The Communication Studies program offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the Lawrence Campus. The program in Communication Studies at the University of Kansas is research intensive and primarily designed to train students for careers doing research and teaching in the field of human communication at institutions of higher education. More specifically, our graduate program expects students to focus on one of the department’s two primary areas of research, with a narrower focus on one or two of the subareas:
- Relationships & Social Interaction, with an emphasis on digital media, interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational communication.
- Rhetoric & Political Communication, with an emphasis on argumentation, democratic inclusion, digital media, political institutions, and public memory.
Across both areas of research, our department collectively focuses on communication as it relates to gender, race, social class, national identity, and other cultural indices. Moreover, the department offers training in qualitative, quantitative, and rhetorical methods.
Almost all Communication Studies graduate students are funded through the department as either Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) or Graduate Research Assistants (GRA), which both include competitive stipends, tuition coverage, and health care benefits. In addition, all GTAs and GRAs are provided annual travel assistance to attend academic conferences, and the department awards approximately $25,000 a year in graduate awards for research, teaching, and service.
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.
For all domestic and international Ph.D. applicants, please check the most updated application requirements through the COMS PhD Admissions page.
Potential students must submit a complete online graduate application. For additional questions regarding program requirements and application processes, please contact the chair of the department, Dr. Jay Childers. Applicants may also contact the department directly:
The University of Kansas
Department of Communication Studies
1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 102
Lawrence, KS 66045
Ph.D. Degree Requirements
Concentration in Communication Studies
|Basic Communication Theory|
|COMS 859||Proseminar in Communication Studies (waived for students with the M.A. in communication)||3|
|COMS 958||Comparative Theories of Speech Communication||3|
|COMS 959||Theories of Rhetoric: Contemporary||3|
|Additional subject matter courses|
|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 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.|
|Research Methodology 1|
|Courses required of all students:|
|COMS 851||Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive||3|
|or COMS 852||Communication Research: Behavioral and Social Science|
|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.
- This requirement may be fulfilled by taking either COMS 851 Communication Research: Historical & Descriptive or COMS 852: Communication Research: Behavioral & Social Science, in addition to four graduate research methods courses as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
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 two main research areas: Relationships & Social Interaction and Rhetoric & Political Communication. The faculty of the Communication Studies Department agrees that these courses qualify as methods courses toward the course requirements for doctoral candidates.
- These lists are not comprehensive. Other courses may count as methods courses provided the student receives approval from the advisor.
- The courses on these lists are not required. These are recommended courses for training in each methods type.
- All methods courses should be chosen with the advisor's input.
Rhetorical methods courses include but are not limited to:
|COMS 851||Communication Research: Historical and Descriptive||3|
|COMS 930||Seminar in Speech: _____ (Postmodern Rhetorical Theories)||1-4|
|COMS 930||Seminar in Speech: _____ (Contemporary Theories in Public Address)||1-4|
|COMS 951||Seminar in Movement Theory and Genre Criticism||3|
|COMS 952||Seminar in Mythic and Narrative Approaches to Rhetorical Criticism||3|
|COMS 955||Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism||3|
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 930||Seminar in Speech: _____ (Seminar on Burke)||1-4|
|COMS 933||Theories of Rhetoric: Neo-Classical||2-3|
|COMS 953||Seminar in Organizational Rhetoric||3|
Courses outside of COMS may qualify as a rhetorical methods course subject to advisor approval.
In Department Qualitative Methods Courses
|COMS 855||Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies||3|
|COMS 930||Seminar in Speech: _____ (Analyzing Qualitative Data)||1-4|
|COMS 936||Seminar in Language and Discourse||3|
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. Please review all course selections with your advisor prior to enrolling.
|AMS 803||Research Methods in American Studies *||3|
|AMS 998||Seminar in: _____ (special topics) *||3|
|ANTH 783||Doing Ethnography *||3|
|JOUR 829||Marketing Communications Research||3|
|NRSG 802||Methods for Qualitative Research (Taught online) *||3|
|POLS 708||Advanced Qualitative Research Methods||3|
|PUAD 937||Qualitative Methods in Public Administration||3|
|SOC 813||Field Methods and Participant Observation||3-5|
Courses with an asterisk have been recommended by our graduate students or affiliate faculty.
In Department Quantitative Methods Course
|COMS 856||Communication Research: Quantitative Analysis||3|
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 790||Statistical Methods in Psychology I||4|
|or EPSY 810||Regression and ANOVA: General Linear Models|
|PSYC 818||Experimental Research Methods in Social Psychology||3|
|EPSY 811||Analysis of Variance||3|
Advanced Outside COMS Quantitative Courses
|PSYC 791||Statistical Methods in Psychology II||4|
|PSYC 887||Factor Analysis||4|
|PSYC 893||Multivariate Analysis||4|
|PSYC 894||Multilevel Modeling||4|
|EPSY 940||Advanced Studies in Educational Psychology and Research||3|
|PSYC 896||Structural Equation Modeling I||4|
|PSYC 996||Structural Equation Modeling II||3|
Descriptions of all quantitative psychology courses are available online.