Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Students entering the PhD program must have completed an MA first. Students without an MA degree should apply first to our MA program. 

1.Core Courses: All students must complete 500, 561, and 571. These courses replace the qualifying exam requirement and must be passed with a grade of B or better in each. For students who have already completed 500, 561, 571 as part of our M.A. program, those units must be replaced by 9 elective units approved by the student’s advisor.

2. Required Theory Seminars: All students must complete at least two of the required theory seminars
from the theory seminar rotation: 609, 610, 620, 669.

3. Major: All students must successfully complete a minimum of 27 units in the major including: core courses, theory courses, and electives. In addition, students are expected to fulfill their research team, research tool, and dissertation requirements.

4. Minor(s): Students must have at least one minor and may take two. The requirements for these are specified by the minor department. The graduate college's minimum requirement is that 9 hours be taken in the minor department. If the department does not have a specified minor track, the persons serving on the guidance committee from the minor department will specify the required course work.

5. Research Tool: Students must take 6 units of research or methods courses above and beyond the major and minor requirements. The tool should consist of some particular specialty that will be put to use in the dissertation research.

6. Advisor and Guidance Committee: Upon admission, students will be matched with a sponsoring temporary advisor. After the completion of the first two semesters, the student and temporary advisor meet to discuss whether or not the temporary advisor and student will continue working together or if the student is to find a new advisor. The student may consult with the Director of Graduate Studies in the event of the latter situation. In consultation with the advisor, the student shall then select a guidance committee, to consist of a minimum of four to five faculty members. Three, including the advisor, must come from the major department. At least two of the major committee members must be members of the voting Communication faculty. One to two members (depending on the requirements of the minor department) must come from the minor department (or in the case of a double minor, one from each minor department). A signed APPOINTMENT OF ADVISOR AND GUIDANCE COMMITTEE form must be submitted to the Department graduate coordinator. Once the committee composition has been approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and Department Head, any future changes in the composition of the committee requires the approval of the Major Advisor and the involved faculty, or a majority of the committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

7. Program of Study: Once the guidance committee is formed, the student will convene the committee to approve a proposed program of study. It is expected that the student will declare one or more areas of specialization and that the proposed major coursework and minor will reflect that specialization. It is advisable that the program of study be presented by the end of the third semester of full-time coursework. Failure to file an approved Doctoral Plan of Study form by the end of the fourth semester of full-time coursework may constitute lack of satisfactory academic progress. The Plan of Study becomes the student's contract and can only be changed by approval of the committee. (A change in advisors may also necessitate a program change at the discretion of the committee.)

8. Comprehensive Written Exam: When essentially all course work is completed, students will take written exams over the major and minor fields, typically in the fifth semester of full-time enrollment. The major departmental comprehensive exam is written and evaluated by the major committee. Students will be tested on theory, methods, and specialty. Students, in consultation with their committee, derive a reading list that, once approved by the committee, is used to assist the student in preparing for the exam. The written comprehensive exam is typically scheduled within a 3-week period. The minor comprehensive exam is negotiated between the student and the minor committee and may consist of a written exam, a paper, or a project, depending on the discretion of the minor committee. Within the same semester that the written major exam was taken, the student will also be examined orally by the guidance committee. The student must pass all sections of the written major exam and the minor exam before the oral defense can occur. Upon successful completion of written and oral exams, the student can advance to doctoral candidacy.

9. Dissertation and Final Oral Exam: Normally, the same committee will continue to direct the student's dissertation work. A minimum of three members from the major department are required to attend the final oral exam. Minor members who remain on the committee post-comprehensive exam are also expected to attend the final oral exam. The student must prepare a dissertation prospectus that is approved by the committee before the dissertation work is undertaken. The student's advisor usually serves as the director of the dissertation, although a different director may be appointed where research directions dictate. When the required standards of scholarship have been met, the student will orally defend the dissertation.

Related Topic(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences