Program Overview

Sarah,Andrea,Robin,Andre

Ph.D. Program in Communication StudiesWhy a University of Michigan Ph.D.?

The Department of Communication Studies is a top department at an internationally renowned university. The newly redesigned Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan is an interdisciplinary program with two major strengths: the Social Scientific Analysis of Mass Media Effects and the humanities-based study of Media, Culture and Society.

What is distinctive about our program is that we introduce students to both humanities and social science methods and traditions, encourage students to choose the approaches that best suit their areas of interest, and especially promote the use of multi-methodological techniques.

The program offers a solid foundation in communication studies while also permitting you to design a highly individualized program of study tailored to fit your needs and interests. The program will provide you with advanced knowledge of the latest research and theory in the field, a solid understanding of the major analytical approaches to communication studies, and opportunities to do original and collaborative research beginning in your very first year of the program. To see if our program is a match for your interests, see our research strengths

Our faculty share a strong interest in the media's ability to advance or undermine democratic processes and institutions, their role in shaping individual and group identities, their centrality to globalization, their industrial practices, how they are regulated, and their persuasive capabilities.

Financial AidCan I afford to go to U-M?

Our program provides assistance to all admitted students for the full five years of their study. We offer students a combination of fellowships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships that include a full tuition waiver for each term of enrollment, a stipend (ranging from $9,000 to $10,940 per term), and eligibility to participate in the University's health benefits program. 

Fellowship grants for newly admitted graduate students are awarded upon admission to the program on the basis of academic achievement and the admission committee's expectations of student accomplishments. 

When students advance to candidacy, fellowship grants are made available from our endowment funds through an application process and are awarded on the basis of academic achievement.

The department also offers Rackham Merit Fellowships (RMF) to students from culturally, geographically, or educationally underrepresented groups in our discipline or at the University. Currently, RMF funded students are provided with three academic years of fellowship funding and two academic years of teaching assistantships. 

Additionally, all RMF funded students are invited to participation in the Rackham Graduate School's Summer Institute (SI). Rackham SI fellows receive advanced academic preparation in courses designed to enhance their graduate experience and relate to the participants’ specific research interests.In addition, fellows attend weekly seminars that address issues common to all graduate students. 

Rackham SI fellows have an excellent opportunity to build networks within departments, across disciplines, and throughout the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor community by participating in a variety of formal and informal events during the program.

The Rackham Graduate School provides tuition or program fees for courses taken during the SI. The Graduate School also provides a $6,000 summer stipend and medical and dental insurance for all fellows. This stipend is separate from and in addition to the fellowship stipend distributed from September through April. SI fellows are responsible for their own housing and transportation costs during the Institute.

For more on funding your graduate education, see Financial Aid.

Extensive Research Experience and SupportHow will my research be supported?

The department has several funds that allow us to support you and your research as a pre-candidate and candidate-level student for your first year project, summer research projects, dissertation, and attendance at national and international conferences if you are presenting a paper or poster.

Students at the pre-candidate level are eligible to apply for the Winthrop B. Chamberlain Scholarship for Graduate Student Research, which supports up to $700 in research costs. Students at the candidate level are eligible to apply for the Departmental Dissertation Research Award, which supports up to $2,000 in research costs. Additionally, the Rackham Graduate School offers several sources of research support to graduate students at various stages in their academic career. More information on Rackham's research support can be found here.

We are also home to The Howard R. Marsh Center for the Study of Journalistic Performance, which provides research grants to department faculty and graduate students studying the factors affecting the ability of the communication media to perform their functions in a democratic society. 

Students can also apply for support from the Constance F. and Arnold C. Pohs Research and Technology Endowment Fund for the Study of Communication and Social Change.

Curriculum and Program RequirementsHow much flexibility will I have in choosing courses and research topics?

Our curriculum provides a solid foundation in communication studies while also permitting you to design a highly individualized program of study tailored to fit their needs and interests.

What are the program requirements and how long does the program take to complete?
The Ph.D. curriculum is designed as a five-year program, although some students take slightly longer. The program requires each you to complete coursework in communication theory, communication research methods and statistics, and courses from related disciplines that will support the your research goals.  You will also complete a first year project under the direction of your advisor, which allows you to do original and/or collaborative research on a topic of interest to you very early in your graduate career.

In addition to coursework, you are required to devote substantial time to professional development activities and research projects. As a complement to these research efforts, all graduate students participate in a weekly colloquium in which you, faculty in the program, and outside guests present current research for discussion. You are also expected to teach for at least two terms at the college level as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). One preliminary exam is offered in methods and theory, and it is a required milestone for your advancement to candidacy.

CourseworkWhat departmental courses are required for completion of the Ph.D. Program?

The Program consists of a minimum of 15 required courses, as follows:

COURSEWORK
Core Theory Seminars: (2 courses)
Comm 775 Theory Seminar in the Humanities Traditions of Communication Studies
Comm 776 Theory Seminar in the Social Science Traditions of Communication Studies

Research Methods: (4 courses)
Comm 781 Research Methods, Humanities Methodologies
Comm 783 Research Methods, Social Science Methodologies
1 course in Statistical Methods (Sociology, Psychology, or Political Science)
1 additional Advanced Methods course

Individual Major Area: (7 courses)
7 additional seminars, at least three from within the department and at least two from outside the department, that form an individualized and integrated study of communication

Research Experience: (2 courses)
Comm 698 Planning for First Year Research Project
Comm 699 First Year Research Project

What are the additional program requirements for degree completion?
ADDITIONAL PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
First-Year Research Project Presentation
Two Terms of Teaching Experience
Research Presentations
Methods Preliminary Exam
Theory Preliminary Exam
Advancement to Candidacy
Dissertation Literature Review
Formation of Dissertation Committee
Prospectus Defense
Dissertation Defense

Preparation for the FutureHow will the Program prepare me for success after graduation?

U-M is known across the world for the research conducted by our faculty and students, so students in the Department of Communication Studies enjoy a wide variety of opportunities to engage in research at U-M. In addition to working with the faculty in the Department of Communication Studies, students in the program also collaborate with faculty in other departments and in research institutes around campus. The Department and the broader U-M community provide a variety of opportunities for graduate students to teach and to refine their skills in the classroom through workshops and seminars. In addition, the department conducts a pedagogy seminar for all first-time instructors in the department. Students also have access to a variety of offices on campus designed to improve their teaching and understanding of pedagogy. These include: the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the Sweetland Center for Writing, and the English Language Institute.

This combined emphasis on and experience with research and teaching has helped place our graduates in colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world, including the University of Missouri at Columbia, University of California at Davis, the University of Haifa in Israel, Georgia State University, Nanyang University in Singapore, The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, Roger Williams University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.