Ph.D. in Media Communication

Coursework in communication theory, research methods, and focused topics prepares students with skills for academia or the private sector: high-level research, theoretical skills, and teaching excellence, and communication skills for consulting and research in government, non-profit, and private industry.

Our diverse faculty specialize in different areas of media communication. We regularly host colloquia and seminars to introduce students to a variety of media topics, creating a more holistic understanding of the discipline. Graduate students also receive opportunities to hone their teaching skills in the classroom, participate in scholarly research with faculty, and present their work.

Program Overview

The program is competitive. Our small class sizes provide students regular access to faculty in the classroom as mentors and as research supervisors. Our students may take courses and work with faculty who have expertise in:

  • Science Communication: Examines theories, processes, audiences, and methods to enhance the communication of science in areas of health, environment, agriculture, and more.
  • Strategic Communication: Focuses on strategies and issues in the fields of advertising and public relations. Includes audience research, persuasion, crisis communication, and public diplomacy.
  • News, Media, and Democracy: Focuses on journalism practices and media behaviors, attitudes, and ownership structure.
  • Digital Culture and Identities: Examines the production of personal identities and cultural movements in digital spaces. Research includes performance and performativity theories, immersive technologies, game studies, technocultural discourse, digital narrative analysis, and persona studies.
Elias Gbadamosi with his poster

Course of Study

To join our program, students must hold a master’s degree in communication, journalism, or a related field. The program takes a minimum of three years to complete; this includes two full-time years in residence to complete course work and pass the preliminary examination and one year to complete a dissertation. Recent students’ dissertations have focused on a variety of communication-related issues and problems.

Our program offers a rigorous set of core courses in communication theory and research methods. Students customize their program by selecting 12 credits outside the department or appropriate JTC courses with approval of the doctoral committee.


Several types of financial assistance are available to help students achieve their educational goals, including teaching and research assistantships, instructorships, and student loans.

Please visit our Graduate Resources section for additional information.


Ph.D. students are assigned a temporary advisor with similar research interests upon entering the graduate program. By their third semester, students will settle on a (mutually agreed upon) permanent advisor who will serve as a mentor for the remainder of their studies. This allows students to explore different topics and methodologies in their coursework, as well as get to know different faculty and their research and mentorship styles before settling on an advisor.

Each Ph.D. candidate will have a doctoral committee that consists of five members: a permanent advisor, two additional JMC faculty members, and two faculty members from other departments. Committee members usually share research interests with the Ph.D. student and play a critical role in guiding the student’s course of study, preliminary examinations, and dissertation.

Additional information about the advisor and graduate committee can be found in the Ph.D. Student Manual.

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How to Apply

Newly admitted students begin the program in the fall semester. Admissions are competitive. For full consideration, all application materials should be submitted by January 15 using the online application.

The department follows the university’s requirements for admission to the Ph.D. in Media Communication program.

Application Instructions


Questions about the program?

Thomas Gallegos
Graduate Program Coordinator
C236 Clark Building
(970) 491-2860

Ashley Anderson
Graduate Director
C228 Clark Building
(970) 491-5674