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Communication Studies Graduate Program

Ph.D. Program Requirements

69 Total credit hours, in addition to post-comprehensive dissertation hours. 24 graduate credit hours a COMS MA program may count, with approval from COMS Director of Graduate Studies. 


A. 9 hours of core Communication Theory courses: COMS 859*, COMS 958, & COMS 959

                     *COMS 859 (Proseminar) is waived for students with a Masters in COMS) 

B. A minimum of 15 hours of Research Methodology

COMS 851   Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive (3)

          - OR-

     COMS 852 Communication Research: Experimentation and Quantitative Analysis (3)       

C. 12 additional hours from the following appropriate to the student's research/dissertation interest. Research electives may include courses from the following areas:

  • Experimental and Quantitative Empirical Methods
  • Historical/Critical
  • Qualitative-Empirical

Acceptable Research Methodology Substitutions:

1. In lieu of 3 hours of methodological course work, a student may elect to enroll in 3 hours of applied research in which the student produces 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.

2. 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 will be determined through consultation with the appropriate language department or program.

D. 18 hours of graduate electives, which may be chosen from COMS or other department

Electives may be used to broaden or intensify the program as long as they constitute a  meaningful course of study. Only 6 of these 18 hours may be in independent stu Students holding Master's degrees from other universities can satisfy this elective equirement with hours from their Master's program.

E. A minimum of 27 hours of additional subject matter courses:

These courses must represent 2 areas of emphases, to be developed by the   student in consultation with an advisor and the Director of Graduate Study. If a student holds a Master's degree in Communication Studies (or equivalent), up to 24 hours of appropriate coursework from this degree may be used as part of the 27 hours of subject matter course requirements. 

F. Satisfactory completion of the written and oral comprehensive examination

G. Doctoral dissertation

H. Final oral examination (defense) of the dissertation


Anticipated Program Changes for FY 2020-2021:

Successful completion of the Ph.D. program requires (1) a completed M.A. degree in Communication Studies or closely related field, (2) total of 42 course hours beyond the M.A. degree, with at least 30 of those course hours in COMS,* (3) written comprehensive exams, (4) an oral examination of the written comprehensive exams, (5) a written dissertation, and (6) an oral examination of the written dissertation. In addition, only one 500-level course and two independent studies (either 997 or 998) may count toward the Ph.D.

A. 3 hrs           COMS 859: Proseminar (If already taken, 3 additional hours from C, D, or E)

*If course has already been taken and student is wanting to waive this requirement a petition must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies (Dr. Yan Bing Zhang).

B. 3 hrs            COMS 851 or 852 (If already taken, 3 additional hours from C, D, or E)

C. 12 hrs          Four additional methods courses

D. 18 hrs         Content areas, divided into two areas

E. 6 hrs            Electives

NOTE: All new GTAs must take COMS 920: Seminar in Teaching Oral Communication, this can be an elective or potentially part of a content area. 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.

  • The total pre-comps course hours required are reduced from 45 hours to 42 hours.
  • At least 30 hours of the required 42 hours must be taken in COMS.
  • COMS 958 and COMS 959 are no longer required courses.


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