprenticeships
  • First-time TA eligibility requirements:
  • All first-time TAs are required to enroll in Anthropology 495 or a similar 495 pedagogy section which includes the Professional Standards and Ethics Training (PSET) online modules and all Foundations of Teaching workshops required by the departmental 495 course. All TAs are required to enroll in their instructor’s Comm 375 Teaching Apprentice Practicum course during each term that they hold a TA appointment. Continuing TAs are responsible for taking the Professional Standards and Ethics Training online modules within their 375 course if they have not already completed it.
  • First-time international student TAs must pass the Test of Oral Proficiency (TOP) or qualify for a waiver. The UCLA Academic Senate Graduate Council policy stipulates that graduate students whose first language is not English must pass a campus administered Test of Oral Proficiency (TOP) to be eligible for a teaching assistantship at UCLA. A student is exempt from this testing requirement if they have earned a prior undergraduate degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction. If the student attended a university in the United States, no action is required whatsoever. If the student attended a university outside the United States where English was the sole language of instruction, please see the Requesting an Exemption guidance HERE . Registration for the TOP exam will be available HERE

Students being funded on a TAship for a given quarter will be assigned a course to TA within the department by the Vice Chair and Graduate Advisor. The department TA assignment protocol will unfold as follows:

  • Step 1: The department will compile information about TA positions and create Instructor + grad student course preference forms.
  • The Grad. Advisor and Vice Chair will prepare information for Department TAs about the course offerings, including course descriptions, instructor names, and lecture and section times and locations. They’ll also prepare a form which TAs will have the option to fill out, indicating their preferences and scheduling constraints.
  • Similarly, the Grad. Advisor and Vice Chair will provide Department Instructors with the names and CVs (based on what the department has on file from the end of the previous academic year) of department Ph.D. students who are eligible to TA. They will also provide instructors with a form that instructors can optionally complete, indicating their preferences.
  • Step 2 : Instructors and TAs will indicate their preferences to the department
  • Avoid important schedule conflicts.
  • Accommodate instructor and TA preferences when possible.
  • Match new TAs with experienced instructors and vice versa when possible.
  • Balance across quarters (or use random assignment) in cases where preferences cannot be accommodated.
  • Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) funding:
  • Research assistants are appointed to the title Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) and are selected based on scholastic achievement and promise as creative scholars. GSRs assist faculty with scholarly research under the direction and supervision of a faculty member.

The UCLA Division of Graduate Education

The Division of Graduate Education at UCLA is responsible for the overall quality and progress of graduate education at UCLA. The DGE serves as the administrative core for graduate recruitment and admissions. They are responsible for ensuring that departments (and their students) comply with university policy that has been established by the UCLA Academic Senate. On certain issues, a given department can request an exception to centrally established academic student policy.

Between the Graduate Welcome Reception and the awarding of a student’s degree, the DGE will participate in many milestones marking students individual academic progress, and they’ll continually work to ensure that the education students receive at UCLA is of the highest quality. Below is an abridged list of commonly helpful resources offered by the DGE. To see the comprehensive list of DGE services, resources, and policies please visit their website directly.

  • Doctoral Student Forms
  • Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study (Academic Policies)
  • Graduate Student Funding Opportunities
  • Graduate Student Funding Recommendations
  • Graduate Student Financial Support Manual
  • Academic Apprentice Manual (TA and Reader Policies)

Graduate Student Resource Center :

  • The UCLA Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC) is a Graduate Students Association (GSA) initiative that is managed by Student Affairs. The GSRC is a resource, referral, and information center for graduate and professional school students. They offer advice and assistance in dealing with the challenges of graduate school, as well as numerous workshops and programs done in collaboration with campus partners. The GSRC works with GSA to organize the campus-wide Graduate Student Orientation and the Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Graduate Welcome Day. They are also the home of the Graduate Writing Center.
  • Graduate Student Resources
  • GSRC Services

Graduate Writing Center :

  • The Graduate Writing Center is an initiative of the Graduate Students Association, funded by a GSA fee referendum, managed by Student Affairs, and overseen by the Graduate Writing Center Oversight Committee. The Graduate Writing Center came about as the result of a fee referendum, initiated by the Graduate Students Association and approved by the graduate student body in Spring of 2006. The GWC offers the following services:

GWC Writing Consultants

GWC writing consultants are graduate students come from a variety of fields and are trained to work with graduate students from all disciplines. Graduate students may find it helpful to meet with the writing consultants closest to their fields, but this is not required. GWC consultants do not proofread/edit; they work interactively with graduate students to improve their writing skills. Visit the Consultants web page for their bios.

GWC Workshops

The Graduate Writing Center offers a variety of workshops on both general writing issues and specialized topics, such as dissertation and thesis writing. The GWC is available, time and resources permitting, to make workshop presentations for departments or in graduate courses by request. For more information about workshops, visit their Workshops web page .

GWC Thesis/Dissertation Support

GWC offers a number of programs for graduate students who are writing dissertations, dissertation proposals, and master’s theses. They offer a number of summer “boot camps” for doctoral students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. They also offer STEM writing retreats for graduate students working on dissertations, theses, and publications. Furthermore, the GWC offers a mentoring program for graduate students writing master’s theses and doctoral qualifying papers in the humanities and social sciences. See our Thesis Support web page for more information.

GWC Oversight Committee

The Graduate Writing Center has an oversight committee with graduate student representatives from the GSA Councils as well as ex officio members representing the UCLA faculty and administration. The GWC Oversight Committee advises the GWC Director and makes recommendations about GWC services. The GSA Vice President of Academic Affairs oversees the GWC Oversight committee, so please contact vpaa [at] gsa.asucla.ucla.edu with questions about the committee.

Dashew Center :

  • UCLA is home for more than 12,000 international students and scholars studying away from home. The Dashew Center is the place where domestic and international students and scholars meet. They aim to enhance the UCLA experience for international students and scholars with their multicultural programs and services. They also play an integral role in assisting UCLA academic departments with visa services. Moreover, Dashew serves as a resource and learning center for the entire UCLA community to promote global connection, international understanding and cultural sensitivity.

Center for Accessible Education (CAE)

  • The Center for Accessible Education serves as a central resource on disability-related information for students, procedures, and services for the University student community. They provide expertise in determining and implementing appropriate and reasonable accommodations for academics and housing.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is here to support your mental health needs as you pursue your academic goals. Our services are designed to foster the development of healthy well-being necessary for success in a complex global environment. We are pleased to offer a variety of services to meet your needs including:

  • Crisis counseling available by phone 24 hours a day/7 days a week
  • Emergency intervention
  • Individual counseling and psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychiatric evaluation and treatment
  • Psychoeducational programs and workshops for students, staff and faculty
  • Campus mental health and wellness promotion

Take a closer look at the CAPS website to learn about their Services and Beginning Treatment .

For urgent matters or after-hours counseling by phone, please contact CAPS at 310-825-0768. For emergencies, please contact 911.

Case Management for Graduate Students

Students’ personal situations may negatively impact their well-being or academic life. In other instances, students’ actions may disturb campus community members. In these situations, Case Managers are available to receive reports of concern and help determine an appropriate response to assist the student and those who may also be impacted by the situation. Case Managers are available to consult with or provide training for campus community members who would like to better support students of concern. Case Managers must abide by FERPA laws, which means they are a private, not confidential resource.

The Case Managers can assist with the following:

  • Academic support including notifying professors regarding missed classes, dropping a class, withdrawal, etc.
  • Referrals to campus and community resources
  • Emergency housing and/or exploring housing options
  • Consultation for the university community regarding students in distress

Graduate Career Services

The Career Center provides many useful services and resources for graduate students as they begin to think about their professional future after UCLA:

  • One on One Advising via Zoom
  • Resume/Cover Letter/CV Critique
  • Career Exploration & Job Search
  • Mock Interviews & Negotiation

Workshops/Career Conversations/Boot Camps

  • Academic Job Search series, Online Interviewing, Job Search During a Pandemic
  • Employer Info Sessions & Case Competitions, Networking with Alumni and Recruiters,
  • Employer Panels, Career Fairs

Every Communication PhD student is eligible to receive a department travel grant to offset the cost of presenting research at conferences. Each student will be allotted $1,000 in department funding to use after – or as a supplement to – the DGE’s Doctoral Student Travel Grants for Conferences, Professional Development and Off-Campus Research (DTG).

To learn more about the DTG from the DGE, click here . To check your remaining DTG funds, call DGE Financial Services at (310) 825-1025 or email at [email protected] .

Communication Department Travel Grant Eligibility:

  • Expenses must be allowable under UCLA Travel Policies  to be eligible for reimbursement.

Expenses may include:

  • Transportation
  • Lodging (at a commercial venue; no stays at someone’s home)
  • Meals will be reimbursed on an actual basis, subject to the prevailing campus limit (currently $62) for each full day on travel status. The Department of Communication requires receipts.  Flat rate (per diem) reimbursement is not possible.
  • Conference/Workshop registration and fees (which may include meals for participants)
  • Poster printing

Expenses may not include:

  • Computer or other electronics or equipment (e.g., smart phone, tablet)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Transcription services
  • Dissertation editing
  • Tuition and/or fees for credit-bearing courses
  • Recreation/social events
  • Incidentals during trip
  • Supplies, materials & other costs associated with the research or professional development activity (e.g., software, flash drive, etc.)
  • Payment to participants or research study subjects
  • Students must be registered and enrolled both the quarter that they complete the travel and the quarter that they will be reimbursed. If a student seeks reimbursement for conference travel during the summer months, they must be registered and enrolled in the previous Spring and the following Fall quarter. In Absentia students are eligible for reimbursement.
  • Department travel grant funds may only be requested after, or in addition (if it’s a single trip) to the $1,000 allocation from Graduate Division is used.

Student Procedures for Reimbursement:

  • Provide documentation, showing that your Graduate Division Travel Grant has already been spent, or will be spent during this trip.
  • Indicate the total cost for conference travel, any other sources of funding for the travel (e.g., DTG, other research grants), and the specific refund amount requested from the department .
  • Provide either original receipts or photocopies of original receipts.
  • Receipts that are not in English must be translated in order to qualify for reimbursement.
  • Actual daily currency exchange rates must be provided if you are submitting receipts in non-US currency; use sites such as www.oanda.com  and select the relevant dates for each expense.
  • After a student’s eligibility is confirmed and their expense documentation has been verified, funds will be reimbursed in the form of a fellowship stipend.

The Communication PhD program is founded on a faculty mentorship model. This means that a student’s faculty advisor will also be their faculty mentor. The role of a mentor is centered on a commitment to advancing both a student’s scholarly and personal development. As you progress in the program, you are certainly encouraged to identify and assemble a team of mentors. Research on graduate mentoring has shown that very few individual mentors were able to meet all their mentees’ needs in all areas. Students should seek to build a network of mentors comprised of faculty, peers, staff, and professionals outside of the university working in career fields that interest them.

Still, upon admittance you will be assigned one faculty advisor who is also your initial faculty mentor. The first step to ensuring a healthy, productive relationship begins with a reflective self-appraisal of your own goals/motivations. Important questions to ask yourself are:

• What are my strengths? • What skills do I need to develop? • What kinds of research projects will engage me? • What type of careers might I want to pursue?

You should also ponder what type of mentorship style you are hoping for from your faculty mentor. This is not only a smart approach for your first mentor, but also as you build your network of mentors. Here is a useful list of qualities to evaluate in current and potential faculty mentors (that you may or may not want). Based on your intuition, experience, and of course conversations with other students, would your prospective mentor:

  • assign you research topics automatically? if you asked? would they be fruitful topics for you?
  • give you research and reading advice automatically? if you asked? sound advice?
  • give you writing feedback automatically? if you asked? helpful, comprehensive, and timely feedback?
  • chat with you about the state of the field ? if you asked? cogently?
  • put you on a big project ?
  • expect you to devote a certain amount of time to certain research areas? to specific research projects? to non-research activities? (funding constraints may force an advisor to do this)
  • share some of your broader interests (academic or otherwise)?
  • be someone you’d enjoy hanging out with ?
  • Stay with the department for the next five years?
  • treat your work as relevant to his or hers?
  • let you be first or sole author on your papers?
  • expend effort in looking out for your best interests ?
  • successfully help you get a good job ?

Once you’ve conducted a thorough assessment of your motivations, strengths/weaknesses, and desired mentorship style, you’ll be better equipped to communicate your needs to your faculty mentor with a greater degree of clarity. Conversely, you should ask about and take into consideration what your faculty mentor is looking for in their mentee. When this sort of open dialogue is established, expectations will be mutually understood and are less likely devolve into a confusing tangle of frustration and disappointment. Put succinctly, it lays the groundwork for a successful, lasting mentor-mentee relationship.

