Oct 26, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Bulletin 
2020-2021 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Communication (Communication Studies) PhD


The Doctor of Philosophy degree with an emphasis in Communication Studies offers students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of theory and research through the rhetorical and social science traditions. The doctoral degree enables students to pursue careers in business, health, and educational institutions. The program also prepares students to teach in post-secondary institutions, and our doctoral graduates are on faculty at colleges and universities across the country.

Admission Requirements

  1. For Regular Admission, students must have an overall 3.0 GPA and 3.0 GPA in their major. Meeting this minimal requirement, however, does not guarantee acceptance. The admissions process takes into account the GPA, the GRE, and the letters of recommendation. Students whose record suggests a strong likelihood of success in advanced study will be admitted.
  2. Graduate Record Examination scores.
    • Scores in verbal and quantitative sections should be near or above the average of about 150 on the quantitative portion and 150 on the verbal portion.
    • Admission decisions are not solely based on test scores. Exceptional undergraduate work and/or professional experience are also taken into consideration.
  3. Additionally, applicants must send three current letters of recommendation that refer to the student's academic ability and preparation to pursue graduate study. These must be written by faculty members who have taught and/or supervised the student. The letters must be uploaded to the application website.
  4. A statement of purpose, indicating why the candidate wishes to pursue a master's degree at USM.
  5. A current resume/curriculum vitae.
  6. A writing sample.
    • Writing samples should include academic research papers.  
  7. International students must submit scores of at least 79 on the TOEFL exam or 6.5 on the IELTS exam.

See Admission Requirements and Procedures  for other requirements.

Program Requirements and Academic Policies

  • A 3.0 GPA and no grade below a "C" are required for graduation.
    • Students may re-take 1 course to remove grades below "C" or to improve the GPA.
  • A total of no more than 6 hours of work earned as a non-degree student may be applied toward a master's degree.
  • A total sum of no more than 6 semester hours of transfer work and non-degree work may be applied toward a master's degree.

Curricular Requirements.

Doctoral students must complete: 1) an 18-hour core 2) 27 hours in their major areas of study, including at least one independent research course; and, 3) 12 hours of dissertation work. The student's academic committee must approve all coursework. A student's doctoral committee may require more courses if the student's background or goals necessitate additional study.

Students may elect to take up to 9 hours outside of The School of Communication.

Students coming into the program without previous coursework in communication must complete additional requirements: 1) students without either an undergraduate degree or master's degree in communication must take an additional 30 hours of coursework; 2) students with an undergraduate degree in communication and a master's degree in a discipline other than communication must take an additional 15 hours of coursework. Students whose master's degrees are in related areas can request a reduction of these additional requirements based upon the comparability of prior coursework. The student's academic committee can approve reductions in these supplemental course requirements only after examining the student's transcript and the content of specific courses previously taken by the student.

Students may take REF 602: Introduction to Educational Statistics as needed, but it will not count toward the student's program of study, serving only as preparation for taking a higher-level statistics course.

Major Areas of Study Requirements

A minimum of twenty-seven additional hours of elective coursework is required. Students normally may take no more than 6 hours of COM 692 or 792 Special Problems

  • Electives (24 hours). Students in conjunction with their committee select these courses to provide substantive preparation in their selected specialization area.
  • Independent research (3 hours). Students must complete an independent research project that involves an in-depth examination of an area of communication research. This involves a review of literature on a selected topic and also involves the completion of a study based on some form of data. The paper reporting this research must be accepted as "publishable" by the student's Ph.D. committee. Standards faculty use to assess an essay include:
  • The essay contributes (or has the potential to contribute) something new and significant to the discipline
  • The essay shows an accurate and thorough understanding of relevant literature
  • The essay effectively applies and justifies an appropriate methodology
  • The essay is well written.

See General Degree Requirements  and General Academic Information  for other requirements and procedures.

Course Requirements (30 hours)

Core Courses (18 hours)

Rhetoric Track

Students in this track will take these core courses:

Applied Track

Students in this track will take these core courses:

Major Areas of Study (27 hours)

  • Electives (24 hours)
  • Independent research (3 hours)

Dissertation (12 hours)