The Communication Studies program offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the Lawrence Campus. Program areas have been ranked among the top doctoral programs in the country including rhetorical studies, political communication, organizational communication, interpersonal communication, and intercultural communication. Graduate students study communication theory in depth and master at least one research methodology, choosing from course sequences in rhetorical/historical, experimental, and qualitative methods. Each student is encouraged to develop two personal research interests and to work independently and with faculty members in pursuit of those interests. Graduate Teaching Assistantship and Research Assistantships are available.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

All domestic M.A. and Ph.D. applicants on the Lawrence or Edwards Campuses must submit the Graduate Record Examination. International students who apply to Lawrence must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language scores. International students who have earned a U.S. degree must submit GRE scores.

Submit your graduate application online. Send curriculum vitae or résumé, 3 letters of recommendation, official sealed transcripts for all college coursework, and a 2- to 3-page personal statement to the department:

The University of Kansas
Department of Communication Studies
Robert C. Rowland, Graduate Director
Bailey Hall
1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 102
Lawrence, KS 66045-7545

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Concentration in Communication Studies

Requirements include:

Basic Communication Theory (9)
COMS 859Proseminar in Communication Studies (waived for students with the M.A. in communication)3
COMS 958Comparative Theories of Speech Communication3
COMS 959Theories of Rhetoric: Contemporary3
Additional subject matter courses (27)
A minimum of 27 hours of additional subject matter courses:27
These courses must represent 2 emphases.
These areas are developed by the student in consultation with the advisor and the director of graduate study.
If a student holds a master’s degree in communication studies (or equivalent), appropriate course work from this degree may be used to fulfill the subject matter course requirements. However, the total number of hours from the M.A. program used to satisfy items 2c, 3, and 4 must not exceed 24 hours.
Electives (18)
Electives may be chosen from another department or any phase of the program. The 18 hours need not be all in the same department. They may be used to broaden or intensify the program, as long as they constitute a meaningful course of study. Only 6 hours may be in independent study. Students with master’s degrees from other universities satisfy this requirement with 18 hours from their master’s programs.18
Research Methodology (15) 1
Courses required of all students:
COMS 851Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive3
or COMS 852 Communication Research: Experimentation and Quantitative Analysis
Choose 12 additional hours appropriate to the student’s research/dissertation interest. A list of approved courses is provided below.12

In lieu of 3 hours of methodological course work, a student may elect to enroll in 3 hours of applied research in which he or she produces original research using one of the above methods. The final paper must meet the approval of the student’s advisor and must be submitted to a professional society for presentation on a convention program or to a professional journal for possible publication.

In lieu of 3 hours of methodological course work, a student may elect to demonstrate a high level of writing competence in one foreign language if she or he can show that knowledge of this language directly relates to his or her research and academic interests. Competence levels are determined through consultation with the appropriate language department or program.

Research skills & responsible scholarship requirement:

  • The university requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must be met before taking the Comprehensive Oral Exam. Please contact your advisor or the director of Graduate Studies for specific requirements and also see the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Ph.D. dissertation (18 or more hours).

Satisfactory completion of the oral and written comprehensive examination.

Final oral examination.

Approved Methodology Courses

The following lists identify methods courses taught in and outside of the department for the 3 areas of methods trainings: rhetorical, qualitative, and quantitative. The faculty of the Communication Studies Department agrees that these courses qualify as methods courses toward the course requirements for doctoral candidates.

Three caveats:

  1. These lists are not comprehensive. Other courses may count as methods courses provided the student receives approval from the advisor.
  2. The courses on these lists are not required. These are recommended courses for training in each methods type.
  3. All methods courses should be chosen with the advisor's input.

Rhetorical methods courses include but are not limited to:

COMS 851Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive3
COMS 930Seminar in Speech: _____ (Postmodern Rhetorical Theories)1-4
COMS 930Seminar in Speech: _____ (Contemporary Theories in Public Address)1-4
COMS 951Seminar in Movement Theory and Genre Criticism3
COMS 952Seminar in Mythic and Narrative Approaches to Rhetorical Criticism3
COMS 955Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism3

Please consult with your advisor and other relevant faculty members about courses that may meet the research methods requirement. Courses that may be used to meet a Methods requirement instead of Theory, because they involve systematic and explicit reflection on research methods including appropriate research questions, objects of study, and units of analysis include:

COMS 930Seminar in Speech: _____ (Seminar on Burke)1-4
COMS 933Theories of Rhetoric: Neo-Classical2-3
COMS 953Seminar in Organizational Rhetoric3

Courses outside of COMS may qualify as a rhetorical methods course subject to advisor approval.

In Department Qualitative Methods Courses

COMS 855Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
COMS 930Seminar in Speech: _____ (Analyzing Qualitative Data)1-4
COMS 936Seminar in Language and Discourse3

It is recommended that graduate students complete COMS 855 prior to taking qualitative methods courses outside of Communication Studies

Qualitative Methods Graduate Courses at KU that are Not in Communication Studies:

Courses with an asterisk have been recommended by our graduate students or affiliate faculty. The others are listed in the graduate catalogue but may or may not be taught and/or really appropriate for our students.

American Studies:
AMS 803Research Methods in American Studies *3
AMS 998Seminar in: _____ (special topics) *3
ANTH 783Doing Ethnography *3
ANTH 786Ethnographic Documentary Production3
JOUR 829Marketing Communications Research3
NRSG 802Methods for Qualitative Research (Taught online) *3
Political Science:
POLS 708Advanced Qualitative Research Methods3
Public Administration:
PUAD 937Qualitative Methods in Public Administration3
SOC 813Field Methods and Participant Observation3-5

Courses with an asterisk have been recommended by our graduate students or affiliate faculty.

In Department Quantitative Methods Course

COMS 856Communication Research: Quantitative Analysis3

It is recommended that graduate students complete COMS 856 prior to taking quantitative methods courses outside of Communication Studies

Introductory Outside COMS Quantitative Courses

PSYC 790Statistical Methods in Psychology I4
or EPSY 810 Regression and ANOVA: General Linear Models
PSYC 818Experimental Research Methods in Social Psychology3
EPSY 811Analysis of Variance3

Advanced Outside COMS Quantitative Courses

PSYC 791Statistical Methods in Psychology II4
PSYC 887Factor Analysis4
PSYC 893Multivariate Analysis4
PSYC 894Multilevel Modeling4
EPSY 940Advanced Studies in Educational Psychology and Research3
PSYC 896Structural Equation Modeling I4
PSYC 996Structural Equation Modeling II3

Descriptions of all quantitative psychology courses are available online.