However, sometimes a student and faculty member just don’t work well together, and a change is needed. This is OK . Sometimes two individuals aren’t in sync through no one’s fault. If you find yourself in this situation and would like assistance either communicating your discouragement to your faculty mentor or you would like assistance in identifying a new faculty mentor, the Graduate Advisor and Vice Chair are more than happy to assist. All you need to do is reach out.

University policy

A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special departmental or program policy

A recommendation for academic disqualification is made by the chair of the department after a vote of the faculty at the student-review each term. Before the recommendation is sent to the DGE, a student is notified in writing and given two weeks to appeal in writing to the chair. The student’s appeal is reviewed by a departmental committee, headed by the vice chair of graduate studies, which makes the final departmental recommendation to the DGE.

UCLA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and by numerous special agencies. Information regarding the University’s accreditation may be obtained from the Office of Academic Planning and Budget, 2107 Murphy Hall.

Master’s Degree

The M.S. degree is not a stand-alone, terminal degree. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. degree program may be granted a terminal M.S. degree if they do not complete the Ph.D. requirements and exit the program. To be granted the M.S. degree, students must complete all required courses for the Ph.D., and complete the second year research paper, approved by the student’s adviser and two additional ladder faculty members from the Department of Communication. If the student is continuing in the Ph.D. program, this degree is optional. See below for more details.

Academic advising for graduate students in the department is primarily conducted on an individual basis by a student’s faculty advisor because, beyond basic requirements, each student’s program of study is unique. The department’s graduate advisor is primarily responsible for counseling students in regard to program requirements, policies, and university regulations.

Students will provide their advisor and the Vice Chair a summary of their professional progress each Spring. This progress report will be collectively evaluated annually by all ladder faculty, with an analysis of progress toward the degree, as well as specific areas that require improvement if applicable. A written summary of the faculty discussion will be provided to the student by the primary advisor.

Communication and Cognition; Political Communication; Computational Communication

The expected course load is 12 units per quarter for a minimum of two years. However, if needed, the minimum course load may be adjusted downward by petition with the approval of the student’s committee chair and the department chair. Students must be registered and enrolled at all times unless on an official leave of absence.

Students must complete 11 courses (44 units)—of which at least 9 must be 200-level graduate courses—all taken for a letter grade, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. All students are required to take seven core classes: one communication theory and research course (COMM 200); one research design course (COMM 220); two approved statistics courses, with at least one at the 200 level (e.g., POL200A-D; PSY 250A-C; STAT 101, 102); and three seminars that correspond to the three areas of study (COMM 230; 250; 270). In addition, students are required to take three elective courses from within our department or elsewhere, and a TA training class (COMM 495). Any additional elective courses above the 11 course requirement may be taken for a letter grade or S/U grading. Depending on the student’s area of study and prior academic preparation and study, a student may be advised to take other preparatory courses as determined by the faculty adviser.

Most students in the program will serve as a TA beginning in year 2 of the program. Those who receive external fellowships will be expected to complete a minimum of one quarter of teaching during their time in the program.

All students must complete original research during their first and second years, in the form of a first year paper and a second year paper.  In general, these two papers will be related to one another, but students may elect to pursue two distinct projects. At the end of the spring quarter of their first year, students present their research in a written paper and a brief oral presentation to the department’s faculty and graduate students. If original data has not been collected and analyzed by the end of the first year, the presentation must summarize work to date, including a proposal for data acquisition.

At the end of their second year, students present their cumulative research findings in a talk presented to the department’s faculty and students and in a paper. This second year paper must be approved by the student’s adviser (who will submit a formal grade) and one additional ladder faculty member from the Department of Communication. The paper should be of publication quality in a top-tier journal in the discipline.

Students typically receive the master’s degree by the end of their sixth quarter in residence.






Main Office

Mailing address, student employment opportunities.

  • Communication Department TA Application

Related Sites

  • College of Letters & Science
  • Social Sciences Division
  • College Magazine
  • College Feedback
  • LA Social Science
  • UCLA Blue Print

Campus Resources

  • Maps, Directions, Parking
  • Academic Calendar
  • University of California
  • Terms of Use

Social Sciences Division Departments

  • Aerospace Studies
  • African American Studies
  • American Indian Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Asian American Studies
  • César E. Chávez Department of Chicana & Chicano Studies
  • Communication
  • Conservation
  • Gender Studies
  • Military Science
  • Naval Science
  • Political Science
  • Lecturers & Adjunct Faculty
  • Emeritus & Retired Faculty
  • Faculty Awards
  • Graduate Students
  • Visiting Scholars
  • In Memoriam
  • Board of Visitors
  • Your Donations at Work
  • Office Hours
  • Major Requirements
  • Directed Research
  • Departmental Honors
  • Faculty Labs
  • Subject Pool Login
  • Undergraduate Communication Association
  • UCLA Advertising and Marketing Team
  • Research Areas
  • Summer 2024 Courses
  • Commencement


Why study communication, what is a ph.d. in communication with an emphasis on social justice.

The Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Cincinnati gives students the opportunity to investigate the power of communication to shape our personal identities and impact our social, organizational, mediated, and political lives.

Given our location in the heart of the urban core of Cincinnati, as well as the mission of our department to explore and address social issues, much of our work emphasizes our value of social justice. We recognize the central role that communication plays in our understanding of key social justice issues (e.g., race, gender, health, environment, globalization-related, etc.) and in finding solutions to those issues.

As graduate faculty in communication, we have identified a trend that students approach communication studies from a social justice angle, and are seeking opportunities to advance academic training that prepare them to have a social justice focus in their research or praxis career trajectory. Through academic preparation and externship work, our program prepares students to lead positive change through academic, and applied work, or in professional careers through a blend of theory, research methodology, and practical application.

What are our focus areas?

  • Organizational Communication and Public Relations
  • Media and Cultural Studies, Traditional and Digital Media Effects
  • Health and Environmental Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication and Leadership
  • Culture and Globalization
  • Rhetorical, Interpretive, Critical, and Quantitative Methods

What are some of the advantages of this program?

  • Small classes mean you get concentrated attention from our  award-winning faculty  
  • You can customize the program to your interests by choosing electives and independently working on a completion project tailored to your interests  
  • Many of our full-time Ph.D. students receive a graduate assistantship (GA), a competitive assistantship that pays your tuition and provides a $16,000 stipend each year for four years. Most GA students teach their own sections of public speaking and consider it a highlight of their experience.

Admission Requirements

You will need the following to apply:

Unofficial transcripts

  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) for this program typically includes a summary of your research interests, the status of your thesis and name of your advisor, a list of peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, conference papers, panels, and, when applicable community service and any related work experience. In addition, should you have a resume demonstrating your commitment to social justice, you are encouraged to upload this document as well.

Personal Statement

  • Please identify any specific area(s) of interest or specialty that you would like to study, and how your interest aligns with our program
  • Please identify specific social issues and topics that motivate your research interest
  • Tell us how your goals and research interests align with the department’s social justice focus
  • Please name 2-5 graduate faculty from the Department of Communication who you believe could best evaluate your application materials. We strongly recommend that you review faculty profiles on our website, skim through faculty CVs and publications for connections with your research interests, and identify those individuals who you would be excited to work with if you are accepted into our program.

Writing Sample

  • A writing sample showcases your ability to synthesize literature, articulate your ideas, and build an argument. Please submit a research paper, which includes academic citations. This may be a published article, book chapter, conference paper, or one written for a class, preferably in communication or a related field. If you have written a thesis or capstone paper, turning a portion of those in would be preferred. Your writing sample should be at least 5 pages (excluding references).

Proof of English Language Proficiency (for international applicants only)

Additional notes about applications.

Submission Timing:  We encourage you to submit your application as soon as it is ready. We can only see your application once it has been submitted. Seeing your application allows us to get in contact with you. Also, please email the Graduate Director to let them know that you have applied.

Official Review:   Your file will not be officially reviewed for admission until it is complete . Your file will be complete when:

  • you have uploaded your cover letter, purpose statement, transcript, and writing sample
  • your reference letters have been submitted electronically by recommenders
  • you officially submit your application and pay the application fee

Helpful links  about the Application Process:

  • Admissions Requirements
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Our program prepares students for careers in the academy and other industries. In addition to a path toward scholarly research, other career options include, but are not limited to: 

  • Academic Researcher
  • Non-profit/Industry Researcher
  • Health Medical Ethnographer 
  • Laber Relations Officer
  • Marketing Director
  • Public Relations/Communication Director
  • Writer/Copywriter/Technical Writer/Editor 
  • Medical Writer 
  • Proposal Writer/Grant Manager 
  • Project Management 
  • Social Media Management and Analysis 
  • Data Analysis  
  • Content Development and Strategist
  • Known for having one of the highest rated masters only Communication programs in the country
  • Small program means strong faculty-student relationships
  • Ph.D. program uniquely centering on social justice at the program level
  • The social justice focus is reflected in our emphasis on engagement with real-life issues in research programs, particularly, through research externships that connect student research with local communities.
  • The department and UC both have established internship-placement programs rated #3 in the nation that help to connect students to industry organizations
  • Top scholar faculty in organizational, political, environmental, media, and health communication
  • Graduate Assistantships are available in teaching or research

The Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati promotes knowledge of human communication through research, teaching, and service. We are located in an urban center within a large research university, which provides a dynamic context for connecting theory and practice.

Our award-winning faculty members share a distinctive focus on contemporary social problems. Research centers on understanding issues of voice, identity, public participation, and advocacy/leadership across communication contexts including interpersonal, political, organizational, rhetorical, environmental, health, and mediated communication.

Degree Requirements

The degree involves a five-year program of study that includes the following elements:

Coursework: Minimum of 73 total hours are required to graduate

  • COMM7001 - Advanced Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM7007 - Advanced Communication Theory
  • COMM7041 - Empirical Communication Research Methods
  • COMM7042 - Qualitative and Rhetorical Research Methods
  • COMM 8002 Communication & Social Justice
  • 15 Credit Hours Minimum of Communication and Outside Electives
  • COMM 8061 Research Practicum
  • COMM 8062 Communication  Externship 
  • COMM 9051 Comprehensive Exams
  • COMM 9061 Dissertation 

Additional Specifications

  • To achieve full-time status, students must take 10 or more hours of graduate coursework per semester. Students receiving assistantships or scholarships must maintain a 12-hour course load.
  • Full-time students are required to register for COMM8093 - Introduction to Graduate Studies during the Fall and Spring semesters of the first year, and COMM8094 - Academic and Professional Prep during the Fall and Spring semesters of the second year.
  • All students complete a Doctoral Dissertation, an independently developed and executed research project which may involve a variety of approaches and methods, including experimental, survey, observation/participation, fieldwork, or critical-textual. Students may register for 1 to 30 dissertation hours with an advisor. 

Application Deadlines

Early Admission

General Admission

Fall Semester Application Deadline:

Part-Time Admission: February 1st Full-Time Admission: January 15th

Spring Semester Application Deadline:

Full-Time Admission: NOT ACCEPTED Part-Time Admission: October 15th

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the  Higher Learning Commission .

Contact Information

Find related programs in the following interest areas:.

Program Code: 15DOC-COMM-PHD

School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Doctor of philosophy in mass communication.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in Mass Communication requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. The program provides training in research methods, communication theory, and teaching skills. Students in this program prepare for careers as professors, teachers and industry researchers.

The program emphasizes interdisciplinary studies, with coursework and research tailored to each student’s interests under the guidance of faculty members. The school offers several areas of strength to support graduate student research:

  • critical and cultural studies 
  • sports media
  • global media
  • health communication
  • journalism studies
  • digital media

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a completed relevant master’s degree at the time of enrollment can transfer up to 30 hours of graduate credit from academic courses, including up to 3 credit hours for the thesis. Students who will have not completed a relevant master’s degree by the time of enrollment should apply for our M.A. program. M.A. students who complete their degree requirements and successfully pass the qualifying exam will be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program.

For more information, refer to the Graduate Student Handbook or Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about SJMC graduate programs. In addition, listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in mass communication, visit the UI General Catalog . Don’t find an answer to your question? Email it to us at [email protected].

Important Deadlines

Application Deadline : January 1st (for Fall admission)

Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the  Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College  on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the  Graduate Admissions Process  page.

