Doctoral Program


  1. A minimum of 48 hours of course work beyond the M.A. degree is required. Candidates with a master's degree in another discipline may be required to complete additional course work.
  2. Course work will consist of at least 36 hours within the department, including at least 18 hours of course work at the 8000 level. Typically, doctoral students take the vast majority of their hours at the 8000 & 9000 level.
  3. The following courses are required of all candidates.
    1. Comm 8110 Introduction to Graduate Studies (You must enroll in this course during your first regular semester.)
    2. Comm 9280 Seminar in Communication Theory
    3. Comm 8120 Seminar in Quantitative Methods in Communication
    4. One of the following: Comm 8130 Seminar in Qualitative Methods in Communication, Comm 8140 Content Analysis, Comm 8150 Seminar in TV Criticism, Comm 8160 Rhetorical Criticism
  4. In addition to courses within the department, students must also take 6 hours in a collateral area outside of the department that represents a coherent unit of study and relates to an area of major research interest (e.g., anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, journalism, English, management, etc.). Typically, both of these courses will be at the 8000 level, although it is possible that one of the courses may be a 7000 level course.
  5. In addition to the 6 hours of required methods courses in the department, students must take an additional 9 hours of coursework in statistics or research methods, for a total of 15 hours of research methods. These 9 hours may be taken inside or outside the department. Typical courses include statistics, linguistics, critical theory, information science, ethnographic methods, or historiography which will provide a research tool. This combination of courses is designed to help you further develop research skills applicable to the completion of the dissertation.
  6. Students must successfully pass the qualifying process, comprehensive exams, prospectus defense, and defense of the dissertation.
  7. To meet the residency requirement, students must complete at least two nine-hour semesters or three six-hour semesters at the University of Missouri within an 18-month period. Because of this requirement, it is difficult, if not impossible, for students to complete their program by taking course work only in the summer or only on a part-time basis.
  8. There is no established limit concerning the number of graduate credit hours students may transfer from other universities to help satisfy the required minimum for their doctoral program. Transfer of credit is proposed by your doctoral committee and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean.

Graduate Colloquium
Our graduate courses are supplemented by an active Graduate Student Colloquium Series. These regular afternoon seminars bring the doctoral candidates and faculty together to interact on a professional and academic level. By discussing research and listening to student and guest speakers, we greatly enhance the overall quality of the graduate student experience in the following ways:

  • we reinforce the importance of the development of appropriate scholarly behaviors and attitudes;
  • we broaden our awareness and appreciation of the variety and breadth of scholarly issues and research methodologies found within the discipline of communication;
  • we provide a common meeting ground for all graduate students and faculty to interact as we share ideas and concerns about issues related to the field.

Under ideal circumstances, with a full course load, a student can complete the PhD program, with dissertation completed, in 48 months. Most full-time graduate students take nine hours a semester, as well as 3-6 hours during the summer session. Graduate school regulations forbid graduate students from pursuing more than 16 hours each semester or nine hours for the summer session.

PhD Assistantships
All graduate students are eligible for various fellowships and scholarships through the Graduate School. Because the department recommends students for these awards, an early applicant is more likely to be nominated.

Graduate teaching assistantships are available from the department on a limited basis. The deadline for application for teaching assistantships is January 15. The department application (pdf) includes a section on graduate teaching assistantships. If you are interested in an assistantship, be sure to complete this section of the application. Graduate students who receive assistantships are required to attend the departmental colloquiums as a condition of maintaining their status. Doctoral students are typically funded for a four-year time period.

To be eligible for a teaching assistantship, International Students must demonstrate that they are capable of teaching in English. This may be accomplished by taking the Test of Spoken English or by submitting a video tape (VHS) of teaching a brief lesson to a group of students in English (10 minutes), including responding to their questions.

Benchmarks of Success
In order to make the most of a graduate education, we recommend the following schedule of activities for our students. By the beginning of the second year in the program, students should have:

  • become a student member of a major professional association (e.g., NCA, ICA)
  • become involved in at least one research project working with a faculty member
  • had their plan of study approved

By the beginning of the third year in the program, students typically have:

  • completed their coursework
  • attended at least one professional conference
  • submitted at least one paper to a scholarly convention
  • experienced data-collection first-hand by involvement in a research project
  • selected a possible dissertation topic and have begun the literature review in consultation with their advisor
  • Given a copy of their vita to their advisor for feedback

By the beginning of the fourth year in the program, students typically have:

  • completed comprehensive exams
  • defended their prospectus
  • submitted at least two papers to a scholarly convention
  • presented at least one convention paper at a scholarly convention
  • submitted a manuscript for publication consideration

Need More Information?
If you have a question about the Communication Department Graduate Admissions
Please email the Communication Department at:

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