Journalism and Mass Communications, Ph.D.

Admissions Requirements

An applicant for admission to the doctoral program will be evaluated on a combination of factors: applicant’s academic record (especially work done at the master’s level), English proficiency scores (TOEFL or IELTS if international applicant), resume showing professional experience, recommendations, writing sample(s), and the applicant’s personal statement outlining reasons for applying for doctoral study and career hopes and expectations.

Preference is given to applicants with at least 3.0 GPA for undergraduate and graduate work, at least one year of experience as journalism and mass communications professionals. International applicants, in addition to the above, must present a score of at least 100 on the TOEFL exam or 7.0 on IELTS. Those with a degree from an English-speaking institution are eligible for an exemption from this requirement. More information is available in the Academic Programs section of the College of Information and Communications Website.

Doctoral students normally must have completed, or be in the final stages of, a master’s degree. In exceptional circumstances, a student with a baccalaureate degree may be admitted directly into the doctoral program, with the understanding that the student will first complete the usual requirements for the master’s degree while studying for the doctorate. In such cases, the usual doctoral requirements of 45 hours of course work beyond the master’s plus a dissertation will apply. A prior master’s degree needs not be in journalism/mass communications, although a student whose master’s degree is in another field may need additional course work.

Degree Requirements (57 Post-Master’s Degree Hours)

To earn the Ph.D. in mass communications, the student must successfully complete the following:

Qualifying Examination

A qualifying examination, administered at the beginning of the student’s program. This examination, largely diagnostic in nature, will help the faculty in planning the student’s program of study.

Course Requirements (57 Hours)

Basic Doctoral Core (15 Hours)

Course Title Credits
JOUR 801Communication Research Design3
JOUR 803Seminar in Mass Communication Theory and Theory Construction3
JOUR 805Seminar in Teaching Mass Communication3
JOUR 807Advanced Communication Research3
JOUR 808Communication Research: Critical, Cultural, and Naturalistic Approaches3
Total Credit Hours15

Mass Communication Electives (21Hours)1

At least 21 hours in approved mass communication electives from JOUR courses at 700/800 levels.

Courses in Another Field of Study (9 Hours)1

At least 9 hours in another field of study, such as economics, business, political science, history, education, library science, or English; normally the three courses would be in the same academic discipline. However, for example, a student interested in modern Africa might take one course in history, one in political science, and a third in sociology with approval from the faculty.


At least 6 hours from Mass Communications Electives and Courses in Another Field of Study must be in research methods beyond core course requirements of the Ph.D. and Master’s degree programs (may include JOUR courses).

Dissertation Preparation (12 Hours minimum)

Course Title Credits
JOUR 899Dissertation Preparation12
Total Credit Hours12

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination is based on doctoral coursework; this examination is administered in 2 parts: a 12-hour written examination (4 three-hour sets of questions taken over 5 consecutive business days) and an oral defense before the student’s comprehensive examination committee. The comprehensive exam and oral defense will cover theory, research, a third area of emphasis in mass communication and an outside area.

Residency Requirement

The University’s residency requirements apply, which means the student must be enrolled for at least 6 semester hours during 3 consecutive semesters.

Dissertation Defense

The doctoral dissertation must be successfully defended before the student’s dissertation committee.