Comprehensive Examination

In the third year, each doctoral student completes and defends a dissertation proposal, which serves as their comprehensive exam. The dissertation proposal must indicate clearly the logical steps necessary for the completion of the project and suggest a plan of action. Generally, a dissertation proposal will include these areas: Introduction, Context for the Study, Conceptual/Theoretical Foundation, Research Questions, Research Methods, Bibliography, Chapter Outline, and Tentative Timeline. Once written, the student is required to present the dissertation proposal to the Communication and Media Colloquium. Following the Communication and Media Colloquium presentation, an oral examination will be conducted by the student’s committee, usually within two weeks of the completion of the written proposal.


Students who are enrolled in the Ph.D. program are required to complete a scholarly dissertation. The dissertation committee is composed of at least four faculty members. At least three must be members of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty, at least two must be members of SJMC (which may include faculty with 0% appointments), and at least one must come from outside the department. By special request, the program may request permission from the Graduate College to replace one committee member with a recognized scholar of professorial rank from another academic institution. Changes to committee membership are often necessary, and can be made at various stages in a student’s program, but should always be done in close consultation with their advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.

NOTE :  Any research which involves "human subjects" must be reviewed by the University of Iowa  Institutional Review Board (IRB)  prior to the initiation of the project.  Proof of the determination/review process must also be submitted to the International Studies Program before the international experience proposal can be approved. For all questions contact the IRB at (319) 335-6465; or complete the  IRB Determination Form  to find out if your research meets the definition of human subjects research.

PhD in Mass Communication (General Catalog)

NOTICE: The University of Iowa Center for Advancement is an operational name for the State University of Iowa Foundation, an independent, Iowa nonprofit corporation organized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, publicly supported charitable entity working to advance the University of Iowa. Please review its full disclosure statement.

  • The Graduate School >
  • Beyond the Classroom >
  • Graduate Professional Development >
  • Graduate Professional Development for PhD Students >

Communication Resources for PhD Students

Icon of two interlocking chat bubbles.

Effective communication is crucial for completing your doctoral program. This section offers various resources to support your communication needs as you advance through your PhD program and into your career. From the initial stages of developing your research proposal to the final presentation of your dissertation, we aim to provide resources to assist you at every step of your journey.

Within this section, you will find a wealth of tools and services curated for PhD students. We understand your unique challenges in producing scholarly research and communicating complex ideas effectively to broad audiences. We want to empower you to excel in all aspects of writing and communication. With everything from support for English language learners to presentation coaching for advanced doctoral candidates, we are confident that UB has a resource to meet your needs.

Writing Resources

Center for Excellence in Writing

The Center for Excellence in Writing (CEW) is the place on campus where graduate students can find support for their writing. Writing consultants can help you with various writing projects, including papers, dissertations, theses, proposals, fellowships, job application materials and conference presentations.

International students can take advantage of individual consultations and resources offered by the CEW. Individual consultations can support graduate students working in a language outside their native language.

The CEW holds dissertation retreats, dissertation cafés, writing groups and more throughout the year. Be sure to subscribe to the Graduate Writing Support listserv to receive emails about graduate writing and dissertation support programs .

Graduate Student Association (GSA) Editorial Services The Graduate Student Association offers free copyediting services to graduate students. GSA editorial services can help you with quick copy edits, grammar questions, and submissions of up to 50 pages. Be sure to build in plenty of time to get your edits returned.

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) The University at Buffalo is a  National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD)  member. Through the NCFDD, graduate students can find support for writing through writing challenges and a dissertation success curriculum. This is a free resource for faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students.

The Center for Excellence in Writing has proven to be a powerful resource for graduate students and can help with a wide variety of writing projects including: course papers, dissertations, theses, proposals, job application materials, conference presentation, group projects, journal articles and more.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition was developed by the University of Queensland , and the competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students by cultivating students' academic, presentation and research communication skills. Participants are judged on effectively conveying the essence and importance of their research engagingly to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes with one PowerPoint slide.

Communicating Your Research

3MT Micro-Credential The 3MT Micro-Credential: Communicating Research to Broad Audiences  is an optional resource intended to help graduate students learn how to communicate their research. Participants will learn to articulate strategies and techniques to communicate graduate-level research to a non-specialist audience. Upon completing the micro-credential, participants will have prepared a three-minute pitch about their research and developed an effective, supporting PowerPoint slide, all while giving and receiving peer feedback.

Venture Coaching UB' Startup and Innovation Collaboratory (CoLab) offers free, confidential, one-on-one mentoring and support from their network of venture coaches . Get help moving your idea forward with assistance that is perfect for individuals or startups at any stage in any industry. Whether you're creating a business model canvas, starting the customer discovery process, prepping a pitch deck for a competition, or just need some feedback, their venture coaches have got you covered.

Art of Research Competition

The Art of Research celebrates the extraordinary research of University at Buffalo graduate students and postdoctoral scholars by showcasing original images highlighting the inherent beauty in research, scholarship and creative activity.

In this communication competition, entrants submit an original image that represents their research and a brief description of how it relates to their overall research. 

Publishing Resources

  • The Center for Excellence in Writing can assist in preparing papers and manuscripts for publication. 
  • University Libraries offer support and consultation to assist with digital scholarship and scholarly publishing. In addition, University Libraries host  micro-credentials to support digital literacy . Three related courses are designed to develop digital literacy skills.

External Resources

  • Publish Not Perish is a newsletter for academics who want to write more while being balanced.
  • Purdue OWL  is a free writing resource that provides writing guides and online resources.

Stay Informed

The graduate brief.

Every Wednesday during the semester, the Graduate School emails the "Graduate Brief" to all graduate and professional students, which is a weekly selection of news and happenings within the Graduate School and its partnering offices. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact [email protected] .

Upcoming Events

PhD in Communication

Doctor of philosophy in school of communication.

PhD Communication Studies

  • Request Info

Explore More

Back to top

At the Intersection of Media, Technology, and Democracy

The AU School of Communication's Doctor of Philosophy in Communication allows you to research at the intersection of media, technology, and democracy. We study how media and technology interact with democratic culture and politics. Communication creates culture; communication is a vector of power; communication is central to democratic action. Our normative orientation toward a healthier democratic process is a theme consistent with the core public service mission of American University. Internet governance, podcasts as news sources, disinformation on Twitter, digital surveillance, facial recognition and power, racism on social media, and state social-media propaganda are all topics of recent dissertations.

Our focus is at the cutting edge of the field of communication studies today, and our students routinely present at our leading conferences. Our approach is also interdisciplinary, and we benefit from the diverse intellectual resources across American University, such as those showcased at the Internet Governance Lab , the AU Game Center ,  the Center for Media & Social Impact , the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies , and the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) . We also tap into our relationships with NGOs, media companies, foundations, and government institutions throughout the Washington metro area. 

In our doctoral program, you'll produce scholarship, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, that has real-world connection and impact . Your work will position you well to pick from career options that range from the professoriate to public policy research to media production to government. 

This is a three-year PhD, and from the moment you arrive, you will be working in a highly-structured program toward your dissertation research, building your networks, and developing publishable projects. You will join us in using knowledge to address our most pressing political and social challenge s . We welcome your application to become a part of the next generation of communication scholars, professors, leaders, and practitioners.

Demonstrate Your Commitment and Interest

Applicants for the Communication (PhD) degree program must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and a master's degree in communication, or a related field, with a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher, unless the applicant demonstrates comparable experience. The degree does not have to be in the field of communication or be research-based, as many of our PhD students have master's degrees in film or journalism. 

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose that outlines the intended research area, what research methods and theories the applicant will use, and which faculty members the applicant hopes to work with.

The candidate must also submit either a master's thesis or another example of substantial research. The GRE is optional. Students should submit their official GRE scores to CEEB code 5007 if desired.

The School of Communication's PhD program operates on a hard deadline. Applications must be received by December 15th.  Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

A complete PhD application consists of the following:

  • Statement of purpose
  • University transcripts from all universities attended (transcripts from outside of the U.S. must be evaluated by a NACES approevd organization)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Master's thesis (or another example of substantial research)
  • Proof of English proficiency (100 on the TOEFL, 7.0 on the IELTS, 120 on Duolingo, or a bachelor or master's degree from a university in an English speaking country)

The admissions committee may ask applicants to interview with the program director and affiliated faculty. Interviews are conducted either on campus or virtually.

Financing Your Education

Each year, we welcome several doctoral students with full tuition remission as well as a graduate assistantship . We may also offer admission to top candidates without merit funding. If funding becomes available, students admitted without funding may be eligible to receive a merit package from the school.

The PhD in Communication is 54 credit hours. To estimate the cost of tuition , please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

Students whose funding package includes a graduate assistantship will work as research or teaching assistants for 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. 

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid . Merit awards, named scholarships, and fellowships are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid . Several prestigious graduate fellowships are also available for students in the Political Communication program. Additional financial support is available for veterans .

Each year, we welcome several doctoral students with full tuition remission as well as a graduate assistantship. We may also offer admission to top candidates without merit funding. If funding becomes available, students admitted without funding may be eligible to receive a merit package from the school. 

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience , specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Some merit awards come in the form of graduate assistantships , which consist of graduate tuition remission, a stipend, or both. Tuition remission will vary in the number of credits offered. If you are offered a stipend, you must employed as a graduate assistant for a School of Communication faculty member for 10 hours per week.

Graduate Fellowships for Political Communication

The School of Communication offers prestigious merit-based fellowships in partnership with leading Washington, DC-based media organizations. These fellowships provide varying amounts of tuition remission and stipend and allow you to pursue professional projects with some of the finest media organizations while completing your graduate program. Separate applications are required . 

Research fellowships at academic centers within the School of Communication and throughout the university may also be available.

Unless indicated, students may not accept both a graduate assistantship and a graduate fellowship.

 Advanced Study at Your Convenience 

The School of Communication makes continuing on for your advanced degree a simple, straightforward process. You may apply for admission to our combined bachelor of arts/master of arts program during the second semester of your junior year (after completing 75 credits, but before you have completed 90 credits). Students in any undergraduate major at AU are eligible for consideration. An undergraduate degree in communication is not required.

You may apply for combined degrees in Political Communication, Strategic Communication, Film and Video, Journalism and Public Affairs, Game Design, or International Media.

More information about admissions requirements can be found here.

PhD Students

Meet Our Students

Our students produce scholarship, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, that has real-world connection and impact.

The CMSI team poses with the lineup of comedians at Comedy Saves Democracy. Photo by Ari Scott.

Democracy is a Laughing Matter

In the Top 5 percent of Best Ranked Programs in Communication and Media Studies

According to College Factual

Course Progression

Complete your degree in three years.

In contrast to the traditional 9-month-per-year schedule, your annual course of study takes place over 11 months, including faculty supervision and mentoring via formal course work, organized research group meetings, and online collaboration. The  accelerated structure  of your program allows you to complete your degree in three years.

You'll take six required courses, three each in the fall and spring semester. Depending on your past master's coursework and professional experience, you may be able to petition for credit for methods and/or statistics course work, substituting an advanced methods course or other elective. The required teaching seminar prepares you to work as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate course during your second year of coursework. Students who have prior college teaching experience or who have already taken a similar teaching seminar as part of their master's program can place out of this course, substituting an additional elective. In the summer immediately following your first year, you'll enroll in one course for credit and participate in research group meetings.

COMM-704: Media, Technology & Democracy (3) This is a foundation overview course focused on scholarship and analysis concerning the intersections of media, technology, and democracy. It also introduces other core courses and study concentrations for advanced study in these topics.

COMM-750: Advanced Media Theory (3) This course examines a range of theories for explaining the complex interrelationships among media, technology, human behavior, social interaction, and democratic processes. It provides an in-depth comparative analysis of theoretical approaches from a variety of academic fields including mass communication, cultural studies, film criticism, and digital media.

COMM-751: Advanced Media Research Methods (3) This course covers major social scientific, historical, ethnographic, qualitative, and critical approaches to media research, including discussions of epistemology, conceptualization, measurement, and ethics.

COMM-754: Media, Law & Policy (3) This course equips students with a strong grounding in U.S laws, policies, and regulatory infrastructure. It analyzes how public debates and political struggles over policy issues have shaped the culture, structure, and operations of contemporary U.S. media industries and institutions.

COMM-711: Teaching Seminar (3) This course provides students with career preparation knowledge, including understanding the culture and history of higher education, teaching skills, and career skills including submission to journals, book proposals, finding appropriate job opportunities, writing cover letters and doing job interviews. Some individual coaching is also involved.

