Graduate Studies


Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Communication

The student's program is organized around a set of experiences that simulate an interdependent community of communication scholars.  These experiences are intended to maximize creative growth and development, and to provide the student with the skills needed to manage an intellectual community.

There are two basic tasks of a community of communication scholars, in each of which the student must demonstrate competence:

  1. Teaching.  The entering student receives training in instructional models and teaching methods in communication education.  Each student serves as an apprentice in supervised teaching situations, leading to a demonstration of independent competence in teaching.
  2. Research.  The student is assigned to a task group that explores research questions to which the Department has assigned priority.  Each student participates in various phases of on–going research projects.  Responsibility for the design and conduct of research is increased as competence develops.  Each student must present at least one major report of original research, which has been conducted independently.

The first learning experiences in the program consist of the absorption of basic knowledge about communication theory and research, message analysis and methods of inquiry. During the first year, the new student takes core course work in communication theory and research methods. Much of this work is team–taught by the faculty and engages the full–time curricular energies of the students. Students without background in communication or social science research may be advised to take some preparatory course work.

When the student has mastered this core material, usually by the end of two semesters of residence, the program's focus is directed toward specialization in one or more areas of communication activity. These include, but are not limited to, interpersonal communication, multicultural communication, organizational communication and persuasion. For such specialization, the student is exposed to lecture courses and doctoral seminars within the department, and to work in other departments, which will supplement the mastery of these content areas.

From this point, the student moves to the final stages of the doctoral program—additional advanced seminars, comprehensive examinations, and/or a preliminary paper, and the ultimate goal of developing and defending a doctoral dissertation.


Required coursework for the doctoral degree in Communication falls into the following areas:

All the following core courses (16 credits)
COM 801: Communication Research I
COM 802: Communication Research II
COM 901: Communication Research Design I
COM 902: Communication Research Design II
(One must earn an average of 3.25 with no two grades below 3.0 in these core courses, or be eligible for elimination from the program.)

Additional Requirements

  1. A total of 42 credits of coursework with an additional 24 credits of dissertation hours are arranged so students are broad and deep in two areas.
    2. The student must write a preliminary paper or take comprehensive examinations, and present a colloquium (oral presentation) to the department.
    3. The student must write a dissertation and successfully defend during a final oral examination.

Full Degree Requirements

Academic Programs
466 Comm Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
Tel: 517.355.3471
Fax: 517.432.1192

The information enclosed here should be viewed as a general overview of the academic program for this degree. It should not be viewed as the final authority on degree requirements. Make sure to consult your academic adviser to clear your specific program of study.

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