Ph.D. Program Requirements

Students admitted to the Communication Studies Ph.D. program are expected to have completed a Master's degree in Communication Studies or closely related field. 

Doctoral students are required to complete 42 credit hours of coursework, with at least 30 of those credit hours taken within COMS. The coursework requirements are detailed below:


  1. COMS 859 Proseminar in Communication Studies (3 hours)
  2. COMS 851 Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive OR COMS 852 Communication Research: Behavioral and Social Science (3 hours)
  3. Four additional methods courses. A list of potential courses is maintained on the degree page in the KU catalog and, for current students, on the COMS Graduate Program Canvas page. (12 hours)
    • In lieu of 3 hours of methodological course work, a student may elect to enroll in 3 hours of applied research in which they will produce original research using one of the above methods. The final paper must meet the approval of the student’s advisor and must be submitted to a professional society for presentation on a convention program or to a professional journal for possible publication.
    • In lieu of 3 hours of methodological course work, a student may elect to demonstrate a high level of writing competence in one foreign language if they can show that knowledge of this language directly relates to their research and academic interests. Competence levels are determined through consultation with the appropriate language department or program.
  4. An additional 18 hours of subject matter coursework. These courses must represent two content areas developed by the student in consultation with the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies. (18 hours)
  5. Electives (6 hours)


Students who complete and M.A. degree from the Department of Communication Studies at KU will need to replace the required courses (e.g., COMS 859; COMS 852 or COMS 851) with other methods, elective, or content area courses. 

All new GTAs must take COMS 920: Seminar in Teaching Oral Communication, this can be an elective or potentially part of a content area. In addition, only one 500-level course and two independent studies (either COMS 997 or 998) may count toward the doctoral course requirements. Any adjustment to the required number of COMS course hours must be approved by the Graduate Committee through a formal petition. That petition should offer a full explanation of why the adjustment is being requested and have the full support of the advisor.

Following the completion of all coursework requirements, successful candidates will satisfactory complete both a written and an oral comprehensive examination over communication theory, research methodology, and the student’s two areas of emphasis. All students must enroll in dissertation hours (COMS 999) in accordance with the University policy on Doctoral Candidacy.

Doctoral students will complete a written dissertation in consultation with their faculty advisor & committee members and must successfully defend this work in a final oral examination.