NOTE: This course begins the Friday BEFORE school starts in spring semester, with attendance at an all-day event, the Ann Ferren Conference. This affects your travel schedule over winter holidays!

Approved graduate statistics or research methods course (3) (by preference) OR

Elective selected in consultation with faculty mentor (3)

Note: Students will work with their faculty mentor, who must have an appropriate terminal degree, to select two electives for the first fall semester.

COMM-755: Research Design in Communication (3). This course strengthens student skills in defining an answerable research questions and finding appropriate methodologies.

In the fall, you'll take two electives and a course to prepare you for the comprehensive examinations. By the end of your fall semester, you'll be expected to have gained approval and to have finalized the four faculty members of your doctoral committee, with at least one member being from outside of the School of Communication. At the beginning of your spring semester, you'll begin your qualifying exams. This process takes approximately one month from the assignment of questions to a successful written and oral defense. You will also take a seminar to guide you in developing your dissertation proposal. By the end of the spring semester or beginning of the summer, students are expected to have successfully defended their dissertation proposals and to spend the summer focused on dissertation research.

COMM-860 Seminar in Doctoral Teaching and Research (3) Creation of dissertation literature review and preparation for the comprehensive exam. Introduction to teaching philosophies and strategies, preparation for scholarly career in Communication Studies.

Approved elective courses (6)

Approved graduate statistics or research methods course (3)

COMM-861: Advanced Research & Project Development (3) Prepares students for advancing to candidacy by taking the comprehensive exam and preparing a dissertation proposal.

COMM-898: Doctoral Continuing Enrollment (6) May be taken by doctoral students completing coursework, exams or proposals in preparation for advancement to candidacy.

In the fall and spring semesters, you'll register for dissertation research credits. During the fall and spring semesters, you will also probably be applying and interviewing for jobs, drawing upon information from your first-year course, COMM 711 and on your mentors’ advice. By late spring, your dissertation committee expects to have about six weeks to read and respond to a dissertation draft and to read and respond to a revised version.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply to the phd in communication program.

Applicants could be interested in tenure track, faculty positions in academia, or seeking careers at prestigious institutions in government, industry, and/or the nonprofit community.

How can the PhD program help strengthen my pedagogical skills?

In addition to the teaching seminars and teaching assistantships that are part of the regular doctoral curriculum, The Art of Teaching is a one-credit course offered each spring semester for PhD students who want to learn more about educational pedagogy. The course was originally designed by American University's former provost, Milton Greenberg.

Previously known as the Greenberg Seminars for Effective Teaching, this course complements the PhD academic experience, providing hands-on, practical introduction to professional development and classroom techniques. PhD students can participate at any time during their PhD program. There is no tuition fee for the course.

What are areas of faculty expertise?

Our program is focused on impactful research at the intersection of media, technology, and democracy. Our faculty and students study how media messages and communication technologies shape, and are shaped by, social and governmental processes. Specific sites of research range from Internet governance to music and film culture to social and political organizing to journalism to new media and games. We study communication patterns and their meanings across and between societies on a global scale, including, every continent in addition to indigenous and stateless groups. We draw upon cultural production, critical communication, science and technology studies, law and society perspectives, and other theories, and we use both quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as policy analysis.

What kinds of positions do alumni have now?

Our alumni have found full time and tenure-track jobs at universities throughout the U.S. and around the world, as well as prestigious post-doctoral positions and non-profit and government posts.

What kinds of collaborations can I expect with faculty?

You are assigned a mentor when you first arrive, a selection that results from both your stated interests and faculty interest. This assignment can change by request. You can expect to work with your mentor and, potentially, other faculty on research resulting in joint publications and conference presentations. In your second year, you may assist a faculty member with teaching. Several recent alumni have continued to collaborate with SOC faculty and student colleagues after graduation, resulting in dozens of published research articles, book chapters, and policy papers.

What other opportunities do the school and university offer?

The PhD program offers several PhD Symposia throughout the year, offering informal presentations of completed work and work in progress by both students and faculty. The  Internet Governance Lab , a joint program in the School of Communication and School of International Service, offers a range of activities throughout the year, putting a spotlight on Internet policy. The Center for Media & Social Impact offers workshops, events, a biannual conference, and research projects for which you can apply as research assistant. The AU Game Center  provides a community of scholars and graduate students in numerous programs across the university engaged in the design, production, and study of games, including the cultural and social impact of the medium, with substantial opportunities for collaboration with faculty, staff, and students across multiple related fields and contexts. The Institute for Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applications, and Stories (Institute for IDEAS) offers paid fellowships and research projects for which you can apply as a research assistant, often collaborating with faculty at other institutions. The PhD programs in the School of Communication, School of International Service, and School of Public Affairs jointly host a day-long research conference featuring work in progress by their PhD students, in February. The university-wide Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL) provides tools and programs throughout the year to help faculty and PhD students with best practices in teaching, and hosts an annual conference on teaching in January. PhD students are welcome, at no cost. CTRL also offers training and access to research tools . Finally, each PhD student receives enough annual funding to attend at least one major scholarly conference or event, anywhere in the world.

What are examples of dissertations students have written?

Our students have explored a wide diversity of interests with rigorous research, including dissertations such as:

  • Lucy Odigie, “Digital Margins: Digital Technology Use, Social Change and the Empowering Strategies of Domestic Workers of Color in Brooklyn, NY”
  • Isabelle Zaugg, “Ethiopic: Coding for Linguistic Survival in the Face of Digital Extinction”
  • Aras Cosuntuncel, “Networking Authoritarian Neoliberalism: Realigned Strategies of Information Control and Resistance in the Case of Turkey” Dorian Davis, “The Twitter Election? New Perspectives on Agenda-Building during the 2016 Campaign”
  • Louisa Imperiale, “Democracy for Sale: A Critical Examination of the Political-Media Complex at work in Campaign Finance and Political Broadcast Regulation in U.S. Presidential Elections from 1976 to 2016”
  • Fernanda Rosa, “Global Internet Interconnection Infrastructure: Materiality, Concealment and Surveillance in Contemporary Communication”
  • Donte Newman, “Straddling the Fence: How White Facebook Users Express Ambivalence to Navigate the Context Collapse”
  • Emily O’Connell, “Hybrid Systems and Hybrid Genres: Exploring U.S. Political Podcast Framing Tactics and Effects”

How many applicants are admitted each year?

Five people are selected each year to join the program, and there are usually about 20 people in the program at any one time.

Can I attend part-time?

The program is designed to be full-time.

Can I take courses outside of the School of Communication?

The SOC PhD program was designed as an interdisciplinary program. We encourage students to take full advantage of the wealth of resources and opportunities across the university, including taking courses and finding expertise in other departments, as well as courses at our partner universities around Washington, DC. Dissertation committees are required to include at least one member outside of the school.

Can I complete my PhD program in 3 years?

The program is designed to be completed in three years, and more than half of our PhD students accomplish their goal in doing so.

Still have questions? Send us an email: [email protected]

Please send me information about PhD in Communication

It looks like you already used that name and address to request information for one or more AU graduate program(s).

If you have not previously requested AU graduate program information, create a new request

Search form


  • Join / Renew
  • Find / Post Job


NCA's Doctoral Program Guide

NCA's Doctoral Program Guide logo image

About the Doctoral Program Guide

The  Doctoral Program Guide  is designed to provide timely and useful information about doctoral programs in Communication for students, prospective students, and other interested parties.

Which Programs Are Listed? Many doctoral programs are included in this guide, all of which offer a Ph.D. degree in some area or field of the Communication discipline. We began with the programs that have traditionally been ranked or evaluated as doctoral programs in Communication by other sources and added a number of new programs.   

For doctoral programs in related areas of study, visit the following:

  • American Library Association's Accredited Programs page  
  • American Society for Theater Research's Doctoral Program Directory  
  • American Speech & Hearing Association's EdFind  
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's Graduate Student Info page  
  • Modern Language Association's Guide to Doctoral Programs in English and Other Modern Languages  
  • Public Relations Society of America's Higher Education Programs Online Directory  

What Information Can Be Found in the Guide?

All information presented in this guide is publicly available on the individual department or program website and/or in other published sources. Each university is identified by its  Carnegie Classification , its membership in the  Association of American Universities , and by the number of doctorates it has conferred from 2010 to 2019, according to the  National Science Foundation's  Survey of Earned Doctorates . The guide provides the areas of study of each program, the admissions requirements for each program, a listing of each program's graduate faculty, and contact information. In addition, we also recognize a program's recipients of NCA Awards from 2000 to the present and synthesize and report on the programs' standing in a series of different rankings/ratings, including:

  • The university's 2019 ranking in the Communication & Media Studies category of the QS World University Rankings . (Note: this ranking includes 200 universities; the first 50 are individually ranked, followed by category rankings for the remainder.)
  • The university's 2019-2020 ranking in the "Language, Communication, and Culture" category of the University Ranking by Academic Performance measure.  

Explanation of Areas of Study

Most doctoral programs in Communication indicate research areas or special research concentrations. Such areas are usually based on the types of research conducted by the faculty members in the program, as well as by the courses offered toward the graduate degree. 

A program is listed within a specific research area based entirely upon its self-identification of research focus. Because the identification and labeling of research foci vary so greatly across programs, this list groups and categorizes research areas according to commonly understood labels. Thus, a given doctoral program may identify its research specialty as "media economics" or "media studies" or "media effects." That program would be included in the broader category below of "Mass Communication/Media Studies."

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University, School of Media and...

University of Delaware

University of Delaware, Department of Communication

Wayne State University

Wayne State University, Department of Communication

Temple University

Temple University, College of Media & Communication

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Communication

University of Southern Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi, Department of...

University of Kansas

University of Kansas, Department of Communication Studies

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University, Department of Communication...

University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky, College of Communication &...

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin, Department of Communication Arts

University of Florida

University of Florida, College of Journalism &...

Boston University Logo

Boston University, College of Communication

Rutgers University

Rutgers University, School of Communication & Information

University of South Carolina logo

University of South Carolina, School of Journalism and...

Michigan State University

Michigan State University, Department of Communication

University of Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts, Department of Communication

What are you looking for?

  • School Leadership
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • USC Annenberg Magazine
  • Commencement
  • Undergraduate Majors
  • Master's Programs
  • PhD Program
  • Graduate Applicants
  • Undergraduate Applicants
  • Connect and Visit
  • Tuition and Financial Aid
  • Faculty and Staff Resources
  • Advisement and Academic Services
  • International Programs
  • Career Development
  • Progressive Degrees
  • Organizations
  • USC Annenberg’s Media Center
  • Student Work
  • Master's Programs
  • Faculty Recognition
  • USC Annenberg's Media Center

Communication (PhD)

PhD Students in a row.

You will acquire the leading-edge theory and research methodologies you need to shape a more ethical and just world. 

Whether you seek a career in academia, the industry, or governmental and non-governmental organizations, you will become a critical educator and researcher of communication through rigorous coursework, independent and collaborative research projects, and teaching opportunities.

You will work side by side with your peers and our distinguished faculty to advance knowledge in the field while creating interdisciplinary solutions to complex societal and organizational problems. At the same time, you will build a professional network of worldwide and lifelong connections with fellow scholars and practitioners.

USC Annenberg’s location at the heart of a top-tier research university and in the dynamic city of Los Angeles provides you with the ideal setting to explore ways to inventively fuse your scholarship and expertise in communication studies with disciplines such as political science, international relations, sociology and information sciences as well as gender, media and popular culture studies.

Program Information

  • Learning Objectives
  • Research and Teaching
  • Areas of Study
  • Current Doctoral Students
  • Class Profile

By the numbers

Student and faculty work.

Amber Lynn Scott

Changing the world through better communication

Former U.S. Navy Blue Angels team member Amber Lynn Scott became interested in studying high-reliability organizations for her dissertation to make a positive impact for military and first responders.

communication phd proposal

Requiem for a meme

Alexandria Arrieta researches how the intersection of memes and music are having a profound impact on people’s communication and connection across social media.

Alfonso Hedge

Making social media a better tool for political activism

With his lifelong interest in politics, Alfonso Hedge realized Annenberg’s doctoral program would be the perfect place to study how grassroots political organizations use social media.

Male Asian man plays key board and DJs at night club

From music to AI

Event promoter and DJ Stephen Yang examines the on-the-ground practices of technologists and media professionals as they reshape the culture of production.

black and white photo of Black man in button up shirt in front of blurred checkered background

Jermaine Anthony Richards named 2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow

The merit-based program provides funding for Richards to explore his research on how transmedia storytelling animates human security politics, security cultures, and political movements.

Samah Sadig.

Exploring identity through social media

Samah Sadig shares her passion for identity, expression and education — and how it all brought her to USC Annenberg.

Work on groundbreaking research with expert faculty

As innovations in information and communication technologies continue at a rapid pace, USC Annenberg remains at the forefront of efforts to explore these social, cultural, rhetorical and organizational processes. You will work and collaborate with fellow doctoral students, our world-class faculty, and industry and public/private sector professionals to advance research and insights across a wide range of interdisciplinary areas of study. You will also have the opportunity to lead research endeavors that impact scholarship and practice across the contemporary communications landscape.

Explore the research of USC Annenberg faculty and students. View the areas of study available to our PhD students.

PhD student working at desk and smiling.

Get to know your fellow students

The communication doctorate program enrolls students from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and educational experiences. Connect with fellow students by viewing their profiles and get to know USC Annenberg through their eyes.

Communication (PhD) faculty

Photo of Hernan Galperin

Preparing a proposal

Although your proposal will be assessed by subject specialists, please bear in mind that non-specialists are also involved in the admissions process and that decisions about studentship awards are likely to be taken by academics from different disciplinary backgrounds.

You should ensure, therefore, that the aims, structure and outline content of the proposed research are comprehensible to a broad academic audience.

Proposals should up to 5000 words long (at least 5 -7 double-spaced pages). You will be expected to situate your research within relevant scholarly literatures and to provide a full reference list. In particular, the proposal should include:

1. A statement of aims

These should outline the purposes of the research with reference to the general field and/or problematic you wish to examine.

2. The contribution

The contribution that the research intends to make to existing knowledge.

3. Rationale which demonstrates why the contribution is valuable

A rationale for the research which demonstrates why the intended contribution is interesting or valuable – if similar research has been done, why is a new approach necessary; if your research fills a gap in the literature, why should it be filled?

4. Discussion of the theoretical approach and/or the conceptual framework or analysis

You should indicate here what the primary structure of the research will be and what issues/concepts/ideas/policies or events will be discussed or analysed within it. If you intend to work to a hypothesis, you should state what this is.

5. Reflection on methodology

A reflection on methodology which shows how the assumptions of the research will be addressed in the analysis and why they are appropriate to it.

6. Discussion of the sources

A discussion of the sources – eg. interviews/published or unpublished data/archival or policy documents. If you intend to conduct field work you should give details. In all cases you should be as specific as you can and assess the possibility of access to relevant sources.

7. Research methods

A discussion of the research methods you will use to analyse your sources – eg. sampling, survey or interview design, data collection, discourse analysis.

8. Indication of study skills

An indication of your study skills: necessary language competence, familiarity with interview techniques/data processing etc.  

9. Chapter plan

A provisional chapter plan which shows how you intend to develop the argument of the thesis.

10. Research plan

A provisional research plan which indicates how you intend to schedule necessary research methods training/field or archival work/data design or collection.

Strategic Communication Ph.D.

  • Communication Program
  • Film and Mass Media Program

This program is located on the UCF Downtown Campus.

The Ph.D. in Strategic Communication offers advanced instruction in health communication, instructional emergency risk communication, and crisis communication; it prepares students with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful, advanced career in communication and related fields in both academic and applied settings.

Strategic communication, one of the fastest growing areas situated within the broader field of communication, is an innovative and unique subfield. It is distinct from other communication subfields in that it is intentionally goal-driven communication wherein communication scholars work in partnership with professionals working in the public and private sectors to solve real world problems .

The curriculum provides a rigorous program of study preparing students to research, teach, develop, and test messages that prepare for, and/or respond to, critical situations where health and/or social and/or economic interests are at risk or in crisis. The core feature of this program is training experts to bring the best social science research and theory to instructional emergency risk communication, crisis communication, health communication, and public relations; and policy-relevant issues in both academic and non-academic settings.

The program emphasizes considerable flexibility in the theoretical, contextual, and methodological diversity characteristic of the field of strategic communication. The curriculum combines core offerings in strategic communication, theory building, and methodology; along with elective courses from concentrations in health communication or risk and crisis communication. After completing these requirements, students take the candidacy examination, and then complete the dissertation.

The applied nature of research and theory in the program concentrations prepares students for career success in non-academic and professional settings. For example, the instructional communication courses provide students with strategies to communicate with the public on issues of health and crisis related topics. Much of health, risk, and crisis communication involves instructing the public on issues such as safer-sex, disease management, preparedness for natural disasters, and other important issues related to the health and well-being of Florida residents, as well as national and international publics. To prepare students for an academic career, students in the doctoral program are required to present or publish original research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Application Requirements

  • Applicants must have an earned master’s degree or its equivalent in Communication or a related field (e.g., public relations, emergency management). The director of graduate studies will evaluate the suitability and applicability of M.A. or M.S. degrees in other related disciplines for admission purposes. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all graduate work and must also have a cumulative 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate degree.
  • Three letters of reference that evaluate the applicant’s academic performance, suitability, and potential for undertaking doctoral study, at least one of which must be written by a faculty member at the institution where the master’s degree was earned, preferably the thesis advisor or program director.
  • A personal statement outlining the applicant’s academic and professional experience, the applicant’s professional and research goals, and a statement indicating a preference for working with a particular faculty member(s).
  • A writing sample of the applicant’s work (at least 2500 words in length) demonstrating the ability to complete graduate-level research, preferably a portion of the student’s M.A. thesis.
  • A CV or Resume.
  • International applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a U.S. accredited institution. The TOEFL is strongly preferred. The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 90 on the Internet-based test (IBT) and must take the speaking portion of the TOEFL and score a 26 or higher, 232 on the computer-based test, or 575 on the paper-based test. The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December 1st to ensure they meet the January deadline.
  • Applicants applying to this program who have attended a college/university outside the United States must provide a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation. Credential evaluations are accepted from World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silny and Associates, Inc. only.

Please submit all application documents through the online application system or email to [email protected] .

Total Credit Hours Required: 60 credit hours minimum beyond the master’s degree. Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in the program’s core courses and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their plan of study.

Colloquium – 0 credit hours

  • COM 7920 Doctoral Colloquium (0 cr., repeatable once)

Core Requirements – 9 Credit Hours

  • COM 7464 Theory Building for Strategic Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 7821 Instructional Communication in Strategic Contexts (3 cr.)
  • COM 7529 Strategic Communication (3 cr.)

Research Requirements – 12 Credit Hours

  • COM 6303 Qualitative Research Methods in Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 6304 Quantitative Research Methods in Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 7528 Rhetorical Criticism of Strategic Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 7325 Seminar in Research Methods (3 cr.)

Community Engagement Requirement – 3 Credit Hours (select one)

  • COM 6918 Directed Research (3 cr.)
  • COM 6946 Internship (1-3 cr.)
  • COM 7528 Communication and Community Engagement (1-3 cr., repeatable)

Restricted Elective Courses – 6 Credit Hours (choose one area of concentration) Concentration in Risk and Crisis Communication

  • COM 7815 Risk Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 7236 Seminar in Risk and Crisis Communication (3 cr.)

Or Concentration in Health Communication

  • COM 7025 Health Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 7227 Seminar in Health Communication (3 cr.)

Unrestricted Electives – 15 Credit Hours Choose from NSCM graduate courses below. Upon consultation with, and approval of the student’s advisor, a student may complete up to 6 hours of elective courses from outside the Nicholson School of Communication and Media (e.g., Emergency Management, Public Affairs). Note: Non-Nicholson School courses might not be offered on the Downtown campus and will require students to attend the course at the UCF Main campus.

  • COM 6535 Communication Campaigns (3 cr.)
  • COM 6046 Interpersonal Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 6145 Organizational Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 6425 Symbolism in Terrorism (3 cr.)
  • COM 6463 Studies in Intercultural Communication (3 cr.)
  • COM 6467 Studies in Persuasion (3 cr.)
  • COM 7745 Current Issues in Communication (3 cr.)
  • MMC 6402 Mass Communication Theory (3 cr.)
  • MMC 6567 New Media (3 cr.)
  • MMC 6600 Media Effects and Audience Analysis (3 cr.)
  • PUR 6403 Crisis Public Relations (3 cr.)
  • PUR 6005 Theories of Public Relations (3 cr.)

Dissertation – 15 Credit Hours

  • COM 7980 Dissertation Research (15 credit hours)

Candidacy Examination

Upon completion of 36 hours of coursework, including a minimum of 9 hours of methodology coursework, all core courses and coursework in one area of concentration (6 hours), students will be eligible to take the written candidacy examination. The examinations will be used to determine the student’s knowledge of theory, methods, and past and present research in their chosen areas of focus. Candidacy examinations will be administered in the fall and spring of each year. Students must notify the graduate program director by September 1st for fall exams and by January 15th for spring exams. The exams will be administered by the academic advisor in collaboration with the graduate program staff. Students will complete the exam in a prearranged room on the UCF Downtown campus. The examination committee will be composed of three UCF graduate faculty members who will be expected to compose the student’s dissertation committee. At least two of the committee members must be members of the NSCM graduate faculty. The exam must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in dissertation hours.

Each student in consultation with an advisor will establish content areas reflective of program outcomes to account for 16 hours of examination over a period of days deemed appropriate (not longer than five days). The examination committee will generate the questions in consultation with the director of graduate studies to reflect program outcomes. The questions covered on the exams will consist of research methods, program core and specific topics in strategic communication. Exam areas will be identified within the areas of communication theory, research methodology, and applied strategic communication best practices by the student in consultation with his or her examination committee. The examination questions will be graded on a four-point scale (1 = fails to meet expectations, 2 = unsatisfactory; 3 = satisfactory; 4 = exceeds expectations). Students must achieve a 3 or 4 on all questions to receive a “pass.” Students achieving less than a 3 on one question may receive a “conditional pass.” Students who fail to achieve a minimum of 3 on two or more questions will receive a “fail.” Students failing, or needing to retake any question(s) may do so one time. Students will retake only the portion of the exam she or he fails. If the exam is failed a second time, the student will be dismissed from the program. If a student receives a “conditional pass” on the examination, an oral examination with her or his examination committee must be scheduled and held within two weeks of notification of exam results. At the oral examination, the committee will ask the student to explain or modify written responses. This oral examination is meant to give the student an opportunity to provide additional clarification or information pertaining to the written responses. The committee will meet within a two week period of time, after the oral examination to determine whether the student has demonstrated the knowledge and skill to proceed to the dissertation.

Admission to Candidacy

The following are required for admission to candidacy and enrollment in dissertation hours:

  • Submission of an approved program of study.
  • Completion of all previously identified coursework, except for dissertation hours.
  • Successful completion of the candidacy examination.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty.
  • Completion of academic integrity requirement.


Dissertation committee selection.

Students who successfully complete their candidacy examination are allowed to form a dissertation committee, prepare and defend a dissertation proposal, conduct original and independent dissertation research, and present and defend a dissertation.

The student’s committee is comprised of at least four appropriately qualified individuals: a dissertation supervisor and at least three others approved by the director of graduate studies. The chair of the supervisory committee, who is also the dissertation supervisor, must be a full-time, tenured NSCM faculty member (tenure-earning may co-advise after their third year of service), and approved by the College of Graduate Studies to act as chair of the supervisory committee. Two additional members of the committee must be full-time graduate faculty of any rank, and must be faculty in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media. The fourth member must be a member of University of Central Florida’s graduate faculty or a graduate faculty scholar from outside of communication. Additional graduate faculty or graduate faculty scholars may be appointed.

Dissertation Proposal Hearing

The purpose of the dissertation proposal hearing is to explain the subject under investigation, place it within the existing scholarly literature and to present the planned approach for writing the dissertation. The proposal hearing takes place in the first semester a student is enrolled in dissertation hours; therefore, students may not schedule a proposal hearing with their dissertation committee until they have completed all coursework and candidacy exams. Students work with their dissertation committee to develop and refine the proposal. Immediately after the proposal hearing, the student’s Dissertation Committee will meet to decide whether the student passed the proposal hearing. A student who passes the proposal hearing then begins the actual research and writing of the doctoral dissertation. The committee may recommend that additional work must be completed prior to full consideration and approval.

The proposal will be comprised of introduction, literature review, and proposed methodology (including a data analysis plan) sections that the student intends to include as the first three chapters in the dissertation. The student will meet with the committee and offer an oral defense of the proposal. The student may be required to meet with the committee again if it deems that additional work is required before the student may proceed with data collection, analysis, and conclusions.

