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Doctorate in Communication, Culture & Media

The PhD in Communication, Culture and Media develops innovative scholars and teachers who are able to impart theories and studies on the interaction of social forces and communication. The program trains socially engaged researchers in both quantitative and qualitative approaches in the study of media and communication. Our interdisciplinary faculty offer training in areas like political communication (especially war and conflict), migration and media, consumer culture, theories and methods of social media, discourse and political economy, mobilities, fashion, popular music and style.


The PhD in Communication, Culture and Media offers expertise in the study of political communication (especially war and conflict), media treatment of immigration and immigrants, consumer culture and culture change under commodification of the self, theoretical and methodological approaches to social media, discourse and political economy, and popular music and fashion.

Students regularly present work at the meetings of the National Communication Association, the International Communication Association, the Eastern Communication Association and the Popular Culture Association. Former and current students have published work on political communication, new media, mediated communication and intergenerational perception, consumerism and messages, business communication, diversity, and critical media studies. Students have also excelled in research methods in high demand in communication studies, including quantitative analysis, network analysis, online ethnography, mixed-methods approaches and discourse analysis.


The PhD coursework is structured around a set of required core courses, a set of required seminars with rotating topics, and electives in graduate communication lecture courses, independent study work and dissertation credit.

All students in the program take five common core courses. They then take no less than five courses chosen from the Culture and Communications (COM) seminar offerings. Students are encouraged to take additional seminars after meeting this requirement since seminar courses enable collaborative relationships with professors and introduce students to the scholarly community.

After completing the core requirements and a sequence of seminars, students are expected to take a minimum of 10 additional courses from existing graduate level lecture courses (depending on their interests and research needs). Students may take up to two graduate courses (six credits) outside the department. Additional credits to meet the 90.0 credit requirement will come from independent study and dissertation credits.

Application Information

The PhD in Communication, Culture and Media has an application submission deadline of December 15th, and admits about three students each fall. As a small program, students work closely with faculty and serve as research or teaching assistants as part of their training.

Qualifying Examinations

After students have completed 45.0 credits, which will usually be at the end of their sixth term, they will be required to take a qualifying examination. The qualifying exam will be offered at the end of June and is composed of three parts: theory, methods and a content area. Students will be given the grade of fail, pass or high pass on the exam. A grade of pass in all three sections of the exam will be required to qualify for the PhD. Students who do not pass one out of three sections of the exam on the first attempt may retake the section that one time to qualify for the PhD. If they do not pass the second time, they will be dismissed from the program. When a student passes all three sections of the exam, the proper paperwork will be filed with the University graduate office and they will be advanced to candidacy.

Dissertation Defense

Students will defend their dissertation and graduate towards the end of their fifth or sixth year, during either the spring or summer quarters.