Doctoral Dissertation

The Ph.D. dissertation entails independent original research. A student must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours of doctoral dissertation research (COM 7980). The work must represent an achievement in research; it must be a significant contribution to its field; and it should be deemed publishable in refereed journals or a quality press.

Dissertation Defense

The student prepares to defend the dissertation in consultation with the dissertation supervisor. All members of the committee will agree to the date of the defense, and the dissertation must be made available to the committee at least two weeks before the examination date. The defense is given as a public seminar presentation of the dissertation (publicly announced two weeks before the defense), followed by an oral examination by the committee. If the candidate successfully defends the dissertation, the committee recommends that the final form of the dissertation be completed, and that University of Central Florida confer the Ph.D. degree.


Doctoral Faculty

Tim Brown Melissa Dodd Christine Hanlon Sally Hastings Jihyun Kim William Kinnally Renata Kolodziej-Smith Robert Littlefield Ann Miller George Musambira Adam Parrish Bridget Rubenking Jennifer Sandoval Deanna Sellnow Timothy Sellnow Patric Spence Michael Strawser Harry Weger Nan Yu Maria Harrington Xialing Lin Matthew Mosher Peter Smith Natalie Underberg-Goode Sercan Sengun

How to write a research proposal

What is a research proposal.

A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition – the what.

It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline – the why. 

What it shouldn't do is answer the question – that's what your research will do.

Why is it important?

Research proposals are significant because Another reason why it formally outlines your intended research. Which means you need to provide details on how you will go about your research, including:

  • your approach and methodology
  • timeline and feasibility
  • all other considerations needed to progress your research, such as resources.

Think of it as a tool that will help you clarify your idea and make conducting your research easier.

How long should it be?

Usually no more than 2000 words, but check the requirements of your degree, and your supervisor or research coordinator.

Presenting your idea clearly and concisely demonstrates that you can write this way – an attribute of a potential research candidate that is valued by assessors.

What should it include?

Project title.

Your title should clearly indicate what your proposed research is about.

Research supervisor

State the name, department and faculty or school of the academic who has agreed to supervise you. Rest assured, your research supervisor will work with you to refine your research proposal ahead of submission to ensure it meets the needs of your discipline.

Proposed mode of research

Describe your proposed mode of research. Which may be closely linked to your discipline, and is where you will describe the style or format of your research, e.g. data, field research, composition, written work, social performance and mixed media etc. 

This is not required for research in the sciences, but your research supervisor will be able to guide you on discipline-specific requirements.

Aims and objectives

What are you trying to achieve with your research? What is the purpose? This section should reference why you're applying for a research degree. Are you addressing a gap in the current research? Do you want to look at a theory more closely and test it out? Is there something you're trying to prove or disprove? To help you clarify this, think about the potential outcome of your research if you were successful – that is your aim. Make sure that this is a focused statement.

Your objectives will be your aim broken down – the steps to achieving the intended outcome. They are the smaller proof points that will underpin your research's purpose. Be logical in the order of how you present these so that each succeeds the previous, i.e. if you need to achieve 'a' before 'b' before 'c', then make sure you order your objectives a, b, c.

A concise summary of what your research is about. It outlines the key aspects of what you will investigate as well as the expected outcomes. It briefly covers the what, why and how of your research. 

A good way to evaluate if you have written a strong synopsis, is to get somebody to read it without reading the rest of your research proposal. Would they know what your research is about?

Now that you have your question clarified, it is time to explain the why. Here, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the current research climate in your area of interest.

Providing context around your research topic through a literature review will show the assessor that you understand current dialogue around your research, and what is published.

Demonstrate you have a strong understanding of the key topics, significant studies and notable researchers in your area of research and how these have contributed to the current landscape.

Expected research contribution

In this section, you should consider the following:

  • Why is your research question or hypothesis worth asking?
  • How is the current research lacking or falling short?
  • What impact will your research have on the discipline?
  • Will you be extending an area of knowledge, applying it to new contexts, solving a problem, testing a theory, or challenging an existing one?
  • Establish why your research is important by convincing your audience there is a gap.
  • What will be the outcome of your research contribution?
  • Demonstrate both your current level of knowledge and how the pursuit of your question or hypothesis will create a new understanding and generate new information.
  • Show how your research is innovative and original.

Draw links between your research and the faculty or school you are applying at, and explain why you have chosen your supervisor, and what research have they or their school done to reinforce and support your own work. Cite these reasons to demonstrate how your research will benefit and contribute to the current body of knowledge.

Proposed methodology

Provide an overview of the methodology and techniques you will use to conduct your research. Cover what materials and equipment you will use, what theoretical frameworks will you draw on, and how will you collect data.

Highlight why you have chosen this particular methodology, but also why others may not have been as suitable. You need to demonstrate that you have put thought into your approach and why it's the most appropriate way to carry out your research. 

It should also highlight potential limitations you anticipate, feasibility within time and other constraints, ethical considerations and how you will address these, as well as general resources.

A work plan is a critical component of your research proposal because it indicates the feasibility of completion within the timeframe and supports you in achieving your objectives throughout your degree.

Consider the milestones you aim to achieve at each stage of your research. A PhD or master's degree by research can take two to four years of full-time study to complete. It might be helpful to offer year one in detail and the following years in broader terms. Ultimately you have to show that your research is likely to be both original and finished – and that you understand the time involved.

Provide details of the resources you will need to carry out your research project. Consider equipment, fieldwork expenses, travel and a proposed budget, to indicate how realistic your research proposal is in terms of financial requirements and whether any adjustments are needed.


Provide a list of references that you've made throughout your research proposal. 

Apply for postgraduate study

New hdr curriculum, find a supervisor.

Search by keyword, topic, location, or supervisor name

  • 1800 SYD UNI ( 1800 793 864 )
  • or +61 2 8627 1444
  • Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
  • Student Centre Level 3 Jane Foss Russell Building Darlington Campus


Find the right scholarship for you

Research areas

Our research covers the spectrum – from linguistics to nanoscience

Our breadth of expertise across our faculties and schools is supported by deep disciplinary knowledge. We have significant capability in more than 20 major areas of research.

Research facilities

High-impact research through state-of-the-art infrastructure

Browser does not support script.

  • Undergraduate
  • Executive education
  • Study Abroad
  • Summer schools
  • Online certificate courses
  • International students
  • Meet, visit and discover LSE

MPhil/PhD Media and Communications

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Media and Communications
  • Application code P4ZM
  • Starting 2024
  • Home full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Media and communications research is developing rapidly, both theoretically and methodologically, in keeping with the vast expansion in the penetration, technological diversity and social significance of the media globally. Media and communications research is essentially interdisciplinary, drawing on the theories and methods of a range of social science disciplines as they apply to the media, both old and new. Our Department is committed to promoting greater diversity and transparency in its doctoral cohort and particularly encourages applications from underrepresented groups in its PhD programme.

With 91 per cent of its research output judged to be "world leading" or "internationally excellent" (REF 2014), the Department of Media and Communications provides an excellent research-based education to its doctoral researchers. Its mission is to guarantee the highest quality graduate research training in media and communications and to undertake original social science research in the field, emphasising in particular the relationship between media, technology and social change.

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution in the field of media and communications in contemporary society.

Programme details

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for mphil/phd media and communications.

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a high merit (68 per cent) in a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in social science or humanities and normally a distinction in the dissertation.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our  Information for International Students  to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate  staff research interests  before applying.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications) - statement of academic purpose - references - CV - research proposal - sample of written work.

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do.  See our English language requirements .

When to apply

The application and funding deadline for this programme is 15 January 2024 . See the fees and funding section for more details.

Research proposal guidelines

Applicants for doctoral study with the Department of Media and Communications are required to submit a research proposal of  no more than 2,500 words  summarising and justifying their proposed research.

The research proposal will provide selectors with an idea of topics of interest, and help in matching candidates to potential supervisors. If your application is accepted, you may be permitted to re-negotiate your topic, subject to the Department’s ability to supervise the new topic.

The final project proposal should feature the following sections:

  • Title : A clearly stated title / research question at the beginning of your proposal.
  • Preferred potential supervisor:  Please indicate clearly on the first page of the proposal who you wish to supervise your project. Available supervisors can be found on our list of  Academic staff  (please note LSE Fellows cannot supervise PhD projects).
  • Keywords:  Please include on the first page of the proposal up to 10 keywords or phrases which accurately reflect the content of your project (eg, 'internet governance', 'data privacy', 'children's media use', 'feminism', 'representation', 'platform studies').
  • Introduction to research question(s):  What question(s) will you attempt to answer? Why is the topic interesting and important? Is there a theoretical and empirical 'gap' that your research will seek to fill? What core theories and concepts will you draw on?
  • Literature Review:  Summarise the relevant literature and the field(s) to be contributed to. What are the main theories in the area? What are the critical empirical phenomena in the area? Specify the key references relevant to the proposed research. How do you position yourself vis-à-vis the theories and concepts you propose to use?
  • Methodology:  How will you address the empirical aspects of the research? Which methodology is appropriate and why? If the research question requires a combination of different methodologies, how will they be related? Do you foresee any practical difficulties in pursuing the research (e.g. finding suitable participants or data sources)? If so, how might they be overcome?
  • Conclusion:  What is the added value of the project? How will your research take our understanding forward in your chosen (sub-)field? 
  • Bibliography:  A list of texts used in preparing your proposal. (Not to be included in the word count).

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover  living costs  or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2024/25 for MPhil/PhD Media and Communications

Home students: £4,829 for the first year (provisional) Overseas students: £22,632 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges home research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

The Table of Fees shows the latest tuition amounts for all programmes offered by the School.

Fee status​

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification.

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the  cost of living in London  may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide generous scholarships each year to home and overseas students.

This programme is eligible for  LSE PhD Studentships , and  Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding . Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.   Funding deadline for the LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 15 January 2024

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas.  Find out more about financial support.

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do.  

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students . 

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page). 

2) Go to the International Students section of our website. 

3) Select your country. 

4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page.

Programme structure and courses

All First year students are MPhil students until they pass their upgrade, at which point they will become PhD students.

Theories and concepts training

Research Seminar for Media, Communications and Culture Focuses on the key conceptual issues and analytical strategies required in media and communication research, with special reference to the study of the changing environment of media production, dissemination and consumption, under conditions of globalisation and digitisation of information. Each participant must make at least one presentation annually.

One full unit or two half units of theory courses, chosen from the School’s graduate course provision. Courses are to be chosen in liaison with the primary supervisor/co-supervisors and will be approved by the Doctoral Programme Director. For MPhil students who have no background in the field, it is strongly advised that they select at least one half unit on Media and Communications.

Research methodology training

MPhil students will take Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications . This is a course which involves 3 discrete sections:

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: a series of lectures offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Autumn Term. The lectures will normally cover the following topics central to research design across the social sciences, with a specific emphasis on their application to media and communications contexts: the general nature of research as social inquiry, interviewing, discourse analysis, social network analysis, content analysis, visual analysis, survey design/questionnaires, case studies, ethnography and participant observation, as well as research ethics.

ii. Specialist workshops: Workshops (three hours) x 5 Winter Term (each comprised of one 3-hour session), offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Winter Term. Students are required to participate in all five workshops.

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Students have to take at least one quantitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology ( Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Media and Communications is the basic option). In addition, students need to take either another quantitative or a qualitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology. The combination of courses must be approved by the supervisor and discussed with the Advanced Methods of Research in Media and Communications (including Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis) convenor. Students will not be permitted to select Fundamentals of Social Science Research or  Qualitative Research methods .

Upgrade process

In addition to satisfactory completion of the above training, all MPhil students will be required to submit a thesis proposal of 10,000 words to their thesis committee. This paper needs to include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for completion.

Together with any examination/s for quantitative methodological courses, the thesis proposal will form part of the evaluation process, and, together with an upgrade viva, will determine whether students are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into their second year

Second year 

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

Third year 

Full time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their fourth year, part-time PhD students must submit their thesis by the end of their eighth year.

All upgraded PhD students not submitting their thesis must submit an end-of-year reflection document.

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.

You must note, however, that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.  

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s  Calendar , or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the  updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment

Supervision .

Doctoral supervision in the Department takes one of two forms, with faculty offering either primary and secondary supervision; or co-supervision, ie, joint supervisors with broadly similar responsibilities. In all cases, the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be at professorial or associate professorial level.

New doctoral researchers are assigned to supervisors with requisite knowledge in the chosen field. The supervisory team will normally be made up of Departmental faculty, but if you are working on a topic with a particularly interdisciplinary focus, it may be appropriate for a secondary supervisor or co-supervisor to be enlisted from another LSE Department. In such cases, either the primary supervisor or one co-supervisor will be Department of Media and Communications faculty.

Each doctoral researcher will be assigned a thesis committee consisting of their two supervisors and a senior member of the Department's faculty as chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade a student from MPhil to PhD. The thesis committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for over-viewing the student's progress in subsequent years

Please see our list of  Academic Staff  to view potential supervisors (please note that LSE Fellows cannot act as doctoral supervisors).

Progression and upgrade requirements

You will initially register for the MPhil and follow a taught programme involving coursework which is formally assessed. Towards the end of your first year, you will submit a 10,000-word research proposal. This paper will include a substantive statement of the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis, a tentative chapter outline, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for its completion. Evaluation of this paper, together with an oral examination based on the thesis proposal and the submission of satisfactory coursework, will contribute to assessing whether you are permitted to upgrade from MPhil to PhD and continue into your second year.

You will be assigned a Thesis Committee consisting of your two supervisors and a senior member of the Department's faculty as Chair. This committee will act as the review panel at the end of the first year of registration and in the decision to upgrade you from MPhil to PhD. The Thesis Committee also provides feedback on draft chapters submitted at the end of the second year and remains responsible for overviewing your progress in subsequent years.

All upgraded PhD students must submit an end-of-year reflection document at the end of their second year and each subsequent year in which they are not submitting their thesis.

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small, there are a range of people you can speak to who will be happy to help.  

Department librarians   – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies. 

Accommodation service  – they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries.

Class teachers and seminar leaders  – they will be able to assist with queries relating to specific courses. 

Disability and Wellbeing Service  – they are experts in long-term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as  student counselling,  a  peer support scheme  and arranging  exam adjustments.  They run groups and workshops.  

IT help  – support is available 24 hours a day to assist with all your technology queries.   

LSE Faith Centre  – this is home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.   

Language Centre  – the Centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in nine languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication; and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers  ­ – with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights. 

LSE Library   –   founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and is a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide. 

LSE LIFE  – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom; offers one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision; and provides drop-in sessions for academic and personal support. (See ‘Teaching and assessment’). 

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU)  – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding.  

PhD Academy   – this is available for PhD students, wherever they are, to take part in interdisciplinary events and other professional development activities and access all the services related to their registration. 

Sardinia House Dental Practice   – this   offers discounted private dental services to LSE students.  

St Philips Medical Centre  – based in Pethwick-Lawrence House, the Centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients.

Student Services Centre  – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.  

Student advisers   – we have a  Deputy Head of Student Services (Advice and Policy)  and an  Adviser to Women Students  who can help with academic and pastoral matters.

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective. 

Student societies and activities

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in  extracurricular activities . From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from. 

The campus 

LSE is based on one  campus  in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community. 

Life in London 

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more. 

Want to find out more? Read why we think  London is a fantastic student city , find out about  key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners . Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about  London on a budget . 

Student stories

Ludmila lupinacci amaral phd researcher porto alegre, brazil.

When I first decided to apply to the Department of Media and Communications, the possibility of meeting, and engaging in intellectually stimulating discussions with renowned international scholars of the field was one of my crucial incentives. As someone who comes from a developing country, the idea of having contact with those who constitute the cornerstone of my academic background – and most of my bibliography! – had been, until then, nothing more than a distant daydream.

I evidently had a personal interest in enjoying the structure of a world-class institution such as LSE, and in the benefits that this experience could potentially bring to my curriculum and prospective career. Nevertheless, the central motivation for my application was my understanding that the Department of Media and Communications maintains a strong focus on the development of a broad set of research skills, both theoretical and methodological. After one year in the doctoral programme, I can confirm my impressions were spot-on. What is distinctive about the Department, I would add, is the interdisciplinary, but always critical, approach it provides and fosters.

Being a PhD student is, at the same time, a challenging, rewarding, stressful, inspiring, and emotionally demanding experience. However, in the Department of Media and Communications, the faculty, the staff, and the colleagues provide a welcoming and encouraging environment for early-stage researchers. I have always heard how doing a PhD can be a lonely and socially isolating process. My experience in this first year of registration, however, shows me that this is, thankfully, not always the case.

View Ludmila's profile .

Richard Stupart PhD Researcher Johannesburg, South Africa

I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD primarily because it contained so many of the world’s leading researchers working on projects connected to the mediation of distant suffering, public action, and humanitarianism. It was an area that had interested me for a while, and LSE turned out to be the perfect home for my project.

The first day at school, as it were, was terrifying – a chance to meet academic heroes and accomplished first-year PhD colleagues from a range of backgrounds. It surprised me how approachable my supervisors, colleagues, and the Department in general was, and the intense reading and discussions of the first year made it one of the most intellectually fulfilling of my life. PhD study has meant developing a new relationship with reading, writing, and argumentation which can be equal parts intense and rewarding, but in moments where I’ve paused from worrying about how much I still don’t know and haven’t read, it’s incredible to see just how far I’ve developed already.

My own research has developed into a project looking at the work of journalists covering conflict and its effects in South Sudan – something perhaps unconventional to most media and communications departments. LSE has been probably the most supportive environment in which to be doing this work, though. The presence of so many colleagues interested in questions of the representation of suffering, journalism in difficult contexts, and postcolonial critiques of many ‘foreign correspondent’ studies has been a constantly valuable resource. Being granted the freedom – and support – to do practical fieldwork in Juba and Malakal in South Sudan really drove home that this was a space in which I really did have the freedom to do the practical work involved in pursuing my project where I needed to.

At the time of writing I am heading into my third year, and there is a great deal of writing and thinking still on the horizon, but I’ve no doubt at all that I’ve found the right academic home in which to be doing it.

  View Richard's profile .

SSu-Han Yu PhD Resaercher Taoyuan, Taiwan

The reason I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD may seem obvious, considering it has been ranked within the top 3 in the QS World University Rankings for Communication and Media Studies for the past three years. Nevertheless, the rankings indicators do not tell the whole story, as faculty in the Department not only excel in conducting research, but are always ready to listen, giving advice and feedback. In particular, I am very impressed by how much care and respect my supervisors have shown not only to my studies, but also to my professional development.

During my studies, I have had access to a large pool of research and teaching opportunities within and beyond the Department, which have allowed me to coordinate with external research institutions, organise international conferences, exhibit research findings, and write for publications. Additionally, I have gained knowledge and experience of engaging graduate students in seminar discussions through my role as classroom assistant.

Most importantly, however, my PhD journey would not have been the same without my peers. Although I expected LSE to attract talented individuals from around the world, I did not foresee that my cohort’s support and their enthusiasm for research and social change would help sustain me during the moments of self-doubt inevitable within the PhD process. The commitment to advancing knowledge and improving the state of the world demonstrated by my peers, faculty, and visiting fellows is as stimulating as the diverse events one can enjoy whilst studying in London.

View Ssu-Han's profile.

Preliminary reading

  • Baym N. K. (2010) Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Polity
  • Boltanski l. and Chiapello E. (2001) The New Spirit of Capitalism London: Verso
  • Carey J. W. (1989) Communication as Culture New York, NY: Routledge
  • Chadwick A. (2017) The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power – 2nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Chesher C. Crawford K. and Dunne A. (2014) Understanding the Internet. Language, technology, Media, Power London: MacMillan. Palgrave
  • Chouliaraki L. (2013) The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism Cambridge: Polity
  • Couldry N. (2012) Media, Society, World Cambridge: Polity
  • Lievrow A. L. and Livingstone S. (eds.) (2006) The Handbook of New Media (updated edition) London: Sage
  • Mansell R. (2012) Imagining the Internet Oxford: OUP
  • Papacharissi Z. (2014) Affective Publics. Oxford: OUP
  • Rogers R. (2013) Digital Methods Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
  • Wacquant L. and Bourdieu P. (1992) Introduction to Reflexive Sociology Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Silverstone R. (20060 Media and Morality. On the Rise of Mediapolis Cambridge: Polity

Quick Careers Facts for the Department of Media & Communications

Median salary of our PG students 15 months after graduating: £30,000

Top 5 sectors our students work in:

  • Advertising, Marketing, PR, Media, Entertainment, Publishing and Journalism           
  • Government, Public Sector and Policy   
  • Education, Teaching and Research            
  • Consultancy      
  • International Organisations

The data was collected as part of the Graduate Outcomes survey, which is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Graduates from 2020-21 were the fourth group to be asked to respond to Graduate Outcomes. Median salaries are calculated for respondents who are paid in UK pounds sterling and who were working in full-time employment.

Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the  support available to students through LSE Careers .

Find out more about LSE

Discover more about being an LSE student - meet us in a city near you, visit our campus or experience LSE from home. 

Experience LSE from home

Webinars, videos, student blogs and student video diaries will help you gain an insight into what it's like to study at LSE for those that aren't able to make it to our campus.  Experience LSE from home . 

Come on a guided campus tour, attend an undergraduate open day, drop into our office or go on a self-guided tour.  Find out about opportunities to visit LSE . 

LSE visits you

Student Marketing, Recruitment and Study Abroad travels throughout the UK and around the world to meet with prospective students. We visit schools, attend education fairs and also hold Destination LSE events: pre-departure events for offer holders.  Find details on LSE's upcoming visits . 

How to apply

Virtual Graduate Open Day

Register your interest

Related programmes, mphil/phd data, networks and society.

Code(s) P3ZN

MPhil/PhD Gender

Code(s) Y2ZG

MSc Media and Communications (Research)

Code(s) P4U6

Request a prospectus

  • Name First name Last name
  • Address Address Line 1 Address Line 2 City County Postcode Country

Speak to Admissions

Content to be supplied

  • My UW-System
  • Student Life
  • Schools & Colleges
  • Centers & Institutes
  • Leadership Team
  • For Faculty and Staff
  • For Researchers
  • Request Info
  • Give to UWM

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

College of letters & science communication.

Powerful Ideas. Proven Results.

Thesis Proposals

All students should give serious consideration to electing to write a thesis. A thesis involves original research and is a proven method for developing specialized knowledge and skills that can enhance an individual’s expertise within a substantive area of study. A thesis is recommended for students who intend to continue study toward the PhD degree or plan research-related employment. If the thesis option is elected, the student must write the thesis and pass an oral examination on a report of research initiated by the student under the guidance of the major professor. A faculty committee, chaired by the major professor, will evaluate the written report and conduct an oral examination of the candidate.

Thesis Proposal Outline

This sample outline may not be appropriate for some studies. You should decide, in consultation with your major professor, whether to follow the sample outline below or modify it to suit the needs of your particular study. Proposals from former students are available on the department website and can be reviewed to assist you in developing your proposal.

  • General background of the subject area
  • Specific background for the topic of investigation
  • Review of the literature
  • Definitions of all key terms
  • The hypotheses or questions to be addressed
  • Identify and justify the choice of general approach and specific research method
  • Subjects (if applicable; describe them and your rationale for their selection)
  • Limitations
  • Outline of Projected Results
  • Potential Conclusions and Implications
  • “Working” Bibliography of Sources & Materials

Sample Thesis Proposals

  •   Sample 1
  •   Sample 2
  •   Sample 3
  • Search This Site All UCSD Sites Faculty/Staff Search Term
  • COVID-19 Updates
  • Department Statements
  • Something Pacific: An Art Installation by Nam June Paik
  • Administration
  • Faculty Emeriti
  • Post-doctoral Fellows
  • Graduate Students
  • Visiting Scholars
  • Graduate Alumni
  • Major Requirements
  • Minor Requirements
  • Double Major
  • Honors Program
  • Academic Advising
  • Academic Opportunities
  • Undergraduate Communication Society
  • Undergrad Newsletter
  • Campus Resources
  • Career Paths
  • New and Prospective Students
  • Jump Cutters Production Fellowship
  • Graduating Seniors
  • Speech and Debate Team
  • About our Curriculum
  • Graduate Program Requirements
  • Theory and Methods Courses
  • Graduate Admissions
  • Admissions FAQ
  • Cognitive Science Interdisciplinary Program
  • Science Studies Program
  • Research Groups
  • Publications and Media
  • Dissertation Defenses
  • Democracy Lab
  • Awards and Achievements
  • In Memorium
  • Alumni News
  • In the News
  • Job Opportunities

Required Courses Overview

Required to be completed in year one:

  • COGR 200A : Introduction to the Study of Communication as a Social Force
  • COGR 200B : Introduction to the Study of Communication: Communication and Culture
  • COGR 200C : Introduction to the Study of Communication: Communication and the Individual
  • COGR 294 : The History of Communication Research
  • COGR 296 : Communication Research as an Interdisciplinary Activity
  • COGR 280 : Advanced Workshop/Media Communication
  • Three additional  methodology courses
  • Four additional  theory courses

First year examination

Language requirement, teaching requirement, qualifying examinations, dissertation and final examination (dissertation defense):.

  • An oral defense of the dissertation, open to the public, is required. The dissertation committee determines if the student has passed the final examination.
  • Acceptance of the dissertation by the student’s committee and by the University Librarian represents the final step in completing all requirements for a Ph.D. The dissertation committee must be approved by the Department Chair and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • Additional university requirements also apply as to academic standing and residency.

communication phd proposal

Planned Courses 2022-23

Communication Department Planned Courses 2022-2023

Download this PDF

Ph. D. in Communication More

  • Admission Information
  • Major Programmes
  • Minor Programme
  • Double Degree
  • Double Major
  • Life in Comm
  • Course List
  • Student Exchange Programmes
  • Subsidy Scheme
  • Honesty in Academic Work

Ph. D. in Communication

This research programme aims at training communication students who plan to become researchers, university teachers, consultants, executives, and professionals.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general qualifications required for admission to the Graduate School, applicants should possess a Master’s degree in journalism/communication or in a related field of humanities and social science from this University or other recognized universities.

All applicants MUST have a minimum TOEFL* score of 580 (paper-based) or 92 (internet-based), or a minimum IELTS* (Academic) score of 7,

  • unless they possess a pass grade in English in one of the following examinations: H.K. Advanced Level Examination (including AS Level), H.K. Higher Level Examination, CUHK Matriculation Examination, General Certificate of Education Examination Advanced Level (GCE A Level) / Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS Level) or
  • have a degree from a university in Hong Kong or taken a degree programme of which the medium of instruction was English, or
  • achieve level 4 or above in the English subject of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination.

* With effect from 2017-18 intake, TOEFL and IELTS are considered valid for two years from the test date.

Applicants are required to furnish proof of their research capability in the form of

  • a strong Master’s thesis;
  • a research proposal outlining areas of interest, goals and plans;
  • three letters of reference from academic sources;
  • academic records at the Master’s and undergraduate levels; and
  • special consideration will be given to applicants’ scholarly achievement and professional experience in related fields.

In addition to the University regulations, students in the M.Phil. Programme of the Communication Division, after completing a minimum of 18 units of coursework with a GPA of at least 3.7, may apply for transferal into the Ph.D. Programme subject to approval of the Division Head, the Board of School of Journalism and Communication, and the Graduate School.

If applicants apply for more than one programme in the School, please list the programmes in a priority order of their study interest clearly. Each applicant will be given only ONE admission offer from the School if he/she is eligible.

According to the School’s policy, applicants are not allowed to switch to another programme once they accepted the admission offer.

  • Thesis proposal – A full-time Ph.D. student must submit a thesis proposal no later than the end of the 1st term of the 3rd year whereas a part-time Ph.D. student must submit a thesis proposal no later than the end of the 1st term of the 4th year. Students are NOT allowed to change their thesis topic after the proposal defense (unless under special circumstances).
  • Thesis supervisors – Students are NOT encouraged to change their supervisors after the 2nd academic year begins (unless under special circumstances).
  • Students are required to submit a research thesis and pass an oral examination for graduation.
  • Thesis Monitoring Courses are listed as follows: COMM 5250, COMM 6110, COMM 8200.
  •  A student who obtains a cumulative grade point average (GPA) below 2.0 in the preceding term or receives a failure grade in thesis monitoring courses (for Research Postgraduate Programmes) will be put on academic probation. For details, please refer to Clause 13.0 “Unsatisfactory Performance and Discontinuation of Studies” of the General Regulations Governing Postgraduate Studies which can be accessed from the Graduate School Homepage: http://www.gs.cuhk.edu.hk/
  • Complete an Improving Postgraduate Learning (IPL) module on “Observing Intellectual Property and Copyright Law during Research”. This will be an online module and relevant information can be accessed from the website: http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/clear/prodev/ipl.html
  • With effect from the 2017-18 intake, all research postgraduate students are required to complete an online Research Ethics Training (RET) module on “Publication Ethics” and obtain a valid Publication Ethics Certificate for graduation.

Tuition Fee, Studentships, Scholarships & Grants

For general admission questions to the School of Journalism and Communication, please refer to the details HERE (PDF download) .

Apply Now .

Share this page to

School of journalism and communication, cuhk.

Room 206-207, Humanities Building, New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong

Follow us on social media

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • Privacy Policy & Disclaimer
  • Director’s Message
  • Mission & Vision
  • Brief History
  • Notes for Various Applications
  • Venue & Facilities
  • Journalism and Communication
  • Global Communication
  • Postgraduate Programmes
  • The C-Centre
  • Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey
  • Chinese Journal of Communication
  • Communication and Society
  • International Conference
  • COM Visiting Scholar Programme
  • Greater China Visiting Scholar Programme
  • Media Professionals in Residence Programme
  • Postgraduate Academic Conference
  • Achievements
  • Announcements
  • Media Coverage
  • Teaching Staff
  • Emeritus Professors
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Part-time Lecturers
  • Graduate Students
  • Advisory Panels
  • Creative Media Laboratory
  • Equipment Booking


  1. 10+ Thesis Proposal Templates

    communication phd proposal

  2. Phd Research Proposal Sample Management

    communication phd proposal

  3. Thesis Proposal : EECS Communication Lab

    communication phd proposal

  4. Writing A PHD Proposal PDF

    communication phd proposal

  5. how write phd proposal

    communication phd proposal

  6. Example Phd Proposal

    communication phd proposal


  1. Defending Your Dissertation Proposal: Tips for Success

  2. How to make a research proposal for Ph.D. / Research Grant by Prof. Mahima Kaushik II Important tips

  3. PHD proposal#viral #study #education #sociology #ugcnetjrf #phd #lucknow #lucknowuniversity

  4. #phd research proposal topics for commerce #research proposal #synopsis #commerce #marketing •||

  5. Writing Your Postgraduate Research Proposal

  6. Conquer Clarity: Can You Write a Crystal Clear Proposal? #irfannawaz #phd #research


  1. Communication, PhD < University of Pennsylvania

    Communication, PhD. Overview; ... Dissertation Proposal and Oral Defense: Before becoming eligible for a dissertation research fellowship and beginning work on the dissertation, the student must submit and defend a proposal for dissertation research to his or her Dissertation Committee. The proposal is a full statement of the research problem ...


    PH.D. PROPOSAL COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNCIATIONS AUGUST 2021 VERSION 0.9. 3 The proposed Integrated Media Communications Ph.D. program in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications (CoJMC) is for students interested in undertaking research-oriented work rooted in the areas of ... 1 PHD REQUIREMENTS OUTLINE . 5

  3. Thesis Proposal : EECS Communication Lab

    As with all communication projects, the right length for a thesis proposal is "however long it takes to convey your message effectively." While the goal should be effectiveness rather than length, a general rule of thumb is to consider 8-12 pages for an MEng or SM proposal and 10-20 pages for a PhD proposal.

  4. Program

    Written Dissertation Proposal and Oral Examination. ... The Communication PhD program is founded on a faculty mentorship model. This means that a student's faculty advisor will also be their faculty mentor. The role of a mentor is centered on a commitment to advancing both a student's scholarly and personal development. As you progress in ...

  5. Communication Ph.D

    The Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Cincinnati gives students the opportunity to investigate the power of communication to shape our personal identities and impact our social, organizational, mediated, and political lives. Given our location in the heart of the urban core of Cincinnati, as well as the mission of our department to ...

  6. Doctor of Philosophy in Mass Communication

    Generally, a dissertation proposal will include these areas: Introduction, Context for the Study, Conceptual/Theoretical Foundation, Research Questions, Research Methods, Bibliography, Chapter Outline, and Tentative Timeline. Once written, the student is required to present the dissertation proposal to the Communication and Media Colloquium.

  7. Communication Resources for PhD Students

    Effective communication is crucial for completing your doctoral program. This section offers various resources to support your communication needs as you advance through your PhD program and into your career. From the initial stages of developing your research proposal to the final presentation of your dissertation, we aim to provide resources ...

  8. PhD in Communication

    Applicants for the Communication (PhD) degree program must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and a master's degree in communication, or a related field, with a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher, unless the applicant demonstrates comparable experience. ... book proposals, finding appropriate job opportunities, writing cover letters and doing ...

  9. NCA's Doctoral Program Guide

    The Doctoral Program Guide is designed to provide timely and useful information about doctoral programs in Communication for students, prospective students, and other interested parties. Which Programs Are Listed? Many doctoral programs are included in this guide, all of which offer a Ph.D. degree in some area or field of the Communication discipline.

  10. Communication (PhD)

    In 2021, QS World University Rankings named USC Annenberg among the foremost schools for studying communication and media in the world. 15. doctoral candidates in our 2021 cohort Our small cohorts create an intimate group of contemporary researchers with whom to study. 40%. of students are international About half of our 2021 PhD cohort is ...

  11. Preparing a proposal

    In particular, the proposal should include: 1. A statement of aims. These should outline the purposes of the research with reference to the general field and/or problematic you wish to examine. 2. The contribution. The contribution that the research intends to make to existing knowledge. 3. Rationale which demonstrates why the contribution is ...

  12. PhD in Mass Communication

    All course work must be taken on an A-F grading basis. All PhD students must complete a minimum of 46 graduate credits, 24 thesis credits, and a dissertation. All course work must be taken on an A-F grading basis. 1. Required Mass Communication Core (7 credits) 2. Required Methodology Core (9 credits) 3.

  13. Strategic Communication Ph.D.

    The Ph.D. in Strategic Communication offers advanced instruction in health communication, instructional emergency risk communication, and crisis communication; it also prepares students with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful, advanced career in communication and related fields in both academic and applied settings.

  14. How to nail your PhD proposal and get accepted

    When writing your PhD proposal you need to show that your PhD is worth it, achievable, and that you have the ability to do it at your chosen university. With all of that in mind, let's take a closer look at each section of a standard PhD research proposal and the overall structure. 1. Front matter.

  15. PDF A Guide to Writing your PhD Proposal

    Therefore, in a good research proposal you will need to demonstrate two main things: 1. that you are capable of independent critical thinking and analysis. 2. that you are capable of communicating your ideas clearly. Applying for a PhD is like applying for a job, you are not applying for a taught programme.

  16. How to write a research proposal for a strong PhD application

    A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition - the what. It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline - the why. What it shouldn't do is answer the question - that's what your research will do.

  17. MPhil/PhD Media and Communications

    - research proposal - sample of written work. See further information on supporting documents. ... I chose the Department of Media and Communications for my PhD primarily because it contained so many of the world's leading researchers working on projects connected to the mediation of distant suffering, public action, and humanitarianism. ...

  18. Thesis Proposals

    Thesis Proposals. All students should give serious consideration to electing to write a thesis. A thesis involves original research and is a proven method for developing specialized knowledge and skills that can enhance an individual's expertise within a substantive area of study. A thesis is recommended for students who intend to continue ...

  19. Graduate Program Requirements

    Before the end of the third year, the student must take and pass an oral qualifying examination. The exam will be based on two substantial papers encompassing two of the subfields covered in the program, plus the dissertation proposal. Prior to taking qualifying examinations students must complete all requirements (courses, language, and teaching).

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal length. The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor's or master's thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

  21. Communication MPhil/PhD

    Our research degrees span the full range of communication, design and media environments. Research is a rich, central and essential part of the School of Communication. Our MPhil and PhD degrees are grounded firmly in research theory and methods, while maintaining and encouraging a high degree of creativity and experimentation.

  22. Ph. D. in Communication

    a research proposal outlining areas of interest, goals and plans; ... experience in related fields. In addition to the University regulations, students in the M.Phil. Programme of the Communication Division, after completing a minimum of 18 units of coursework with a GPA of at least 3.7, may apply for transferal into the Ph.D. Programme subject ...

  23. PhD in Strategic Communication

    Programme Name: PhD in Strategic Communication Programme Code: P7020Q. Medium of Facilitation: part-time, Full-Time NQF Level: 10 NQF Credits: 360 SAQA: 73882. Application Start Date: 1 April 2024 Application End Date: 14 March 2025. Campus: Auckland Park Kingsway. Contacts: UJ Call Centre 011 559-4555